Helen in Europe travel blog

Whilst in France, cultural institutions seem to closed on Mondays (Sauf Lundi),for Albania, Sunday seems to be the preferred weekly closing day, which I discovered by chance today when procrastinating about visiting the Mosaic of Tirana. Fortunately for me, this small tourist attraction is just around the corner from the apartment I have been staying at, and in fact I used it to orient myself for Google maps as it's the closest site; but I had put off actually venturing inside the fences until now. Sipping my coffee from a cafe next to the mosaic enclosure, I became aware of the cultural differences between Australia and Albania and discreetly snapped a photo of a scarfed old woman sitting on the gutter's edge, selling vegetables, engaging in conversation with the locals; back in the cafe, it was smoking time and this occurred on numerous tables alongside babies in prams. Upon exiting the cafe, I voyeuristically stole one more snap of the woman before I was barked at by an elderly portly man inside the gates of the mosaic. I started to walk away when he motioned me over to the gates. Although his spoken mouth revealed one tooth only, he spoke more English than most Albanians I have met outside my educated home exchange family. 'Where you from' he brusquely enquired. 'Australia', I offered. Without emotion or derision, he subsequently opened the gate and directed me to the extended label, written in both English and Albanian. After spending due time exploring the 300 AD Roman House remains I enquired about one of the mosaics, whether it was new or old. My caretaker thought for a second and, flatly responded 'imitation'. That mosaic may have been an imitation but there was nothing pretentious about this generous gentleman and indeed any other of the honest, kind Albanians I have met over the past 4.5 days. Onwards to Macedonia (or Republic of Macedonia or North Macedonia, depending on who you speak with).

More about the mosaic from Wikipedia

The ruins of this Paleo-Christian Basilica were discovered in 1972. In 2002, some other objects were found around the ruins of the house, and today they form the Archaeological Complex of the Mosaic of Tirana. It is the only archaeological monument within the city.[2] Some of the ancient mosaics discovered at the site that feature diverse geometrical patterns and depict poultry and fish. It was re-opened to the public on 23 January 2010.

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