Travel Story Colourful Tirana a vibrant culture hub

SHANNON BEVEN finds surprising green shoots in a once secretive capital city

Green. Not a word that usually springs to mind when you imagine Tirana, the capital of the former communist Albania.

Instead of a sparse, concrete jungle, the bustling city is teeming with life and greenery — with leafy streets, elaborate gardens and water features throughout.

Eager to shake off its communist image, the city has become somewhat of an arts and cultural hub, bursting with colour.

It’s a humid October afternoon and the air is full with the promise of rain as we wander the streets. Signs of Tirana’s communist roots are everywhere, from Soviet-style architecture to concrete bunkers littered throughout the city.

These stand in stark contrast to the bursts of colour all around us — some of the buildings are painted in primary hues and the large leafy streets are a pedestrian’s dream.

However crossing those streets can be somewhat of a nightmare. The traffic is intense as cars weave what seems to be haphazardly around each other.

Although we witness no incidents or any kind of anger on the road, my travelling companion and I resolve to stick to designated crossing areas and practise patience, all while feeling smug that we chose to bus into town rather than drive.

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