Happy and Safe Travels
Wikipedia called Brod, Kosovo “One of the most spectacular mountain villages in the Balkans.” That’s one advantage to using a car versus riding public transportation, you can go off the beaten path.
I thought the road in Albania was narrow and scary, this road? I’m driving on the left side of the road. The road is 1 1/2 lanes wide,on the right side is an occasional guardrail and a sheer drop off. I finally get to “town”, it’s a village of one lane streets with a cow walking on nearly every street. I follow the hotel signs to see what they have to offer.
I found myself with a few extra days, so I head to Kruje,, home of Albanian handmade rugs. This is my 4th time to Albania, it’s almost a second home. I rented a car last time and passed 40 police checks and was never pulled over. Well they finally pulled me over, for speeding, it’s great being an American here, we made some small talk and I was set free.
Last time I drove this road there was a river I wanted a photo of. I realized I was near the same river again, this time I stopped and took a picture.
I found this really cool looking hotel online, Hotel Çarshia e Jupave. I like staying right in town. It’s a little cheaper staying further out, but I came to far to stay “further out.” Most places come with a good breakfast, this was no exception-it was great! I parked in the basement, where the wood fired boiler heated the whole hotel.
Gjakove’s old town was badly destroyed during the Kosovo war of 1999. It has been re-built and is now a popular hangout for tourist and locals. The local crafts are these rocking wooden baby cribs and traditional clothing. I walked through the town several times, pretty soon I had my regular stops.
I pretty much walked all of the old town, several times. I discovered Bike Adventures of Gjakove Wikipedia claims Gjakova is the bike capital of Kosovo, and it is quite bikeable. The owner was leaving town, so he handed me over to Lindita. It was her first tour. She started around the old town, but I had already walked most of it. I had some places I wanted to go that were too far for walking, but too close to use the car-yep biking. I did bike tours back in Portland, so I kinda took over the tour and taught her how to do a tour.
I wanted to go slightly out of town, up a road, turn left and look around. We passed this character on his bike, I wanted the photo. He pulls out a gun and Lindata screams-NO!, hence a photo with no gun. Then we come upon this old guy sitting on a bench. He states “I didn’t have anything to do today, so I’m just watching the chickens” awesome. Then there’s the guy laying the 3D patio, it was beautiful. I like being the tour guide. I looked at all the garbage around the stone bridge, it would take several months just to clean the garbage you can see. I suggest coffee at the Oxygen Restaurant, it’s at the top of the hill. From there I spot a newer looking Mosque, I suggest we ride there.
It was a quick ride to the Mosque, 80% of Gjakove are Muslim. I take a few pictures then I suggest that Lindita ask if we can climb the Minaret? They said sure, awesome. After climbing the minaret, they invited us to stay for tea. I told Lindata she should do this as stop on her next bike tour, pretty awesome and super scary. I guess some other Americans wanted to go up the Minaret, but there was no elevator, so they declined.
My tour guide friend Maja said I must visit Prizren, so here I am. I stayed at a (no name) Hostel, that wasn’t ready for Prime time. After my stay they asked me to give them a review on Travelocity, I don’t think they really wanted me to do that, just saying.
There still seems to be some tension or conflict going on around here I saw “peacekeepers” from: Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia and America. I hiked to the castle, took some photos and got a private tour of the Castle museum. The shoe shine guy “offered” to shine my boots, I paid him. Prizren like many cities in Europe and the Balkans is a car free-pedestrian only area. Kosovo is a little more “finished” than Albania. In Albania the sidewalks can be an obstacle course, here the sidewalks are finished and nice.
I did everything a tourist would do in Prizren. I have enough time so, I’m going to visit Kaja and Shkodra in Albania for a few days. I really want to go to Kaja because it’s the home of the Handmade rugs of Albania.
Thanks for reading
Next: Kruje Albania and Shkodra Albania: I meet the American Ambassador to Albania.
I got my car and I’m heading to Peja, home of Peja Beer. I stop at Hostel Sarac and ask about the nearby hot mineral baths. He stated “that’s a local thing” “you want to go there?” the “local thing” got me very interested. I drive the 20 km to ONIX SPA RESORT and sign up. I like this place, I feel so young, most everyone here is in their 70’s & 80’s +. I rent a room for $25 euro which includes: brand new room with big flat screen TV, doctor visit to talk about my health, prescription to get healthier: electric shock therapy, hot wax treatment, therapeutic massage and 10 minutes in the mineral bath. Continue reading “KOSOVO: Banja (mineral baths) & Peja (Rugova Gorge) and more!”
I’ve been to Albania 3 times but all the Albanians I met in Slovenia & Croatia are from Kosovo. So I packed up my bike bags and helmet, with the intention of renting a bike in Pristina. I recently tore the ligaments in my foot and was having trouble just walking. The rainy cold weather made it an easy decision to rent a car for 20 euro a day.