She is one of the most professional and nicest tour guides in Albania and she will know the right place to take you whatever tour dreams you have. She has been walking, hiking and climbing around the country for the last years and it seems that these adventures have only made her want more. Having met her soul mate in one of her trips, she can for sure confirm that traveling brought her life, love and a world full of emotions.
We were curious to know about her working experience as a tour guide and as a traveler herself, the challenges and the pleasure she takes while guiding many tourists around Albania, and we finally have her in this interview.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Meet Albiona Mucoimaj!
1. There is one thing in common on all your travel photographs, your smile. What makes you experience with joy traveling around Albania?
Smiling is a permanent characteristic of mine, that puts me even more in the mood during my travels. Having the opportunity to meet new people, many of whom become friends for life, to see the wonderful Albanian nature, to admire the Alps in the north or to see the rare colours of the Albanian coast in the south is what intensifies it even more.
2. Which are the main challenges for you as a tour guide in Albania?
Being a tour guide in Albania is challenging. We live in a country that is still learning how to manage tourism, which means we are still learning how to serve a tourist and we are also learning how to be a tourist. Being right in the middle of these links is a real challenge as you have to make sure to give tourists a good experience and also maintain balance with the partners who cooperate in tourism.
3. What’s the thing that always amazes the foreigners about our country? What have you noticed so far?
The hospitality of the Albanians is the key word for every tourist. The fact that they feel welcomed and that Albanians are never lazy to help someone or even host them at night are the main points that stand out. Also, the fact that Albania is not well known as a tourist destination for the world yet, makes them wonder. People are often amazed that in such a small area you can find mountains with a fantastic view, you can find a coast with crystal water, you can find a rich history of this nation and many of the coming travellers do not expect this.
4. What’s your favorite nationality when it comes to be their tour guide?
I can’t pick just one. For me, they are under the nationality of the tourist and that sums it all up.
5. Your travel experiences can also be very romantic. I heard your husband proposed you on a trip? Where exactly?
Yes, it is true. Actually I met him on one of my trips around Albania. He proposed me while we were in Valbona, one of the most beloved valleys for us and we met for the first time while hiking to the national park of Qafeshtama.
6. What’s that one destination that you would get back to every year?
The 7 Lakes of Lura. It is the destination I hold dearest and I can’t wait for Lura National Park to be revived again.
7. If I had 1000 euros to spend in a week around Albania and I would like a combination of culture, history and nature, where would you take me?
It depends on which season you would take this tour, as it is very important. But if we were to leave from Tirana exactly in this period and in this week, you would like to see as much of Albania as possible. The tour I would design for you would be: Tirana-Berat-Vlora-Llogara-Himare-Saranda-Butrint-Gjirokaster-Permet-Leskovik-Korce-Pogradec-Lin-Tirana.
8. What’s an itinerary that you would suggest for the parents traveling with their young kids?
The itinerary I mentioned above would be very convenient, but extended to 2 weeks. A weekend in the north of Albania among the beautiful nature would also be a good one. Another alternative would be to stay in Tirana and do daily guides in destinations near Tirana such as Dajt, Petrela, Berat, Durres, Kruje or Shkoder.
9. Which is the most challenging destination or experience ever in Albania?
For me, the two most challenging experiences are hiking on the top of Jezerca, which was difficult and lasted for about 16 hours of hiking, as well as hiking on the top of Vajusha sometime in the middle of January 2021. I remember the thickness of the snow along the path to the top of Vajusha reached 5 meters.
10. Which one do you prefer? A guesthouse or a hotel? Why?
In the north of Albania I prefer a guesthouse, while in the south I prefer a hotel.
11. Where do you find your favourite Albanian dishes?
Hmmmm, “Mrizi i Zanave”, “Bujtina mbi Kanion” in Nivice…
12. What’s a photograph that you had to struggle a lot to do.
I once took a photo on the balcony of Qafe Thore, I was lucky that I didn’t fall on the other side of the balcony.
13. Name a song that represents your travels or something you often listen to.
“Follow the sun” Xavier Rudd
14. Which is your favourite waterfall in Albania?
Peshtura Waterfall and Grunas waterfall
15. What inspires you?
Life itself, people, nature.