Immersion Trip: Day 5

Today we started at the Muzeu Kombetar, the National Museum, which has this mosaic above the doorway.&nbsp The museum collection spans from ancient Illyria through the current day.&nbsp We stopped right after WWII, so we didn’t get to the part that shows Hoxha’s excesses.&nbsp That can wait until we return.

After the Museum visit, I went into a bookstore to purchase an Albanian language dictionary and some other books.&nbsp I wanted to see if I could conduct the entire transaction in Albanian, so I carefully explained to the saleswoman that I was an American and that I didn’t speak Albanian well, but that I was interested in such-and-such books.&nbsp She responded by asking me if I was married.&nbsp Apparently, if the wedding ring isn’t gold, it’s not obviously a wedding ring, so I cleared up the confusion and carried on.

Tirana has a stray dog problem.&nbsp There are thousands of strays on the street, many of them ill (but others looking very healthy and adorable).&nbsp The Norwegian ambassador’s wife is heading a project to develop a shelter and a clinic and some sort of adoption infrastructure.&nbsp I’d been tipped off to this by the husband of an FSO (whose blog,, is worth reading), so I arranged to meet with her at the Hotel Rogner.&nbsp I came away with an appreciation of how much work the project still needs to accomplish and how expensive coffee in the international hotels is.

Abby and I finished the afternoon by seeing our house (see the previous blog entry for a few photos; at three stories and 6,000 square feet, with three bathrooms and a total of eight rooms off the main living/dining areas, Abby says she cannot describe the house without using the words “f***ing” and “ginormous”). We then went to Tirana’s only Indian restaurant for a dinner arranged by the Embassy’s Community Liaison Officer.&nbsp The restaurant owners are an Indian man and his Albanian wife.&nbsp The food is tasty, although not especially spicy – the Albanian palate is on the mild side – and we met more embassy people and other ex-pats.&nbsp The conversation was great, and we’ve found the embassy community to be very welcoming.&nbsp We left the evening with high hopes for a great three years.