Albania: Family Travels

My husband and I are both from Albania but from different towns. I was born in Lushnje but most of my family lives in Tirana. He is from Korca and most of his family still lives there. When we go back home we spend most of our time between those two towns. We recently went back in the summer of 2018 to have our wedding and celebrate with our family.

When we were planning our wedding it only made sense to have it back home so all of our family members could be a part of our special day. We were lucky because our immediate family members who live in the US also came back with us to celebrate. A few friends joined the trip and got to experience Albania with us that summer.

Most of my family lives in Tirana in a neighborhood called “isfusha aviacionit”so we typically rent an AirBNB close by or stay at the Mondial Hotel. In 2018 we stayed in an AirBNB that had two bedrooms, one bath, full kitchen and living room with all the upgrades. We had central AC which is unheard of in Albania and were walking distance from our families’ houses.

The view from our AirBNB

The location was great as there were strip malls below the AirBNB that included small convenience stores, cafes and restaurants. My grandparents and aunts lived close by so we were able to spend time with them while visiting. My sister, her husband and daughter shared the AirBNB with my fiancé and I while there.

Family strolls on the strip malls by our AirBNB
Our go to cafe on the strip mall

The few days before the wedding we enjoyed the cafes close by, spending time with family and taking my niece to the playgrounds. We also took our friends to the town plaza for drinks and stopped by the main Bazar for great finds. One of our favorite things to do was order gyros from a local resturant that would deliver to our AirBNB as late as 2AM!

Enjoying a drink in the Plaza of Tirana
Trying on sunglasses at the Bazar in Tirana

We hosted a rehearsal dinner at Stella Resort in Tirana with our friends and family. It was such a fun night. Stella Resort is a great restaurant that features indoor and outdoor seating, great beer and food selections. We had our own specialized menu which included my favorite dishes biftek and ferges among other dishes. Our tables had tall clear beer kegs which allowed us to easily refill our beers when we were running low.

At our rehearsal dinner
The awesome beer kegs at the rehearsal dinner

Our wedding was held at Kompleksi Eifel in Tirana which was a beautiful banquet hall with indoor and outdoor settings. Albanain weddings are very traditional with lots of circle dancing, 5 course dinners and typically do not end until 4-5AM. Yes, I said 4-5AM- we know how to party! I spent the early day with my family getting ready and dancing. My sister, best friend and I got our hair and makeup done together by Olti Shula. He is a wonderful makeup and hair artist who also did my sisters hair and makeup for her wedding back in 2012.

The ceremony started at 8PM and was held outside. It was absolutely beautfiul. The banquet center took care of all of the decorations, music and setup. It was absolutely stunning. We had a cocktail hour after the ceremony which allowed for the groom and I to take photos with our family and friends. We danced the night away with our most loved family and friends. It was an absolute dream. We will never forget our wedding day because it was truly a once in a lifetime experience. The cake was 4 stories and was in the shape of the Eiffel tower. I am so glad we chose a banquet hall as a venue because we did not have to worry about anything. We truly got to just arrive and enojoy our special day.

Over the next few days we spent more time with my family in Tirana and then we traveled to Korca to spend time with my husbands family. Korca is my favorite town in Albania because it is so romantic and beautiful. There are serenades each night in the town center and the town is set in the middle of surrounding mountains. It is something straight out of a postcard. We attended the baptism of my husband’s nephew which was such a blessing to witness. We also traveled to Pogradec, a nearby town, to enjoy fresh fish and seafood.

At a family event in Korca
The streets of Korca

We had the trip of a lifetime visiting Albania and celebrating our wedding. Our family and friends still talk about this trip and cannot wait to go back again. We plan on going back in the next few years to make more memories and experience our culture.

Categories family, travel

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