Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday outing

After a few very hectic weeks of work, today I accepted an invitation from friends to go out of town for lunch. They usually prefer to leave the city and eat in fresh air, country surroundings for more natural, local products, or along the sea coast for the freshest fish. They picked me up around 1:30PM, but I knew that, by riding outside of Tirana, it would take at least another hour or so to reach destination. 

In Albania, the meal of mid afternoon is the actual daily dinner, when people, whether employed or not, usually gather around the table around 4PM to consume their daily meal with the family.
State employees end their work day at 3pm, and others break the work flow and go home from their store or business about the same time. The latter, after dining and some rest, may return to their tasks, while the elderly and youngsters usually take their daily stroll. Meeting friends at a café completes their day, where, by the way, any kind of business is being transacted, day or night. 
Today it was decided to drive south, past the port city of Durres, to have fish dinner at a well known restaurant in the suburbs of the city of Kavaja. I have been there a couple of times in the past years, and I knew their food was exceptionally good.
Since the meals in Albania are usually served family style, I was able to enjoy every one of the courses ordered by my hosts, by just tasting and picking the portions I could deal with from the serving trays. A mound of mussels, followed by a taste of cuttlefish marinara style, were the appetizers, followed by large cuts of pasta (‘ai frutti di mare’) with mixed seafood, as first course, and a huge seabass (‘branzino’) as the main entrée.
Two hours went by quickly. After a dessert of ‘panna cotta’ surrounded by sliced fresh fruits, and an Italian espresso, we headed back toward  Durres, where I knew I could be the one to treat my friends to homemade ice cream (‘gelato artigianale’) in a very large, outdoor ‘gelateria’ along the boardwalk that faces the seaport.

The smell of sea water hit my nostrils, mostly used to air conditioning and indoor living. The place was packed, the weather gorgeous, very sunny, but with no  breeze, thus keeping the sea very calm.
I was delivered back to Tirana by 7:30pm, rested and relaxed! It felt like a Sunday, since for me it was a real vacation day, but… more leisure day is ahead, thanks goodness.  Tomorrow I can attend to some personal and household chores before tackling another work week, which, as usual here, may offer, who knows, all sorts of surprises!

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