Albanian Holidays and a Trip to Venice

Thanksgiving is not a holiday that Albanians celebrate for obvious reasons so this year Thanksgiving was just another day of teaching for me. Our school did have a Friendsgiving after school on Thanksgiving Day. We all brought dishes to share which resulted in a delicious meal even though it was not a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

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Edlira and I at Friendsgiving at ACT.

The following week we had a five day weekend because of two Albanian holidays. Albanian Independence Day is celebrated on November 28th and marks the Albanian Declaration of Independence and the rise of the flag in 1912 and coincides with the day in which Skanderberg raised the same flag on November 28, 1443. On November 29th the Albanians celebrate Liberation Day. This day commemorates the Albanian resistance during World War II and was the day that the last German left Albania in 1944.

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On the day before our 5 day break the children all wore red and black in addition to clothing that had the Albanian flag on it. Aren’t these girls darling??!!?
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In this picture the children are holding their hands in the shape of a double eagle just like the Albanian flag has on it. The kids enthusiasm over this day was infectious.  They love their country and it showed!

For the 5 day holiday weekend, two friends and I flew to Venice, Italy. The flight time to get to Venice was a bit more than an hour from Tirana and the ticket only cost $140 round trip. I had never been to Italy so I was super excited to have the opportunity to explore one of it’s gorgeous cities.

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Look at the floors at the airport in the baggage claim area. Gorgeous!
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Here we are making our way to the water bus which was a 15 minute walk from the airport.
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Boarding the water bus for the hour long ride to Venice.  Venice is a group of 100 manmade islands that are off the coast of mainland Italy in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. You can get to Venice from the airport via bus which accesses the island by crossing a causeway onto the islands but we liked the idea of taking a water bus instead.
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Arriving in Venice
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Look at all the gondola boats that were tied up as we arrived at our dock.

We stayed at an AirBnB located in a residential part of the city and a 5 minute walk from where we got off the water bus. Here is the narrow walkway to our apartment and the door of where we stayed.  Charming! The apartment was very well priced since we were traveling at the end of November.

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My favorite part of Venice was walking down the narrow sidewalks, over the bridges, along the canals and getting lost in the maze of the city.

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The Rialto Bridge
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The first day we toured Doges’ Palace. A doge is the name given to the Venetian rulers between roughly 1100 and 1500.  At that time, the palace was the most powerful half acre of land in all of Europe. The following are a few pictures taken inside the palace.
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This sign was at the entrance to Doges’ Palace. Interesting…

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This is the largest oil painting in the world with 100 people included in the painting.

There was a prison underneath the palace.

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We went on a small group tour with a Venetian who was born and raised on the islands. He helped us learn about the history of Venice and told us of the problems Venice has in the summer months with too many tourists. He was frustrated with how his government handles the huge influx of tourists but at the same time he was very appreciative that tourists came to visit because they provide a livelihood for most Venetians.
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Look at these yummy tapas like food that are called cicchetis. We made more than one meal out of them, Our tour guide introduced them to us.

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Touring St. Mark’s Basilica was a trip highlight.

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Venice has a long history of glassmaking dating back to the 1200’s. My friends and I took a glass class from a local glassmaker which was so interesting. We even ended up with our own pendant at the end of the class.
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This is the shopkeeper from one of the glass shops we visited on the island of Murano which is known for glassmaking.  I asked if he was from Murano.  He said he had been born and raised on the island and that his family had lived in Murano for the last 500 years. Wow! He has two grown children who also live on the island. He had made everything in his shop and was so very interesting to talk to.
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These ladies were great travel companians!

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Loved these great store windows!

The pigeons were everywhere in St. Mark’s Square! They could really get aggressive at times.

The food was delicious centering primarily on seafood and always beautifully presented.

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My usual picture out the window from where we stayed.

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The winged lion is a symbol of St. Mark. We saw them everywhere.
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Loved seeing the beautiful artwork everywhere we went.

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Many Venetians are  unhappy with the number of cruise ships visiting their city. In fact, Venice is considering implementing a law in which you cannot visit Venice unless you stay for two nights.  All of this is an effort to reduce the effects of their city being swallowed up by all the tourists.

Venice has ongoing issues with flooding so we saw these platforms primarily in the St. Mark’s area. They are movable, elevated sidewalks that are used when the water gets too high.

As I said earlier this was my first trip to Italy.  After spending four days there, my first impression is that Italy has a warmth to it that is influenced by the friendliness of the people, the beautiful surroundings, the food, the architecture and the sound of their language.  I loved it and am looking forward to exploring more of this country soon.

10 thoughts on “Albanian Holidays and a Trip to Venice

  1. This trip looks incredible! You are gdving some amazing experiences Sarah! I’m so happy for you. Merry Christmas and happy new year from Fairport! We miss you but know you well! Keep enjoying the adventure and sharing with us! 😃

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  2. What a fantastic trip to Italy. I love the things that you choose to take photos of such as the ship emissions, the handling of the people with veils, and the narrow roads. I also enjoyed learning about the Albanian holidays. Thanks for posting.

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  3. So happy to hear of & see your travels, Sarah! The kids & I loved Venice, too .. would go back to Italy in a heartbeat. Merry Christmas, my friend! Sending hugs – 🎄🎅🏻

    Love,
    Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

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