I just got back this week after spending 10 days in Albania with my wife. She is originally from Albania and we went there to celebrate New Years with her family. Over there, New Years is really the holiday they celebrate, not so much Christmas like here in the U.S.. New Years Eve was quite a spectacle with a fireworks display throughout the city like I have never seen. It seemed like every house was lighting off fireworks.
We spent a lot of time eating with her friends and family and her mother enjoyed showing us off to her friends. Being there was quite an experience. The country is very different than most other countries I have visited. The food was excellent and her friends and family were very wonderful people. The pollution was difficult to deal with since I have really bad allergies. I also find it difficult when I go to Europe because they smoke so much there compared to what our last Mayor enacted in NYC. Crossing the road was more like an Olympic sport, you never knew if they would actually stop.
Before I left I bought a new camera. The Panasonic GX7 with a 25mm lens. I took it with me everywhere and it did a fantastic job. I still have to get used to it a little but setting it in RAW + JPG with the JPG in Black and White mode is really an incredible feature (I learned that from Carl Weese who suggested the camera). When taking photos of people, it was a little different than what I am used to in New York City or anywhere else for that matter. People we very open and friendly, often posing and asking me to take photos of them. They laughed and joked about how they would be famous now. I took close to 3000 photos, here is one them. It is a view from my Mother in Laws balcony on a weekday when the smog was really at it's peak. I will have plenty more soon.