Interview with one of the earliest Travel Bloggers from Tirane, Mr. Marlen Kazani.
Marlen is a friend and a colleague. He is currently teaching in Hospitality and Tourism Professional School in Tirane. Like many other Albanians, he has lived some years abroad before deciding to come back in Albania and settle for good. His passion is to promote Albania and he does that with his Blog since 2012.
I met him at University in Tirane while following the studies for Tourism Management. Our talks had always been filled with ideas and passion for traveling and promoting tourism. This is how I came to know that Marlen is one of the earliest Albanian Travel Bloggers and decided to interview him with my 10 Questions.
Question: Hi Marlen, what’s up?
- I am good, thanks.
Question: I would like to know more on your blog, what is all about?
- The Blogger has been created to help travelers discover Albania, its culture, history, natural beauties, archaeological sites, something that is difficult even to imagine. You might think you know Albania, because you may have heard about its fabulous places but pictures do not provide you with the clear image of Albania, and therefore i offer the opportunity to know Albania better.
Question: How often do you travel and how do you get all the information for your blog?
- Oh I travel and do it as often as I can. To me it is not important if it is for a long time or a short time, but I always go somewhere. Very often, I would get news and messages from places like Restaurants and Hotels. This is also because of my work, I am teaching in Albanian Hospitality and Tourism School. Thus, often I travel because I want to see where my students are going to work J
Question: You are blogging since 2012. How did you start in the very beginning?
- I started with a thought and I still have that thought: “Albania is amazing and everyone should know it”. Coming back from my studies and work in Italy, I was feeling that Albania really was having a very bad reputation. I felt that there was not much on Tourism and How to travel in Albania. Tourism had already begun but still there was so much lack of information. Even on how to access Albania, which were the best ways, what do we eat, what language do we speak, all this information somehow I sensed as missing from the web. This was my motivation. Exposing Albania from a Touristic point of view.
Question: How do you feel now about all your work?
- I am happy that I do it. I have been to lots of places and met many people. I try to post often on news and happenings around Albania. This makes my blog a good place where to look for information about where to stay, who to contact and what to do in Albania. One thing I really love to show in my blog is the Natural attractions along with the Albanian Traditional Dishes. Now I have also my Instagram and Facebook page and my followers would comment and reply there. I like it, I like to answer to questions and help as much as I can.
Question: You have been recently invited in a talk in Radio Tirana, the National Radio of Albania. Do you see yourself like and influencer?
- (Laughs) An influencer? That is too much for me. I have my channels, people would follow me and write but definitely I am not an influencer. A specialist of Travel and Tourism, yes. I am a specialist of industry.
Question: Do you think tourism is moving in the “right” direction in Albania?
- Tourism is moving in Albania. If we have a look at the numbers, before the Covid 19 crisis, Albania was doing really well. But, there is many problems that need to be addressed. For example, we promote Pristine Landscapes and Organic Food, virgin shores and amazing landscapes and also Mass Tourism on the Adriatic Coast. I think that all the actors have to be very careful and think of the future while consuming the actual resources. Albania should promote and offer a Sustainable Tourism, that’s the key for a long and healthy progress.
Question: Can you name some attractions that a foreigner shouldn’t miss in Albania?
- There is many, really many places. I am writing about them since 2012 (Laughs). Albania is beautiful and for example in the Nort, the mountains of Valbone and Theth are amazing. Also the northern capital, Shkodra is a very lively city. Very good museums and historical and natural attractions. I mean, founded on the junction of three rivers and has an amazing castle. I can just suggest to hop on in one of its towers and contemplate the views. Furthermore, historic towns like Berat and Gjirokaster, both of them UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Question: What is your favorite Albanian Dish and how is it made?
- I really love Tave Kosi. This dish comes really from the Albanian Tradition. It is served as a main course. One of my favorite descriptions on how to prepare it is found on BBC. Not that easy to prepareJ
Question: What would you like to say to a foreigner…why should visitors decide to visit Albania?
- Only one thing; This place is Authentic, close to Europe yet so mysterious. I mean isn’t it fun to visit a place you know nothing about?