Monday, April 30, 2018

10 facts about Kosovo-Blick newspaper promotes Kosovo

From Kosovo’s world famous artists, to natural attractions and culture, “Blick", a Swiss German-language daily newspaper lists 10 interesting facts about Kosovo.
Natural gems of Kosovo are: Miruesha Waterfall, Gjeravica Mountain (Kosovo’s highest peak), Brezovica Ski Resort. You are most likely to admire also the cultural heritage of Kosovo: beautiful architecture of monasteries, mosques and castles. Blick also highlights the coffee culture in Kosovo writing: “Sorry, Italy, but the best coffee is in Kosovo. Everywhere you will find pretty little coffees with silvery glossy espresso machines.”
Mirusha Waterfalls
Credits: Kosovo Holidays 

The youngest country on the European continent has left the war turmoil behind. The Kosovars are proud of their homeland and welcoming visitors so far. The small Balkan state has its own special charms. If you are looking for a different adventure, you will find it here.

Kosovo’s Pop Artist 
Just now she stormed the charts again: The 27-year-old British pop singer Rita Ora (born Rita Sahatçiu) is a daughter of Kosovo. She was born in the Pristina capital of Kosovo in 1990 and fled to London a year later with her parents and siblings. The Kosovars are nevertheless proud of their "successful" and beautiful music export. And Rita Ora is also interested in her roots - since 2015 she is honorary ambassador of the country.
Rita Ora-Kosovo's famous Pop Artist

Mirusha waterfalls
The Mirusha Falls (in Albanian Ujëvarët e Mirushës) are one of the most impressive natural spectacles in Kosovo. Mirusha Waterfalls is a chain of waterfalls found in the Mirusha River, situated on the south of the Gremnik Mountains; on the way to Gjakova at an altitude of 572 meters. Its distance from the capital city is approximately one hour.
Mirusha River engraved a 10 km long canyon and created 13 river lakes with 12 waterfalls between them. The waterfall with the biggest height is the one between the sixth and seventh lake, and it is 22 meters high.
Those waterfalls between the lakes, together with the stunning landscape, and rocks and caves around the waterfalls, form an overwhelming sight and present a special tourism attraction. Although the water temperature is usually quite cold, throughout summer when the temperature is high, swimming there can be incredibly pleasant.

Novo Brdo: castle ruins as in «Game of Thrones»
From a distance, the castle ruins of Novo Brdo look like one of the rundown castles from the cult series "Game of Thrones". The structure towers powerfully on the extinct volcano, after which it is named, the Novo Brdo (which means "new hill"). The fortress was built in Byzantine times. In the 13th century it was pimped up by Serbian kings and served to secure the numerous mines, which were primarily looking for silver.
Novo Brdo

Coffee Culture
Sorry, Italy, but the best coffee is in Kosovo. Nowhere is the black brew prepared with more love than in the small Balkan state - say connoisseurs. Everywhere you will find pretty little coffees with silvery glossy espresso machines. One of the most famous is the Café Soma near the pedestrian zone "Nënë Tereza" in the center of Pristina. If you want to do it like the Kosovars, do not order an espresso or cappuccino, but a "macchiato" (espresso with milk froth).
Soma Cafe
Photo source

The first Kosovar on Everest
When the mountaineering group in Nepal's Everest Basecamp announced that they would not take them to the summit because it was all too hard for women, Utah Ibrahimi (34) only spurred on. The former marketing woman and successful tourism organizer grabbed her Sherpa and climbed alone with him the highest peak in the world. She was the first Kosovar on Everest - now she wants to climb the remaining thirteen 8000er. If you want to go climbing or hiking with the lively young woman or do yoga with her outdoors, you can visit her homepage for her outdoor activities.
Kosovar National Theater
The National Theater in the capital Pristina is the only theater in the country. It was founded in 1946 and declared "National Theater" after the end of the War of Independence against Serbia in 1999. Over 400 in-house productions have been performed in the venerable house, including politically extremely courageous and controversial productions - sometimes even under police protection. Slightly less controversial are the performances of the Kosovar National Ballet, which also take place here.

On the way to Europe
Kosovo and the EU, so far a rather unfortunate love story. The Kosovars hardly want anything more than to finally belong to the EU. Twenty-three out of the 28 EU Member States have even recognized the country (all but Greece, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Cyprus). For years, the EU's Eulex Mission has been trying to help Kosovo build the rule of law. Nevertheless, the road to Europe is even further for the Kosovars. Together with the Belarusians they still need a visa if they want to enter the Schengen area.

Cultural metropolis Peja
The city on the "White Drin", the largest river in the country, abounds with cultural historical monuments. Not only the World Heritage Monastery Visoki Dečani of the 100,000-inhabitant city attracts visitors. The Red Mosque (built in 1173), the Bajrakli mosque also have beautiful ornaments and a lot of history. The Church of St. Catherine is the spiritual center of the region's Catholic Albanians. On a themed trail, the religious sites can be explored in about two hours.

Brezovica: Kosovo's ski resort

Just 68 people live in the small, Serbian-dominated village in the south of Kosovo. As a winter sports resort Brezovica is probably the most important spot in the country. The approximately 80-kilometer-long mountain range that extends between Kosovo and Macedonia, reaches heights of over 2000 meters. In the ski center (one of three winter sports facilities in Kosovo), nine prepared tracks and several powder snow slopes await skiers and snowboarders. Once they were to serve as evasive slopes for the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo.

Gjeravica: Kosovo's highest peak
With 2566 meters, the Gjeravica is the highest mountain in Kosovo - officially, at least. For a few years ago, when the border with Macedonia was redrawn, the "Maja e Njerit" suddenly stood on Kosovar territory. At 2568 meters, the summit is a whopping two meters higher than the Gjeravica. He is not yet officially recognized. Nonetheless, the "smaller" mountain in the west of the country remains one of the most popular hiking destinations.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Pristina: A visit to Europe's youngest capital

‘Travelers Insight’ -a travel blog of Munich Airport has dedicated an article to Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. The author Matthias Derhake writes about his tour in Pristina which was offered by Kosovo Holidays, a Destination Management and Tour operator company in Pristina . Derhake is impressed by the culture in Pristina, by the positive vibe of young people who live and study in the capital. “Pristina is moving. You can really feel the updraft pulling through the streets.”
You will be surprised by the culinary in Pristina: “Whoever strolls down the city promenade from Skanderbeg Square - this is where the theater is located - should do so on an empty stomach. Because here are numerous stalls with Albanian, oriental and international delicacies. Especially between April and October, this food mile is a real culinary highlight.
Read more about his trip below in English, or the original article in Dutch.  

National Museum of Kosovo

Visit to Pristina - departure mood and coffee culture
In the youngest country of Europe proportionately, most young people live, much of them in Pristina. On the one hand, the city with its old buildings still has the Yugoslavian charm, on the other hand, one encounters more and more hip and modern cafes, theater and art.
People in the Balkans are passionate coffee drinkers, as you can see in Pristina. Many politicians and members of parliament are attracted to this because the seat of government of Kosovo is right around the corner.
If you like to work on a laptop or mix with the locals, you should make yourself comfortable in the Soma Book Station , which by the way is run by a cat. Well, not quite. The cat belongs to the owner. She spends most of the day in the café and is very sociable with the guests. Also recommended are the Cup o Tea, Tartines , Tiffany , MIQT Pub , Kadare Bar Books and the Mana Board Game Bar, which offers a wide variety of board games for their guests.
Visit to Pristina's city promenade: Delicacies galore

Interpretation desired - the National Library of Kosovo
Pristina is not too big, the city center can be explored on foot. Here you will also find the most beautiful buildings, attractions, museums and mosques.
Among the most impressive sights in Pristina I would count the National Library of Kosovo, which was unfortunately named by the English Telegraph as one of the ugliest buildings in the world and located on the campus of the University. Nonetheless, it is the most visited attraction in Kosovo. There are many different and controversial interpretations about the symbolic meaning of the 99 white, glass domes with the large grid-like metal net. If you're traveling to Pristina, you can find out about what the Serbs and Albanians are discussing here as part of the Kosovo Holidays Walking Tour 
A few meters away is the Mother Teresa Cathedral. Muslims and Christians live peacefully together in Kosovo and have been for a long time. For one euro, my tour guide Armend and I take the elevator up the cathedral. From the top you have a breathtaking view over the city and the nearby mountains.
National Library of Kosovo

Pristina's story - shocking, but with a happy ending
The history of the country is reflected in almost all the sights of the city. So also on the Ibrahim Rugova, the Skanderbeg Square and the  National Museum of Kosovo. While finds of early history are shown on the ground floor of the museum, on the first floor you will find the very interesting but also disturbing exhibition on the Kosovo War from 1998 to 1999.
After a 60-minute history lesson, it's time to go outside again. Actually, I'm more of an outdoor and nature lover, but the story of the collapse of the former Yugoslavia has captivated me so much that I try to go to any museum and talk to people about it as soon as I'm in the area.
Right next to the museum is the Great Mosque of Pristina. Armend begs me in, we take off the shoes before. A very warm, peaceful and above all welcoming atmosphere surrounds us.
Bonding with the West - Bill Clinton and the Symbolic Lego Stone
So many impressions and information. And we were not even in the city center. The large yellow Lego stone on Ibrahim Rugova Square symbolizes not only the six regions of Kosovo, but is also seen as a missing puzzle or Lego piece of the EU.
Kosovo is pro EU and America, as the UN and some big politicians strongly supported the Kosovars during the war. As a sign of their attachment, they not only created Bill Clinton Avenue, but also erected a statue in honor of the former US president. Many parents have called their sons Bill or Bill Clinton. I had to ask twice when I heard that.
From Suxhuk to Kifle - Pristina's culinary surprises
Whoever strolls down the city promenade from Skanderbeg Square - this is where the theater is located - should do so on an empty stomach. Because here are numerous stalls with Albanian, oriental and international delicacies. Especially between April and October, this food mile is a real culinary highlight.
Be sure to try the pastries in the small bakeries.

On the huge bazaar Armend shows me the hidden alleys and the traders, who besides fruits, vegetables and textiles also offer oriental delicacies, spices and traditional garments. Anyone who wants to buy something here should definitely negotiate or have a local with them, as communication problems can arise.
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#NewBornMonument - Pristina's creative monument
At the southern end of the promenade you suddenly find yourself in front of a monument that you want to revisit every year once you've been in Pristina: The NewBorn Monument is redesigned annually by the creative minds of the city, so it always looks different - but always full of meaning and inspiration!
If you do not have time to visit Pristina every year, check the Instagram #NewBornMonument hashtag or the NewBorn Monument Pristina hashtag. Last year, the monument contained the message "No Walls" and this year the country's tenth anniversary. I am very curious to see what next year will be like.
NewBorn Monument