The detour to Bajram Curry

Since we found ourselves near by the border to Albania, we decided to take a short detour, going to Bajram Curry. Well. It ended up not being that short, as the road conditions are quite bad most of the way, and we had to drive very slowly. At least we had good time to enjoy the scenery!

The city in itself is not very charming, but it is supposed to be a very good starting point for many great hikes in the area. And with the beautiful nature we passed on our way there, I have absolutely no trouble believing just that.

We passed a charming small village.

We passed a charming small village.

Passing by nice scenery

Passing by nice scenery.

Beautiful combination of green grass, snowy mountains and clear blue sky

Beautiful combination of green grass, snowy mountains and blue sky.

Beautiful view on our way to Bajram Curry.

Beautiful view on our way to Bajram Curry.

Farming in the mountains close to Bajram Curry.

Farming in the mountains close to Bajram Curry.

Street in Bajram Curry.

Street in Bajram Curry.

Read more posts from Albania.

Genuine hospitality in Gjakova

One of the things that stroke me during our trip, was the genuine kindness, helpfulness and curiosity by the locals. And Gjakova was certainly no exception.

I was wandering around, taking photos as usual, when a guy shouted at me; “come and take a picture of us!”

They were a group of the local men, gathered to talk about all and nothing. At the shoemakers. They were curious of who we were, where we came from, and maybe most of all; why we were there. They invited us to join them for a beer, and got their questions answered.

The nice shoemaker

The nice shoemaker

We joined in on their talk about all and nothing, while the shoemaker, a nice elderly man, occasionally went back to work.

One of the men wanted to introduce us to his wife Valbona, that runs the organization “Active Women of Gjakova”, and suddenly we found ourselves at their house. One by one we were introduced to the family members, including extended family such as the sister, her husband and their children.

The Rizvanolli family and my friends

The fantastic Rizvanolli family and my friends

The two daughters of Luli and Valbona, Adelita and Elena, were a little bit shy in the beginning, but soon softened up, and made us feel really welcome as guests.

What we thought would be a short visit, ended in a late night, full of fantastic memories, genuine hospitality and new friends.

Precious Prizren

View of Prizren
Prizren is simply a precious pearl! The old town with cobbled stones, brick building, churches and mosques, and off course the river cutting through it all.

We checked in at Centrum Hotel in a room with a nice terrace and beautiful views if the city.

Nice view from our room at Centrum hotel in Prizren

Nice view from our room at Centrum hotel in Prizren

Above us we could see the old castle. As I love views, I could not wait to get up there! And with good reason. Not only was the view from the top spectacular, but along the way we also came across the old, quite run down, church of St. Spasa. We entered the courtyard where the ground was covered with grass and leaves, and a few threes had started to make their way towards the sky. One of the rooms was still quite intact, and although much of the paint was gone, we could still see the outlines of the paintings and imagine how they were in the glory days.

Church of St. Spasa

Church of St. Spasa

Courtyard of the church of St. Spasa

Courtyard of the church of St. Spasa

Paintings inside the church of St. Spasa

Paintings inside the church of St. Spasa

Continuing passed the church and up the stairs, we got rewarded by the stunning view of the precious city of Prizren.

Prizren and the church of St. Spasa to the left

Prizren and the church of St. Spasa to the left

Along the Lumbardhi river there are many small shops and cozy cafes, bars and restaurants. Sadly it was too cold to sit outside now, but I can imagine that it must be quite lively during the warmer periods.

Small cafes and bars along Lumbardhi river

Small cafes and bars along Lumbardhi river

Along Lumbardhi river in Prizren

The old stone bridge

The old stone bridge

Shatervan

Shatervan

Eating dinner at Bisimi Besca allowed us to try many local specialties, including local cheese and sausages. And it was reasonably priced as well.

After dinner we wanted to continue for a night cap or two. Most of the bars closed around midnight, but the very nice, French inspired bar called Barcode, luckily was open. The atmosphere was great, and the staff very friendly.

Sadly we had to make the night out short, as our journey continues.

Prizren by night along the Lumbardhi river

Prizren by night along the Lumbardhi river

Learning about the way of life through history

The ethnological museum in Pristina.

The ethnological museum in Pristina.

The ethnological museum in Pristina is situated in beautiful well-preserved buildings from the 18th and 19th century, and holds many interesting artifacts. The exhibition is representing all the phases of life – from birth, everyday life and death. A large part is devoted to the different clothing, especially wedding clothes.

The guide took us through two of the houses, telling us about the use of the different rooms, the historical details of the area and interesting facts about the way of life. He was extremely informative, and we left with a lot of new knowledge and understanding.

Kitchen

Kitchen

Guest room: the room for the guests when visiting. They often has their own entrance.

Guest room: the room for the guests when visiting. They often has their own entrance.

Wedding clothes: Examples of wedding clothes. There were many kinds of wedding clothes, also reflecting what region they came from.

Wedding clothes: Examples of wedding clothes. There were many kinds of wedding clothes, also reflecting what region they came from.

Death room: The dead were buried the same day they died, but their clothes and tools representing their work and life were put in the death room where the family could go to grief.

Death room: The dead were buried the same day they died, but their clothes and tools representing their work and life were put in the death room where the family could go to grief.

Pristina in pictures

Tempting vegetables.

Tempting vegetables.

You can get everything you need. Or don't need...

You can get everything you need. Or don’t need…

Care for some tools?

Care for some tools?

or cigarettes?

or cigarettes?

The ethnological museum in Pristina.

The ethnological museum.

The fatih mosque.

The fatih mosque.

Hanging around with friends.

Hanging around with friends.

Mother Teresa boulevard and off course a sculpture of Skanderbeg.

Mother Teresa boulevard and off course a sculpture of Skanderbeg.

Maybe not that grand anymore...

Maybe not that grand anymore…

Cathedral of Blessed Mother Teresa.

Cathedral of Blessed Mother Teresa.

The national library.

The national library.

The national library and the cathedral of Blessed Mother Teresa.

The national library and the cathedral of Blessed Mother Teresa.

The newborn monument, that is regularly painted in different ways.

The newborn monument, that is regularly painted in different ways.

Get your bearings – rental car in the Balkans

It was certainly not an easy task to find a rental company that would allow us to cross the borders of all the Balkan countries we planned to visit. Most of the big car rental companies like Avis and Hertz would exclude one or more of the countries. After trying several of the smaller companies as well, I finally found Milenium Car Rental.

As our plan was to go to Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia, we needed to find a company that would allow us to enter those countries without charging expensive extras. Milenium Car Rental had green card to all the countries we planned to visit. The only extra we had to pay was an additional insurance at the border to enter Kosovo, as they are not a part of the Green Card System.

We picked up the car at the Milenium Car Rental office in downtown Dubrovnik, and agreed to deliver it at the airport when we returned.

Since we are off to explore, and plan to try different small roads, we figured it would be wise to rent a GPS as well. We also bought some more detailed “old fashioned” road maps, just to be on the safe side…

Off we go!