We tackle the Journey of the Stone in reverse down from the fortress. Back through the narrow streets between apartments and further into the main square by the river. The place is popping for midday on a Tuesday.
Looks like they’ve taken Salzburg’s love bridge idea and put it here too.
Looking back towards the fortress
Turned into a really nice day and people are out getting food and drinks, relaxing in row after row of outdoor seating down every street.
We get back to Hostel Bushati and chill out for a bit ourselves.
Narco meets the budgies
James decides it’s high time he made good on his threats to get a haircut. “Yep, I’m doing it. Back in a few.” He hops out, en route to the barber shop we’d discovered when Micki dropped us off.
I take the time to start planning a BEEF exit strategy as my days off for the trip are dwindling. A quick check of surrounding airports in the Balkan countries reveals flights are about quadruple what I was expecting and are all multi-day ordeals with lengthy layovers to get back to Los Angeles. Hmmmm… might have left this a little late. Or maybe I’ll have to make tracks for a larger port. Ok. I could save some money and time while also extending Plan B out of the Balkans into some other area we hadn’t expected to get to.
A quick look at some more well-travelled spots in surrounding Europe signals that this is indeed more affordable and time-saving. Promising. We’ll need to have a detective planning sesh. And some brain suds.
James is back in no time looking dapper. “Ohh ho look at this. Return of the Mac-Kay.” “Yep. The guy spoke a bit of English. He asked how much a haircut costs in Toronto. I dunno, 30 bucks. This one was 4 euros.” “Nice. Not a bad price if you want to look like a total knob.” “Ya ya ya.” He rubs his hand over his Marines-style coif buzz, “Should be good for a while now.”
With the errands out of the way we boogie back to the main square to scout out a place to have a cocktail. As soon as we get off the side street there’s that view up the river again. Passed the stone bridges and Mosque and further up to the Fortress. So nice.
We find a spot named Corner 2, plop down and get a tea Negroni. Interesting. They’ve infused the gin w tea. I’ve done this at home but don’t usually see it in bars (earl grey infused gin is delish btw). Trendy little spot and the drinks are decent. Old town road comes on. This is followed by Nelly, it’s getting hot in here.
“So when we gonna sit down and write out the rally?” MacKay and I have always thought about going back and filling in the story gaps from the Mongol Rally here on the blog. So much ridiculous shit happened. “Pfffft. I dunno. That’s gonna be a month of tag team beastin.” “Ya for sure. We could just hole up somewhere cool and knock it out.” “Hole up somewhere not cool so we aren’t distracted.” “True.” “What’s with all the puffy jackets?”
Another group of guys goes by in puffy jackets and Adidas track pants. This seems to be a popular look here and in North Macedonia. Makes groups of like-minded friends look like mini-euro-gangs. MacKay chuckles and hams it up, “Kosovo? More like Brosovo!” “Haha shit. Oh, speaking of Escape from Brosovo, we should probably plan that.” “Right.”
We hop on the phones only to find bullshit connections everywhere. There was better wifi at the hostel. “Well?…” Mosques all of the sudden start chanting throughout the city over loudspeakers. Dozens of different voices echo across the stone walls of surrounding buildings into a cacophony of conflicting wavelengths. Unfortunately it comes off as a scrambled, unintelligible mess of timbres and warbling voices. Sounds like all of them are competing in a chant-off. I’m sure if we sat to listen there’s probably something spiritual and beautiful about it, but… “I think that’s our queue.” “Yep.”
We get back to Hostel Bushati and the Tallish Man is there in the foyer. We ask him about transport into Albania and he says there’s a bus that leaves at 10am every day for Shkodër. Perfect. This info had eluded us in previous searches. I guess we’ll just get down to the station with ample time to figure it out.
We also ask about a spot for dinner and he recommends a place called Ambient. Local dishes. Perfect again. Alright, I think we’ve gathered enough intelligence from the Tallish Man to now proceed to the part where everything seems set and easy but we drink too much, get into some random shit, and somehow fuck it all up royally.
The sun sinks into a lackluster sunset over the river as we swing back across the stone bridges. The lights around the city blink on and the place is nicely lit up in the evening hours.
Not a lot of folks out and about, there were more people here for lunch. I guess Tuesday nights aren’t a big thing in Prizren. Doesn’t seem like much of a party place at all TBH. We make our way through the now familiar downtown area towards Ambient which looks like it is back around the same river bend as the Marashi restaurant where we had that spectacular lunch.
We find the place after a little bit of the usual getting lost in side streets and alleys. It’s up a slight hill towards the Journey of the Stone and is perched nicely above the river with a reverse view of the city.
They have some tables outside and there doesn’t seem to be anyone here. The wait staff are all in the front room having a laugh about something. We motion to them that we’re grabbing a seat outside and one nods and makes his way to a stack of menus.
We post up and he drops the menus. We put some beers in and he leaves us to scan food options. “Muscle roaster? Haha what do you think that is?” “Probably another pork knuckle type of thing.” That’ll work. James is eyeing the lamb house specialty. A cream of mushroom soup is here too. Yep. This all sounds great.
The waiter comes back with beers and great looking bread. We ask about a few plates but end up going with our initial decisions. He’s soon back with the soup. The bread and soup together.. deadly. So good. Still too hot though and I burn my mouth. But I can’t stop. Ok ok it’s really hot.
He comes back to ask about more beers and seems surprised that the soup is already nuked. “So. You like the soup?”, “Oh man. That is money.” “It is money? I don’t think I know what that means. That is money?” “Haha ya I suppose not. It’s great. Super good. Like, ‘it’s the shit.'” I don’t think these proverbs/slang are translating well. He offers, “Right on the money?” “Ya! Something like that.”
He takes our app plates whispering “That is money”, trying to make sense of the lingo. When he’s done we thank him and offer a cheers motion with the new beers. “Nothing.”
My ‘muscle roaster’ comes out with more of that great bread on top. I go to take it off and the waiter swiftly motions against it. “No no! Very hot, use that.” He points to the cutlery on the table. I use my knife and fork to move the bread from the roast pan to a nearby plate. Got a little potato hanger on. “Yes good. Money?” “Haha yeah, you got it. Kinda”
The plates look good. They’re both in deep, molten hot roast pans with all the constituents steaming together. Meat, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. This has a very homecooked meal vibe to it.
I try some broccoli. Fuck. Burn my mouth again. “A lot of broccoli in all the dishes we’ve had here.” Escape from Brocco… I got nothing.”
We dig in and it’s fantastic. Good rec from the Tallish Man. Nice view, cooler temp. This is great. We swap plates halfway through but it doesn’t look like either of us are gonna finish. Already made that mistake once today (and almost every day of the trip). Ooh this lamb is great though. My muscle roaster ended up being a beef dish, probably from the shoulder. All the meat is tender and juicy, slightly singed on the exterior. Well done Ambient.
The server is back for a late meal inquiry. We wave our hands to show that we’re tapping out of this one. “Done? So… It is not money?” “Haha it is, it is money for sure. Just a lot of food.” “Yes. Big dishes. Glad you liked them.” He takes the roast pans away with a smile. Everybody here is super polite.
We pay up and do a walkabout around town to find a good cocktail spot. A lot of the trees downtown have these cute cozies on them.
Nothing much happening on the side streets like they were earlier today so we find our way back to the main square and settle in at a place called Gatsby’s. Another trendy spot with an open air spread, cool bar in the middle of it, and sprawling outdoor patio section. We get some gin and watch with a smile as a little girl chases kittens around the square.
Order up some more gin drinks and slouch in our seats. We’re slightly lethargic tonight. We’re trying hard with the drinks though and I think the brains are sudsy enough to maybe discuss trip exit options, aka Plan C and/or D.