Shishkebab in Vlora, originally uploaded by jhoko.

Vlora wasn’t our favorite place in the world. There is a beach, but it’s dirty. Crossing the main road in the city is a deathwish. There is a lot of construction.

But then we found this tent. This tent on the beach in the middle of a carnival where they were selling qoftë, which are basically sausage/meatball hybrids made out of ground lamb, and shishkebabs, which may have been made out of chicken wrapped in bacon? They were grilling these things on a big charcoal grill, and these young boys were running huge mugs of Albanian beer in and out of the tent to the rickety tables they had set up on the grass. As was true in everywhere we went in Albania, the clientele was 99.9% men, but it wasn’t weird or uncomfortable or anything to be a girl out there, which actually surprised me considering how few girls we saw out at night throughout the trip. An Albanian guy we met later on told us that it wasn’t wrong to go out late as a girl in Albania, it was just that they were more protective of girls and they were expected to be home a little earlier than the guys. I didn’t meet any girls to ask them how they felt about the situation, maybe because of the situation itself, but none of the guys seemed to mind their boys/ nights out. We had mug after mug of beer and plate after plate of qoftë and shishkebab, and in addition to our 14 euro beachfront hotel room, this place made our stop in Vlora totally worth it.

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