On our way back from Albania we stopped for lunch in Prizeren at Te Syla. They are famous for their cebapa. Cebapa is like a hamburger patty but it has a bunch of spices in it. It’s served with a salad, yogurt and fresh baked bread.
After lunch we took a quick walk to stretch our legs before getting back in the car. There is an ancient water fountain, there is a legend that if you drink from it you will be sure to come back.
Nini plans to return
Ari wanted to come back as well
Here’s some quick photos of Prishtina. Hamburger ABA is an institution here. It’s been open for over 15 years making 1 thing: burgers. The add ons are: a wet feta cheese, mayo, crushed red peppers, tomato, cabbage, onion and ketchup. I love a good place that makes 1 thing and that’s it. You know it’s got to be good. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
The kids played in front of the NEWBORN Monument for a while. Ari and Nini loved being able to climb inside of the letter ‘O’. It’s a monument that was built in February 17th, 2008 when Kosovo declared their independence from Serbia. Every year on 2/17 it is to be painted with a new design.
Cotton Candy Dude
Marcus has the BEST machiato
One of the main streets in Prishtina is called Bill Kinton Boulevard. After the Kosovo War of 1998-1999, the Albanians in Kosovo wanted to thank U.S. President Bill Clinton for his help in their struggle with the government of the FR Yugoslavia.
10 ft statue of Bill
One morning we went to Villa Germia to take photos of the children and let them run around. It’s so nice there- great mountain breeze, strong macchiato’s, and good service. Florent worked there as barback when he was younger.
Vendors work alongside the park selling snacks and miscellaneous toys. One of the vendors overheard me speaking in English. Obviously I struck up a solid conversation with the man.
“Where ru from?”
“Oh America is great you get anything you want there- candy, soda everything!”
He also told me about how he has a family member living in Las Vegas and that his grandfather invented the candy that goes on candy apples. I enjoyed talking with him. He let me take a quick pic of him.
That’s a bubble gun in his hand
When I showed his photo to my family they said they knew him. Apparently everyone knows him and hes pretty friendly. He has been at Villa Germia selling candy since he was 3 years old.
One thing I really adore about this place is that they provide throw blankets. How amazing is that? If you’re feeling chilly or want to enjoy a nice macchiato with a cozy throw blanket wrapped around your shoulders, this is the place to be. Restaurants in America need to pick up on this trend.
The kids pretty much lived off this sour cherry juice while we were in Kosovo. It’s called vishnje. Florent also is a huge fan of it as well.
While the kids napped I traveled 10km outside Prishtina with Shaban to visit one of his best friends. The car ride to his home I asked a couple of questions to get some history on their friendship. They met doing business together in 2004 after the war. They never knew each other before that. “He is my brother” Shaban says. I learned the word “shok” (friend) quickly during that car ride.
The man, the myth, the legend
Shaban’s friend enjoys being a giver. He gives him chickens, and fresh produce on the regular. They greet each other with a handshake and a kiss on the cheek. He shows me his rabbits, apples, chickens, and “1st class peppers”. We retire to the porch where his daughter in law makes us tea and fresh homemade passionfruit juice. They argue for a few minutes about peppers and how much things cost. The friend insists Shaban take a trunkload of peppers to make fresh ajvar for us to take back to America. Literally, a trunkload…
I’ve never seen a better bromance. He calls him “Shabi” for short. He served us ajvar made from his peppers. It’s the most delicious pepper related thing I’ve ever ate. After tea he hands me a pair of clogs and says ‘lets go’ in his language. We walk to the field to collect peppers. Before we walked to the field he handed me a fresh apple. I ate it quickly.
Picking the peppers
About 10 kilos of peppers later he finally agreed it was enough for me. He wanted to give me more but we had to strong arm him to stop picking. We walked by some chickens he snatched up a rooster and said it was for me. Giving someone your rooster is a huge honor BTW. He also gave me a huge bag of apples, cucumbers, and eggplant.
Tying the legs on my rooster
The ride back to Prishtina makes me wonder:
A. How will I get it all back to America?
B. How generous is this man to give me so much stuff just for visiting his home?
Hospitality is just indescribable in this country.
I bet there isn’t even a word in the dictionary to translate.
Aren’t pepper fields gorgeous?
Apple trees line his front yard
Every trip we take a day to visit Florent’s grandmother, Tota. She lives in the village of LeBushe with 1 daughter, her 2 sons, their 2 wives and their 10 kids.
We mixed things up this time and took the train 2 hours to Tota’s house with the kids, Florent’s cousin Mira and her son Ylli. Going through all the tunnels and seeing the country from the tracks was a great experience. Ari asked to take the train back home, but instead we rode with Shaban to save on time.
Ari waiting to hop on the train
Ari & Ylli
Nini being Nini
Albanian Mafia shot
Tota and her family live off their land and make all their own everything. They don’t even buy oil to cook with, they make with with milk from a cow! Visiting this place is always exciting and fun for me.
The meal the wives serve is always one of my favorites while here and today they did not disappoint. We feasted on juicy pears, cheese pie, spicy peppers in a warm cheese sauce, non sweet corn bread, olives, yogurt & cheese. All things made from scratch- even the yogurt!
It was a cold and rainy day so I sat for a while by the outdoor fireplace which also doubles as an actual stove that they cook on. I watched a cat sleep by the fireplace and spoke Albanglish with the oldest wife. She told me all the words she knew in English and I told her all the words I knew in Albanian.
Obligatory village snap
Me with the wives
Our meal served on a ‘sofra’
Peppers here are the best in the world!
3 of the 10 kids are MIA
Aunt Hedia, Florent, his Dad & Tota
Thursday morning it stormed a bit and I got to witness some locals being super awesome!!!
Unexpected weather always shakes stuff up a bit. Thankfully we rented the best hotel room, front and center of The Small Beach so we sat on our terrace and watched people. Some huddled under small coverings, others swam in the water to enjoy the intense rain, and some men even ran back and fourth along the beach for an invigorating exercise.
I sat with my Machiato and took it all in!
Drawing a rectangle around your towel marks your territory
We decided it was time to head back towards Prishtina. We checked out of our hotel and left Ulcinj expecting to be back at the apartment in Shenjin by lunchtime.
The road to the boarder was blocked by a very small 4 car accident at the end of a bridge because of one stubborn old man who refused to move his car to the side and wait for the police to arrive. People tried reasoning with the man asking him to simply document the accident with photos. Some even offered to buy his car off of him just to convince him to move out of the way. NOTHING worked!
2 hours later the police arrived at the scene. So we stood in the road with everyone else and watched these people argue the entire time in the Montenegro mountainside. The kids and I literally watched snails walk along the side of the road for a while out of shear boredom.
Shaban, Flo & Nini walked to the scene to get an up close glance at the stubborn man and make small talk with new friends. There were probably 200+ cars stopped because of this one man! Nini said “move your car poopy doody”– Thank God no one understood what that means to her!
Flo tells me this type of stuff is normal and happens often. Me being a huge fan of fast results didn’t understand why we couldn’t all join forces, take his keys and move the car for him… put him under citizens arrest or something???
On that note, here’s a photo of a glass of red I enjoyed with Flo on our last night in Montenegro.
Vranac Wine is really nice!
We drove for what seems like forever yesterday from Shenjin to The Rozafa Fortress in Shkoder. That place was so special to visit. Rozafa herself was sacrificed in the construction of the Fortress…
The story goes that Rozafa asked that two holes be left in the stonework so that she could continue to breastfeed her baby. Some nursing women come to the fortress to smear their breasts with the milky water that seeps from the wall during some months of the year.
Having breastfed both of my kids and being a huge supporter of it- that story just warms my soul!
From there we drove to Ulcinj, Montenegro and got a hotel room right smack in the middle of the strip. We laid on the beach until dinner time then I fed the kids in the hotel lobby and put them to bed. Flo and the rents dined in the side of the mountains at some fancy place- Shaban said he hadn’t ate such delicious food since being in Bulgaria. Which means it was really fucking delicious I guess?
Have I mentioned the music blasts until about midnight? People here go hard – every night is Saturday night.
The food here is also delicious. There’s lots of halal, fresh salads, and soft serve custard every 100 feet.
On another note; traveling with a 2 and 4 year old is The Pits! I have no trouble packing and keeping all personal items in order it’s the emotional meltdowns that are really starting to get to me. Yeah I know a big time change a sleeping in all these different places is difficult for them but can’t we just have 1 nice meal together as a family? Also riding in a small sedan BMW with 295k on it doesn’t help in this hot weather. Tinted windows, headrest tvs and high powered AC couldn’t hurt. #firstworldproblems
Today (Wednesday) was spent in Ulcinj on the beach all day. It was a long day but really fun and full of some great memories made with family.
Overheard insane stuff too good not to share from some locals during our trip thus far:
“Would you like to start with a Greek salad tonight sir?”
“I don’t want anything Greek. Those motherfuckers have been fucking our mothers for hundreds of years. Anything but a Greek salad”
Waiter asking man at a restaurant if what he wants to eat.
“Woman, stop touching my back! I hate it when you touch my back more than getting shot in the head”
Wife touching her husbands back to get him to get up and do some random task for her on the beach.
“I used to work for this man alongside 1200 other people he was the best of all of them. No one could ever say anything bad about him. He already earned his way into heaven because he is so good”
One man talking up a fellow colleague to a new friend they both just met on the beach.
“We’re swimming to Italy, see you later”
Two men say to their wives as they go for a swim together.
Day 3 was one big adventure. Breakfast of spicy peppers sautéed in a cheese curd sauce meant for bread to be sopped up with. The kids had bread and Eurocream.
After breakfast we decided it was time to go to the sea. Flo’s parents have an apartment in Shengjin, Albania. So we packed as fast as we could and left right away. The drive to Shengjin is gorgeous. Weaving around the Albanian Alps is something that always takes my breath away. This drive used to take 13 hours but since the new highway was built it only takes 3. We put on a nice Albanian Folk music cd (similar to old American country); it put the kids to sleep right away.
Best road trip snack
Shengjin is a small beach town on the Adriatic Sea, bustling with tourists. Last time I visited in 2013 and it was not nearly as built up. In 2013 there were cows walking the beach. I’m not joking- cows!
We spent many hours lounging on the beach the kids made some friends and they built a sand castle together. People just relax all day long. They don’t cover up like we do in the US on the beach. People here flaunt it even if they don’t got it.
I bought some fried dough bites drizzled with honey and chocolate off a guy on the beach.
Fried dough bites
The water was shallow here for a long distance and had minimal waves which was great for the kids. For lunch we bought Burek and cheese pizza and ate it on the beach.
Dinner was at Restaurant Shkreli. It was in a more questionable part of town and I was quite skeptical of Shaban who insisted they had the freshest fish. Of course he was right. We had cornbread soaked in a wet feta cheese, (non) Greek salad, calamari, and fresh fish.
Our view from Shkreli
When dinner was over we all walked along the “Woodrow Wilson” boardwalk of Shengjin. That place was insane for a Monday night. It reminded me of walking through Time Square and “people surfing” in and out to avoid crashing into someone.
Ari and Flo rode the bumper cars a couple of times and it was the best bumper cars I’ve ever seen.
Bumper Car shot
They had their own hype boy. He had a whistle and was hoping on and off of peoples bumper cars riding on the back. He also broke out dancing on average every 30-60 seconds. That guy was the highlight of my day hands down. We need bumper car hype boys in America!!!!
***Video will post later of the bumper car hype boy when I have better service***
Gelato for 2