Friday, November 20, 2015

Priština and Prizren, Kosovo

The third and last country (for now, of course!) on our route was Kosovo. After a fairly quick border crossing in Merdare and a short drive through the countryside where the town names in Serbian had been spray paited over on every single road sign, we made it to the capital Priština. We were supposed to meet a friend we made on our last trip to Albania at the national library, which is pretty much internationally recognized as the ugliest building ever (see a very much teletubbie-like picture below). On our way we accidentally got on a dead end street and had to turn around. Now, whereas the main communication method in the Balkans in honking, it is also acceptable to stop on the narrowest road for a little chat with the driver coming towards you or even run out to say hi to a friend across the street, even if there is a Pikachu car with three tourists behind you. All in all, though, the traffic was way better than on our last trip - I only screamed once (when we were going full speed in the dark on a road with lots of cars and this truck just backed out onto the road), which is good.

Anyway, Prishtina was pretty cool. Seemed like they love three things - the US, Albania and coffee. Lots of young people hanging out, sadly because of the high unemployment rate, though. Unlike for us, though, being unemployed there seemed to mean cashing in money from a cousin abroad and taking your dressed up self and the newest iPhone out for a macciato. Can't really argue with that though, because the coffee is just sooooo good. Our friend said it's because most people making them have university degrees. :D

What's sweet about Kosovo is actually a town called Prizren. People who had and hadn't been there all told us that we can pretty much drop anything from our itinerary, but not Prizren. And now I will be the one speading the same word. Just look at the other half of the pictures!


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Monday, November 9, 2015

Niš, Southern Serbia

Serbia is definately different from all the other Balkan countries that we've seen so far. We decided to stay at a town called Niš, which is sort of a capital of Southern Serbia. It's also a student town, which is always a good sign for what I'm looking for while travelling.

I've never been so fascinated by people watching as I was in Niš. The fashion sense in Serbia definately has a more Slavic feel to it. It's actually pretty funny how women put so much effort into looking pretty and feminine (a lot of them do a really god job on it!), while the "coolest" outfit a guy can wear is the good old Adidas tracksuit. I'm also pretty sure that I scared the hell out of a couple girls, whose footwear literally made my jaw drop. Fake fur boots, rubber boots, high-heel sneakers... you name it, all combined with mini skirts, preferrably with some American city written on it. And don't forget - the newest iPhone is a must! Some ladies even seemed to have prioritized that over buying underwear. Scroll down for a fine example. Absolutely fascinating.

There are actually some pretty cool sights in town. The Niš Fortress, which is of Turkish origin, is basically a huge park, with some ruins covered in graffiti and the pretty cool-looking Bali-Begova mosque in the middle of it. On the other side of the fortress is more of a ghetto-area of the town. Looking for the first Nazi concentration camp in Yugoslavia, which is also in that part of the town, we met a bunch of local students, who as a first thing, expressed their disappointment in the world over the constant portrayal of Serbians as film villains and general "bad guys". I thought Albanians were the bad guys? Honestly, the Balkans are so confusing...

Your money definately gets you far in Niš, and there are tons of places for hanging out at night. Another people-watching discovery was that they don't seem to drink alcohol nearly as much as we do, or at least not as casually, since we were one of the few tables in every place, who had beers on the table. Most people go for desserts and all sorts of fancy cofffee or hot chocolate drinks. Making of the latter seems to be equally as serious of a business than women's outfits. The gold medal goes to a bar called Tramvaj that had a dessert called "Adam and Eve" which was two bowls of ice cream imitating female and male body parts...

Done in Niš, we were headed towards Kosovo (which we didn't think was nessecary to tell any locals). On the way, though, we opted for a one last stop in a place called Devil's Town, which was supposed to be a some extremely awesome nature thing. After a short reminder of the Balkan mountain roads that Matt absolutely loves, we arrive to see a row of bored souvenir shop keepers who enthusiastically make us try every sort of Rakia you could think of. The tasting-session was pretty intense, but not intense enough for us to not notice how the lady tried to make us pay way more than originally agreed on. Done with that, we move on to the sight. A little ways into the forest, we find a ticket office, asking for prices that I'm pretty sure you can buy a donkey for in Albania. The loss of all the local currency we had left would have been ok, though, if the place had been anything as amazing as advertised. Maaaaan, 2/10, do not reccommend. The sand things were tiny and although the views were great, you can probably get that for free too. :D

But really, it's all great. Serbia? Loved it.

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