I wake up before the alarm. 739. Well that’s that I guess. Shower up. James says he slept terribly, awake every 20 minutes. He’s milking the naps until go time. Looks like we’ll be in fine form today. We get clean, pack up and stumble 4 flights down to Mickitos cafe.
Micki is up and cleaning a few things around the cafe. Fist bump, “I’m just doing this, we can go any time. There’s no rush.” “I think we’ll do a coffee and some breakfast if there’s time.” “Yes, of course.”
The menu’s got some grilled breakfast sandwiches that may do the trick. Some coffee and OJ. Alright, let’s rise to human form again.
It’s perfect. I’m confident we can make it to Kosovo now. I card up for breakfast and give James my cash wad for a water run to the neighboring market. He comes back rubbing his hands through his hair. “Everything alright dude?” “Fuck man. Your wad had Euros and denars in it. I gave the girl a 50 euro bill and she just started laughing. Almost paid 50 euros for 40 denar of water.” “Haha. Well that’s a promising start to the day. Overpay on two bottles of water by almost 60 bucks.” “I’m fucking out of it. Just a haze.”
We square up with Micki and take our assigned seats in the Saab. Only takes about twenty minutes to get to the Kosovo border. Super easy border crossing. Way faster than a bus for sure. Only took a few minutes. The drive to Prizren is only two hours from Skopje. No idea what to expect from Kosovo really so I’m excited to get a drive through.
We immediately enter a rolling green canyon with a brand new highway running through it. Fall trees up the hills and a picturesque red roof town skirting below. Damn Kosovo. You pretty.
“This highway is amazing.” “Yes, brand new. Straight. Fast. We will make good time for sure.” It’s pristine and Micki is cooking it. I look back at Mackay, “Can I get one of those waters, holmes?” He takes a manic look around. Checks his pockets. “Fuck sakes. I think I forgot them on the table.” “Haha dude! Those were like, 50 euros!” “I swear. I’m done man. Useless.” “No worries, it’s not far.”
Looks like I may not have any phone service here in Kosovo. Hope my cards work or things could get tricky.
Soon we’re approaching the capital, Pristina. The highway curves just south of it and we take a bearing south west for Prizren. Tall concrete buildings and a slight industrial feel. “How’s the capital?” “It’s ok. Nothing so great and Prizren is really much better. I think you could find some fun there though.” “No doubt.”
We come up on Prizren and it looks like a small and old city with narrow streets running by a river. The spires of multiple mosques are strewn throughout. Micki has a bead on a hostel so we park up and go to check it out. Sign says it’s full. He dips into the barber shop next door and they say there’s another across the bridge on the left. A guy overhears this and just walks us over. Nice.
He leads us to a place called Drizzi’s House. Looks decent but check in isn’t until 12. Leader Guy feels bad and is apologetic. He points up another slim side street. We nod and head that way. Around the corner we find Bushi hostel. Maybe a Japanese theme? Micki steps in and rings the little desk bell. A tall lad comes out and they have a quick exchange. “They have a private room.” “Sure.”
The Tallish Man walks us upstairs and opens a couple of doors. Looks like the options are a room with 5 beds or one with a single large wooden bed with pink sheets. Shits romantic, this is a no brainer.
“We’ll take the pink sheets in case more people come.” Tallish Man nods. There’s some hammering on the roof and he shoots us a questioning glance. MacKay waves it off, “It’s fine.”
We escort Micki back downstairs and get a round of handshakes. He exchanges hostel business cards with the owner and turns to us, “Good?” “Yeah man. This is great.” “Thanks so much for the ride and the hospitality in Skopje.” “Of course, of course. It’s my pleasure, really.” “You’ve been very generous. Appreciated.” “Enjoy Prizren. Come back to Skopje some time.” “We will for sure. And spread the word on Mickitos.” “That’s great. Alright I will go.” “Safe drive, man.”
Alright Bushi hostel, first things first. Whoa danger. Toilet is an ass biter.
There’s a nice balcony outside our room with some cute budgies chilling as budgies do. Adorbs.
Alright we’re ‘home’.
We take a breather and get online to see what Prizren has to offer.
Prizren is the historical capital of Kosovo, nestled by the Bistrica river and Šar Mountains. Population is only about 90,000. There’s a hilltop fortress with habitants dating back to the Bronze Age around 2000 BCE and reconstructed by Roman Emperor Justinian in the 6th century.
Kosovo itself has been changing hands from empire to empire throughout the ages. Roman, Byzantine, Serbian Nemanjić dynasty, and the Ottoman Empire. After the Balkan Wars, Kosovo was ceded to Serbia and Montenegro. These countries became part of Yugoslavia after World War I. After WWII Kosovo became an autonomous province of Serbia. Kosovo’s mix of Albanian and Serb populations proved volatile and culminated in the Kosovo War in 1998-99. NATO got involved, for better or worse, and eventually Kosovo was able to claim independence in 2008. So yeah, lot of history here. Let’s go take a look.
Still not sure if I’ve got service here but I use the interwizzles to locate a good looking lunch prospect called Marash. We’re on the case…
Or not so much. As soon as we leave the hostel armature hour kicks in and I refresh my map and lose the directions. Guess we’re both in the haze today. “Fuck it. We’ll find it.” “We’ll find something.”
So Micki was right. This place is gorgeous. River. Old stone bridges. Mosques. Red roofed houses. 6th century fortress. And brilliant weather. Prizren for the wizren.
We walk down to the river and cross up the street towards my memory’s best guess of where the restaurant is. We find the Marash mosque. Hmmm yaaaaa we done messed this one up.
Cross the bridge and walk passed a ski shop. That’s interesting. Wonder what the skiing is like in these parts. Beside that is a butcher shop with huge carcasses hanging in the window. We get stared down by two old men giving us the “What the fuck is that?!” looks. Maybe the long curlies don’t fly round these parts?
Find a cool mural
We spot a sign with some directions to local attractions. One is called Journey of the Stone. “Dude. That’s metal as fuck.” “Journey of the Stone!” We whip up a quick metal song called Journey of the Stone. “This path you walk alone.” “J-J-J-Journey of the STONE!”
Marashi Restaurant (for real)
Round the river bend we actually find the restaurant. It’s called Marashi. Beauty spot right on the river. Looks great. We come in through the patio and grab a seat by the river. A dapper server comes over to deliver some menus. Are we in a fancy spot here or something? I think we are in a fancy spot here but the prices are incredible. Nothing over ten bucks.
When the server comes back we ask him for some recommendations. “You want to try the peppers in cream sauce? Maybe a veggie risotto? The home specialty?” “What’s the home specialty?” “Veal fillet stuffed with beef bacon, cheese and gerkins.” “Oooh yeah. Alright.” “Maybe a beer? Birra Peja.” “Oh I think that was a town we passed on the way here.” “Ah yes, indeed. From Pristina?” “Skopje actually.” “Oh Skopje, very nice.” “Ya, all of that sounds great, man. Let’s do it.” “Very good.” He snaps the menu shut, grabs the other and walks off.
He comes back with the beers from Peja. Beautiful. Prizren is working out great thus far. Killer scenery and a laid back vibe.
MacKay and I are a little on the daft side today and conversation is sluggish. After another beer it picks up a bit and we do have a meta chuckle talking about the blog and how great it is, personally, to go back and relive moments from the various trips.
“It’s just so random really.” “Well ya. If you don’t plan anything that’s going to happen.” “How many people are reading this shit?” “Oh, like, two.” “Yeah. My mom and your mom.” “Lol yup, pretty much.” “So it’s incredibly asinine but at the same time I’m hoping there’s something to be learned here.” “So.. asinine but we’re going for… slightly enlightening?” “Asslightening?” “Yes. It’s Ass Lightning.” “Haha fuck sakes. Distance from normal is out. Ass Lightning – in.”
The Ass Lightning comment draws an interesting facial expression from the server as he drops off some bread and the.. I guess that’s peppers in cream sauce?
Wow. Oh wow it’s good.
Soon after the creamy peppers, this summer blockbuster hits the table. What am I even looking at here? Looks saucy magnifico.
Cut inside and take a gander. Exactly as advertised, veal fillet stuffed with beef bacon, cheese and gerkins. Oh dear. This is all of my dreams.
“Dude. Duuude. You gotta try this shit.”
The risotto is excellent too.
These three plates pair nicely together and we put it all back even though it’s a little more than necessary. Just can’t stop, it’s so good. Risotto with peppers and cream. Veal medley with risotto. Peppers with veal. Stuff some risotto in the already stuffed veal. Beers with todos. So good. Soooooo so good. We mop it up, kick our chairs back and settle.
We lounge in our excess for a bit until the server comes back with the bill. It’s like.. thirty bucks. We express our overwhelming thanks and hand him the card. “Ok, I already love it here.” “Cards work, so that’s a bonus.” We stack a nice tip on there since the service, food, scene and everything was magnificent.
“Up to that 6th century fortress then?” “Looks steep as fuck.” “Oh yeah Ass Lightning. It’s the…” “JOURNEY OF THE STONE!”