A love story? Pristina and I go on a first date

   It is not like I had been fooled by a misleading photo in an online dating profile, I knew Pristina was going to be ugly. To quote my Bradt guidebook, “Pristina is the city that many of us love to hate, its grey, dusty and traffic clogged”.  The guidebook didn’t lie, it’s pretty horrendous and for the most part looks a bit like a giant construction zone. 

   I really can’t blame Pristina for being ugly, it has many years history to justify it. The city has undergone several major renovations starting with the building campaign in the 14th century under the Ottoman Empire, through the communist modernization drive with the slogan “out with the old, in with the ugly and grey”,  and most recently a new look with the inflow of international money following Kosovo’s declared independence in 2008. 
Big, glassy, and modern lives right next to Ottoman era mosques. 

   The issue isn’t new building, but rather building without cultural preservation. Pristina has an incredible history! There have been neolithic findings from the 8th century BC, it was the most important city in the balkans under the Romans, and was a major trade hub during Ottoman Empire.

   Sadly so little of this history is evident walking down the street. Or maybe it is just so covered in grey mud it is hard to tell what is really going on!

I think they gave themselves the five stars – look Ma five stars!

   Despite it’s ugly mug, I have to admit I am finding some things to really enjoy. For one, as promised the cafe culture is awesome and very affordable for a fellow on a budget. Check out this amazing slice of cheesecake for 1.30 Euro! 

I meant to take a picture when it first arrived but was so excited that I didn’t remember the picture until I was several bites in… 

   All of the local kosovars I have interacted with have also been incredibly nice. Despite a tough language barrier (albanian is ridiculously hard but I am working on it) I managed to get this tiny phone today, find a super modern gym with wifi (bonus!), and have a couple of really good leads on apartments.

It has snake! And makes my hand look like a giant meat paw. 

   Despite all of the grey, there is lots of local color if you know where to look.