Ever since my husband and I started pedaling our bicycles east from Germany, we’ve been advised against visiting Albania—from well-meaning family and friends to the Balkan country’s closest neighbors. None of which have visited themselves, conceivably because the Albania of today is worlds apart from the Albania of even the 1980s. Until his death in 1985 and beginning around World War II, Albania’s fierce communist leader, Enver Hoxha, beat the country into a recluse state, killing communist party opponents and banning religion, among other atrocities. These days, Albania has emerged from isolation and the post-communist country offers a host of incentives for visitors, not the least of which is an abundance of unspoiled natural beauty. But reputations die hard.
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