Activities in Tirana

1- Ecovolis:

All over Tirana you will find these stations with tens of bikes, which you can rent per the hour, half day, day or even a year!

The project was pretty successful, and expanded greatly, with stations at the important points, like infront of the university, at the parks, city center,,,, etc. What benefited the project more is assigning a lane in the main boulevard for bikes, circling the city center from Nene Tereza square till Skanderbeg square, plus the Lana river Kornich.

I really hope someday Cairo will witness the success of a similar project. Though a pessimistic voice inside my head insists that it won’t last long…

2- Martial arts:

There is a couple of gyms, but my favorite is definitely Triangle Gym, offering classes for Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jutsu.

The environment is really friendly and cooperative, and the coach is top notch.

3- Golf:

Till now, there is no proper golf course in Albania, but hopefully this will change when La Perla resort opens in the future. So far, you can either do some putting at Rogner Hotel at the city center, or for a closer experience, head to Kame resort on the way to Pellumbas cave.

(to be continued)

Snippets: Frank Herbert – Dune Messiah

….. to endure oneself may be the hardest task in the universe….
The greatest palatinate earl and the lowliest stipendiary serf share  the same problem. You cannot hire a mentat or any other intellect to solve it for you. There’s no writ of inquest or calling of witnesses to provide answers. No servant — or disciple — can dress the wound. You dress it yourself or continue bleeding for all to see.”

“No matter how exotic human civilization becomes, no matter the developments of life and society nor the complexity of the machine/human interface, there always comes interludes of lonely power when the course of humankind, the very future of humankind, depends upon the relatively simple actions of single individuals.”

There exists a limit to the force even the most powerful may apply without destroying themselves. Judging this limit is the true artistry of government. Misuse of power is the fatal sin. The law cannot be a tool of vengeance, never a hostage, nor a fortification against the martyrs it has created. You cannot threaten any individual and escape the consequences.

Empires do not suffer emptiness of purpose at the time of their creation. It is when they have become established that aims are lost and replaced by vague ritual.

They are not mad. They’re trained to believe, not to know. Belief can be manipulated. Only knowledge is dangerous

Snapshots: Arches

Did I mention how I love arches?

I think I posted these photos before, but with pixlr, I decided to put it out again.

the first one was taken in Alexandria, in a walk with Pen Temple Pilots. The second in Tirana, in a walk with Kim from the Tirana Women International Group, the third in Kotor Montenegro, in a walk with my little family.

Tirana Restaurants: Pasta Da Pucci

You might be fooled with the surroundings and the few steps below a residential building, but once you step inside this restaurant you will feel like you moved to a fairy tale, expecting a grandma walking out of the kitchen at any moment with her apron and a tarte put by the windows to cool off.

My husband went there for a business lunch on a Tuesday, and he was so fascinated with the food, he took me there with our little girl on the next weekend. Funny enough the waiters remembered his last order, and as he wanted to repeat the exquisite experience, he simply ordered the same food!

We had tagliatelle with mushrooms, yellow rice with shrimps, brownies with almonds, meat with prune, rucola salad with strawberries. It was all so delicious!

snippets: George Orwell – Essays

When you walk through a town like this — two hundred thousand inhabitants, of whom at least twenty thousand own literally nothing except the rags they stand up in — when you see how the people live, and still more how easily they die, it is always difficult to believe that you are walking among human beings. All colonial empires are in reality founded upon that fact. The people have brown faces — besides, there are so many of them! Are they really the same flesh as yourself? Do they even have names? Or are they merely a kind of undifferentiated brown stuff, about as individual as bees or coral insects? They rise out of the earth, they sweat and starve for a few years, and then they sink back into the nameless mounds of the graveyard and nobody notices that they are gone. And even the graves themselves soon fade back into the soil. Sometimes, out for a walk, as you break your way through the prickly pear, you notice that it is rather bumpy underfoot, and only a certain regularity in the bumps tells you that you are walking over skeletons.

All people who work with their hands are partly invisible, and the more important the work they do, the less visible they are. Still, a white skin is always fairly conspicuous. …..

I have noticed this again and again. In a tropical landscape one’s eye takes in everything except the human beings. It takes in the dried-up soil, the prickly pear, the palm-tree and the distant mountain, but it always misses the peasant hoeing at his patch. He is the same colour as the earth, and a great deal less interesting to look at.

It is only because of this that the starved countries of Asia and Africa are accepted as tourist resorts. No one would think of running cheap trips to the Distressed Areas. But where the human beings have brown skins their poverty is simply not noticed.

George Orwell – Marrakech, New Writing, 1939

I wonder what he would say now about Dubai and the honeymoon resorts in Africa and Asia,,,etc?

أمين معلوف – الهويات القاتلة

إن حق انتقاد الآخرين حق يكتسب ويستحق. إذا أبدينا لأحدهم عداوة واحتقارا فإن أقل ملاحظة نصوغها، سواء كانت مسوغة أم لا، ستبدو تهجما يدفعه إلى التصلب والانغلاق على نفسه مما يجعل عملية التغير صعبة. وبالعكس، إذا أبدينا لأحدهم الصداقة والود والاحترام، ليس بالمظاهر فقط وإنما بموقف صادق يشعره على هذا النحو، يمكن عندئذ أن نسمح لأنفسنا بأن ننتقد ما نقدر أنه يستحق الانتقاد.

هذه الشعوب تستحق أفضل من أهون الشرين، وأفضل من “السبيل الوحيد”، فهي تحتاج إلى حلول حقيقية.

عندما كنت في التاسعة عشرة من عمري كنت أريد استبدال أي شئ آخر بهذا النظام. في التاسعة والأربعين مازلت آمل برؤيته يستبدل ولكن ليس بأي شئ.

الكل يقبل أن مستقبل بلد ما لا يمكن أن يكون مجرد امتداد لتاريخه، بل سيكون مؤسفا لشعب ما، أيا كان ، أن يمجد تاريخه أكثر من مستقبله

بالنسبة لهذا الكتاب، وهو ليس تسلية ولا عملاً أدبيا، أتقدم بأمنية معاكسة: أن يكتشفه حفيدي عندما يصبح رجلاً، في مكتبة العائلة بالمصادفة، فيقلبه ويتصفحه قليلا ثم يعيده غلى المكان المغبر الذي سحبه منه، ويهز أكتافه مستغربا أنه في زمن جده كانت هناك حاجة بعد لقول هذه الأشياء.


On books

There was a time when I really did love books — loved the sight and smell and feel of them, I mean, at least if they were fifty or more years old. Nothing pleased me quite so much as to buy a job lot of them for a shilling at a country auction. There is a peculiar flavour about the battered unexpected books you pick up in that kind of collection: minor eighteenth-century poets, out-of-date gazeteers, odd volumes of forgotten novels, bound numbers of ladies’ magazines of the sixties. For casual reading — in your bath, for instance, or late at night when you are too tired to go to bed, or in the odd quarter of an hour before lunch — there is nothing to touch a back number of the Girl’s Own Paper. But as soon as I went to work in the bookshop I stopped buying books. Seen in the mass, five or ten thousand at a time, books were boring and even slightly sickening. Nowadays I do buy one occasionally, but only if it is a book that I want to read and can’t borrow, and I never buy junk. The sweet smell of decaying paper appeals to me no longer. It is too closely associated in my mind with paranoiac customers and dead bluebottles.

George Orwell – Essays – Bookshop memories

This is quite a nice idea.

I think Orwell -with this idea in mind- would have loved ebooks so much.

Continue reading

Rally Albania 2012

Today signaled the start of Rally Albania 2012. At around 10:30 participants started moving from Rogner hotel to the little empty space in front of the Pyramid at the city center. It was ironic to see some beggars sleeping under the Bell of Peace, 100 meters away from the bikes display. Then after a while, some of the beggars and the souvenirs sellers started tailing the participants across the field. I don’t know how the organizers can deal with that in the future. I can’t imagine the huge mess it would have been if something like this happened in Egypt!

The route of the rally is pretty interesting, taking a round trip across Albania in one week. First they are heading north towards Razma village (40 km north of Shkodra), then they will head to the secluded Theti village and later south east till Voskopoja, and their last stop will be Himara, before heading back to Tirana. I’m glad that they will be spending a day at Himara, the website shows that they will stay at my favorite lodge at Drymades (Altea Beach Lodges), and i think it’s a brilliant idea. The beach there is amazing and there is lots of camping space.



قصاقيص: أنشودة البساطة – يحيي حقي

وهنا أفتح أول القوس فأقول العمل الفني لا يقبل الوسط أو التساهل أو الأخذ بالأهون أو القناعة بالحسن دون الأحسن أنه يتطلب حشد كل القوى فلا تتخلف منها ذرة وشدالطاقة إلى آخرها ولو الى حد التمزق ودليلك على أنك بذلت غاية الجهد هو شعورك بعد الانتهاء منه بأنك كالخرقه المبتلة قد عصرت عصرا فلم يبق فيها أثر من ماء جفت كل الجفاف . ما أعجب هذا الاحساس، أنه شعور بالرضى والفوز والتطهر ومصافحة قدس الأقداس مختلطا بشعور بالاجداب والافلاس.

ثم أقول لهم أن كل قول في الفن انما هو وجهة نظر فردية، فالفن قنيصة يبقى منها دائما خارج الشباك جزء منفلت، أنه يكره التعميم ويعلو عليه، ويكره الحد والقطع

ينبغي أن تتركوا على كل لفظ طابعكم الذاتي، أن تجعلوه ينطق  بأشياء لا يعرفها له القاموس، أنالذتي يختار لكم ألفاظكم ليس هو بصركم باللغة بل مزاجكم الفني.


عمري ينساب مع كر الفصول
شتاء بعد خريف، وصيفا تلو ربيع
غير أني ثابت لا أتحول
كطير حبيس في قفص
ينوح لفقد جناحيه

ميرزا أسد الله خان