Pristina Bazaar

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.

SO much produce! This was just one stall.
So delicious …
Dry goods, honey, and çifteli (2-stringed instrument)
Wall upon wall of cigarettes
We kept waiting for a box avalanche. It didn’t happen.

As far as I know, the bazaar is open every week day. You can find it here:

 

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My Favorite Photos from the Second Quarter

Without further adieu, here are my favorite photos from December 2017 until now. By my own method of counting, I have completed my second quarter of Peace Corps service.

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Peace Corps conference in December
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At the Po-E-Ze Competition

Vacation has started! #pristina #butnotforlong

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Eiffel Tower

London calling! #cheesy #tourist #london #england🇬🇧

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Chelsea and April, at a London Pub
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With Charlie, Chelsea, and Sierra, in Prizren, Kosovo

Serbian monastery in the snow. #peja #kosovo

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A walk in Pristina in February
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Happy kitty!

#Skopje #Macedonia #church 🇲🇰

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Fortress/castle from the Ottoman Empire, Skopje, Macedonia
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Traditional Kosovar clothing
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Visiting the Ecological Museum

April in Rome Favorite

April in Rome Umbrella Pines
Umbrella Pines
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Inside the Roman Forum
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April and Nicole at Costanza Restaurant, Rome
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Tim, Rachel, and April, in Berlin
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Easter Eggs
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Budapest

I am so excited to be able to send my grandpa a postcard from his mother's home country! #budapest #hungary #motherland

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My village in Kosovo
April Mirusha Waterfall
April at Mirusha Wateralls
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April, under a waterfall
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Anniversary dinner! Shay, April, Christian, Val, and Charlie

As always, thanks for reading! You can see my favorite photos from the first quarter here.

Mirusha Waterfalls, Kosovo

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April at Mirusha Wateralls

On Saturday, two volunteer friends and I visited Mirusha Waterfalls.

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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.

Canadian Thistle
Canadian Thistle

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When we reached this stream, we knew we were getting closer …

Stream Kosovo

And here’s the first waterfall!

First Waterfall Mirusha Kosovo

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.

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The second waterfall …
Hiking women waterfall
Hiking women
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My companions  …
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Behind the waterfall, where we ate our picnic lunch
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Moi
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Oh, just chillin’ at the base of a waterfall …

Visiting Mirusha Waterfalls was one of the most relaxing, enjoyable times I have had in Kosovo.

April Mirusha Waterfall 2

Gračanica, 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).

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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.)

Gracanice Kosovo tourism boolkets

Our first stop was Ento Kuka, a restaurant that serves traditional Serbian food. I got chicken and potatoes.

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Gracanice restaurant 1
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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.

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Roman ruins Gracanice Kosovo 2
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Can you spot the sarcophagus? 
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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:

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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.”

Missing Gracanice Kosovo

It was a very interesting visit and I am thankful to my friend for giving me a tour!

Traveling Around Kosovo by Bus

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Bus station in Pristina, Kosovo

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.

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Map of the bus station in Pristina, Kosovo

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. ;))

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Luggage storage

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.

Kosovo’s Giant Chicken

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.

Here is a picture of the giant chicken:

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Image via UPI.com

And if you’d like to see a video of it strutting around, click this link.

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.

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As my sister said to me, “You’re not in Chicago anymore.” Boy, don’t I know it!

Ecological Museum, Peja, Kosovo

As part of my language training the last week, we took an afternoon field trip to the Ecological Museum in Peja.

Ecological Museum, Peja, Kosovo
Ecological Museum, Peja, Kosovo

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.

ecological museum peja living room

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.)

ecological museum peja kitchen

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.

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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 … )

ecological museum peja female dress

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.

ecological museum peja male clothing

As someone who likes to crochet, I appreciated this display of old sewing/looming tools.

ecological museum peja sewing

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.