Hello from Tirana, Albania! We arrived safely after a very long day and a half of travel. Our last layover in Venice was nine hours, so instead of waiting in the airport, we decided to take a bus into town. I had never been to Venice before, and Oliver wanted to show me some of the sights, so we got on the vaporetto (water transport). What a unique place!
It was about twelve stops or so until we reached the centre of town, San Marco...
San Marco was swarming with tourists, and we were dragging all of our luggage around, but I did get to see and enjoy many of the typical sights... the lampposts with pink glass, gondolieri, and characters dressed in Venetian costumes for the tourists. The Basilica di San Marco was impressive.
After a short time, we wandered into town through the narrow labyrinthine streets, and found a quiet pub for lunch. The building (which is now a fancy hotel) dated back to the year 500, we were told, and was the place where the composer Vivaldi lived while writing his 'Four Seasons'.
After this short excursion into Venice, we flew our last part of the trip, arriving in Tirana late on the 16th. Bujar was there to meet us at the airport, along with his bassoonist friend, Fatos, who drove us into town. Because our flights had been more expensive than the orchestra had counted on, we were told that we wouldn't be staying in the City Hotel, but instead were put up at the Livia-- which is where I stayed last summer while on tour with the West Coast Symphony. It is not fancy, but it's improved since last summer, I think-- our hot water and electricity have been stable so far. The TV reception is sketchy, but we are sometimes able to get the news, or watch Balkan music videos. And we are right across the street from one of the best restaurants in town (Gloria), which is not a bad thing! Tomorrow we start rehearsals with the RTSH.