Tag Archives: Shit I Learned This Week

Shit I’ve Said Wrong Learning Another Language

Currently I am studying the grand language of Spanish in Colombia, and on many occasions, I have been known to say funny incorrect things or things that are just downright offensive because the translation in English has a totally other sensation. The other day in class I spilled my tea all over the floor and ruined my notebook and responded with “soy inutil” (I’m useless), which in Australia is not such an abnormal thing to say but I was informed that if you say that to someone here, be prepared to get yourself into a punch on.

And then of course you have the standard mistake of ‘estoy caliente’ which means “I’m hot”, but not hot as in, “geez the temperature is high” but hot as in “baby I’m hot just like an oven, I need some lovin’, Marvin Gaye style lovin'”. Water can be ‘caliente’. Food can be caliente. If I am feeling a bit warm, I am ‘calor’….. and perhaps maybe a bit caliente (horny) as well.

One also needs to be very careful with which version of ‘I am’ they use. Because ‘Soy buena’  apparently means “I am a good human being and do nice things for others”, whereas ‘Estoy buena’ means ‘I am a very “good” curvy person and will do ‘nice things’ for others….

Then of course there is chimba and chimbo. Both can be hugely offensive and of course, because of this, they are words I have become attracted to. “Que chimba” is often used to say “how cool”, however if you call someone “a” chimba, then you will be calling them a cunt…… again, not so offensive to a lot of people in Australia, but the rest of the world takes severe offense to such language. And then chimbo can also be a penis, or something of low grade value. What I take from this of course, is that vaginas are well fucking cool and penis’ are low value commodities…….. hmmm….. and of course if you say an arsehole joke it is called ‘chimbiando’. But in the grand scheme of things….. I should probably avoid all of these words, especially in front of police officers, church officials, and respectable people.

I remember a time in Guatemala when the police officer asked me whether ‘those men are “molestando” me….. ‘. Well didn’t I freak out and take off down the street running as fast as I could for fear of being molested, which of course would have looked a sight to the police officer. And didn’t I feel like a moron when later I discovered that the word ‘molestar’ in Spanish, does not mean ‘to molest’ as I thought it did, but it means ‘to bother or annoy’.

I never want to be “embarazada”…. and by that I mean pregnant, not embarrassed. A common misconception and also often is screwed up. Though my friend was encouraging me the other day to have an affair with a Colombian and get knocked up with triplets that I could then go home with and sit on my mothers couch on welfare. I said no because I don’t want to have to carry any extra weight with my bag for the next 7 or 8 months, but I said I would consider it when I arrive in Chile…..

And of course there is ‘travieso’. This word means naughty. And apparently children can be naughty and that is fine. But any ‘naughty’ adult is a sexually naughty adult. There isn’t really any other kind of adult naughty. I have also learned that beverages also cannot be ‘travieso’. The standard Australia ‘cheeky pint’ or ‘cheeky rum’, no existe. A ‘ron travieso’ basically implies that ‘you’ are going to wind up travieso much later on after said ron……

Maybe I should:

  1. Avoid adjectives.
  2. Just avoid saying any words that can be construed as sexual or offensive….. ie a whole lot of them.
  3. Avoid speaking all together…….
  4. Ignore my own advice and continue to laugh at the fact that I have clearly no idea what I am doing.

I think I will choose option 4 and go say some more travieso and inappropriate shit. Que chimba!

 

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Shit I Learned In Egypt

Egypt is an incredible country and one that both wowed and intrigued me, which is a pretty big thing for me these days given how much of a get around I am. I learned quite a large amount of shit while I was here, so here it is! Enjoy!

Arabic words and Phrases

(NB. all spelling is how I would pronounce it, not how it is actually spelt because I am too lazy to look it up.)

Lano. A word that again is quite frequently used and also quite frequently interpreted as ‘yes’. This is nothing new in the land of travel, especially with hawkers and shop owners.

Yalla yallalet’s go, lets go! Said anytime you are going somewhere.

Heidi lancome on bro. What we used to say to the bus driver when he was too busy drinking coffee to drive the bus

Fi el mesh meshwhen pigs fly. A great phrase to use when someone tries to sell you shit you don’t want for a ridiculous price or for when men hit on you.

Beleshfree? Also a great thing to ask when people try to sell you shit you don’t want.

Meshi meshiOK, OK. Also used in my case as ‘yeah yeah, whatever, I’m coming’.

Psora PsoraQuickly, quickly. Note that for emphasis everything is repeated twice. As if saying quickly twice will make me move more quickly. This is usually followed up with ‘meshi meshi’.

Habibimy love. This is what the bus driver would call me and what I started calling the bus driver. Well actually he called everyone ‘habibi’ and one day I threw a strop. “I thought I was the habibi?!?” He says ‘you are assistant driver (because I sat in the seat behind him) and habibi royale’. I will accept this.

I was also quite surprised to see that many Arabic words are the same or similar to their Spanish counterparts… like jabon in Spanish, is sabun in Arabic, meaning ‘soap’. And pantalones (pants) and camiseta (shirt) are also the same.

My name in Arabic and a few other different languages.

Then of course there are words in English that are derived from the Arabic…..

Candy – is from the Arabic word ‘Qand‘ meaning sugar.

Alcohol – from the Arabic ‘al kuhl’

Algebra – the famous branch of maths that kids loathe, is ‘al jabr’

Cotton – from ‘qutn

Cheque – from ‘sakk‘ a vow to pay for merchanise.

Orange – from the Persian ‘naranj‘ which also translates to the Spanish ‘naranja’

Sofa – from the Arabic ‘suffah‘ which was the rulers throne. No wonder they are so comfy.

Shit About The Pyramids

The Sphynx and two of the three greats!
  • The Great Pyramids of Giza took 2.3 million blocks to make by over 100,000 workers in the space of 20 years. On average, this is one block cut every 3 minutes.
  • The outsides of the pyramids were covered in red granite. This no longer exists as the blocks were pilfered for other building ventures.
  • The pyramids are 100% aligned to face north and this was done using the stars and their positions in the sky.
  • The apex of the temples was covered in a metal alloy consisting of a mix of gold and silver called electrum, which was naturally occurring in this area and Anatolia.
  • Each of the temples have a slope of fifty two degrees. This makes the centre of each of the temples a point of high energy and electrons. Apparently an apple sitting in the centre of the pyramid will not decay for this reason. Energy seekers come here and pay ridiculous amounts of money to experience the energy found in the centre of the great pyramid.
The amazing Abu Simbel

Shit About Other Temples

  • The people who made the pyramids and the temples were not slaves, but skilled workers. These workers even went on strike in the Luxor Valley for two months when they stopped receiving their wages… possibly the first form of industrial action of the day. The working week was ten days long and 8 of those days were working (I wonder if the Beatles came here before they wrote 8 Days A Week? In which case, they were a bunch of little hussies cheating on their misses’ for the weekend because the 9th and 10th day of loving didn’t count…. ponderance…. hmmm….). The workers also had holidays and health insurance.
  • There is a type of snake that jumps up at people to strike them from the sand depicted on the walls of one of the temples. What a scary fucking thought. As if snakes aren’t dangerous enough without letting them have springs for ab muscles.
Inconspicuous and somewhat cute looking fucker of a jumping snake
  • All tombs in Luxor and in most of Egypt lie on the west bank of the Nile river. This is because this is the side of the river that the sun sets, or ‘dies’.
  • Majority of the medical tools we use today in surgery can be seen in the hieroglyphs on temple walls. They also had birth giving chairs that look very similar to squat toilets…. just let gravity take care of that.
Birthing chairs and medical tools on the right
  • The guy who discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb died several days later. This is because he shaved the day he went discovering and deadly bacteria from inside the tomb got into the cut, infected it and he turned septic. From here on in, all awesome tomb raiders were equipped with manly tomb raiding beards.
  • They mummified loads of crocodiles. Well fucking cool.
  • The Romans are really good at building shit but even better at fucking up proportions. If you look really hard on Roman made Egyptian temples, you can find hands with thumbs on the wrong side, arms that are too long, and all kinds of ridiculousness. Artists they indeed were not.
  • Ancient Egyptian women only appeared to have one boob. An evolutionary anomaly…. hmmm….
A one boobed lady

Other Random Shit I Learned In Egypt

  • The Cairo cemetery is a giant land of satellite dishes. Apparently 80,000 people live in the cemetery.
  • To sort out a dispute between two men back in the Bedouin days, the leader of the tribe would place a hot knife on the tongues of both men. The idea was that the liar would have the tongue stick to the knife as his mouth was dry and the guy with nothing to hide would be relaxed and salivating at the thought of hot knives….. thus not sticking.
  • Snake poison and milk were given to newborn babies as a form of vaccination.
  • Majority of French perfumes from popular brands we know of today that were made post 1967 come directly from the recipes of perfumes used in Ancient Egypt. The French dude who deciphered the Rosetta Stone passed these on, so we can thank the Egyptians for Chanel No.5 and Armani’s Code, among many others.
Egyptian perfume bottles
  • When the Nubian guys were all fighting over girls and wanting to marry them the girls would respond in a simple way. If she wanted to marry the guy his tea would come loaded up with sugar. If she didn’t, no sugar for you sonny Jim.
  • The king at Sakkara used to have to fight and kill two bulls and cut of their tails as proof of worthiness of being king. They didn’t enforce this on Ramses the second who died in his nineties but was a total pimp. He would have been the Hugh Heffner of the Ancient Egyptian days fathering 162 kids that we know about…
  • There was a princess mummy on the Titanic when it sank. Cool!

Anyway, there are a few tidbits. There were loads more stories of things that happened in Egypt, but I will save those for another time. Til then x

Shit I Learned In Scotland

In the glorious half term from school I decided that it was about time I ventured up to Scotland to see what it was all about. Not only was it full of stunning natural beauty, but also full of fun and fascinating stories of the past. I learned  more than wee bit of shit while I was there, but here are some highlights.

  1. Loads of different sayings take their origins from the Scots

‘Shitfaced’

Back in the days, Edinburgh was full of high-rise buildings. Of course, being in the days before toilets, people used to just chuck that shit out the window. Literally. If you were in the lower floors and had your head stuck out the window you risked getting shat on. So they would yell out before the bucket load of crap went flying out the window and if you didn’t get your head in quick enough, guess where it landed. They say that those who were drunk were dumb enough to hear the call of pending doom and instead of pulling their heads in, they would look up. And wind up with shit on their faces. Shitfaced. Superb!

City views over Edinburgh

‘Doing a Bouch job’

Thomas Bouch was an English engineer who built a bridge that wasn’t structurally sound, it fell down and killed a whole stack of people. What a massive fuck up! A total Bouch job

‘Soccer’

As much as the English and Europeans love to moan about the fact that we call it ‘soccer’ in Australia, it is in fact their fault. They bloody well invented the word. It derives from the full name of the sport from back in the day ‘association football’. Abbreviation of the name and tapping and ‘er’ on the end (oddly a very Australian thing to do… maybe that is where we get it from) results in the word ‘assoccer’.

‘Going berserk’

The Beserkers were a Viking clan full of fierce warriors who apparently fought in such a massively drug-fucked state that people thought that they were crazy. As such, when people go crazy now, they are going berserk.

Stone circle from Lewis and Harris

2. Seagulls can drool.

I mean, I had no idea until I was sitting on the pier with what has been voted the worlds best fish and chips and this damn seagull is sitting in front of me and his beak is literally dripping all over the pavement. He stopped once the fish was gone and I got to the chips. Clearly not as tasty…. but just wow…..

3. Witches don’t drown in shit.

So the river that used to run through Edinburgh used to be full of people’s shit that they used to just pour in there. When they accused people of being witches, they used to throw them in the river and say that if they didn’t sink and drown that they must be a witch. Well given the viscosity of a pile of faecal matter, most of them really didn’t sink. So they’d drag them out and burn them on the stake. That right there is logic for you. Even better, they cleared all of the shit out of this area and turned it into a nice lovely park full of green plants and wonderful flowers fertilised by the remnant bits of shit and dead witches from the area. One may even say that when sitting down there having lunch that you are hanging in the shit pit.

The old shit pit is now a park….

4.  Braveheart the movie is an absolute load of shit and things really didn’t happen that way at all. 

  • Firstly, the ‘brave heart’ actually referred to the heart of Robert the Bruce, not William Wallace. Robert’s heart was carried into the battle that won the Scots independence after his death.
  • The Battle of Sterling win hinged on the fact that there was a bridge that the English had to cross and were eventually backed into a corner of the river bend and couldn’t retreat. Where’s the bridge?
  • Bruce did not betray Wallace and get him captured
  • ugh…. and the list could go on… very entertaining fiction for the most part.

5. Other random shit

  • The word Caledonia is what the Romans used to call Scotland
  • Fife is the alcohol and oddly enough, pregnancy capital of Scotland being home to the bottling of Schmirnoff, Barcardi and Johnny Walker
  • Half Hangit Maggie was a legend for surviving a hanging and waking up in the coffin on her way down the road to be put in the ground. She kicked on for another 40 years post that….
  • Greyfriars Bobby is also a legend. He was a dog that sat by his masters grave for the better part of 15 years, his love and loyalty never faltered.
Cute little Greyfriars Bobby
  • I still don’t like oysters…. the slimy thing went down and some shell got stuck on the roof of my mouth and gag reflex kicked in… yuk. Just feed me a kilo of mussels instead any day.
  • Stone circles are everywhere up north in Lewis and Harris. I daresay they are cooler than Stonehenge and…. free!
  • And…. I want to go back to Scotland! This country is amazing and the nature is just stunning. I want to go back and climb more mountains and take some more boat trips!

 

Shit I Learned In Bulgaria

This was quite a while ago and as such it is pushing my memory to remember what half of the cryptic notes I took about Bulgaria even mean… but here’s the decipher! Enjoy!

  • The word ‘lev’ in Bulgarian means ‘lion’. You can see that this is the national symbol of the country because lions are literally everywhere and the currency is called the ‘lev’.
Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral
  • In the times of Constantine the Great, the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, was actually called Serdika.  This was one of Constantine’s favourite cities in the Roman empire and was the gateway to Constantinople, now Istanbul.
  • You can find churches in Bulgaria that have amazing frescoes from years 1000 and 1300. They are amazing and some of the best preserved in the world.
Frescoes inside of the Boyana Church
  • Bulgarians are terrible with giving you directions on how to get somewhere. The locals joke and say as a tourist the only solid directions you will ever receive are for the destinations of either vodka or the beach. A couple of people I met in the hostel and I decided to try out our luck with getting to Seven Lakes on public transport. After much research and confusion, we finally made it there for the spectacular hiking and views.
The hazy views over Seven Lakes
  • During World War 2, the Bulgarian government was smart enough to save it’s Jews from Hitler’s regime by telling the Nazi’s that they needed the Jews to do labour work on the railroad construction.
  • The city of Plovdiv lies abound seven different hills.
  • There are huge numbers of incredible Roman stadiums and ruins throughout the country, and are home to some of the most incredibly well preserved ruins. One of the world’s largest stadiums lies underneath the main shopping street of Plovdiv.
The end of the Roman Amphitheatre in Plovdiv
  • They have a tradition of tying these red and white, handmade dolls called Martenitsa from blossoming trees as ritual to denote the arrival of spring.

Other than that I really can’t remember that much more shit from Bulgaria other than I really loved it. The people were friendly, the scenery was gorgeous and the history wonderful! Cannot recommend visiting this beautiful country enough!

Shit I Learned In Macedonia

I was only in Macedonia for a couple of days but while I was there I came across one of the most entertaining tour guides I have ever met! He was downright hilarious in the things he was saying and most of the shit I learned, I learned from him during my time in the capital, Skopje.

  • Mother Teresa was born here. Even though she lived a large amount of her life in Albania, she was born in Skopje in a house near the centre of town. It no longer stands but there is a plaque there to recognise the site.
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The site of Mother Teresa’s birth

  • ‘Stan’ is the Arabic word for ‘place’.
  • There was and earthquake in 1963 that levelled the city. The US and Russia came to help try and rebuild the city. The clock at the train station is stuck at the time the earthquake happened. The double decker buses like the ones in London were bought in to help after the time too and they eventually stayed.
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The train station with the clock that stopped

  • The mayor of Skopje suffers from ‘copy paste’ syndrome. He likes stairs in Rome. Bring them to Skopje. Whatever he sees elsewhere that he likes, bring it to Skopje! To the point where the locals now call the place “Skopjian Disneyland”. They ask you to pray that the mayor never visits Venice and decides that Skopje needs canals.
  • Despite that all of the buildings in Skopje look old and are in the ancient Greek style most of them are no more than ten years old.
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The new buildings of Skopjean Disneyland

  • They made so many statues in rebuilding Skopje that they now don’t have enough places to put them all. There are statues on the bridges, statues on the rooves of buildings, statues everywhere…. never before have there been so many damn statues. They even have statues of the shoe shiners that worked down the main street in the centre of town. The sit along beside the people who work as actual shoe shiners….. Distastefully, they also have a statue of a homeless person here as well. Because there weren’t enough as it is without making a statue of them too….
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Just a few statues…

  • The Macedonians lay claim to Alexander the Great. So do the Greek. Of course this leads to a giant pissing contest in which they try and outdo each other. Greece has a giant statue of Alexander. So Macedonia makes one. Then the Greeks crack the shits and are all ‘you can’t call this statue ‘Alexander the Great’ cause he is ours’. So they call it ‘man on a horse’ instead. Ridiculousness. Greece also won’t accept Macedonia as being a part of the EU unless they relinquish their claim to Alexander the Great….. what ridiculousness!
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“Man on a horse” – clearly Alexander the Great

  • In bazaars, the old market places, the corner shops were always worth more money. As such they would design the streets so that there were as many corners as possible.

Well that is about it for my fabulous visit to Macedonia! It was a lovely place to visit for a few days and would definitely recommend the visit!

Shit I Learned In The English Countryside

On my weekends to try and get out more and see a little more of England I have been taking tours to different parts of southern England. I did one tour through the Cotswolds which was really beautiful, I went to Shakespeare’s birthplace and home in Stratford Upon Avon, wandered the streets of Oxford and then headed south into Kent to visit Dover and Leeds Castle. On the way I picked up a few fun facts…. here they are!

  • The phrase ‘waiting on tenterhooks’ comes from the medieval days. In the castles, the place is usually freezing cold and when the royalty arrive, they have to wait for all of the tapestries and curtains to arrive to hang over the walls. The hooks they use to hang up the carpets are called ‘tenterhooks’. As such, waiting on tenterhooks is waiting on the carpets to come in an uncomfortably cold state.
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The lovely green town of Bibury

  • ‘Curfew’ is derived from the phrase ‘curb the fire’. Back in the days of Shakespeare the people used to have fires burning inside their houses to keep the house warm. There was a time that everyone had to have the fire out by and this was the ‘curfew’ or the time to ‘curb the fire’.
  • During these times they also used rope beds. The ropes were crisscrossed in a pattern across the bed and you would lay a blanket down and sleep on it. ‘Good night, sleep tight’ refers to wishing the person that the ropes on the bed would stay tight so that you wouldn’t slouch down in the middle of the night while you were sleeping because the ropes came loose.
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The room where William Shakespeare was born. Note the pull out rope bed

  • Cherries are a traditional symbol of innocence. ‘To pop one’s cherry’ or to take their innocence comes from this traditional symbol.
  • Up until the age of five, they used to dress boys in dresses like they did girls. This is because it made them easier to toilet train. Only after the boys were toilet trained were they then allowed to be dressed in pants and were identifiable as boys instead of girls.
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A boy…. dressed as a girl… for potty training.

  • Grapes are a traditional icon of fertility. This is why they use dried grapes and fruit in wedding cakes. The top tier was traditionally saved for the christening of the first born to wish for the fertility of the child however these days most people save it for their first wedding anniversary.
  • Each of the different houses in the Cotswolds has a different fenlight window pattern above the front door. This is because in the days before house numbers, people could identify who they were visiting based on the pattern on the window.
  • There are 2600 toilets in Wembley Stadium
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The famous Leed’s Castle

  • It was the Romans that invented road signs. They placed markers along the side of the road that later became known as milestones and these told you how many miles to your destination.
  • Dry stone wall building is an incredible art and it takes approximately one tonne of stone to build one meter of wall to ensure that the rocks all fit together snuggly for the structural integrity of the wall.
  • In the small town of Bourton on the Water, they have a football match in the town every August bank holiday. The catch. They play the football match in the water…. not sure how but I would like to check this out at some point…
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Apparently the world’s most beautiful street, Arlington Row.

  • To support the wool industry of the Cotswolds, several laws were passed by the monarchy. Queen Elizabeth the first made it law that you had to wear a wool cap to church on Sundays. Charles the second made it law that if a person dies that the coffin they are buried in must be lined in wool and that the person must also be dressed in wool.

So that is it for now with the things that I have been learning as I have travelled around this glorious countryside. Stay tuned for more interesting things I have learned on my travels about the place next week!

Shit Learned In Albania

Six months ago I travelled through Albania and it was one of my favourite countries that I visited in my trip through the Balkans. I learned quite a lot of shit there and despite the fact that this is well overdue, here is what I learned.

Albanian’s love American Presidents

In the capital city of Tirana not only is there a statue of George W. Bush, the first of the American President’s to ever visit Albania, but there is a George W. Bush Street and a George W. Bush café where he visited. They apparently rope the table he sat at off so that nobody else can sit there because that’s Bush’s table….. my gosh. On top of this, there is a Clinton statue erected in Prishtina (the capital city of Kosovo) most likely as a tribute from the ethnic Albanians as thanks for intervening in the conflict with Serbia. What I do find incredibly humorous, especially now post election, is that the Albanian’s had a special Hillary Clinton statue commissioned for Sarande in the south for when she became President…. I don’t know what they are going to do with it now since that went all pear shaped!

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Shock….horror….. my gosh….

Albania’s roads are shit

The dictator Enver Hoxha during times of communist reign decided that with all of the money he had he would invest in spending it on 70,000 war bunkers at a cost of 1,000 dollars each. This is 70 million dollars that could have been spent on roads and other infrastructure. He did this because he was utterly paranoid that Albania was going to be attacked. Of course this was all unfounded and now as you drive across the country you can see bomb shelters all over the place that have never been used.

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The view over the coast from the winding high roads towards southern Albania

Speaking of Shit….

Shitet is the word used ‘for let’. I don’t know why, but I find this thoroughly amusing…. ‘shitet’ lol….

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Shitet….. lol…. what a shit apartment.

Albanians are lovely giving people

It annoys me a lot that I have heard a bunch of racist things from the mouths of ignorant people. At one point a British guy I met in Italy asked me why I would bother going to Albania as they are all aggressive gang members and thugs. As someone who has lived with and teaches Albanians everyday I can tell you this is not the case. In fact when the Bosnian’s were getting displaced from their country by the horrific Serbian regime to rid all Muslims from the country, Albanian’s gave refuge to more refugees than any other country despite how poor the country was at that time. They are a family oriented and giving people.

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Goats wandering along the beaches of Jale

It’s all about the Eagle!

The Albanian flag is the black two headed eagle based on a red back drop to represent the blood lost fighting for the country. The eagle has it’s roots back to the Byzantine era. This eagle is featured and revered quite prominently. The Albanian word for eagle is Shqiponje. The flag is called the Shqiperise, the people are called the Shqiptar, the country is called Shqiperia. Everything eagle. It is a hugely embraced emblem of who they are as people.

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The fabulous Albanian flag

Albanian drivers are crazy

Pedestrian crossing? What pedestrian? You will find your average Albanian driver cruising around with a cigarette in one hand and a phone in the other leaving you wondering what they use to actually hold the steering wheel and where their eyes are for driving. And yet somehow it seems to work. You just have to make sure that at all times you are on alert and don’t get in their way. Drivers also seem to get a little bit extra crazy if they are driving for weddings. They hang red and white scarves out the windows and wave them ferociously as they honk their horns loudly and often. It is quite the affair to behold!

Tortoises eat watermelon!!

Yeah I know right! Totally weird but totally cute!

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In my jammies feeding the tortoise my breakfast.

So that is about it for my time. I did spend quite a large proportion of my time sitting on a beach in Jale down in the south and hiking from Thethi through to Valbona which is some of the most spectacular hiking I have ever seen in my life. It is such a beautiful country to visit and if you get the chance to, you should definitely go. Just don’t be in a hurry to get anywhere fast!