July 21, 2008

Shkodra, Albania

The best part about Shkodra?
Sleeping in a communist-government-building-turned-hotel, which was kept up just about as well as the economy that relies almost entirely on immigration. Walking into the Rozafa Hotel, named after the famous medieval castle that towers over the city on a large hill with stunning views of the surrounding landscape, was like stepping back in time; it’s as if they just cleared the nametags off the doors and replaced “Office of the Minister” with “Room Number 5”. I actually had room number 409 which was a good hike up the stairs because the elevators stopped working in 1991 when the mechanic no longer had a job, but it provided a good view of a medium size city whose layout was disconnected and architecture bland (sorry Shkodra!). I tried to fall into the rhythm of the city by walking the streets during family hour but was disappointed when I just couldn’t get the beat. But Shkodra had the last word on that because not only was there a big music concert in the square outside my window with subwoofers on steroids but there was a “music hall” attached to the hotel that blasted traditional Albanian tunes until 5:00 a.m. I felt like seeing how far a bribe for silence would take me in a striving economy in a post-communist hotel, but decided instead to lay my head on the pillow and listen to the “concert” I liked most and lull myself to sleep; and much like the politics of the region, weather forced upon you or found on your own, everyplace will eventually expose a beat.

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