I adore a lot of things about Albania. I like that there aren’t a ton of tourists here. I like that the woman I buy veggies from weighs them on a balancing scale. I like that the bakery on the corner makes the whole street smell like fresh baked bread. But one thing I really really like, is how cheap things are here. So here is a short list of things you can buy for 50 leke (roughly about 50 American cents, or about 30 Euro cents)
Delicious byrek, either cheese, spinach, bean, or tomato surrounded by layers of buttery flaky phyllo dough.
Espresso at the lakeside cafe. (This picture was literally taken, sitting at our table)
One loaf of delicious fresh baked bread. (Medium sized. The large loaf is 80Leke)
One bag of bagel crisps, OR, one bottle of beer in a shop. (Multiple Varieties)
Three scoops of delicious cinnamon ice cream (other flavors are options as well, but seriously, buy the cinnamon.)
1 and a half kilos of plums. (That’s about three pounds)
In addition to this wonderfulness, I need to also mention the Albanian people. Albania has a bad reputation for being violent, and corrupt. While there are certainly issues, the people I have met here have been some of the nicest locals ever. They are so friendly and welcoming. But for a country that is so poor, I was shocked at how giving people are here.
For example, when trying to pay at a restaurant, the bill was 300 Leke. We had a 200 note, and a 1000 note. The thousand note was waved off, and he took the 200. No questions asked. Yes, it’s less than a euro, but it’s 30% of the price!
And that’s not unusual. It’s quite common if you are short on change, they will wave it off. No problem, pay later when you have it.
It’s also a common custom to help out your friends. And I know that everyone tries to help their friends, but here it just seems to be more important. If one of your friends looses his job, it’s not talked about, everyone else just chips in to pay for them. Because having their company is worth more than what you are going to pay for their drinks or what not. One guy I know opened a bar to give his friend a job when he couldn’t find work elsewhere. Friends and family, friends are family.