To the tune of "The Boys Are Back In Town." Meh, sorry I can't do better.
BECKY AND SARAH WERE HERE! When I picked them up at the airport in Tirana, I was calm and composed...til the very moment I saw Sarah, then Becky, walk through the doors.
Lena outdid herself and cooked some major shqiptar food: byrek, patelxhan te embushera (stuffed eggplant), chicken, feta, pickled vegetables, pilaf, bread, salad, and more.
We tried to get a group photo. It took a few shots.
We ate more food than I have ever eaten in my entire life. I've had my fair share of stuffing by Albanian women, but that dinner takes the cake (bad pun intended).
The next day, we stayed in our pajamas and ate food and talked and cuddled and napped and were basically infants but it was wonderful and I am so blessed. The following day, the girls got their first taste of retro buses on our way to Divjake - aka, the beach. We may or may not have entertained the entire beach by making
a music video fools of ourselves a music video.
It was so windy, my camera (inside its case, in a bag, under some clothes) got so much sand in it, it actually doesn't work anymore. I've got to take it somewhere to get it cleaned, because I've taken it apart and I still haven't got all the sand out! Boo. Needless to say, I have no more photos of the trip (which continued to Germany!), unless these count:
Blurry picture of my leg on a train in Munich, trying to get the lens to focus.
I think this might be a church? Maybe? Looking out the doors??
Thank goodness for instagram!
Xhiro-ing with Lena and Lena.
Munich, though, was stunning. Photos can't do it justice. Maybe I had on some first-world-colored glasses, but I fell in love with that city. It's like a perfect combination of Paris + London: continental, quirky, historic, and beautiful, like Paris, but orderly, tidy, welcoming, and engaging, like London. I had Munich to myself for 8 hours until the girls' flight got in, so I just wandered around the city by myself until dark. With only 10 euro, because my card was denied (even though I spoke with my home bank), and I forgot to exchange my leke at the Tirana airport. Not going to lie, it felt very Hemingway-esque: strolling the Marienplatz, going to Catholic mass at the Frauenkirche, drinking iced tea (bought with my last few euro) and reading at a cafe, and exploring the university neighborhood. When it was finally getting dark, I took advantage of the free lattes in our hotel and had a shower with a shower curtain and fluffy towels. HEAVEN.
Also, people spoke to me in German. Because I looked like I belonged. Which is something that I didn't realize that I missed from home. (That is, I stick out like a sore thumb here, and there's no way to blend in and just be a part of the crowd - at least in Lushnje.)
S, B, & I went out for pizza when they got into town late at night, and after hanging out in the city for a bit the next morning, we caught a train (and another train, and another, and a city train, and a bus) to Stuttgart to visit Brant at his university, meet some cool Germans, eat German food, see a castle, and go to the Mercedes Benz Museum (totally worth it!).
Things I loved about Germany (the shallow version):
1. Fluffy, dryer-dried towels
2. Bike lanes everywhere
6. Winning at euchre
But really? The trip was a success because I got to spend time with some of my dearest, darlingest friends. We could have spent the whole time in an Albanian bunker for all I cared, as long as I got to be with them.
Becky and Sarah: thank you. THANK YOU. For coming. For bringing treats. For putting up with my clinginess and absentmindedness and Albanian timing and my toilet-seat-less apartment. Thank you for being in my life. So much love to you both.
Brant, you too. You're pretty awesome yourself.
Miss you all already!