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!