Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Adventure Tourists!

Last night we went out for dinner at Piazza, one of the nicest restaurants in Tirana. It's a large space with a decor that is trying to be trendy and a short (but good) menu, mostly revolving around fish and seafood. We started with a yummy plate of assorted prosciutto, salami's, cheese, and melon. Is there anything better than a hunk of perfect parmesan to nibble on? I think not! Well maybe the fabulous basket of warm bread and the dish of balsamic vinegar mixed with olive oil. I choose pasta with tiny pieces of monkfish and P had a grilled seabass with vegies. Everything was perfectly served and P was so happy because the waiter professionally deboned and deheaded the fish- and with such flair! It was all yummy and I purred contentedly.
Then I look up towards the door and what do you think I saw? A group of at least 25 Japanese tourists!!!!!!!!!! In any other place this would be a normal occurence but not here in Tirana, Albania! No. We normally don't have tourists of any kind. We get foreigners sure, and politicians and all sorts of brass from NGO's etc, but no busloads of tourists! They came in chattering like a flock of birds and were served a pre-selected menu. They seemed happy. We asked our waiter about them and he told us that everyweek they received busloads of tourists from Japan. Wow- that's rather cool I think. Apparently they travel for 4 or 5 days and go to all the interesting cities and archeological sites, and they love it. You see Japanese tourists in big cities like Paris and Prague but who would have guessed that they were coming to Albania? I'm impressed. They were not young folks either, no- they were probably retirees, which is even more astounding. This isn't the easiest country to get around, what with the state of the roads, and the lack of good hotels, lack of hydro etc. I've seen advertisements for adventure tourism in Central America, or Africa, but this group takes the cake.
Retired Japanese Adventure Tourists in Albania!

13 comments:

verniciousknids said...

It's amazing how much energy and drive older people in Japan have...they constantly impress me with their adventurous spirit. It must be the diet :)

traveller one said...

Well they were eating fish- my meat of choice! And they all looked so happy.

Ginnie said...

Those Japanese do get around as tourists...and almost always with camera in hand. But of course!

traveller one said...

Yep... everyone had a camera round thier neck!

Expat Traveler said...

I guess that's a bit out of the ordinary.

Genci said...

I dont think it is much of an adventure if you are with a tour guide.

I mean, come on. They have the hotel room reserved, the restaurants reserved, the bus takes them to specified locations, etc. That's not fun...

The fun begins only when you get a map and start exploring yourself. :D

However, it is true that you don't see tourists in large groups in Tirana very often. Butrint is staring to get invaded by them though. :)

JLB said...

Mmmmmm.... you made me hungry with the first part of that post! I have to agree completely - fruits and cheeses are pure bliss, especially in tandem!

ITS said...

I love Japanese tourists! Did each of them have a couple of cameras strapped to their chests to fullfill the stereotype?

I am sure that they will find plenty of bizarre things to photograph and take back to the retirement homes as trophys from no-man's land :D

Turtle Guy said...

Speaking of short but good menus, there's a little B & B in Edmonton called La Boheme. They feature a couple dishes each week, but it doesn't matter - it's all good!

Forget the rivalry between Calgary and Edmonton, this place makes up for it all!

Thanks for your comment at my page - I appreciate the visit!

Dave

Tracie B. said...

the japonese are quite adventurous and travelsome!

Tracie B. said...

that would be japanese--been in italy to long :)

Crystal said...

JLB pointed out your post to me, because I had just blogged about a similar subject! I think more and more tourists are wanting to get "off the beaten track", and in 2wks I leave for East Africa but I'm not just going to popular Kenya & Tanzania. I had to add in Rwanda & Uganda (and I'm considering Burundi) just because that is what it takes to get real adventure these days. ;-) I've been to your region of the world before--Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro--and I do recall getting a few stares because at that time (2001) it was quite rare to see tourists, especially in Montenegro.

TOKYO-RUNNER said...

nice to hear of your experiences in Albania. being an Albanian-Canadian myself (who happens to roam in tokyo for the time being) I think ALBANIA is an adventurous and fun place to visit for foreigners.if people will compare it with south america or africa, well dont forget its in the middle of europe (namely between 2 EU countries), and this does count.
no doubt you like the mediterranean food, as compared to the north american shshsh... food, and take it as a compliment traveler one you are lucky to be there.

As for the japanese tourists, the best type of tourists I have seen so far (businesswise) mark my words ... you will see more buses full of them in albania.