I only have one thing to say about Albania so far (arrived yesterday evening). Albanians are NICE. Waaaayyy nice. So maybe you are wondering, "aren't Spanish people nice? And what about the Greeks?" Yes, they are also nice, but I decided that the reason I like the Albanians, and maybe it is ironic, is that they don't speak English. Not really.
Yesterday we took a bus from Athens to Saranda, Albania, which is a cute little town sandwiched between the mountains and the sea. It is only about an hour from the Greece border and has had much strife. As little as 13 years ago, Albania was still having strife between anarchists and the government (see history of Albania here). However, now they are peaceful and the tourist business has supposedly picked up, although we have not seen more than a handful of other tourists yet.
On the bus, there were only about 6 other people. The whole time, even though we didn't speak the same language, they made sure we made it back onto the bus, bought us oranges and even patted me on the back as I finally got off the bus. They were very helpful and super nice!
Then we were looking for our hostel and a man came up to us and said, "I think I can help you" and since usually taxi drivers and everyone under the sun says they can "help" us when really they want to rip us off, we ignored the guy. Then he said my name. Turns out he was the guy from the hostel, waiting on the street to make sure we found it okay. Then when I asked him later where we could have dinner, he said, "I will take you there. What time would you like to go?" Its like a personal shopper! Anyway, this guy, "Tom" was/is great! He took us to dinner (we invited him to stay and it was very informative), told us exactly where to catch each bus and more!
Gjirokaster, which is an old city, all made of rocks with slate roofs, and went to look at the Castle there. It was beautiful, very Gothic with many arches and stones and cobblestoned streets. The town was cute, with tiny cobbled streets, little shops and SO MANY MERCEDES! I don't know what it is about this country, but I think it is where Mercedes go to retire. There are a lot of new ones too, but there are TONS of 1970s 1980s Mercedes. They must have got like a buy one, get 100 free deal at some point. I love it!
Tomorrow we go to to Butrint, which is a UNESCO site with ruins from the Ottoman empire. More on that later.