Wednesday, September 19, 2012

From Berat to Gjirokaster - one visitor's impression

Thanks to Agron Alibali for calling my attention to this article.

My question: 

Did the writer/traveler enjoy his visit to Albania or not?

Go figure...


Letter from Albania: lost crossroads

albania road
Uncertain destination ... a road traverses hills in Shkoder, northern Albania.
Photograph: David Levene
Berat, city of a thousand windows, lurches up a hillside to an ancient walled castle settlement,
still inhabited. Cobbled alleys as wide as a donkey clamber in twists and turns, and the windows
 of the packed Ottoman houses flash in the sunlight.

The modern town stretches away up the valley, but leads to nowhere. To go further south in Albania
 you have to retrace your steps to the main north-south highway, red on the map, or take the old road,
yellow on the map, which is the main route for several hamlets and villages along the way. It fetches
 up at the crossroads town of Kelcyre, where you can turn off for Gjirocastër, another ancient city.

We take the yellow road. The distance is vague, maybe 50km. The tarmac runs out a few kilometres
 from Berat. We climb through a patchwork of fruit trees and olives, closely planted and meticulously
cared for, and catch up with a bus grinding its way from rock to rock across the ravaged road. Bumpy
 hours later and in much wilder countryside we come to smooth tarmac, and place bets as to whether
 we've arrived at the Kelcyre junction, because none of the tiny settlements we have passed through
has had a sign with a name. We stop for a coffee at a tiny shop, where they are miffed that their village,
 Buz Ketu, doesn't appear on our map. They show us roughly where we are – we haven't yet covered
a third of the way. Their tarmac ends just past the houses and an hour later we give up and camp in
 the wilds. As darkness falls, tiny lights sprinkle the hillsides and the sound of sheep bells is
accompanied by voices and barks. The landscape is nowhere near as empty as it seems.

Next day our most frequent fellow travellers are the tortoises. We stop regularly to lift them to safety.
 A washed-out bridge over a gulley adds to the excitement, but eventually we drop down into Bellaban
village where tarmac of sorts starts again. We can put on a little turn of speed. The last stage to
 Gjirocastër on the red road down the Drina gorge seems positively racing.

Gjirocastër, city of a thousand steps, has wide cobbled streets that wind up a hill to a gloomy castle.
 As befits the town's position on the red road, young men career their cars up and down for show.
We walk up through the lanes with their gentler Ottoman heritage, and leave the truck to rest awhile.

Every week Guardian Weekly publishes a Letter from one of its readers from around the world. 
We welcome submissions – they should focus on giving a clear sense of a place and its people.
 Please send them to

Friday, September 14, 2012

MUST SEE! An evening of Albanian classical music and poetry

An evening of Albanian Classical Music and Poetry - Nje mbremje me muzike klasi

Holy Trinity Albanian Church and MAASBESA are inviting you to an unforgettable
Albanian evening in Boston. This is one of the events organized to celebrate the
100 Anniversary of The Albanian Independence and will include pieces from
Albanian composers and recitations.

Three generations in one single performance sharing one thing in common,

Albanian Music. It is an honor to hear the wonderful voice of one and only Xhoni
Athanas with his daugter Mirela Athanas, a pleasure to have such accomplished
artists as Ida Tili-Trebicka piano, Lindita Mezini - Lole soprano, Aurel Qirjo violin,
Edevaldo Mulla cello perform, refreshing to see the performance of the younger
generation on stage. Juna Gjata, Alex Dhima, Ted Bimbli and others will play
instruments and recite poems by Albanian authors, carrying on the legacy of
Albanian culture and music.

Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 6:30 PM
Milton High School Auditorium
25 Gile Road, Milton MA 02186


Adults $15
Students $10
Children under 10 Free

For more info please contact:

or 617.388.5920

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mehmet Sanlikol's most recent composition

Very recently, I mentioned in this Blog that I wanted to call authentic Albanian music to the attention of Dr. Mehmet Sanlikol, the multi-talented Turkish maestro who regularly presents Turkish/Greek musical performances in the  Greater Boston area.

I was  pleased, therefore, to read about Dr. Sanlikol's  most recent composition that was touted yesterday in The Boston Globe. so  here it is:

Music Review

Boston Articles
September 10, 2012|

  • Clarinet soloist David Krakauer performed with A Far Cry Sunday.
Clarinet soloist David Krakauer performed with A Far Cry Sunday. (Dina Rudick/Globe Staff )
From the austere supplications of a 12th-century Christian mystic, to the premiere of a brand new work inspired by Turkish Sufi ceremonies, A Far Cry’s season-opening program at the Gardner Museum on Sunday afternoon covered a lot of ground. And that was just the first half. After that came the keening ecstasies of a klezmer-style romp for chamber orchestra and solo clarinet, and the lofty pieties of the “Heiliger Dankgesang,” the song of thanksgiving from Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 132.
Musical mysticism was the afternoon’s theme, and Beethoven was in fact the only composer on the program whose name Gardner music director Scott Nickrenz knew how to pronounce, he told the capacity crowd in Calderwood Hall. (I don’t believe him, but he was making a point.) And more credit to A Far Cry for it. The city’s exuberant self-directed chamber orchestra has always clearly had a lot of fun performing its programs. This season, its sixth, the group appears to be having more fun in putting them together, too.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mayor's Office of New Bostonians and Irish International Immigrant Center

Here's a very important link to the Mayor's Office of New Bostonians that always provides an abundance of useful information about immigration, ESL classes and other helpful information to new immigrants arriving, or already living, in Greater Boston.  Check it out!
                                                        a                              []  

And while I'm at it, this is also a very strong plug for the Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC) in Boston whose longtime, great works on behalf of ALL immigrants is exemplary. Check out its important site, too!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Great article about Albania in London Daily Telegraph

When my wife, Jane Christo, was General Manager of NPR radio station WBUR in Boston, she selected London-based Michael Goldfarb as a meaningful supplier of world news that he regularly broadcast over WBUR. 

Michael forwarded the recent, great article about Albania in London's Daily Telegraph to Jane that I am delighted to share with you - here's the link:
You will love it!!