Pit Stop at Tartine, Pristina

Cafes are a big part of life here in Kosovo. (I’d love to see a report on the number of cafes per capita … there’s probably like one cafe for every five people in Kosovo. [I am making that up/exaggerating. But only a little.])

outside Tartine

Tartine is a popular breakfast place among the Peace Corps volunteers. Tartine primarily serves quiche, smoothies, and coffee.

During a low point this last winter, I remember lying in bed and scrolling through Google images of “fruit smoothies,” fantasizing about colorful, healthy drinks and feeling sorry for myself. (Pathetic.) A few weeks later, a friend introduced me to Tartine. And I got a smoothie! I also got a quiche and some coffee. 🙂

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Although cafes are a big part of the Kosovar culture, in the smaller villages (like mine), they are frequented almost exclusively by men. I’ve heard that Tartine is owned by a woman. While I don’t know if this is true, every time I have been to Tartine I have only seen women working.

inside Tartine
Inside Tartine
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Cute decor
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A wall hanging … I’ll admit, I think this is weird.

If you’d like to read about other places I frequent in Kosovo, check out this post about Sach Cafe, and the (VERY SADLY!) now-closed Sweet Bean.

July Landscape

I am doing a photo project where every month, I post a photo that captures the spirit of that month. Here is July’s photo:

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I took this from the balcony of an Airbnb in Pristina. (Which makes this the third “balcony photo” of this series.) I imagined doing more travel this summer, but it looks like my visit to the United States was my big trip for the season. I sat down with an Excel spreadsheet and figured out how many vacation days I have left. As a refresher, I went to Tirana, Albania last November (which counted as a business trip, so I did not have to use vacation time), Paris/London in December, Rome/Berlin/Budapest in April, and the U.S. in June. I have plans for a big trip this Christmas, and (hopefully) for spring break 2018. This means I only have 6 free vacation days. So, given that I only have a little time left, and that I need to save money for my bigger trips, it doesn’t look like I’ll be traveling again this summer. And I’m fine with that … there are places in Kosovo I’d like to explore, and weekend getaways in Pristina are nice.

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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Fun Links (Kosovo and Albania)

Below are some links to articles I’ve enjoyed about Kosovo (and Albania).

  • Makeup is a big deal in Kosovo. Women, especially in the larger cities, tend to be much more made up than what I think is typical in the States. I got a kick out of Blonde Gypsy’s look at beauty routines in Pristina.

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    Photo credit: Blonde Gypsy
  • Heart My Backpack posted some gorgeous photos of Pristina during her trip to Kosovo. It was also fun to read someone else’s take on the city.

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    Photo credit: Heart My Backpack
  • This great post captures 23 “Day in the Life” photos of Kosovo from around the country.

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    Photo credit: Admir Idrizi via rferl.org
  • I loved visiting Tirana, Albania’s capital city. It’s got a mild, Mediterranean climate, a varied history, and a gorgeous public park. (I previously wrote about its nature, history, and the city today.) So I was super excited when this article popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. It’s a great, one-day itinerary for visiting Tirana.

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    Photo Credit: One Day Itinerary
  • I don’t cook much in Kosovo, for many reasons. 1) I think it would be rude not to eat with my host family. 2) I don’t like to cook often. 3) My village doesn’t have a grocery store. 4) My host family owns a wood-burning stove, and I have no idea how to use it. However, many of my friends like to cook, so I wanted to link to another recipe for traditional food. (I previously posted some good recipe links in this post.) In the One Day Itinerary article above, Oda was suggested as a good traditional dining spot in Tirana. I ate at Oda during my trip to Tirana and loved it. Fasule, a popular bean dish, was one of the dishes I ordered. I found this blog post (written by a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Albania) that lists a simple fasule recipe (in English).

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    Photo Credit: Albania Adventure

A Walk Around Pristina, Kosovo

I’ve visited Pristina, Kosovo’s capital city, probably dozens of times now. But I tend to follow the same path through the city, sticking to streets and places I know.

I mentioned to a friend who lives in Pristina that I wanted to explore the city a bit more. She offered to take me on walk up through a part of the city I’d never seen.

We climbed a steep hill and reached a neighborhood filled with beautiful homes.

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We ended up at a large cemetery.

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Many of the tombstones displayed pictures of the deceased.

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Remember last week, when I posted about cages around graves?

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We saw a few fresh graves. I think “burying” is a loose term in this instance. It looks more like, “Here’s a body. We put some dirt on top of it.”

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We walked further.

xhamia

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Next, we came to a small park at the very top of the city.

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When we came down from the hill, we visited the Newborn sign (which I posted about last week). Here’s what the new design looks like, in person.

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New …
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None of the letters in “Newborn” really corresponds with my name, so I decided to take a picture with the “B.” Because why not?

#Urime, #Kosovo! 🎉9 years of independence. #newbornsign #pristina #newdesign 🇽🇰

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My Favorite Photos from the First Quarter

“And time
goes by
And you’ve got a lot to learn, in your life.” — Future Islands, Tin Man

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post that I have officially completed my first quarter in the Peace Corps! (Counting method is my own.) I thought I’d take some time and reflect on my favorite moments/photos from the last six months. Some of these photos I have previously posted, while others are new.

I spent over a year thinking about Kosovo before I actually moved here. These are: 1) my very first photo of Kosovo and 2) the first photo of me in Kosovo, taken on the balcony of my hotel room.

I took the following photo at the end of the most terrifying day of my life. Here is a picture of my pre-service training (PST) bedroom:

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I love this photo I took of my sitemates Charlie and Sierra. It is funny to think I didn’t know them well back then.

About to watch the soccer match with some fellow Peace Corps trainees. Go, Albania!

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I didn’t know what to expect from my first birthday spent in Kosovo, but I am happy to say, my 35th was a happy one. (I suspect my language teacher was responsible for the cake — such a sweet gesture.)

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PST is not without its abject misery and heat. It does have its bright moments, too. Here is a picture of me commuting with my sitemates and my language teacher. I really miss these three, and don’t get to see them as often as I’d like anymore.

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The summer did not pass without its hedonistic moments. Here are two of my favorite photos, illustrating that:

Here is a picture of my language group, on the day we (finally) got to explore Pristina for the first time.

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I got to attend my first Kosovoar wedding. Here I am with one of my PST host brothers:

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One of my host brothers (not the one who got married) and me

Teaching for the first time was an intimidating experience, but it turned out to be more fun than I expected. I really like this photo of my  co-teachers, Chelsea and Chester.

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Our last week of PST was emotionally draining and difficult. But I had fun at the cultural day party/thank you to PST families that Peace Corps hosted.

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On my last night with my PST host family, I asked to take a photo with my host parents. My host dad was lying on the couch with a headache, but he got up and put on a dress shirt and nicer pants for the occasion. 🙂

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The next day, I swore in as a member of the Peace Corps. I have never been so proud of anything I’ve ever done.

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This is the first photo taken of me at my permanent host site, later that same day. It will always remind me that what I had anticipated would be a hard day (I was missing my sister’s wedding back at home) ultimately turned out just fine.

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Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful and holding a puppy

Speca (peppers) have consumed my life.

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Here is me on my first day of school!

#Kosovo #howiseepc #firstdayofschool

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I began crocheting a lot.

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I really love my fellow volunteers.

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I got to visit Skopje, Macedonia:

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I’ve spent several fun afternoons exploring Peja, a beautiful, mountainous city in Kosovo. This shot was taken on a particularly fun day.

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And, of course, I just visited Tirana!

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April and Val, outside the National Art Gallery of Albania

Thanks for letting me share!

Seen on the Street

I came across this cool public art display by Swedish artist Samuel Nyholm. After doing some internet research, I discovered he recently presented at a graphic design conference in Pristina.

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The one of the man with the moustache is my favorite. It reminds me of my grandfather. I am not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s because he had a funny little moustache when he was younger. And he’s usually dressed well.

You can see more of Samuel Nyholm’s work on his website.

When I visited Skopje, Macedonia, I saw these fun graphic posters on a public notice board.

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I was also impressed with this graffiti rendition of the Macedonian flag (too bad someone added more graffiti on top of it).

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