Albania, for years a forgotten corner of the Mediterranean, is now open for business again. Gifted with beautiful mountain scenery and a stunning coastline, the country has an untamed beauty that is now a rarity in Europe.
Albania has only been independent since 1912, the last country to gain independence from the Ottoman Empire. Then followed a terrifying governmental rule, leaving the country with a communist regime long after others in Europe had crumbled. Only since 1997 has Albania really started to find some sort of normality and relation with the rest of Europe. This chequered past has left its mark on the country, and the general infrastructure, such as the roads, are a far cry from European standards, although improvements are now being made.
And while the roads may have suffered, the spirit of Albanians seems unaffected, the hospitality, especially in the remote areas, is incredible. Life has changed little in the mountains of the north and the homemade cheese, bread and raki tastes how food should taste. The stunning Albanian Alps dominate the lands bordering Montenegro in the north, whilst down south, the beaches and Christian monasteries are well worth a visit, as are the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Gjirokastër and Butrint - which are home to stunning Ottoman architecture and ancient Roman ruins.