This week it’s a whole month since I said goodbye to London and lugged four suitcases and a wedding dress to the airport for the short flight to Tirana. A whole month. It feels like a lifetime ago!
There have been some achievements for us so far. The most recent being the purchase of a car. This was a priority for us – we’re so keen to hit the road and explore this incredibly beautiful country. But I am nervous about adjusting to driving in Albania. It’s chaos out there! The roads, while vastly improved even in the three years since I was last here, are still really bad in parts. The road down from our apartment just turns to a river in the rain and the potholes are brutal. If it isn’t the potholes, then it’s the random holes in the road where drain covers have been stolen for scrap. Locals have described their driving style as ‘aggressive’. Road rules are irrelevant and pedestrians will cross the road whenever and wherever takes their fancy without a glance for traffic. Wish me luck!!
We are settled into our lovely, albeit scantily furnished, apartment and feel at home in our neighbourhood. I love the proximity to the mountains, that we can walk 15 minutes up the road and be in the countryside. A 30 minute bus ride and we’re in the centre of Tirana.
I’ve found myself some volunteer work with a NGO working on civil society projects. It’s keeping my brain going and has meant I’ve met some pretty interesting people. I’ve also found myself connected to Tirana’s diplomatic WAGS and am looking forward to developing some new friendships.
There were days in the beginning when tears were shed – when coping with everything in daily life being new or different was just too much. But I love not having to get up every week day morning and go to work! I love that hubby and I are getting to have this adventure together – it is a luxury to have time with each other that doesn’t consist of us being too tired to talk and just falling asleep on the sofa. I love being a part of a big Albanian family! The hospitality and generosity are phenomenal. Everyone has been so welcoming and it makes me feel safe here.
We’re now just three months out from our Albanian wedding in June (I can’t believe I’m back in wedding planning mode just five short months after our London wedding!) and we are looking forward to hosting friends and family from overseas. And the best time to be in Albania is fast approaching – spring!