Tirana Bank wouldn't let me.
Wandered down the street past a drunk policeman who was meant to be directing traffic. Or he was making those signals, but to pedestrians, on the pavement. Standard.
UniCredit on the other hand took Mastercard. I wasn't going to use my Visa and incur a load of bank fees, then have them asking why I'm withdrawing money in Albania.
|Welcome to Albania. This is what we do here.|
We also got stared a lot. John thought it was my shorts. I had many hellos as well as my personal favourite, an old lady staring and following my walk until she finally broke and cracked a smile under the pressure.
|In Albania, even the rivers are concrete.|
Then Hiro flew past at a speed that could only trigger many, many bad jokes about his GPS. Because we're hilarious like that.
That evening I went to have drinks with a load of cyclists who were staying at the hostel too. Then a French guy who was going round Europe on his scooter turned up. I thought I was crazy.
Except we had to be quiet, because a couple in the next room had to be up for a bus at 5am. We were now meant to be considerate, unlike them who stank out the place as they made counterfeit Interrail passes. The passes looked rubbish anyway. And they were going to Kosovo. Interrail doesn't work in Kosovo.
Lesson of the day: John has some sort of love affair going on with the Albanian flag.
Lesson 2: EVERYTHING here costs 1000 lek (about £6). Flags, clothes, sunglasses, the lot.
Or maybe it's just us foreigners.
Or maybe it's the only number big enough they know in English.
I wonder what a house costs. 1000 lek?
|Lesson 3: every other car is a black Merc.|
Skenderberg Square seemed like an obvious first choice - just had to talk John out of stealing the Albanian flag which is in the middle of it. I'd have preferred the horse statue to be honest. Might cost a bit too much to post home though...
|Tirana's sights in one photo|
They made us take our shoes off though.
|Quite nice inside actually. Wonder what they thought of my legs.|
But the tourist information was shut. As was the clock tower.
It was Mother Theresa day, which is apparently a public holiday here. The only way you'd tell is that government buildings and other such things are closed. But it's a Saturday, so even more difficult to tell. None of the locals have a clue. Even Mother Theresa Square was dead.
|She wasn't even born in Albania|
But not in Albania.
Health and safety is most certainly not a thing here. There are random holes in pavements and streets all over the place that you could probably fall down.
In Albania, the locals climb it.
So me and John just had to join in.
|It's a long way down|
Pictures with the locals, because we're rare specimen around here? OK then. We're in this bit of the world.
And then to get back down.
It's pretty steep, and takes it out of your legs. If I'd slipped then I'd probably be on my second visit to A&E already, but no problem.
So down from the pyramid, we went to look for Classic Albania Part 2. The bunker. These were built by Hoxha when he got even more paranoid than usual and thought that they might be attacked.
|Original colour: grey. Obviously.|
|Hi. I am from the evil capitalist west. How do you feel?|
First of all it seemed like he was just giving us directions to Hoxha's residence.
Then he took us there.
|Presidential residence this rubbish and it's not surprising that it didn't last, really.|
Tirana's a bit mental though. It's a bit of a monument to communism, which sticks out in certain places more than others.
How about stone seats in an outdoor concert venue in the park? OK then.
|Hi. I'm still from the evil capitalist west.|
|Not even lying. 7p a shot. Even cheaper than alcoholic shots.|
And the waiter was very excited. They actually had lamb kebabs today.
They were good as well.
A bit of (very strong) ouzo later to finish the night and it was off to grab some sleep before heading to Berat the next day. Goodbye, concrete jungle. You've treated me well.
|Take a long hard think about whether you actually want to name a street this though.|
He's from the evil capitalist west after all. Among other things.