Though the country's former dictator, Enver Hoxha, died nearly 30 years ago, the Albanian landscape is still dotted with the 700,000+ bunkers that he ordered to be constructed. They're on beaches, in the countryside, in urban areas and even cemeteries. They were built over the course of twenty years because the isolationist dictator was paranoid that his former Communist allies or NATO enemies might someday invade. The bunkers were never used for their intended purpose, but today some have been converted into cafés, hostels, even wine cellars.
For nearly twenty years, our Albanian guesthouse host, Zef, reluctantly built these bunkers. He estimates he built 200 of them, earning approximately 2 Euro per month for his efforts.
We stayed at Zef's family homestay for just under one week, enjoying its home-cooked meals, authentic semi-urban surroundings, and the homestay's rugged beauty. Ironically, one of Zef's bunkers is less than a 3-minute walk from the family home. He proudly took us there to show his bunker, and participated in a candid interview with us, talking about what life was like during the country's challenging Communist chapter.
See the full interview with Zef here: