I was on three weeks hiatus, traveled to Greece, France, UK, and the US. I had a blast with much “feels”. It was emotional because I didn’t want to leave home from the US, but at the same time, I’m glad to be back home…in Albania? Is that weird???
I’m excited going back to being busy, working on lesson plans and other important issues!
Be warned! There are tons of pictures!
In Greece On the last week of school, I had permission to leave early. Let winter vacation begin! I took the early flight to Athens, but it was a 20 hour layover before my trip to Paris. I was in a great mood and donated some spare change to the poor and street artists. I was surprised that souvenirs were cheap and very affordable! It was lame that a lot of the ruins closed early. I did get to observe a protest, not sure what it was about but several streets were blocked. I also go to see the Evzones guards, changing of the guards. I regret that I did not get to see the pllaka because the lack of time and darkness. I met a waiter who happens to be an Albanian from Sarande. We spoke in Albanian. His name was Ervis and was super nice. There was an awkward moment when I thought a group of elderly women was speaking Albanian. I understood their conversation but when I asked one of them in Albanian to take a photo of me with the Pantheon in the background, they looked at me silently. I was wondering if they understood me or maybe because my american accent was difficult for them to understand. A moment later, I realized that they were speaking in Greek, and I just remembered that Albanian language borrowed a lot of words from other languages from Italian, Greek, Turkish, and such. I later felt like an idiot but at least I understood some Greek. I thought that was impressive. I never studied Greek.
There were a lot of graffiti, motorcycles, and protests! It’s a thing here in Greece.
I would definitely return to Greece!
In France The next day, I took the early flight to Paris. Stayed for only two days but I wish I had more days to explore. I had to study the Paris metro station layout because it looked confusing. Luckily, after traveling for years and taking different subways from other countries, it wasn’t as hard as I thought, but it was a little challenging. I arrived at the CDG airport, took the metro that was almost an hour to get to Paris, settled down at the hostel, and then walked around Paris. I was amazed and didn’t realize how beautiful the city was at night. Paris had tons of cute souvenirs and the macaroons were to die for. I can understand why so many americanized francophile girls love Paris, even though some never went there, but a dream. There was a huge Christmas market, along the Champ Elysees. Lots of lights, Christmas exhibitions, shops, people, food….everything! I enjoyed every moment of it. After the terrorist attack, there weren’t a lot of tourists. I was lucky enough to walk through Le Louvre without getting in line! It was a breeze! I decided to walk up the Eiffel Tower but never reached the top. There were a lot of soldiers in guns walking around, making sure there weren’t any attacks. I have never felt unsafe.
There was this awkward moment when this French guy was ripping me off. Or at least I thought he was. There was this big French flag that I wanted to buy. I asked the man in French “Combien coute?” (how much is it?). He answered in English that it was 4 euros. So I liked the price and told him I’ll take it. So he grabbed the French flag in the back booth and I handed him 4 euros. He said no, it was 5. I started to argue and said to him that he said “4 euros”. He kept saying 5 euros, and I asked him why. I got really annoyed and started arguing with him in French, but it came out Albanian. He said his English was very bad. I said whatever, didn’t want to argue anymore, and handed him 5 euros. The sky was getting darker, I was running out of time, I’m tired and cranky, I just wanted the flag so I bought it for stupid 5 euros.
I would return to France when I have another chance!
If you want a good leg work out, go to Paris. There were a lot of sights where it requires walking up the stairs!
In USA After Paris, I flew back to the US. I indulged myself with tons of asian food: Dim Sum, Sushi, Pho, Korean BBQ. I miss the variety and diversity of food! I broke out and turned into pizza face. I regret nothing. I finally met my nephew and decided it is best that I only speak Russian to him. I’m going to be that weird uncle. My schedule was tight and busy but I made an effort to meet up a few friends.
In London After America, I flew back to Europe, starting with London. I didn’t stay long, and it was a nine hour layover. When it was time to board, I was at the gate to Tirana. I nearly cried. I wasn’t sure if it was the feeling of excitement or fear. I started listening to people speaking in Albanian and saw Albanian passengers waiting to be boarded…that feeling of excitement just hits me. Am I happy to return to Albania?? What’s going on?! I’m becoming more human?
Back in Albania Finally, I arrived at the Tirana airport around 9pm. I left the airport and searched for a taxi. The taxi driver approached me and spoke a little english. Luckily, my albanian is good enough to comprehend. This taxi driver seem sketchy because it was his personal car, no taxi meter, no taxi license, and it was parked at the parking lot (not the front of the airport entrance along with other official taxis). The taxi driver charged me 1700 leke, instead of the official taxi price 2500 leke. I took my chance and accepted the offer. He drove me to the hostel where I needed to be. It was a success. I regret nothing.
When I arrived at the hostel, I bumped into one of the volunteer who happens to be my roommate for that night. It was funny.
Finally, I’m back home in Belsh. Luckily, I had friends and neighbor to help me with the luggage. My neighbor brought me lunch as a welcome back gesture. They also brought me two bags of oranges and a can of beer!
Don’t mind the beer.
I brought a few american goodies: oreos, chips ahoy, Skor, Green Tea KitKat, packets of Miso soup, Jasmine Green Tea
When I opened my luggage, TSA from DFW left me a notice that they inspected my bag. I thought that was considerate. It seems to me that they thought I put a lot of weed inside my luggage. It turned out to be packets of Jasmine Green Tea. I saw that one of the green tea packet was opened and the tea bag was loose.
Albanian of the day:
Ndalo këtu– Stop here (When you want the driver to drop you off.)
Ti nuk jeton këtu – You don’t live here (“ti” is informal)