Albania. Land of Mother Theresa, bunkers and NO McDonalds!
24th February 2017
I'll be honest. I didn't know a great deal about Albania. I knew that Mother Theresa was Albanian (although where she was born is now part of Macedonia) and via google discovered it is one of few countries in the world without a McDonalds - good for them! I certainly didn't expect it to be a particurlarly 'pretty' place.
I received regular updates from Paul during the tour (he's always very good at this) which means I can share via social media etc with all of our clients who are interested in what we and our leaders are up to... Well I was not expecting what I saw! What a wonderful and diverse place, and according to Paul the most wonderful people too. Paul restarted his project as started in Cuba in November. Giving locals the opportunity to be photographed and in return he printed them an instant photograph from his Fuji Instax printer, he felt particularly for this rather special lady ... "I totally fell in love with the charming Pandora 74 and still rearing goats on her farm that occupies a former special forces base in the Albanian mountains- what a woman" - Paul.
The photographic opportunities are so varied, from tradition landscapes...
...to bunkers and (my favourite) inside of this mosque...
... in case you were wondering how you capture the splendid ceiling of a mosque, Paul will demonstrate...
As expected with a character like our lovely Paul, every consideration is made even in matching the carrier bags to protect a clients shoes to her outfit ...
It was also a great oppotunity for us to give a place away. Due to a late cancellation we had a place on this previously fully booked tour and thought it a shame to waste it so we ran a competition and the winner Richard kindly gave us some feedback on his return, good and not-so-good, all very helpful to us to continue to improve our tours.
"Paul Sanders was a superb leader, I really cannot praise him highly enough. He had time for everyone, and was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Ed, the guide, was a great ‘fixer’. He seemed to know everyone in Albania -and they all liked him!. His knowledge of place and history, together with his command of English, when combined with his humorous stories, made for an informative and fun time. Fati, the driver, was an excellent driver. He never got lost and was most considerate in the manner of his driving. I’ve been driven around Southern Europe by many people; without doubt, Fati was the best.
The other photographers were a great bunch and we were indeed fortunate that we all got on very well.
The hotels were perfectly satisfactory. I know some were disappointed by the first, but not me.
Paul’s choice of stops was inspired. Many locations were out of the way and certainly not obvious. There were enough venues for everyone, street as well as landscape. The scenery in Albania was a real eye-opener, as was the friendliness of the people, the low costs & although the choice of menu was occasionally limited, the food was very tasty and plentiful." - Richard.
Here's more lovely feedback from regular Light and Lander's;
"I can't praise Paul highly enough. He kept his patience and humour when things weren't going to plan and was always there when you needed him. He's a brilliant leader and a lovely person. We'd love to travel with him again and he is perfect for this sort of trip. I hope he doesn't mind us saying that he really did need an overnight break between the two trips. We were all exhausted on the last trip to the airport but he then had to organise & bond with a new group. I think running two separate trips back to back is more demanding of the leader than running one trip for a fortnight especially on this sort of trip.
The Albanian team were brilliant too; although I suspect they thought we were all a little bit bonkers! Maybe we are of course.... " - Sarah.
"This was a truly wonderful adventure. We saw Albania, north to south with some brilliant locations and lots of opportunities for people photography which I love. Paul was an inspiring coach and teacher and I am truly indebted to his patience and support, as well as challenge. As a consequence I truly feel that my photography has come on hugely and I've come to love it again. Paul is an incredibly "giving" person of his time and wisdom and made the trip fun for us all. I completely loved Albania and the whole experience. Paul was terrific. Fati the driver and Ed the tour guide were fun, efficient and informative. Paul had meticulously scouted the locations. The photographic opportunities brilliant, unusual and varied. It was a real adventure but be prepared for different experiences and be open to them. “ - Jo
Finally I would just like to say a massive Thank you to Paul for his hard work, it is much appreciated by the L&L team and all the participants on this tour!
Written by Jenna Guy, images by Paul Sanders.