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New Europe

Day Twenty-five: Tirana to Krujë

The Skanderbeg Museum 
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The Skanderbeg Museum at Krujė, built during the Hoxha years to extol the national hero who held off the Turks for many years. Turkey has not completely disappeared from the country, as you can see.
Michael Palin - New EuropeLike everyone else I've asked, Illir seems unable to account for why, in a country of straitened circumstances, there should be so many Mercedes.

He shrugs, as though the answer's obvious. They're smuggled.

'People working very, very hard in the communist period, and all working for the State. Today, everyone work for himself. He don't believe in the work in Albania.
Albania is a rich country, rich with oil, minerals like chrome, but what is main export now?'

'Tell me.'

'Prostitutation.'

He counts off on his fingers.

'All we have to export now is prostitutation, drugs, weapons.'

In the castle I fall into conversation with a rather serious boy from a school group. They see very few foreign tourists and are interested in trying out their English.

'This is a beautiful country,' he says. 'But the government... '

He puckers up his nose.

'You know... '

'What don't you like about the government?'

'Well,' he says, and points to a corner of the castle. 'You see the tower there?'

'Yes.'

'It smells.'

'Ah.'

'They should keep it clean.'

We both nod and I move the conversation onto the safer ground of the World Cup, which begins in Germany today.

'Next time Albania will be there I hope.'

He smiles politely, but I have a sense that the smelly tower worries him more.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: New Europe
  • Chapter: Day Twenty-five: Tirana to Krujë
  • Country/sea: Albania
  • Place: Krujë
  • Book page no: 63

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