Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Albanian Doors

One thing I love to do here is ride my bike. It's just a wonderful way to explore the city and see life in Shkoder and how the people live.

There are a few areas of Shkoder that have these wonderful Venetian houses, closed off by these huge doors that loom over you as you ride by.

They are so beautiful and have clearly been built well, as they look to be well over 100-150 years old. Maybe even older.

I love the knotted wood and the patterns intricately carved into the door panels. Some of the doors have smaller doors to climb through.
Whilst riding around, I wonder who lives in these houses and what lies behind these doors?

Doors have always intruigued me. Take a look at my pinterest board here to see what other kinds of doors inspire...

On another note. We head back to Greece tomorrow for the christmas season. Really looking forward to being back with my sister and her kids...

Holiday Weekend

Living in a foreign land, you get to meet lots of internationals. And so with that in mind, this weekend was one of celebrations!

It started Thursday with American Thanksgiving! But our friends from Peace Corps celebrated on Friday.
I literally 'kick started' the day with my first ever attempt at American football.

As a Brit, it felt like another language to me.  With words like "Go Long Rachel" and "Who's quarter back?" I had no clue. But I ran when told to.
I did manage to stop the opposing team running for a 'touch down' and my finger did brush the ball once! I think I was an asset to the game? All good fun...

The evening was fun too. Thanksgiving dinner and lots of laughter! I met some great people from Peace Corps.

Albania celebrated a national holiday too.
Freedom from the Ottoman Empire!
So last night we headed off into the town centre for music entertainment and fireworks, finished off with a hot chocolate!

Today is still a holiday, so the schools were closed. Jamie decided to get on with work, but Oliver and I got out the craft box and did some finger painting. Lots of mess and lots of fun! And I was so impressed with the result! That canvas will be up on my wall once dry!

This week, Jamie and I set off back to Greece, as work takes Jamie there, as does CHRISTMAS! So here starts the packing again...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Running for children

Well today was a day of firsts!

For the first time I ran 5km in a 'fun run' for charity here in Albania. I've never run before, apart from on a tred-mill in the gym. I did it 32mins, which is amazing for me!
It was such a fun day for all who came. I even managed to enjoy running! 

It was slightly chaotic, and started a little late... As things do! I even saw a young girl running in white leather boots!

Cross-country running is not something you generally see here, and so it was great to see the Albanians turn out to run. We got lots of stares and pointing, But that's all part of the Albanian running experience!
(Lots of Americans too. A surreal experience being surrounded by English speaking people all together at once.)

Oh, and I have to give a shout to my running buddy Jesse, who kept me going and kept the pace! I'd be happy to run with her again...

(Pictures came from my ipod, so quality isn't brilliant.)
Team Barnes getting ready to run!

With my running partner-in-crime Jesse

Mummy and Daddy looking out for Oliver... can you see us???

We see him!!!

Still running!

Oliver meeting daddy at the finish line

Here comes me and Jesse!

We made it!

Gathering breath back!

Team Shkoder!!!!!

Discussing our times!

I would definitely do it again. But mainly I'm so happy about being fit and healthy again!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Autumn Fruit of the Land

It's amazing that even as the seasons change, one country can still produce so much from the land.
Today we went out into town to get a few bits and we collected local produce. I get such a high from eating fresh, local food.
We bought tangerines, fresh eggs, horse chestnuts, walnuts. And mum even found a massive pumpkin!

We even took a drive out into one of the villages and there was so much wild Pomegranate on the roads. As we drove further into the mountain and on such a cold day, you begin to realise the isolation and solitude the communities must live in as the snow comes, roads close and people are closed off in their villages.

But I took my trusty soldier with me to watch over me and protect me from charging donkeys!!!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bits and Pieces of Life

Today was a sunny day, so a chance to get out and do jobs you can't do when it's cold, wet... or any other weather that doesn't include sunshine!

So off to the market I went and bought veg for a casserole - to keep our inners warm and toasty. (And to make enough to freeze for those nights I can't be bothered to cook!)

A little after that, Oliver and I swept the vine leaves up in our courtyard.

Theres no show without punch - he just had to have a go!

Then it was another trip out on my bike, with Oliver in tow, into the countryside. We did, however, ride past Shkoder dump site and found the '5 Heroes' statue in the midst of it. Not really a kodak moment... But worthy of a blog!

Maybe one day I'll write about them...

And tonight, I shall be curled up by the fire, mug of chamomile tea and chatting to Jamie, bringing the world to right... (the anthropology way!)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Through the eyes of Instagram

These last two weeks we had my sister Carolyn and her family visiting us here in Albania. Its been such a lovely time together.
We filled the days with Bike rides, meeting women, the gym, trips to other towns and play parks in and around Shkoder.

Find out what we got up to in an Albania antiques market on Carolyns blog.
They set off this morning back to Greece, where we will all be reunited for the Christmas season.
Heres our time together through the eyes of Instagram...


2. Reading
3.Swinging in the garden
5. Bouncing around
6. Ladies day out.
7. Posing down by the Lake
8. Telling stories on the Jetty
9. Albania bonfire night (we found sparklers too!)

Exploring the countryside.

This week Carolyn, mum and I had a wonderful trip through the countryside - out of the city and into rural life.
Setting off out of the city was hectic but once we dodged cars, cows, donkeys and carts the country lanes were stunning. We whizzed around absorbing Albanian farming life.

It got extremely cold and dusk fell quickly. So we got home quickly to a roaring fire and hot coffee.

(I think the photos speak for themselves) 

Today, the temperatures have started to drop dramatically, especially at night. So with no central heating, its time to get those electric blankets out and keep the fire stoked up!