TV: The Misadventures Of Romesh Ranganathan – Albania, BBC2

If England get to the World Cup final the day of the match is going to be a great day for Hazelwick School in Crawley. Not just because Gareth Southgate was a pupil there, but because Romesh Ranganathan also went there and the third part of his excellent travel series goes out on World Cup final night.
 
After Haiti and Ethiopia this time our beardy hero travels to Albania to get an insider’s guide to the country and to find out whether his own preconceptions about the Eastern European outpost are right.

From a brief glance at an atlas, Albania has everything: it has beaches on the same coastline as Greece and Croatia, hills to trek in and stunning mountains. But for some reason all the average Brit knows about Albania is the old black and white clips from the communist era. And most of those have been mistaken for clips shot in Moscow.

On arrival Romesh does indeed discover a country that is bleak and miserable - but then again, it is raining. And even his native Crawley seems a bit lacklustre in the rain.

Guided by local TV presenter and journalist Erjona Rusi, Romesh is taken on a whistle-stop tour of the country. He visits the beaches (apparently stunning in the summer, but when Romesh arrives it is -10 degrees) and is hosted on a unique homestay in a beautiful isolated shepherd’s village where he is sent out on overnight wolf patrol and then embarks on a treacherous seven hour journey into the mountains.

Along the way, he tries to discover why Albania has remained a stubbornly unfashionable holiday destination, while many other formerly communist nations have leapt ahead. Romesh meets those at the extremes of this unique country, from the rural farmers to the billionaire playboys who live in the cities in the company of supermodels.

He ends up with sheep poo mysteriously smeared across his back and, in a move he will doubtless come to regret, a tattoo emblazoned across his forearm. He finds a people desperate to throw off their reputation as the home of eastern mafia gangs, lots of Raki and a level of hospitality that he describes as ”second to none” as he gets an insider’s guide to Albania.

The Misadventures Of Romesh Ranganathan – Albania, BBC2, 9pm, Sunday, July 15. Then on catch-up here.

Pictured: Romesh Ranganathan with tattoo artist at the tattoo bunka Albania

 

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