Monday, July 15, 2013

Traveling Summer Part 1: Pristina, Kosovo

The flag of Kosovo- each star represents one of the major ethnic groups living in Kosovo- Albanian, Serbian, Turkish, Gorani, Roma, and Bosniak.
On Saturday, Phil and I awoke in the early hours- much to our disappointment as we had been up late celebrating a friend's name day- to embark on the first of many trips together this summer. We had wanted to go visit Kosovo and after much deliberation, decided to make it just a day trip- a long day trip, but a day trip since neither one of us can say more than about 10 words in Albanian. Thankfully for us, Pristina is only 2- 2 1/2 hours from Skopje and there are frequent buses, so after a taxi, followed by a bus, followed by a komvi, and then another komvi, and finally another taxi, we emerged in the center of Pristina around 10:30am. This gave us about 6 hours to see the sites of Pristina before needing to catch the last bus back to Skopje at 5pm.

Now, I should point out that while we had done some research about what we wanted to see in Pristina, we weren't the most prepared as we didn't have a map with us, so despite having looked at a Google map the night before, we really didn't know where things were. So naturally, we hopped in a taxi and asked to be taken to the center. We started our trip strolling along the center walking promenade lined with coffee shops- typical in many Balkan cities.

From there, we wandered around and happened to stumble into almost everything we wanted to see. The only thing we were unable to find was the Ethnographic Museum, despite having been given directions by several people.
Mosques everywhere
Yugoslav World War II Monument of Brotherhood and Unity
Yugoslav World War II Monument of Brotherhood and Unity
The Kosovo Museum was surrounded by a high fence covered in razor wire
Some old artillery in the yard of the museum
Military equipment in the museum
The military zones of Kosovo
Just a table full of big guns inside the museum
One of the oldest and most famous mosques in Pristina
The clock tower
Best part of the clock tower was that it was put in so everyone knew when it would be prayer time- however, these two faces of the clock were about 4 minutes apart. Oops!
The Newborn monument
Phil and I signed our names in the bottom left corner of the first full white stripe
The Bill Clinton statue on Bil Klinton Boulevard that contains a store called Hillary
One of the best parts of the day didn't get photographed. We wandered and wandered and finally found the restaurant we were looking for- Himalayan Gorkha. It was in this rundown shopping center that was barely marked but the food was worth the wandering and hunting. It was the best Nepalese/Indian food I think I have ever had and certainly one of the best meals I have had in the past two years. Phil and I stuffed ourselves with mutton momos, garlic naan, Himalayan spiced mutton, and chicken korma. We could barely move and had enough left over food that we contemplated taking it on the 4 1/2 hour bus ride home, but decided not to.

After eating, we had about an hour and a half until our bus back to Skopje, so we decided to slowly walk towards the bus station. However, like I mentioned earlier, we didn't really know where things were in Pristina. We knew the general direction and there were a few signs to follow, but we finally resorted to stopping to ask. Now the thing with Pristina is that many people do speak English due to the extremely large international presence there, however, Phil and I kept choosing the people who didn't speak English. I stopped at a little tobacco stand to ask and accidentally said "da" to the guy's Albanian. He then asked me if I spoke Serbian, to which I said, "No, I speak Macedonian" (Kosovo and Serbia aren't the best of friends). He got really excited and gave us directions in Serbian while we responded in Macedonian (proof again that Serbians and Macedonians can understand each other despite what the Serbians like to say). We followed the directions and almost got the bus station, there was just the small problem of a 5 lane busy freeway and about 50 meters separating us from it. After feverishly wandering around some more, we stopped to ask the security guard at the site for the new US Embassy in Pristina who wasn't real helpful. Finally after wandering around some more, getting a little worried that we might miss our bus back to Skopje, we ended up back where we started and just gave in and took a taxi to the bus station. Within minutes of getting on the bus, we both fell asleep as it had been quite the day and we still had 4 1/2 hours on two different buses before we could crawl into bed.

1 comment:

  1. Traveling during summer can be fun and entertaining. However, it is necessary to take precaution during summer travel.

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