In Sept of 2014 we went back to the boat and toured Albania.
Albania has been in turmoil ever since gaining independence from the Ottoman empire in 1912. In 1943 it was occupied by Germany, and one year later communist partisans ruled the country, first alining themselves with the USSR, and later with China. In the early 1990's Albania ended 46 years of communist rule, and a multiparty government was established.
The transition has proven challenging as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, dilapidated infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents. In 2009 a coalition government was established, the first such in it,s history. 4 years later a peaceful transition of government took place and albeit slow, Albania seems to be on the road to recovery. It has appliedfor, and been accepted as a "candidate country" in the EU.
Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with a 22, to 23% unemployment rate.
70% of the population are Muslim and the vast majority are "Bektashi" of the Sufi order. They are very moderate, and not hostile to other religions and strongly denounce the violence between the more radical Muslims.
One of the reasons that Pope Francis latest European visit started in Albania is because in many ways the extraordinary peaceful coexistence between people of different religion in Albania is a model for the rest of the world.
In spite of different people telling us to be careful in Albania because of the crime and corruption we met nothing but wonderful, friendly people.
A visit to a "Tekke" (Bektashi,s Shrine) and conversation with the "Baba" (spiritual leader)
Was most interesting.
The "Bektashi Tekke"
Harold with one of the gardeners in front of the "Tekke"
Lunch in Gijerokaster the birth place of Enver Hoxha. The dictator during the communist era
in Gijerokaster 90% of the houses have roofs with slabs of stone, not slate, but STONE.