Thank you for reading this New Section of my blog, “Travel Bloggers “under” Covid_19“.
Feel free to let me know in the comments what would you like to see on my upcoming interviews, maybe you have a specific question, or a list of travel bloggers you would want me to reach out and interview.
This time I reached out to a British blogger/journalist who just felt in love with the Balkans and decided to move to Albania permanently.
She is well known as The Balkanista, and she is not just a blogger; she studied law, has years of experience in marketing, and work as a full time, freelance writer and journalist. You can see the huge work she puts on her website The Balkanista.
If you are curious, how is the life of a full-time blogger and entrepreneur lady, working from home, in Albania, with 10-month old baby, during the quarantine, get some inspiration here:
The travel industry is going to be affected post the coronavirus. Do you believe that everything will go back to normal, or that the world is going to change and this will impact the leisure travel itself? If so, what kind of changes you expect, or what do you think those changes will be?
I am very concerned about the impact that COVID-19 will have on many aspects of our lives. First and foremost, I am worried for the families that are without work and do not know when they will return to work. There are many unable to provide for their families and little help from the government. I have been working to support a few NGOs who are providing vital, on the ground help and support to those facing food insecurity but there is more that we can do. I firmly believe that those that can, should donate even a bit to help those less fortunate. Secondly, I am concerned for those who have jobs in tourism- this year was set to be the defining year for Albania’s tourism industry as it was considered a “hot” destination internationally. For the last 9 months, those in tourism have been gearing up for a record year but right now, it seems uncertain whether it will happen.
Even if restrictions are removed in the next two months, which I find unlikely, I think that many people will be hesitant to travel. I hope people will still come but the numbers will definitely be less. This of course will have a huge impact on tourism here. The only possible salvation is that Albanian people decide to holiday locally. I know my family will spend as much of the summer travelling locally and supporting family owned and small businesses in order to do our bit to support the economy. I also want to increase my coverage of Albania as a destination to encourage more people to come next year.
This whole situation is heartbreaking. I know many business owners that rely on local and international tourism that are struggling to survive and do not know whether they will still have a business next week, let alone in a month or six.
When this is all over, we must do our best to support our local businesses and economies.
What are your favorite things to do during the self-isolation?
Well I am juggling quite a lot- working full time, taking care of my 10-month old daughter and ensuring the house is in order, but we have adjusted quite well. I recognize we are incredibly lucky to be healthy, safe and to be able to keep working during these times, I am very grateful for that.
I wake between 4-5:30 and prepare my sourdough bread that I will bake later in the day, I have breakfast (oats and fruit) and get my daughter dressed and give her a bottle of milk. I then work until around 1pm and squeeze in a 3k run on my treadmill and 45 minutes of yoga. In the afternoon, we sit on the balcony in the sun playing, baking, painting/playing with toys and then I cook dinner. I am preparing an evening meal each night, influenced by a different country! I put my daughter to bed, do another 30 mins of walking, have a glass of wine or gin and tonic and am in bed by around 8:00. Sometimes I read a book for an hour or so, other times I fall asleep the minute my head hits the pillow!
I am quite content with our routine now but I am aware my daughter is missing out on meeting her friends, playdates, going to the park, swimming and art class. I am trying to fill in the gaps as much as I can but it is challenging!
Where do you see yourself post-Coronavirus?
I hope that I keep many of the good habits and hobbies I have developed during this time. Before Coronavirus I never had any time, or at least I thought I didn’t. I would get stressed and frequently complain about not being able to take time for myself. Having to change my schedule and adjusting my sleeping patterns has meant I have found time to do all the things I wanted to do, while still working and taking care of Dea!
Apart from that, I see myself visiting many places – Tropoje, Puka, Shkodra, Dhermi, Drymades, Qerret, Permet, and Cape of Rodon are on the list for this year.
What brought you to Albania?
Why you decided to stay? Do you regret your decision?
And what do you wish for tourism in Albania?
I booked a three-day break to Albania as a last-minute decision- I bought the tickets at 4pm and flew at 4am the next day. I nearly missed my flight: I woke at 2am (it was a 1-hour drive to the airport) and realized I was too late for my departure. I turned over to go back to sleep but then suddenly said “no, you can make it”. So, I got up, grabbed my things and got a taxi. We broke many speeding limits on the way and I made it to check in as the gate was about to close. On day two I had an ear infection and the doctor advised me not to fly, by this point I had already decided I wanted to stay longer (because I loved it) and this was a good excuse/justification. I rebooked for a week later, except I made a mistake and accidentally booked THREE weeks later!
I wasn’t able to cancel so I moved into a small apartment and settled in. By the end of the three weeks, I had decided to stay for good so I booked another flight back, went, got my cats and everything I owned and moved to Albania.
I met my husband 2 months later and we now have a baby girl. Albania is more my home than any other country I have lived in, I feel completely comfortable here and I never want to live anywhere else, ever!
In terms of tourism, I hope that Albania develops a flourishing but sustainable tourism industry. I don’t want it to turn out like Croatia and become too commercial or ruined by crowds of package holiday tourists. Albania’s selling point is its rugged, wild authenticity and the incredible natural beauty of its landscapes. I don’t want this to change.
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