Monday, June 20, 2011

Sunday outing

Yesterday, at midday, I was picked up by some friends, who invited me to lunch in their new residence. They bought an apartment in a new complex of tall buildings erected in the past 3 years in one of the many, recently expanding areas of Tirana.

Does it not seem like a beehive the following view, seen in the distance from my balcony, of Tirana’s chaotic ongoing construction in some areas? These enormous clusters are all forever emerging out of nowhere in the suburbs of this capital!
Some of these structures are not yet completed; others are still being developed, and most of them are still unoccupied.

My friends’ 4th floor apartment is very comfortable and cozy and has two great balconies.

Father and daughter drove me to it, while mother was busy cooking up a storm.
She included a couple of eggplant dishes knowing that I adore this type of vegetable. It was a very substantial meal with two types of meat, rice, vegetables, salad, two varieties of Albanian “byrek” , plus the “tree lecher”, rich dessert, which is very similar to a ‘tiramisu`. A very good Italian red wine was followed by some Italian ‘spumante’, which I provided nice and cold, and perfectly washed down all these delicacies.

We survived the very hot afternoon comfortably relaxing in their air conditioned living room, and around 6:30pm, the family decided to take me out for coffee. This is usually the time when entire families go out for a stroll in the evenings.

The daughter is an excellent driver and wanted me to enjoy the outdoors a bit; thus, she drove us to the suburbs. She took an old road that is now in need of repair, but it was quite trafficked. As we rode through very agricultural territory with many fields of corn, large extensions of greenhouses full of vegetables, the father was recounting episode of the past in these areas that to date, are still the cradle of the red, left wing political parties.

The surrounding, rolling countryside displayed gorgeous shades of green, and several people were working their fields, while cows, chickens, and donkeys were freely sprawled around feeding themselves. Along the road quite a variety of fruit trees full of plums, dates, apples, pears, and all sorts of wild flowers.

A real pastoral setting, with some farms houses in the background, here and there. What I found interesting was that along this entirely side road the city had furnished the typical metal bins for garbage collection, similar to the ones within the capital itself. This obviously cuts down any burning of trash in the fields; here the air is clear, fresh, and in spots smelling of cut grass and hay.

Along the way, in the middle of the countryside, with nothing else in sight except what I just described, a couple elegant new bar/café`/restaurants have opened up for business, and they had customers!
We also stopped in one of them and sat in the peaceful outdoor terrace chatting for a couple of hours, while tasting some of the local cheeses with local breads and fresh vegetables that the daughter insisted I should also experience. I managed a couple of bites, but the so called snacks all disappeared by the time we left and headed home.
It was a relaxing day, in good company and excellent food everywhere, but I never expected to be out for so many hours. I was delivered back to my apartment by 10:15pm.

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