A volunteer friend suggested visiting the bazaar in Pristina, so a small group of us went last week. I had no idea there was a bazaar in Pristina!
There was SO MUCH produce for sale, for prices even cheaper than what I can find in my village. (Fifty cents for a carton of strawberries, versus 1.50 Euro in my village.) You can also finds lots of other goods at the bazaar, everything from clothing and yarn, to household items, to cigarettes.
As far as I know, the bazaar is open every week day. You can find it here:
Our trip was almost thwarted by the threat of rain. But by the end of the week, the forecast had cleared. I’m so glad we decided to go!
The hike to the waterfalls is a few kilometers. Along the way, we saw lots of beautiful wild flowers.
When we reached this stream, we knew we were getting closer …
And here’s the first waterfall!
After that, we hiked up to a second waterfall. The path was steep and rocky, and at several points, we had to climb, using rocks to propel ourselves upward. The journey was totally worth it! We reached a second waterfall, and pretty much had the place to ourselves. It was the perfect spot to stop and eat our picnic lunch.
Visiting Mirusha Waterfalls was one of the most relaxing, enjoyable times I have had in Kosovo.
“I really need to get out more,” is what I keep telling myself. I go to Pristina often, Peja occasionally, and everywhere else … never. Since I am almost halfway through my Peace Corps service (isn’t that crazy?!), I keep telling myself I need to make an effort to see more of Kosovo.
Last Tuesday was a national holiday, “Europe Day,” so we didn’t have school. I decided to take the opportunity to visit a friend in Gračanica, Kosovo, a Serbian village just outside of Pristina.
I talk a lot about Albanian culture on this blog. Albanians are in the majority here in Kosovo, so I have had more exposure to their culture. I was happy to have a chance to visit Gračanica and learn a bit more about Serbian traditions.
Where is Gračanica, Kosovo?
It is south east of Pristina (Kosovo’s capital city).
My friend was a great tour guide, and even provided me with these informational booklets from the municipality. The information I share in quotes comes from these booklets. (They’re awesome — they even have traditional recipes listed. I might share some more info from them in the future.)
Our first stop was Ento Kuka, a restaurant that serves traditional Serbian food. I got chicken and potatoes.
Next, we visited “an archeological site of the Roman and early Byzantine city Ulpiana. It reached its peak development in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD.”
I knew that Kosovo had once been under Ottoman rule (which is when much of the country converted to Islam), but I had never given much thought to its prior history. I was so surprised to learn that Kosovo has Roman ruins.
We saw the site of a church, public baths, and a cemetery.
Next, we visited the Gracanica monastery. My friend told me that there is an exact replica of the monastery in Chicago, Illinois. I used to live in Chicago, and did not know this!
Taking photos inside the monastery is not allowed. (It is really beautiful.) Here are pictures of the outside:
Last, we visited the “Missing” sign. It is “the work of the artist Goran Stojcetovic … plastered with photos of missing and kidnapped Serbs from 1998 until 2000. It is a memorial against the crimes of the Serbian people.”
It was a very interesting visit and I am thankful to my friend for giving me a tour!
Bus is probably the most common way to travel around Kosovo. While some of the bigger cities have buses that travel between them, Kosovo’s capital of Pristina is the main bus hub. In Pristina (as well as some of the larger cities like Prizren and Peja), you can also catch buses to other countries, like Macedonia and Albania.
The cost of travel varies depending on where you are going, but it’s usually between 50 cents and 4 Euro (or more, if you’re traveling to another country). You pay in cash once you get on the bus.
Most buses have overhead storage for smaller pieces of luggage. Larger pieces are stored in compartments below the bus. This freaked me out the first time I had to store my luggage, but I’ve never had a problem with things getting stolen. (I look at it as a way to practice my faith in humanity/God/the Universe. ;))
The bus stations in Kosovo’s bigger cities are clearly marked (see above). Bus stops in villages are not marked, from what I’ve seen. You just kind of have to know where to go. If you need to ask a local where to catch the bus, the phrase to use in Albanian (Shqip) is, “Ku eshte stacioni i autobusit?” If I were going to type that out by the way it sounds, it would be something like, “Coo uh-sht stacey-oni ee auto boosit?”
Bus schedules in Kosovo are not entirely reliable, and you may find yourself waiting for the bus longer than you anticipated. It’s worth noting that buses do not have bathrooms, so plan ahead when you’re traveling. Some of the larger stations have public restrooms (some free, some cost 20-30 cents).
There are several websites/phone apps to check bus schedules in Kosovo. Personally, I use gjirafa.
I hesitated to write about Kosovo’s giant chicken because it’s been all over the news lately, but in case you aren’t already aware, there is a giant chicken living in Kosovo. (No, I don’t know where.) It’s nice to know Kosovo has been in the American news for something fun.
Back when I was living with my temporary host family, I wrote about chickens in Kosovo. When I first moved in with my current host family, they only had dogs. Now, they have added a cow and chickens. Our property is turning into a nice little farm. Within the last week, both my (real) mom and sister asked me, “What is that noise?” while we were talking on the phone. I was like, “It’s our damn rooster!”
You might be interested to know that the noise roosters make, according to Kosovars, is “kee kee kee kee caw.” Hey, it’s no dumber than “cockadoodle-do.”
This reminds me of one of my favorite bits from the television show Arrested Development. It’s a running joke that no one in the Bluth family can do a realistic chicken impression.
As my sister said to me, “You’re not in Chicago anymore.” Boy, don’t I know it!
As part of my language training the last week, we took an afternoon field trip to the Ecological Museum in Peja.
First, we saw two exhibits showcasing how things looked in a traditional Albanian home. Here is a living room. Men would be served beverages here. The long-handled pot you see in the left corner of the picture was used for washing hands.
Next, we saw a kitchen. Families used to sit on the floor or low stools around a table on the ground, which is called a soffit. (Note: I am not sure if I spelled that correctly.)
The clothing exhibit was probably my favorite part of the museum. This wool dress is 100 years old, and was based on an Illyrian design. The Illyrians are considered to be the first group of people to inhabit Kosovo and other parts of the Balkans.
The following is an example of what women used to wear in Kosovo. (I must have asked our tour guide three times, “They dressed like this EVERY DAY?” It seems an outfit this elaborate would get dirty … )
Here is what men in Kosovo used to wear. I was interested to learn the white cloth around their heads are actually burial shrouds. Men would wear their burial shrouds every day, in case they were killed.
As someone who likes to crochet, I appreciated this display of old sewing/looming tools.
The other part of the museum featured old coins and artifacts that had been discovered locally. I didn’t take pictures of those exhibits because it was dark in the room. (And honestly, I am just less interested in that stuff.)
Overall, my visit to the museum was enjoyable, and I learned a few tidbits about Kosovo that I did not know previously. Admission was only 1 Euro. If you ever find yourself in Peja, Kosovo, the Ecological Museum is worth checking out.