After 5 months of quarantining at home during COVID-19, I made the decision to travel to Albania, one of the few countries around the world that was open to American travelers at the time, in early August of 2020. Come along with me as I show you what it’s like traveling to Albania and trying Albanian food in Tirana for the first time during a pandemic!
My travel day began at my second home, Miami International Airport. I was both excited and nervous to be traveling again, but Albania didn’t have any restrictions in order to enter the country. I couldn’t wait to explore my 78th country! My trip would be 14 days in total and I could not wait.
My travel route to Tirana, Albania would take me through London Heathrow via a 9-hour British Airways flight. Because I was just transiting, I wouldn’t have to quarantine. I’d have a 4-hour connection there and then take a 3-hour flight to Albania! I’d be touring the entire country and fully immersing myself in the culture, food, history, and more! But now, let’s start traveling to Albania and get to Tirana!
I put on my mask and headed to my gate. My flight was pretty empty with just 153 people on board. One of our plane’s engines didn’t start at first, so we had a bit of a scary moment to start! But once we took off, I was out like a light for seven hours. Because of COVID-19, they don’t serve hot meals onboard, so I had a box with a croissant sandwich, yogurt, and water. I recommend bringing snacks with you because the food isn’t very substantial.
You must have a mask on in airports at all times. I was still learning to travel with it and talk with it on! After I landed in London Heathrow, I saw that it was like a ghost town just like Miami’s airport. I headed through security and went to Gate A. Everything was closed and everyone was social distancing. Luckily, I’m platinum with American Airlines and sapphire with One World, so I could go to one of the British Airways lounges.
They have strict social distancing rules in the lounge. You can’t stand up for food or drinks and there are glass partitions between some of the seats. I got a vegetarian breakfast sandwich with quiche and hash browns and a double espresso. You use a bar code to order all of your food. I was still nervous, but I had spoken to the American Embassy in Albania, who assured me I’d have no issues entering the country.
After my 4-hour wait, I headed to Gate A-18. My flight was on an Airbus A320 and would be just 3 hours. There was lots of turbulence over the Alps, so it was a little intense! I watched as we flew over Montenegro, a beautiful country I’ve visited in the past. Past the mountains of Montenegro are the flatlands of Albania! I was almost finished traveling to Albania as I only had a few more minutes until we landed in Tirana.
After 17 hours of travel, I landed in Tirana, Albania. All in all, traveling to Albania was pretty easy considering everything that was going on. where I didn’t even have to wear a mask outdoors, only indoors, as they only have about 100 cases per day. I felt free! I met up with my friend Sokol from Rental Car Albania, who gave me a great car to drive around in for 14 days! He gifted me a bottle of Albanian rakija, which is a delicious distilled drink!
As we drove through Tirana, I noticed lots of trees on our way to the city center, where I was staying. I had a two-bedroom apartment, which only cost me $100 USD for 3 nights. It was super spacious and had a nice living room, nice bathrooms, a dining room, a beautiful view of Tirana, some shelves, and more. It was incredible!
But I was starving, so I headed out to meet up with Ani from Balkan Pearl Tour Operator and Erjan from Travel Media EU. We took a 5-minute walk to the main street to get Skanderbeg Square. We stopped at Fast Food Albania, where they were making souvlaki, which is basically a gyro. They gave me one with tzatziki, tomatoes, onions, pork, spicy sauce, and French fries.
It was super garlicky and I loved the thick pita bread and the amount of spice in it! It was so tasty and filling! The souvlaki was so creamy because of the tzatziki! Meanwhile, Ani put lots of ketchup and mustard on hers. It was so good!
It started raining, so I ran back to my apartment to end my day to get some sleep. I needed to be energized for the next 14 days!
I hope you liked traveling to Albania and trying Albanian food in Tirana with me! If you did, please give this video a thumbs up and leave a comment below. Also, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the notification bell so you know when all my videos drop. I’ll see you in the next travel/food adventure in Albania!