Politicians, businessmen and anyone setting someone up on a blind date can learn a lot from Tirana, Albania on the subject of expectation management.
Who would not prefer a pleasant surprise over disappointment? Masochists, that’s who!
Tirana is a master of the over-delivery. We were expecting depressing concrete blocks masquerading as joyful with a coat of neon pink paint (thank you Russia) and wide, pointless and impossible to cross boulevards clogged with cars piloted by license-less maniacs who have discovered the horn but not the brake (thank you China). Alas, this sums up Tirana fairly well. However there is more!
We expected little to no greenery and were met with a medium amount. While no Central Park, the Grand Park has a pleasant walking path and young trees with a bright future. An over-delivery!
We expected restaurants serving mystery meat with a side of meat and, although that is a staple, Tirana has a fairly hip and bustling international dining scene. This morning I had pancakes with maple syrup. Tonight I just may have fondue or falafel. That’s an obvious over-delivery!
So while Tirana will never be Paris, it isn’t claiming to even come close. And that’s the trick. Instead of complaining about the lack of world-class sights or architecture produced without concrete or enforced traffic laws, I say hey, look at that empty fountain. I bet when they put water in it will look really nice!
Well played, Tirana!