Go North: ‘The art of simplicity. Buke, kripe dhe zemer. And a little Raki. #Valbona’

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 21, 2017 09:01

Go North:  ‘The art of simplicity. Buke, kripe dhe zemer. And a little Raki. #Valbona’

satlThe art of simplicity. Buke, kripe dhe zemer. And a little Raki. #Valbona.” This tweet by Johann Sattler made headlines and almost went viral as the Austrian Ambassador to Albania recently visited the northeastern Albanian region of Tropoja inaugurating an Austrian exhibition, hiked some landmark natural sites in the region and enjoyed local food offered by guesthouses along the Valbona Valley, rated by the National Geographic as one of top great outdoors globally.

‘Buke, kripe and zemer’ (Bread, salt and heart) is an ancient saying in Albania characterizing the hospitality Albanians have traditionally shown toward guests, even unknown travelers knocking on their doors.

Meanwhile, raki, a clear liquor usually made from grapes, is the traditional alcoholic drink of Albanians.

The hospitality of Albanians has also been enshrined in the Kanun customary code dating back to Middle Ages which governed social behavior and almost every aspect of life in much of Albania, especially northern Albania. The Code is still revered in some remote isolated areas and many of the blood feud killings take place because of its laws inherited in centuries.

“The house of Albanians belongs to God and guests. A guest must be honored with bread, salt and bread,” says the Kanun, codified in the late 19th century after being preserved orally since the 15th century.

Ambassador Sattler had an intense weekend in Tropoja where he met Mayor Besnik Dushaj to discuss bilateral projects and tourism development, especially the need to focus on soft tourism. He also participated at the opening ceremony of “Flashback, Albania in the 1990s,” a photo exhibition by Austrian historical anthropologist and photographer Robert Pichler that will remain open at the historical museum of Bajram Curri town of the Tropoja region for two months until early next September.

The exhibition is a major event for Albania and the northeastern Albania region of Tropoja, one of the country’s most underdeveloped, but with wonderful natural destinations such as the Valbona River and its valley attracting thousands of tourists.

The region is described as a perfect site to develop sustainable mountain tourism, but projects to develop hydropower plants have sparked concern among environmentalists.

Plans to build 14 hydropower plants in the Valbona river valley are already underway, despite protests by local residents and environmentalists who say they will destroy tourism in the pristine northeastern Albania area.


Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 21, 2017 09:01