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Posted at 4:55 PM ET, 11/ 4/2010

Albania, prepare for a Lonely Planet invasion

By Melissa Bell
Alison Appelbe of Vancouver, Canada, points in the direction of an empty restaurant terrace and distant hotels and villas near the Albanian resort town of Saranda. (Peter Mandel)

The popular travel guide Lonely Planet just released its list of the 10 vacation spots to visit in 2011. The top choice: Albania.

The tiny Balkan country has not had the easiest go, as it adjusted to life outside the communist bloc. Riots, economic collapse and social unrest plagued the country. However, the little country (about the size of Maryland), has stablized, creating a free-market democracy, applying to join the European Union in April, 2009 and opening its doors to the wayward wanderer.

The place does sound lovely. A January Post article on Albania reports: "There's variety inside that space, including a mountain-studded interior and an unspoiled Adriatic coastline. Travelers like me who long for places that don't yet have a Starbucks are starting to take notice."

Now Lonely Planet has noticed.

"Ideally, guidebooks try to unobtrusively nudge tourists towards the authentic sights and pleasures of a destination. In reality they have the power to transform almost anything they touch, especially in places popular with backpackers," writes Jonathon Allen on the "Lonely Planet effect" in a Reuters article.

The Lonely Planet announcement reads: "The jig is almost up -- Albania won't be off the beaten track for much longer."

Which is funny. Only not really.

Correction: An earlier post mistakenly asserted that Albania joined the European Union in April. It applied to join, but has not joined as of December, 2010.

By Melissa Bell  | November 4, 2010; 4:55 PM ET
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Albania is very definitely not in the EU yet. Quality journalism there.

Posted by: CLondon1 | November 5, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Albania is not in the EU. But I think the author meant to say NATO, because Albania joined NATO in April.
Otherwise, great article and an expansion would be welcome!!!

Posted by: bardhosh | November 5, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I would suggest to correct the part; "joining the European Union in April" since it doesn't really illustrate the reality of it. Albania has yet to achieve candidate status before it can join EU.

It is however true that the days of Albania being little affected by Starbucks and McDonalds culture are numbered as the publicity of its attraction reach more and more people. "Which is funny. Only not really."

Posted by: alproud | November 10, 2010 12:29 AM | Report abuse

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