Durrës
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I went for breakfast and they gave me grappa...
Albania is like the American version of ‘whatever’—they care, but they don’t care, they prefer, but they don’t mind and they love, but they fight. After being there for a month on my au pair family’s holiday, I finally began to comprehend, appreciate and even self-integrate Albanian communication. If not for their love of the social, political and personal grapevine, they would have nothing to talk about. Witnessing an Albanian conversation is a bit frightening, at first—their speech is rapid, their arm gestures resemble that of a ninja and their tone is expressed with unyielding passion. It does not matter whether the conversation is between grandparents, family members or the taxi cab driver—conversation is harsh. Not to worry though, that is just the Albanian way. My boss’s brother explained it best, “Albanians greet with a kiss, stab knives into each other for a few hours, then laugh and kiss goodbye.” It turns out, Albanians are the friendliest Europeans I have met, thus far. They live quiet, joyful lives surrounded by family and friends. I moved into a hotel after a week of being there and went to ask the front desk about breakfast options. Fortunate for me, the married couple that owns the place speaks fluent English and before I could say 'faleminderit' (thank you), there were three different kinds of Albanian grappa set before me to sample—as I staggered out, my lungs were warm and my mind was happy knowing I had just made my first group of Albanian friends.
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