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Last wrap up!  Only about six months late.

Skopje is a quick drive from Pristina.  It took us about an hour and a half, maybe?  And that includes walking through passport control and taking a taxi from the Kosovo/Macedonia border to Skopje.  I love all the day trips you’re so easily able to take in Europe.

Skopje feels like two different cities, with the old side–cobblestone streets, cute restaurants and shops, old mosques and hammams, and the new side–wide, sweeping boulevards and walking streets, with new-old architecture.

The light was amazing during our Skopje afternoon/evening so some shots turned out rather well.

Old Town

Can’t get enough of these beautiful mosques.

Old Hammam

New Town

Porta Macedonia

Vardar River

Alexander the Great at Macedonia Square

Two pics of me because my hair looks amazing!

Must wrap up previous trips!

My last stop in Kosovo was Gjakova, A’s home town.  We didn’t get a chance to explore as much here so I don’t have many pics to share, but it is a cute, little town.  The older part of Gjakova has cobblestone streets and old buildings, but we were there in the dark so it was difficult to take good pics.  But if you’re in Kosovo, Gjakova would be well-worth a visit.

Gjakova: Clock Tower and Mosques

Gjakova’s Serbian Orthodox Church

Prizren was my favorite city that we visited in Kosovo.  It’s one of Kosovo’s largest cities and it has a great deal of old world charm.  It’s easy to walk around and see the sites and it’s best to eat your tasty Albanian lunch along the river, preferably in the sun.

Gazi Mehmet Pasha Hammam or Old Turkish Baths

Climbing to the fortress is definitely worth it, especially if you can catch it at sunset.  Be forewarned that it’s a steep climb!  But it provides great views of the city and the mountains.

Bistrica River
We ate at the cafe with the red umbrellas on the left by the river.

The picture below reminded me of something out of a James Bond movie.  The red and white striped building used to run the dam (which I don’t think is in service anymore) and the blue and white striped building is a sports center.

Communist Era?

Thanks to the film student who caught this artsy picture of us.

Sinan Pasha Mosque

Old Stone Bridge (per Wikipedia) over Bistrica River

The great thing about Kosovo is the myriad of day trips you’re able to take because its such a tiny country.  During my short visit, we took a day trip every day, which was fun.

The village of Gračanica is a Serb enclave just outside Pristina where you can find the Serbian Orthodox Gračanica Monastery.  Security is much more present in Gračanica than in other cities in Kosovo and as you drive through town notices indicate that video cameras are monitoring movements to deter violence and trouble makers.  It’s a sad reminder that reconciliation in Kosovo between Albanians and Serbs is a long way off.

Beautiful Wooden Doors to Gračanica Monastery

Beautiful Gračanica Church at the Monastery

The medieval fortress at Novo Brdo was next up, which allowed us to stretch our legs for a mini-hike.  Incidentally, A had never been to Gračanica or Novo Brdo so it was fun for him to explore, too.  I think more of the fortress can be excavated, but considering it hasn’t really been taken care of over the years, it’s in pretty good shape.

Remnants of Novo Brdo Fortress

This cute guy hung out with us for the afternoon. He was so friendly we wanted to take him home, but he had an owner and promptly deserted us when they called for him.

Beautiful Day. Snow on the mountains!

Very Old Mosque

Pretty sunset just outside of Pristina

Before going home, I made a quick stop in Kosovo.  To be sure, it’s not a tourist hot spot, but I had good reasons for my visit.  It was great to be in Europe and was a nice reentry to the U.S.  Kosovo is definitely a great place to visit, especially if you’re looking for off-the-beaten path tourism.  There is a lot to see and it’s a beautiful country with a great deal of history, particularly recent history.

Kosovo is the world’s second youngest country (the first is South Sudan) and they are proud of their independence.

Newborn: This sculpture was erected just before Kosovo’s declaration of independence on February 17, 2008 in downtown Pristina.

European cities always have a walking street.  Walking is so much more enjoyable and leisurely with no cars.  Pristina’s walking street is Mother Theresa Boulevard.  Did you know Mother Theresa was Albanian?

Kosova Republike! The slogan represents the self-determination movement (I think).

Even before the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1992, Kosovo was mired in conflict with Serbia.  Many Kosovars have a long memory.

Remembering

Reflection of Jashar Pasha Mosque

I think this is probably reflective of how some people feel about politics and life in Kosovo.

Jashar Pasha Mosque Ceiling

Old vs. New in Pristina

Stay tuned for pictures from some other cities in Kosovo.

That title sounds so dramatic.  Of course I’ll be back in Sri Lanka!  I’m just not sure when.  And I guess this was possibly the last Colombo sunset while living there, which makes me sad and teary.  But I have such beautiful memories of my time in Sri Lanka.  And the thought of those makes me happy.

Like the Fort, Slave Island has so much to discover.  It’s also an area that is targeted for massive renovations, but there are a lot of families that live in this neighborhood so I hope they are taken care of when refurbishment starts.  Fingers crossed.

Nippon Hotel & Manning Mansions. This has so much potential, at least from the outside.

Treasures on a side street.

(Thanks to my walking buddy for suggesting I take this pic!)

The Castle Hotel. It also has so much potential, and I’ve even seen the inside of this one! 

Malay Mosque

Bus Stop!

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