Friday, July 4, 2008

Around Balkans, Espresso index – costs of traveler

By Gjergj Erebara around Balkans
In 1984, The Economist weekly published for the first time the so-called “Big Mac Index”. This is a method to understand better the value of one US dollar in different countries. This is important because with one dollar, in London you can pay the right to piss in a clean or sometime unclean WC, while in Africa, you can pay a modest lunch. “BIG Mac Index” compares the cost of Big-Burger in different countries. I have traveled in seven countries in Balkans in the last two weeks; I have paid for meals and drinks in seven different currencies. I have found MC Donald only in two of those places. So comparison of cost of living using Big Mac is not possible in this case. I cannot compare Chicken burger menu with burek with cheese that I have found at several Balkan capitals, although, burek was present much more than MC Donald.

Espresso short, stretto, e shkurter, mala
During my travel I have take several cups of Italian style coffee espresso, usually in city centers of Skopje, Sofia, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Dubrovnik and Budva. Since whole Balkans use Italian coffee brands like Segafredo and Lavazza, I think that an Espresso index could produce a better view for “cost of living” in Balkans. It is not exactly “cost of living”. Rather it can be called “cost of traveler”.
This was a very long introducing, but I hope that was important to explain what I am trying to tell.

• Espresso (kafe e shkurter in Albanian) in Tirana city center, (blloku) costs in the evening from 90 to 120 lek. In euro means 0.75 to 1.00. In some bars it cost 150 lek, 1.25. Quality depends from place. Usually is good.
• Espresso mala in Macedonian square, in the really heart of Skopje, cost 70-80 Macedonian denars. In Euro makes 1.14 – 1.3 euro. Quality is good.
• In Sofie, Bulgaria, espresso cost 1.00 up to 1.7 leva. In euro makes 0.5 to 0.78 euro. Quality usually is mediocre. In some places is good. Try Lavazza at city centre, in an inner garden of that great and old building near the mosque.
• In Belgrade, espresso cost 80 – 110 Serbian dinars. In euro, 1.00 to 1.4.
• In Sarajevo, espresso cost 1.2 to 1.8 Convertible Bosnian Marks. It makes 0.62 to 0.93 euro.
• In Dubrovnik, Croatia, Espresso cost 7-8 kuna, means 1.00 – 1.2 euro.

So, according to espresso index, cost of traveling is much lower in Sofia and Sarajevo.

My next article for “diary of Tirana” will be perhaps on Burek Index. Burek is that Turkish meal made with puff-pastry with cheese, meat or spinach. This kind of fast food is much more present in whole Balkans that Mc Donald. I don’t think that the results will be much different that Espresso Index.


clara said...

Hi, congratulations for your blog: I find it very interesting,and it has been of much help for some friends and I who are planning to visit Eastern Europe this Summer. Our original plan is to travel from tirana to ohrid, and then visit Skopge, as we later head towards Istambul. As I read that you have some information available from Albania and Ohrid I'd appreciate it if you could send us some tips or advice when travelling. Thanks!!
Clara (Spain)

Gjergj Erebara said...

Hello Clara
Thank you for your nice worlds. I think that I have wrote all I know how to travel from Tirana to Ochid.
So, from Ochrid to Skopje there are buses but I don't know how much they costs. From Skopje to Sofia, are 164 km and there are many buses. Keep in mind that some buses are some times full, so, you should buy the ticket before. It cost 982 macedonian denar. 1 euro = 61.5 denar. There is not a direct train from Skopje to Sofia. At Skopje, you can sleep in old quarter named Chair. There are many motels there and a room for two cost 20 euro. From that quarter you can easily reach The Stone bridge and Square Macedonia. Once reach Sofia, is easy to go by train to Istanbul.
Thanks again

santia said...

I like Dinar.and its revaluation of currency.