Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Handsome Prince

I was in a mood for a chick flick and Bride Wars happened to be in town. Amy, Entela and I went after dinner (the two Ts, Tracey and Travis, walked home.). The theater wasn't as full as I've seen it, however there were cameras every where. Entela asked what was going on and a lady told her that the prime minister was there. Before we had a chance to look for the prime minister, Entela grabbed my arm and said, "Oh my goodness, there's the grandson of the self-proclaimed Albanian king! He's our prince." (The "king" went into exile sometime in the 40s or 50s, I think....) This prince was a dream! Amy asked Entela how he got so tall and blond. Entela said that his mother is from Germany or Switzerland. Then the girls started planning on how I could accidentally, on purpose bump into him and then fall in love. So there. I now have a plot for my very own chick flick.


Upon reflection, I have realized that I'm a person who likes new experiences. Tirana is home, now, and the newness has sort of worn off. Now, it's up to me and my friends to actually look for novelty. (Though occasionally, I might say "no" to a new experience that doesn't strike my fancy.)

Last Saturday, Valentine's Day, a bunch of us met up at a jazz club, Take 5, for after dinner drinks and some live music. Though going to Take 5 isn't new, listening to an Italian jazz singer certainly was! She sang maybe 2 songs that I had heard, with a very strong accent. (I still get the giggles thinking about her rendition of "Fever.") Still, it was a good time. Tracey, Ryan and I had fun playing with the face cut-outs prop that was in the hallway. I really enjoyed hanging out with the parents of a 4 year old. They are excellent, down to earth people. Too bad their moving next year.

This week brought another new experience.... coooooold weather. I kept wishing and hoping for a snow day. Alas, no such luck. The mountains are still dusted with snow. I love looking at them when walking around the city.

Amy, Entela and I always take a Friday walk in the park. This Friday we saw a sign of spring. Lambs! They were so cute so I took a ton of pictures. It was also the first time I wore my long underwear. I've been missing so much. Let me just take a minute to say how much I love the Land's End 100% silk long Johns. They are a miracle. I believe that it was my first time feeling warm all week! And it probably was about 3 degrees C.

Yesterday was girls' night. It's the first one we've had in FOREVER. Thank goodness for friends and laughter. We wanted to go to a new restaurant, but ended up at Serendipity. We had only been there once, and Sarah hadn't been with us. It was a taste of home! It has the only "Mexican" food in the city. We split dishes, as we normally do, so that we all could try more food. In danger of sounding like an alcoholic, I have to mention their mojitos, which are the best in the city! The mint and lime are so incredibly fresh! After Serendipity, we went to Tirana Rock, which is a bar modeled after Hard Rock Cafe. We had a great time dancing and listening to live music. A band from Kosovo was playing classic rock. Every decade of rock was represented! I loved it. An Albanian guy bought us a round of drinks because it was his birthday...that's the Albanian way.

Today, Saturday, we went for massages across town. It was my first massage here in Tirana. Excellent! Amy, Tracey and I went over first, then Entela and Sarah joined us. We had REAL chai tea and German apple cake! I had time to read my book club book. It was a wonderful day.

So there is my weekly update. It's my new, conscious goal to find newness in this familiar city. Then, at least my blogs might stay fresh and interesting!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Catching Up

My creative juices have been rather on the low end. That means that even typing an interesting post might be a bit of a challenge. Really, there is a lot to catch up on despite having the mid-winter blahs!

Australia Day- One of my colleagues/ student's parent is Australian. He and his wife threw a very fun Australia Day party. The chicken wings were incredibly tasty! Practically the entire school community turned up for food, drinks and dancing. There are pictures on Facebook from Violeta's camera. I've been very, very lazy about taking my own pictures to commemorate fun events. (Bad Holly!)

Parents Night Out- Despite not being a parent, all teachers are encouraged to attend these functions. This event took place at an Italian restaurant. There was entertainment (lots of people in our school are gifted musically... I don't happen to be one of them!), dancing and a raffle. Sad to say, I spent most of my time hidden in a corner talking to Entela and Amy. Sometimes, being social on a Friday night is just too much to ask! Worth mentioning were the bookends of the night. Amy, Travis, Entela and I went to the President Hotel for our favorite appetizers before PNO (Tracey and Sarah were away on a school competition). I love the atmosphere at the President. Kicked back, stylish and unpretentious. The close of the evening was nice too. Entela and I went to a wine bar and relaxed with a glass of wine and a bowl of fruit... not to mention some eye candy sitting beside us!

HSM Event- The day after Parent's Night Out came the 9th birthday party for one of the girls at our school. Her cousin is in my class. Then entire school was invited to a live High School Musical show. The dancers danced and lip synced to some of the more popular songs from the three movies. I actually had a really good time at this party.

Swim Team- I think that most of you know that I have been coaching the first TIS swim team. We drive twice a week out to a pool on the other side of town (I swim there on Sunday nights). It's been such a pleasure working with the older kids that it has me thinking about sometime, somewhere teaching middle school or high school (gulp). The team has improved dramatically and really seem to enjoy coming to practice. We leave for Warsaw the first weekend in March. I'm not optimistic about what the amount of exploring we'll be able to do in Poland, but it promises to be a fun trip!

100th Day of School- We reached 100 days this past Thursday. We made 100 trail mix, counted to 100 and had a fun craft project. I really do enjoy the young one's enthusiasm!

Valentine's Day Party- I was warned that even though teachers might want to ignore Valentine's Day, treats show up from the American parents. I decided to embrace Valentine's Day and call my own shots. There aren't any boxed valentines here in this country... but that didn't stop my students! They (and there parents) got so creative. Some actually drew pictures for each of their classmates and others went the computer route. We had a ton of very yummy homemade treats and played musical mats. I think it was one of my favorite classroom Valentine parties!

Today is actually Valentine's Day. Tracey and I are going to Indian food (with one of our Marine friends). Tracey wrote in a note to her parents, "Holly and I are going out together on Valentine's Day. It's better than sitting around feeling sorry for... all the guys who aren't with us!" I love this point of view. I'm done feeling sorry for myself and really do sort of pity the men who haven't had the pleasure of my company! A more biblical point of view comes from Valbona who reminded me yesterday that Jesus is my Valentine...

And now for my fun and exciting news! Last night Sarah, Tracey and I went to see the travel agent. We customized a trip to Sharm el Sheik, Egypt for spring break! Snorkeling, enjoying a 5 star hotel with everything included, relaxing with a good book.... spring break here we come! We also have a day in Cairo. We set up a tour/ tour guide through a reputable organization. I can't wait to see the museum, the Sphinx and the pyramids!!! Come on March 20th.......