Still in Vlorë, I am exploring more. Many places to see and all are lovely. I’m attempting to make the best of my last days here without going broke. It is very tempting to spend all I have on the many restaurants, cafés, and stores. Flashy shoe stores have been calling my name. So far, I have been strong resisting most that has been tempting me. It is fairly easy to have fun without going broke though. The currency here is Lekë and it seems to go along way. I’ve been frequenting the 24 hour ATM to turn my dollars into lekë and it is an easy process. Again, attempting to not frequent it too frequently! Must pay rent when I get home.
Today I am writing from my favourite place in Vlorë, “Royal Kids.” We have quickly become regulars. Employees know our children by name and they speak English to them furthering the feeling of home. As I sip my perfect cappuccino and sit in their plush light grey café chairs formed with bright red metal in a mid century fashion, I am content and longing to stay. “Royal Kids” is a café with a soft play area. One area is a floor of trampoline that curves up the wall with a big pit of spongey cubes to jump into. The other area to the right is filled with fun for the kids. A deep ball pit with a soft ramp sits next to a big plastic playhouse you might see at someone’s home. The floor is padded so kids jump and climb safely while using giant foam building blocks to create towers only to purposely push them down. A few toy horses to ride and a big handled bouncy ball, all the children are busy with the wide variety of fun. Adults are not forgotten at “Royal Kids.” As I mentioned earlier, their cappuccinos are a good enough reason to go even if you have no kids. Not a coffee drinker? They have a good selection of beers, sodas, juices, energy drinks, and sparkling water nice and chill in the cooler. The cooler is conveniently placed in the main area so patrons can go grab something quick for their kids or self. Additionally, security cameras with a monitor are placed in the play area making it effortless for you to check on your kid without even leaving your chair. Overall, this is a perfect place to get some energy out of the kids, meet for a drink, work on your computer, and more. With outlets near every chair you could stay all day.
Not too often do the residents of Vlorë go out to eat. City streets stay somewhat quiet during the day. There is no lunch rush as there is in the States. No long lines waiting to get the Chick-fil-a so many Americans love. Most people stay busy doing their daily chores so they may socialise at night. Vlorë is filled with ice cream shops and bakeries everywhere. A notable one is called “Big Scoop.” Experience the best pistachio ice cream with the perfect amount of nuttiness. Crepes are on the next level. My husband ordered one that was filled with the “biscoff” coffee cookie, chocolate syrup, and caramel syrup with 2 scoops of house made vanilla ice cream on the side. I regretted ordering only a beer once I saw his mouthwatering dessert. The place has impeccable interior design and irresistible sweets.
With bakeries at almost every corner you would think some would go out of business due to too much competition. Lucky for them Albanians love fresh bread and sweets with practically every meal as most Mediterraneans do. Therefore, bakeries stay busy. One memorable bakery we frequented was “FURRE BUKE KARABASH.” Beautiful tile, brass accents, and an Albanian phrase in mosaic on the floor makes this establishment as appealing to the eyes as the inventory is. Fresh baked bread on the counter, artfully decorated delicate sweets behind glass, and the well known traditional desserts flying off the shelves. The most impressive moment for me was the donuts. Bigger fluffier dough. Creamier yummier glaze. Topped with the tinniest most elegant rainbow sprinkles. This place tops Dunkin’ a million times over. I will never be the same.