When I asked my friends and family for ideas for this blog, my friend Whitney sent me a Pristina, Kosovo photo scavenger hunt challenge she found online. That was a year ago. Since I am going to see Whitney in a few weeks, I decided to finally do the scavenger hunt. Saturday was a nice day and I had nothing else to do. So, I hopped on the bus to Pristina to begin my challenge!
- If you’re passing by Mother Tereza pedestrian street, just have a look at this Albanian National Hero. [Answer: Zahir Pajaziti]
- As an American, it’s kind of funny to see this statue. His name is spelled correctly while the street is not. [Answer: Bill Clinton]
- If you’re tired of traffic and urban life, this is the ideal place to have a nice walk or take a dip in the gigantic pool without leaving the city. [Answer: Germia Park]
- This kind or architecture will kill your eyes, but since it was listed among top 10 most ugly buildings in the world it is a must-see. [Answer: National Library]
- This is the location where Slobodan Milosevic delivered his 1989 speech which ignited the flames of nationalism in the former Yugoslavia leading to a decade of war and ethnic cleansing. [Answer: Gazimestan]
- Located in one of the few Ottoman style buildings in the city. It’s tucked off a side street but worth finding. [Answer: the Grand Hamam]
I had already seen three of the sites (Bill Clinton, the library, and Zahir Pajazitit’s statue, because it is located in front of a building that has two Airbnbs I’ve stayed at). But, in the spirit of the challenge, I visited all six places in one day.
I decided to start with the most far-flung of the six sites: Gazimestan. It is a monument that commemorates the 1939 Battle of Kosovo. To get there, I took a bus from Pristina’s central bus station toward Mitrovice, and asked to be let off at Gazimestan, which is just a short ways out of the city. I got off the bus and walked along a desolate, trash-strewn road in the middle of nowhere. As I approached the monument, two stray dogs ran up to me. Luckily, they were friendly, but they shook me up a bit. I got to the monument with my two new dog friends trailing behind me and handed my passport over to a very unhappy-looking guard. He kept my passport for safe keeping and I was allowed onto the grounds to take photos. I thought it would be disrespectful to take selfies at a war memorial, so no selfies for this clue.
Apparently, this is a curse:
After I finished visiting the monument, I collected my passport, walked back down the desolate road, crossed the highway, and took a kombi back into the city center. In retrospect, I should have sprung the money for a cab or taken someone else along with me. [Total round trip from Pristina: 1 Euro]
The kombi let me off right in front of the Bill Clinton statue, something I pass every time I come to Pristina. My next clue: DONE!
I decided to go to the next furthest-flung clue, which was Germia Park. Lots of volunteers I had talked to had been there before, but I never had. (Not much of a park enthusiast, I guess.) I had heard that the pool is absolutely enormous. It is! Although, it was empty and blocked off this time of year.
[Total round trip from Pristina: 80 cents]
The bus back into the city center dropped me off very close to my next clue, the Great Hamam. I had a vague idea of where it was. I even had a map I had gotten from my Peace Corps safety and security manager. I still couldn’t find it. I asked four different people on the street for directions. Finally, I asked an older gentleman sitting on a bench, and he pointed at an ugly building across the street.
It was a good thing this notice was posted to the door. Otherwise, I would have doubted I was in the right place.
I was really disappointed by this clue. I thought the Grand Hamam would be beautiful. But no, it’s an ugly, dirty, white cinderblock building. (There is a really beautiful mosque next door.)
After stopping for a refreshment at Trosha, my new favorite bakery in Pristina, I headed off to finish my scavenger hunt. I already knew where my last two clues were.
This is Zahir Pajaziti, the first commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
There was a boy around age 10 who was lingering near the statue. I gestured for him to move so I could take the above photo. Then the boy offered to take a photo of me with the statue. Aww. It was a reminder to me to be less of a jerk when I’m in public.
My last destination was the National Library. I’ve defended this building on my blog before … I don’t think it’s ugly! It’s unusual and, as my parents pointed out when they visited Kosovo, in need of some repairs. But still, I like it! (Also, there are way uglier buildings in Pristina. See: any cinderblock apartment building)
This turned out to be a fun day. I got to see new places in Kosovo (and I also realized I don’t have many pictures of myself at touristy places here). Thanks for the photo challenge, Whitney! (Sorry it took me a year to do it.)