Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's Kosova, not Kosovo - My adventures in a new country

Bottom, View
from the
Top, outside
the Gjergj Kastriot i

It's been a bit since I was in Kosova, and captured some of the memories here in my blog, but the funny thing is how vivid this was for me. For the first time in awhile, it was primarily a trip to relax. Sure, I did some business there (including pitching some music videos), but unlike my travels in recent years, Kosova was meant for some times of exploration and just living life.
It kind of came out of the blue, but was planned for some time. I noticed that a local travel agency had tickets on sale for Frankfurt, Germany and from there I knew that it might be a bit easier to get to Pristina. After clearing with my pal Adem that I could crash there, my flight got booked and off I went to the country less than a year old... Kosova (or as many as you know it by the Serbian pronounciation, Kosovo).
Napping at my hotel in Frankfurt, I slept a bit wandering around and filming the red light district I was staying in, waking up in the morning to a typical European buffet breafast, similar to the ones I had at many hotels in Finland. Then on a very foggy morning, it was off to the aiport to fly to Budapest, Hungary en route to Kosova.
Landing there and clearing customs, I was pulled aside and my carry on searched again. If anything, they seemed genuinely interested as to why I came to Kosova to visit. While it might be off the beaten path for most, indeed it was well on my radar, and it had been for some time.
Little is known about this former war-torn country, but I can tell you it has tons to offer. It has beautiful mountains, breath-taking waterfalls, and super nice people. Many times I would have someone ask "Why are you here?" as it's not a mecca for tourists. When I would explain that I was there as a tourist and wanting to see their country, they would usually ask if I was having a nice time and wished me a pleasant trip.
Kosova has some of the best food. For 1 EUR, you can get an amazing Albanian hamburger (which are unbelievable), fantastic burek, and a full-on pizza. "Machiato", a type of expresso are great for energy, along with "Golden Eagle", the Kosova-made variation of RED BULL, which can't be beat.
I also enjoyed the time spent with my friend's family the most. Amusing his son with an Elmo toy I had brought, a road trip to Peja and the mountains, and walking to the local market to pick up things needed around their new flat.
The country also provided me with many valuable lessons that would be applied for the months to follow. Yes, I had seen ruins of war ravaged homes and towns. Yet, the optomism of hope was contagious to myself. Some of the nicest people you could ever meet, live in Kosova.
At one point, on a mountaintop, I could look over the peaks. This was the first time I had really ever seen and been on a mountain in real life. As you look over the skyline, you know these are the moments that make life worth living.
Once you've been there, you can understand why Kosovars are so passionate about the place. It also hammered into myself again that hope, dreams, and ambition, are priceless.


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