Pretty in Prizren

Trip Start Apr 04, 2007
Trip End Oct 22, 2007

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Flag of Serbia and Montenegro  ,
Saturday, September 15, 2007

We were sorry to leave Pristina yesterday and took our time getting to the bus station, bidding a fond farewell to the professor's pensione. We had been recomended a visit to Prizren by the owner of our hostel in Sarajevo, a Kosovar woman who told us that it was a beautiful town with lots of the Turkish Ottoman houses and old mosques still intact. After a bumpy but beautiful bus ride, we arrived in Prizren, near the Albanian border, to discover that unlike Pristina, virtually no one here spoke English. The KFOR troops in this part of Kosovo are German or Turkish, and there are no English-speaking tourists, so we stumbled along with our mangled Albanian, two words of German and enthusiastic hand gestures and managed to get a local kid to take us to a hotel near the bus station. The owners of the hotel seemed surprised to see us, but were very friendly and showed us to a room and we dropped our bags and headed out.

Despite the recent ugliness of the 2004 clashes here and the burned out shells of Serb homes on the hills around the town, Prizren is a pretty town with ancient mosques and hamams, lots of outdoor cafes along a river, and a ruined 15th century fortress on the hill overlooking the town. We spent most of our time in Prizren just wandering the streets where horse-drawn carts competed with SmartCars and armoured KFOR trucks for road space, sitting at cafes drinking strong coffee and bitter lemon soft drinks and trying to find our way up to the fortress through the maze of tiny backstreets around the city centre.

We eventually did find the path, past the barbed wire and the bored video-game playing German peacekeepers at the historic Serbian church, and stood on the crumbling fortress walls enjoying the view over the red roofs and mosque minarets down to the river below. Although the locals here were a bit more reserved than in Pristina, we befriended a local restaurant owner at a place called Brando's (apparently his name, not the actor). He spoke excellent English and served giant plates of food - spiced homemade adana sausage with chili peppers in it, hot bread served with herbs and mayonnaise, fresh salad and homemade dips and sauces. A huge meal with drinks was about $5 New Zealand for the two of us, it was fantastic! On our last night, he brought us tiny cups of espresso after our meal, wished us good luck, and gave us his phone number "Just in case you need help in Albania". Once again, Kosovo has surprised us for the warmth and hospitality of its people, and we can't recommend it highly enough!

All our best from Kosovo,

Dan and Gabrielle
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