By bus, it’s only a couple of hours from Skopje, capitol of Macedonia, to Prishtina, capitol of the not yet fully recognized country of Kosovo. Kosovo is a breakaway land from Serbia where the predominant culture and language is Albanian. Years of civil war in the late ’90s left the land under UN protection until independence was declared in 2008. Our former President Bill Clinton is given great credit for helping bring the conflict to an end. Although there is still great poverty in the country, it is not really apparent to our tourist eyes in this thriving city. But still today people are streaming out of the country of less than two million people, seeking better lives elsewhere.

The pedestrian mall of Prishtina

The pedestrian mall of Prishtina

Bill Clinton - Hero of Kosovo

Bill Clinton – Hero of Kosovo

After booking our hostel last summer, it went out of business in the meanwhile so we are being put up in another place, the White Tree Hostel. We pull our suitcases a good mile to get there. The place is almost empty so it’s quiet and we have the kitchen almost to ourselves.

Our abode for a couple of nights

Our abode for a couple of nights

The hostel comes with a bar open until 2am.

The hostel comes with a bar open until midnight.

We put our things away and hit the pavement for a day of exploration. It isn’t long before we come to a row of small, new hotels. We are curious so we go in one and ask to see a room. Very nicely appointed and price worthy, too. The proprietor owns the place, built it up from scratch a few years ago and is so proud of his accomplishment. We leave with everybody beaming.

A row of new hotels

A row of new hotels

We check this one out.

We check out the left one.

Here’s our first impression of this city of 200,000 people, a bit checkered in its development it seems. Almost all the building projects seem to be funded by outside agencies, such as the EU, the US, Germany.

The urban edge

The urban edge

Shortly we are at the NEWBORN monument, commemorating the founding of this new country, for which the Albanians are so proud and energized.

The Newborn Monument commemorating the founding of Kosovo in 1991

The Newborn Monument commemorating the founding of Kosovo in 2008

The economy must be perking along as we see many ATM machines, such as these at the end of the monument.

Four stand-alone ATM machines

Four stand-alone ATM machines

Here’s another one in an older part of town, not quite so accessible.

ATM not too inviting

This ATM is not too inviting.

At the upper end of the pedestrian mall are a number of interesting things to see. First is one of the few remaining buildings from another era.

One of few classic buildings

A fine classic building

Glass is used a lot in new buildings.

Glass is used a lot in new buildings.

The Kosovo Government Building

The Kosovo Government Building behind Skanderbeg, resistor of Ottoman expansion.

Who designed this?

Who designed this?

Is this a great new design idea?

Is this a great new design idea?

These days air conditioning is central

These days, air conditioning is central

Now it’s time for lunch and we pop into a tiny mom and pop cafe for a delicious meal.

Suzi deciphers the menu and orders by pointing at things.

We order by pointing at things.

Bean soup is the daily fare.

Bean soup and salad are the daily fare.

I need a haircut. Around the corner from the hostel is just the right place. Very professional. The assistant seats and carefully prepares me for the cut. The barber is attentive to every detail. I’ve never been treated better.

Being fussed over

Being fussed over

By the time they have finished with me the owner of the shop drops by. Engaging conversation results. An order for coffee is placed with a nearby shop. We all sit on the sofa and for nearly half an hour we trade stories of our lives.

Coffee and gab at the barber shop

Coffee and heavy talk with humor at the barber shop

Now we are back on the street enjoying the sights and hordes of people.

Cigarettes for sale

Cigarettes for sale

Hamburgers are tasty and made from real ingredients.

Hamburgers are tasty and taste like they are made from real ingredients.

We are tempted.

We are tempted to stop here for a break because of the name.

What are the side rooms like?

What are the side rooms like?

We soon find ourselves among a plethora of mobile phone shops. We count 28 shops that sell Apple iPhone. Nearly every other person on the street seems to have one in hand.

The latest iPhone model is here.

The latest iPhone model is here.

Mobil Shop

Mobil Shop

The apple logo is everywhere.

The apple logo is everywhere.

The day is getting long now. Eva needs a new hat. We start shopping. Here’s just the right store for her.

Plenty of hats for sale

Plenty of hats for sale

Success!

Success!

We pass the university and its controversial library building of 1982. We watch the students as they slip and slide along.

One entry to the University

One entry to the University with a few missing letters.

Students coming and going

Students coming and going on campus. The church is not in use.

The controversial main library

The controversial main library

We go inside and check it out. The place is rather interesting, not like a library at all. We see no books, as they are ordered at a certain desk upstairs. One uses a card catalog system to find what’s needed. During the decade-long occupation by Serbs, 100,000 volumes of Albanian texts including collections of national heritage were destroyed.

Just inside the front door is located a room devoted to American studies.

Outside the library's American Studies Center

Outside the library’s American Studies Center

The central library room, with seating for lectures and concerts.

The lobby with seating for lectures and concerts.

Maybe the library is specially funded because it houses a NATO library.

The library houses one of only ten public NATO libraries worldwide.

We head for home now as the sun has all but set.

The new Mother Teresa church

The new Mother Teresa church

Now this morning pretty early we lug all our stuff the mile back to the bus station. We are heading for the interesting town of Prizren, a couple of hours away.

Still some icy spots to pay attention to

Still some icy spots to pay attention to

We find our bus.

We find our bus.

We say goodbye to Prishtina. Back in two days.

We say goodbye to Prishtina. Back in two days.

Advertisements