King Zog, ruler of Albania from 1928–1939 was once shot as he entered parliament, once in the hand and again in the hip. The assembled leaders of Albania were aghast as Zog calmly sat down at his table to continue working.
“Such things happen often,” said Zog, puffing on one of his 200-a-day cigarettes, “we cannot tell when or where and therefore let us take the matter calmly.”
During another of the 55 documented attempts made on his life, King Zog I, pulled out a pistol of his own and fired back – to this day, and probably forever, the only known world leader to have done so.
This badass attitude pervades the Albanian spirit. It is everywhere you look. Albania is like the rebellious teenager of Europe but unlike James Dean’s archetypal role, the Albanians are rebels with a cause.
The Albanian response to draconian, or hardships invariably provides an example of Zogesk badassry.
Despite the state banning art in the 60s, the Albanians plastered the public spaces with colourful street art and funky cartoon characters. Despite Albania being proclaimed as the first atheist state in the world, they produce Mother Teresa, the most recognisable religious figure in modern times.
My favourite example of Albania’s Zogesk attitude is the fact that there is no McDonalds in the country. There is, however, a fast-food restaurant called Kolonat which serves burgers, fries, chicken nuggets etc… When I saw the logo that Kolonat uses I burst out laughing in the street. A more flagrant example of brazen impudence you will not see. You have to love Albania all the more for it.