A twenty minute bus ride, a cheeky lift and a short walk took us about 5K north-ish as the crow flies from the centre of Tirane, to Babrru on the very edge of the city. Detail of where and how to get there at page bottom.
From the bus stop we were drawn to take a look at a small mosque and almost immediately as we continued up hill from that we got good views over the city and toward the mountains. It was not clear where the new tarmac road might lead but we were assured it would take us to where we wanted to go.
A short distraction followed as we gave the once over to a totally rust-free 1992 VW T4. Shitet! Looked great, not sure about the price and online tittle-tattle says they are slow and thirsty. If you know any different please call.
The van owner ran us a few minutes up the hill to where the newish tarmac dried up and we wandered into the blurred edge of the city and surrounding countryside.
Albania is known for the 750,000 bunkers that Enver Hoxha’s regime scattered all over the country, to defend the adthe [fatherland] from imagined foes, and where they remain, like glitter on the face the day after the communist party. Most are a small, legendarily strong, pre-fab concrete mushroom that can be seen all over the place.
Others are more substantial, more interesting.
There are perhaps as many as ten of these cut into the hillside here.
The dairy (photo at top of page) was just below the line of bunkers (you can see one top-right) and the three women that work there were between milkings so they had a little time to chat. Twenty-five cows are milked three times a day, giving 15 litres a day each and being expected to calve 15 times. They were eating dry maize and being bedded on moist, fir-tree-smelling wood chippings, the straw from last summer’s harvest having run out by now.
Passing by again on the way back later we bought a litre and a half of straight-from-the-cow milk – lovely it was – for 57p which is 17p less than milk in the shop here and 12p more than a British farmer would get for it. Hence the rise of the mega-dairy; if you want to know more about that, listen to The Archers.
We walked on and away from any homes along a path where a small old woman in a black dress was coping ably with the big bundle of sticks strapped to her back whilst the teenage boy in jeans with her loped alongside idly carrying nothing but the axe. Stereotypes huh.
In part now the hillside was almost clear of the scrub that covered it elsewhere as preparations were made for the cultivation of grapes for red wine with a first harvest expected two years from now.
At the end of the cleared land we turned back rather than get lost in the scrub and retraced our steps back to the tarmac road. From here we took a left up towards the olive trees on top of a small hill that we had been able to see all afternoon. Five minutes later it was just before sunset as we sat amongst those trees with a view of all Tirane and way beyond in all directions.
Walking back down for the bus bats beat their way around the houses and the Moon and Venus shone in a clear, dark blue sky above the minaret of the mosque (more damn stereotypes).
With less traffic now the bus back into town only took 10 minutes.
Later in the evening someone, only half joking, called Babrru “that slum”.
Not the bit we saw.
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To see a google map of Brabbu and the spot from where we watched the sunset click here.
Take the Tirane – Babrru – Paskasqan bus from close to the Mosque on Skanderbeu Square or where the flowers are sold on the street behind that scruffy piece of land (where I’m told to expect to see a big mosque) behind Opera. They run every 20 minutes, it’s 20 minute journey in traffic and it costs 30 Leke. Then make an easy fifteen minute walk up the street with the pretty small white Mosque on it. There are good views over north Tirane and towards Mount Dajtit When the road drops down after maybe 1K there is the chance to turn left. Take it and within a few hundred metres you are in opening countryside.