رحلة إلى برات

التجول في المدن الألبانية يُشعر المرء بأن الزمن توقف للحظة حتى يستعيد أنفاسه، قبل الرجوع إلى الحلبة لاستكمال السباق. ويتركز هذا الإحساس في المدن القديمة، خاصة تلك التي نجت من معاول التخطيط الشيوعي مثل برات Berat وجيروكاسترا Gjirokastra  .

برات تعتبر من اقدم المدن في المنطقة، حيث يوجد بها بقايا لآثار ترجع للقرن السادس قبل الميلاد، ولكن أهم فترة مرت بها كانت خلال القرن الثامن عشر حيث اعتبرت من أهم المدن الألبانية في الدولة العثمانية.

أول شئ سيشدك إلى برات هو منظر المنازل البيضاء المتناثرة على التلال، والتي تجذب العين بلونها الأبيض الساطع ونوافذها الخشبية المتشابهة. ولهذا يطلق على برات اسم “مدينة الألف نافذة”.

عندما تتمشى في طرقات المدينة القديمة، توقع أن يسلم عليك بعض السكان ويحاولون تبادل الحديث معك حتى لو ببضع كلمات انجليزية يعرفونها. لا تجعل تجربة السائحين في مصر تقلقك، ففي الأغلب هم يريدون فقط إرواء فضولهم أو تمضية الوقت، خصوصاً خلال وقت تمشيتهم المسائية اليومية (جيرا Xhira).

عادة يقوم السائحون بزيارة برات خلال اليوم نظراً لصغرها ثم يستكملون طريقهم نحو الجنوب أو يرجعون إلى العاصمة تيرانا بسبب قرب المسافة. إلا أنني قررت قضاء الليلة في فندق، هو في الأصل منزل عتيق تم تجديده بعد سقوط الشيوعية ليكون أول فندق يفتتح في برات. ذكرني المبنى بالمنازل الأثرية في القاهرة الإسلامية، بوجود حوش داخلي، وعدة أجنحة مختلفة، والسقف العالي المزخرف بالأعمال الخشبية اليدوية.

كما تشتهر برات بقلعتها فوق الجبل، والتي أنشئت في القرن الثالث عشر كحماية للمدينة. يوجد بالقلعة عدة مساجد وكنائس أثرية، كرمز تاريخي للهلال مع الصليب. والغريب أن تلك القلعة العتيقة لا تزال مأهولة  بالسكان حتى وقتنا هذا! هل ممكن تخيل على سبيل المثال قلعة صلاح الدين تسكنها بعض العائلات التي تقدر المكانة التريخية لمساكنهم واستمرار محافظتهم عليها عبر السنوات! إنه أمراً يدعو حقاً للإعجاب!

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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)

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!

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.

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1st of June Festival in Tirana

Kids from all over Albania invaded Tirana on the occasion of the Children’s day, or what it’s known as 1st of June festival. It was incredibly cute. Toddlers, kids, and teenagers were walking on the boulevard, grouped on several meeting points on street corners to dance and sing. It was a very happy sight.

I especially liked how many of them were dressed in traditional costumes from different parts of Albania, and how they performed some nice dances as well.

And even those who did not participate in the dancing were dressed up for the occasion, as we say in Egypt “labess elli 3ala el 7abl”.

I took my little girl and strolled around, taking photos as we walked. Most of the kids were welcoming in taking their pictures, and I was really happy about that, especially with my shyness about street portraits.

Here are some of the photos, I hope you’ll like them.

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