I wasn’t expecting anything from Albania.
To be honest, I had only heard bad things about this country, specifically its people. I heard that they cannot be trusted; they are criminals, sinister immigrants, etc. I thought I would find a poor, dangerous, scary place because even He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named found a Horcrux here (maybe two if he’d met Nagini there).
I found the opposite.
Tirana is a young, vibrant, cosmopolitan and small city with architecture in constant renovation and colourful paintings. Definitely, not Lord Voldemort style. I decided to stay in Blloku, an upscale neighbourhood famous because of its nightlife options and hip cafes, 100% Benjamin Gunst style. Blloku, also known as The Block, was during the communist period an exclusive area for the elite of that time.
After settling down in the hotel, I went right away to the Museum of the Bank of Albania. I decided to go there because I thought I was the most random and could share a picture with Ida. However, like everything in Albania, it surprised me. The place contains a rich numismatic and historical collection of Albanian money. There is also a boring part that portrays the history of the central bank institution in the country alongside much financial stuff.
I sent a picture to Ida in front of the Museum with the caption:
“I wish you were here.”
“It seems you made an effort to find anything strange there. I am glad.” She shared a picture with a crazy face.
Back to Blloku, I chose a place to try the inexpensive local beers. I was having a fantastic time there, while I met a couple of Albanians who visited Canada ten years ago. They said wonderful things about Canada that I didn’t even notice. They also talk about the Albanian people’s history and the Balkans Wars. I had a perfect time with them.
Now I know that I cannot base my judgments on where Lord Voldemort found Ravenclaw’s Diadem. Imagine this correlation was exact; the UK would be a shit-hole.
While sipping the Birra Korca with these guys, I received another message from James Punjabi:
Mr. Benjamin Gunst, please contact me on this number ASAP: +507XXXXXXXX.
I tried to ignore it, but my mind couldn’t stop thinking. I paid the bill, said goodbye to the guys, and went back to the hotel.
When I received his first message on the plane, I ignored it. I tried to match his phone number with an Instagram or LinkedIn profile, but nothing appeared. Now my mind was playing games with me. Why is he texting from Iceland? Why did he give me a Panamanian phone number?
I did want to call him to find the answers but also didn’t want to reveal I was in Albania (just in case), so I bought some Skype credit and dialled the number from the hotel room.
-Good afternoon (it was the night in Albania). Who am I speaking with?
-Hello, James Punjabi. This is Benjamin Gunst. I am all ears.