visit to the ballet had been arranged. but one guide was quite happy to

instead. at which the most

I take a fewofus to a football match 3

remarkable thing was the behaviour of the large away support. who sang and cheered throughout. almost oblivious to the on-field activities: if Albania was meant to be a dour and puritanical place. someone had forgotten to tell them. (Both football match and ballet cost fifty pence). At night it was pleasant to be able to stroll through the city undisturbed by traffic. the absence of all but the occasional party official's car enhancing the feeling. evoked by some ofthe older buildings. that one was in a historic capital which had

once been part of the

Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The whole country. indeed. seems to have bypassed conventional chronology. Most transport is horse-drawn. and most people work the land with rusting. rudimentary equipment. Such is the paranoia of the ruling party that they refuse any foreign loans or investment. with the result that Albania. while technically self-sufficient. lags behind the rest of Europe in every material respect.

Yet there is little doubt that the government enjoys overwhelming popular support: every adult is armed in case of ‘imperialist aggression' something which no

Useful Information

Albania lies on the west coast ofthe Balkan Peninsula. and borders with Yugoslavia to the north and north-eastand Greeceto the south and south-east. lts coast is 470km long. and is lapped bytwo Mediterranean seas. the Adriatic and the Ionian. Climate is of the hot Mediterranean variety in summer. butAlbania's mountainous terrain makes lorsome climatic variables. Eastern Albania tends more towards continental weathersystems. The capital city is Tlrana.

Getting There

I Voyages Jules Verne organise tours ofAlbania (officially approved trips are the only way to go to Albania) and offerthree itineraries of either 8 days (from £259). 4 days (from £195) and 5 days (from £215). Jules Verne have just started operating charter ilights to Albania which reduces travelling time considerably to three hours. Prices include return flight from Gatwick. full board and accommodation. all sight-seeing and transportation. Telephone 01723 5066 forfull details. Alternatively. set out on a Lilo from Corfu and hope that it's too misty lorthe

l i


machine-gunnersto notice you.

Getting In

I You'll need a visa but

yourtravelcompany will

add you onto theirgroup visa.

Where to Go

I Yourtourwill be pie-planned. but there is some room for manoeuvre. particularlyin Tirana.

Where to Stay

I No choice. The hotels you'll be pre-booked info

are the best in the country but facilities are sparse. especially bath-plugs.


I The lek is Albania‘s chief unit of currency— there are 100qindarka to one Iek.

i There are approximately 12

leks to the pound. butthey cannot be bought in advance. Hotels will be ableto change your currency. but only within very limited hours. Be careful not to buy too many Ieks. as it will prove impossible to change them back into sterling. Everything is very cheap

dictatorshi A sketchy knowledge ofthe country's history occupied by the Turks. Austro-Hungary‘. Italy. Nazi Germany and Greece (among others) - allows one to understand why it is suspicious of outsiders: just because Albania is paranoid doesn't mean that the rest of the world isn't out to get it. Having said that. we encountered no hostility whatsoever to ourselves as decadent Westerners: on the contrary. we were greeted with friendliness. politeness— and sometimes curiosity at our clothes. My trip to Albania was extremely fascinating rather than highly enjoyable. It was useful and good value for money that one saw so many places in so little time. But in order to do this. several fatiguing hours each day were spent travelling around in a bus with no suspension. driven at high speed by a maniac who used the horn instead of the steering

L'nder its new leader Ramiz Alia. the country. at least by its own standards. is now liberalising at an astonishing rate: no longer. for instance. do you have to walk through a pool ofdisinfectant at the Yugoslavian border before being allowed in. Still. I have the sneaking suspicion that it will be a few years yet before Albania becomes the playgroundofthe Club lS—30set.


needs). Most food is edible but unspectacular. although

§ animmunitytoonionand ; tomato saladisadlstlnct advantage.


I Bottled beer costs one Iek

(forabout a pint) and will be

served with most meals it

; you ask for it. The wine is drinkable. but watch out for the national spirit. rakl.

which onlythe most

3 hardeneddrinkershould ' risk playing around with. It

is not advisable to get guttered outside the safety olyour hotel (it is also not possible. as mostpublic places close at around 9pm) as locals will find you fairly

» amusing.

and there's not much to buy.

£20 would probably do for 4/5 days.


I As a tourist. you are unlikely to get much choice about food (although ilyou lorewarn them in advance thatyou are vegetarian. they will accommodate your

Useful Addresses

I The Albanian Shop. 3 Betterton Street (off Drury Lane). London. will happily help you with any enquiries and will post out one ofthe few books on Albania which is called. surprisingly. ‘Albania'. The State- produced book will give you a bit of tourist information. but it is largely a political manifesto (£4.95).

Useful Pubhcafion

I Albania: ATravel Guide. Philip Ward (£5.95 Oleander Press) Tells you aboutshaking your head (loryes) and nodding (for no). plus sights. history. and everything you need to know aboutAlbania.





On the streets. day and night. there is good food to be had from any number of carry-outs. Julie Morrice and Sally Stewart sample the best.


I McDONALDS 209—215 Argy lc Street 246’ 3909 and 165 Trongatc 552

37 I9. Mon—Sun

l0am—l lpm (Sat from 9am). Burgers from 59p. I MDGIE'S HDAGIES 36" Sauchichall Street. 333 0431. Mon—Sat Sam -6pm. £1 .25—£2.50. Deliveries. .\'cwly opened .\'ew York style sandwich bar serv ing hot and cold ‘hoagies' in varying sizes. Try Italian ('ombo or Meatball Parmigiana. all served with lettuce. tomato. pickles. onions and dressing.

I PECKHAMS L' nit lllll Central Station 248 40I2. Mon—Sun 7am—l lpm. 100 By res Road 357' 2909 and 43 Clarence Driv c 357 2909. Mon—Sun 9am—midnight. All three sell a fine selection of cheeses. charcuteric. desserts and continental breads. Ideal for an impromptu picnic.

I PHILADELPHIA FISH AND CHICKEN DAR 445 Great Western Road. 339 2372. User its many yearsin business. the Philadelphia has incorporated every new trend eating has seen. The bill of fare would do justice to the l'nitcd Nations canteen. Home-made lasagne and great fish suppers are highly recommended.

I PIZZA HUT 203 Argy lc Street. 22] (ll-t4 and 6’5 West George Street. 226 3633. Mon-Thurs and Sun ll.30am-l l .30pm: Fri ll.30am—-midnight; Sat noon midnight. Branch openiing hours vary slightly. Pizzas from about £3. They come iii two varieties (deep pan or thin and crispy ) and in small. medium and large diameter. They also specialise in l’riazzos an Italian pic w lift a topping involving cheese. tomato and oregano but it's not. we are informed. a pizza.


My ndland Road. 339 8544 and 91 Main Street Thornlicbank. 62002-10. Mon—Sun -lpm—l 1.30pm. Pizza £l Sit—£5.20. Situated in more residential areas. they offer a large range of pizzas in three sizes. Will

also create a pizza to y our

ow n specifications. Orders can be phoned in advance.

I THREE IN ONE TAKEAWAY 67—69 [{lmbank Street 332 450l and [08 By res Road 33-1 6246. Mon—Thurs l0am~midnight; Fri Sat till 3am approx. Favourite of late night groovcrs and shakers. offering three tastes to take away. Kebabs come in all shapes (doncr. shish etc) and all sizes (although ‘large' is somewhat overstatingthe case ). Pizzas are cooked before your eyes and there are baked potatoes on offer. Gourmands will

which claims to have the best pizza recipe available. a hybrid of American and Italian. It's certainly pretty good and the choice of toppings is endless.

I L'ALBA D'ORO 5 Henderson Row. 552 258“. Mon—Sat

l l .30am~ l .30pm and 4.3(lpiit—I2.3llam ( I‘i'i Sat

ii“ 1.30am). The widest


5 delicacicsintown I'isll

here isn't just fish: choose

from trout . sole or cv en


I MAMMAS 30'l'he Grassmarket. 225 6-164. Mon—Sun noon-midnight (Fri—Sat till lam) Pizzas

é from £2.40. pltis 65p per

extra topping. Deliveries £5 minimum order plus 50p deliv cry charge.

; (‘runchy top-heavy pizzas.

appreciate the selection of

sticky sweet things. The menu docs vary from branch to branch.

I UPPER CRUST SANDWICH DAR 6 Royal Exchange Square 221 4387. Mon—Sat S.30am—5.30pm. Rolls from 50p approx. An old favourite. with all the classic sandwich fillings and a few they've rustled up themselves. Scrupulously clean. with quick friendly service even at peak times. There are also a few seats available. IWIMPY30-I—306 Sauchichall Street 332 7353. 74 Sauchichall Street 332 3656. I05 L'nion Street 22l 9370.

assembled. baked and packed in front of your eyes. The ingredients are tip to you. but don't get carried away: two of us struggled to liniin a ‘small' pizza. the large ones must be like


I MCDONALDS l3" .s Princes Street. 226 3522. Mon—Sun 9am—2am.

I Iamburgers from 5"p The Big Mac finally makes it to Edinburgh and an opening hours war seems to hay c broken out with Wimpy. As a nod in the direction of Scottish

t cuisine. McDonalds hay c

Mon—Wed Sam—l l .30pm:

Thurs Sam—midnight; Fri Sat 8am— I am; Sun lilam—l l.30pni.



('ockburn Street. 225 7572. Mon—Sun lilam—inidnight; Fri Sat until 1am. Potatoes

£l l0—£l .45: filledpitta bread from £1 and rolls from 40p. llcalth- conscious potatoes with hot and cold vegetarian and vegan fillings. The

packaging is cardboard so

you can munch without fear for the ozone layer. I FERRIS l Antigua Street. 556 5592. Mon—Sun noon—3am. Pizzas £2—£3.20. Freshly made Italian pizzas with all the classic toppings. Worth waiting ten minutes for in this busy restaurant.

I IKE'S PIZZA EMPORIUM I58 Rose Street. 225 1010 (‘arry -outs available Mon— Sal noon—3pm. Restaurant open till ll.30pm ( l2.3(lam

Fri Sat). Pizza from £3.65 to £8.50. New parlour

i I I

addch li'n Brit to their menu.

ISHERMANS 44-45 Queensferry Street. 220 2360. Mon-Sat 9am—2.30pm. Sandw iehcs from Slip—£2.45. Deliveries. Swankyaiew sandwich bar with pleasant staff and surroundings. Sandw iehcs are mega: the prawn and as acado has a half avocado. a fistltil oi praw ns and a good portion ofsalad all stuffed into malty brown bread; but £2.25 is a lot for a piece. IVALVDNA AND CROLLA I9 Elm Row 5566066, Mon-Sat 9am—6pm. Rolls 7'9p 99p: I‘occaceia 99p. L'niquc deli full of character and almost alw ays ftill of queuing CUstomcrs. Italian rolls filled w ith your choice of cheeses. hams and salami are worth the wait. ()l' try a foccaccia. a kind of soft pizza stuffed with ham and cheese and. it you time it right. still warm from the IWIMPY Ill Princes Street. 557 45"5 and I IS Princes Street. 220 I644. Mon-Sat 7.45am 3am; Sun 9am ~3am. Hamburgers from 63p. May be [Edinbtii‘ghei's have a highly tIL‘\ clupctl sense of brand loyalty . oi the service in McDonald's is faster. btit the queues in the Wimpy are still much longer.

The List l6 29 September I9.\’.\‘ 73