27 july Prizren (KOSOVO)

Today we leave Albania and enter Kosovo!
I am very excited and tensed; the memories of the images of the news, the ethnic cleansing of Milosevic, the war, the devastation is still so alive!
The border is very close to Bajram Curri and, easily, after a stamp in the passport we set foot in Europe's youngest nation.

We continue inbound Djakova and, along the way, we talk with the kind Qimal of history and politics, he tells us many stories of this martyred people and once again I realize how much we are influenced by the media or books... how we are ready to feel hatred or resentment toward a people just because the news show us what they want or have to show!

I recall when I was in Belgrade or Mostar and Serbs or Bosnian Orthodox talked with hatred of their cousins ​​from Kosovo or Albania, I think of boats loaded with poor people who left their beloved nation to find luck in Italy, I think how we were quick to criticize!
Entered Kosovo we notice many cemeteries, headstones that emerge almost everywhere, monuments of military heroes, American flags... suddenly I see an Italian Army truck...

A little over a vast field with black marble tombstones that emerge everywhere, I ask Qilam to stop for a moment, I see that they all have the same date of death... once again history does not teach!

Near the old Ottoman bridge, beautifully restored, there is the Mosque of "Sinan Pasha" which is slowly returning to its ancient splendor and it is preparing to become, once again, the symbol of Prizren.

Nearby there are the famous Gazi Mehmed Pasha baths and the Orthodox Church of the Holy Savior; only in recent years the barbed wire has been removed as well as the armed guards that protected it. Consider that 96% of Kosovars are Muslim and, in Prizren, there are 28 mosques and three churches.

We thank the guardian with an Albanian "faliminderit" (thank you) and he, angry, answers us in Serbian: "No, here hvala"! (thanks in Serbian). Symptomatic episode of the situation that exists in this area of ​​the Balkans.

Along the climb towards the Kalaja fortress, XI cent., we meet Jaemin, a young South Korean, so funny! His project is to learn a traditional song in every country he visits... and here he sing in a near-perfect Italian: "Azzurro" by Celentano... he is our friend now!

He’s great when he conquers, singing a nostalgic old song Yugoslav the gruff guardian of the Orthodox Church that accompanies him almost touched!

28 july Pristina (KOSOVO)

[Stefy]: "We move to Pristina by bus, the capital, in two hours.
We take a taxi that will struggle a lot to find our hostel. We go into various narrow streets and then we come out in a very lively market just when, in the middle of the stalls, we read: "Istanbul Hostel", here we are!

We are located north of the Vellusha District, among winding streets full of fruits and vegetables, we see the "Clock Tower" and several mosques, in particular Jashar Pasha and Sultan Mehmet Fatih one. We reach "Ibrahim Rugova" Square where we have lunch at "Pishat" with "qyfte" spicy meatballs accompanied by "kos" (local yogurt) and tasty Arab bread.

The "Ethnological Museum" is very interesting, an old Ottoman house in a garden, illustrating customs and traditions of this civilization, there are traditional clothes, furniture, carpets; we meet Bekim who, passionately looks after it and, tells many anecdotes of this museum.

We enjoy the view of Pristina, from the bell tower of Mother Teresa Church, still under construction.

On the way back we find a bakery where we buy excellent "baclava" while another day ends with the sounds of the stalls which are closing."

29 july Pristina (KOSOVO)

Despite the fever of Stefy, we decide to reach the town of Graçanica... We walk from our hostel to the bus station, it is quite hot today. We continue along Mother Teresa Boulevard and then to Bill Clinton one. We cross desolate areas, Yugoslavia old style, until our bus.

After 15 minutes we enter this "weird" town, a Serbian flag waves on every streetlight, almost all cars have Serbian license plate and you can also pay in dinars, you can read the signs in Cyrillic and hear the people speak using the language of former Yugoslavia in this small Serb enclave in central Albanian Kosovo.

We manage to see the famous Monastery only   from the outside because two nuns, with a beard, drive us out badly for our shorts. Whatever!
Meanwhile Stefy gets worse and worse and so we decide to run back to Pristina... she has high fever...

30 july Pec (KOSOVO)

[Stefy]: "Gathering my weak strength, we catch the bus to Pec... I need a change of scenery... We take possession of our room at Hotel Antika, three kilometers from Pec and very cute, in the garden there are many fawns and deer... I need to rest a bit..."

31 july Pec (KOSOVO)

[Stefy]: "This morning we wake up with the desire of croissant and cappuccino and we will not start the day until we find them! First bar: just coffee and big glass of water, second bar: the same; third one: cappuccino but nothing to eat...we  ask around and, in the end, we find a bakery with huge croissants... We return to the bar with cappuccino and we can finally enjoy our deserved Italian breakfast!

 

Along the river, the air is cool despite of the scorching sun; Rugova Mountains are all around us, we find ourselves in their embrace.

 

We arrive at the Patriarchate of Pec, out there we meet KFOR troops that require our passport for the entrance.
The complex consists of a beautiful Orthodox church, whose interior is completely frescoed; there is also a small cemetery behind the church cured by a few religious Serbian. Everything is flooded with beautiful flowers and colorful oasis of relaxation and meditation.

Once in the center, we immerse ourselves in the bazaars of the city, there are many people and the scent of grilled meat is too strong for Mark... excellent choice!"

 
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