Traveling around really shows you the true nature of a lot of people and says a lot about various countries. By far, I have found Albania to be one of the friendliest and most helpful countries that I have been to. Here are a few examples of why:
1) The first time I was in Tirana I was very turned around and the directions I had to the hostel made no sense to me. Getting lost with nearly an extra 30 kilos of baggage is not fun! I stopped and asked a security guard for help who in turn grabbed a street artist who spoke English. He looked at where I needed to go and said it was very difficult and that he would walk me. The round-trip for him was probably 45 minutes and he refused to accept any money for his help.
2) The hostel owner in Saranda would walk everyone to the ferry port or bus station and assist them with buying their tickets. He also made sure there was always fresh watermelon in the fridge since the days were so hot.
3) My cab driver the second time I was in Tirana (lesson learned) told me about his government job he held for 14 years and was laid off because his boss didn’t like him. But he was thankful there were tourist in the city so he could make some money driving a cab an learn something everyday.
4) I was waiting for my transfer to Kotor when a kid came up to me asking me to buy a pen. I didn’t want his pen and he just kept talking. I told him I was going to Montenegro and to have a nice day. About 10 minutes later he comes running over saying, “Hey lady! Hey lady! Aren’t you going to Montenegro? Your van is over there.” He proceeded to escort me across 6 lanes of traffic and carry one of my backpacks. I gave him the last 70 cents of Lek I had.
It really amazes me to see such kindness and know that nothing is expected in return.