Villa Germia

kosovo, Uncategorized

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?”
“America”
“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.

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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.

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Vishnje Juice

A brother from another

kosovo, Uncategorized

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Aren’t pepper fields gorgeous?

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Apple trees line his front yard 

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Friends

Attacking the muscles

kosovo

I’ve been suffering from a muscle pinching my shoulder to the point of it causing migraines over the past 2 days so I decided it was time to find myself a massage therapist. We called a place and they said no appointment necessary just stop by (so unheard of in the US) and at only 30 euros an hour I was game. Not going to lie I was a little worried it could be the ‘other’ type of massage parlor but I figured I would take the chance.

Florent and Altin dropped me off at the place. It was a 3rd floor walk up above the place where we buy our bootlegged cd’s. I was greeted by a tall woman with short hair and really good English skills. I explained my ailment and she was confident we could fix it with the kombination massage. The place inside was well decorated with relaxing music and clean linens. She had a heat lamp attached to the ceiling which was pretty cool, I’ve never seen one of those before!

Fast forward to the massage- I give her an A+. I’ve been getting massages for nearly 15 years so I am confident in the ability to give a grade here. She talked a little bit not too much and was very educational as well as entertaining.

“You must attack the muscles you see!”

“Muscles are like lovers, need to be smooth and not broken and knotted.”

“These pressure points here are for headaches or when you drink too much wine”

“Your shoulders are making less blood travel to your brain. You need 2 more massages with this specific treatment from me.”

“When cold air hits on the muscles it causes this pain in your back.”

After my 1 hour kombination massage with this woman I decided I wanted to bring her back to the US with me. I felt like she could instantly be my dear friend. The type of lady you could easily put down a bottle of wine with and share stories about motherhood, stress and body ailments. Whats not to love, am I right?

*No photos included because no one wants to see that*

I also forgot to mention ten minutes into the treatment she took off her shoes and jumped on the table and massaged me while sitting on my lower butt.

My conclusion is this: Even in potential awkward situations Albanians still know how to have quality conversation and make me feel at home no matter if they are sitting on my back or next to me on a couch.

 

 

 

To Tota

travel, Uncategorized

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.

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Ari waiting to hop on the train

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Glancing out

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Ari & Ylli

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Nini being Nini

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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.

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Obligatory village snap

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Me with the wives

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Our meal served on a ‘sofra’

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Peppers here are the best in the world!

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The stove!

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3 of the 10 kids are MIA

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Aunt Hedia, Florent, his Dad & Tota

Never a dull moment

travel, Uncategorized

Day 1 was a completely exhausting travel day that never ended. Frankfurt Airport is wayyy too big and we should’ve dosed the kids with Benadryl.

Day 2 consisted of a delicious breakfast of fresh bread, scrambled eggs, feta cheese and pinjur (pepper eggplant & garlic spread) followed by a couple hours of relaxing around the Hoxha Home. It was really difficult waking up this morning- the time change is effecting us more than we expected this time around.

Everyone here goes out for coffee on a daily basis. It’s around .50 Euro for a “Macchiato Madhe” (1-2 espresso shots, a bit of steamed milk and a tiny bit of sugar). In Kosovo people sit and talk to each other; make eye contact and really get into it with conversations (no obsessive phone scrolling going on here). It’s really entertaining and beautiful to watch. Also the smokes- they are usually pairing coffee with a cig. Coffee is nothing like it is in America. It’s a thousand times better. We walked to Flo’s Uncle Gaz’s shop Marcus. We stayed for about 2 hours- 2 hours just doing nothing but talking! Another uncle his lovely wife and daughter showed up to visit.

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Nini sippin on steamed milk drizzled with chocolate

NEVER a dull moment.

Nini passed out in the stroller 2 minutes into our walk back to the house. After nap time we took the kids to the Albi Mall so they could get some energy out while Hata slayed some homemade Pizza for our dinner. It was super shijshem I might add (must start taking more food pics).

After dinner I wanted to take the kids to the nearby park to play. Hata told me some family members might come to see us so we should stick around. Me being the type A crazy American trying to fit everything in asked “Well what time?” Hata’s reply “No time, it’s Kosovo- there is no time”. We stuck around and Hata’s gorgeous niece visited with her super sweet husband and 2 adorable kids. By the time they left it was 8:00. I thought I was in the clear and slipped into my floral Target special Jammies. I was then informed an aunt would stop by later. Me being and my idiotic jet lagged self, assumed who cares if this aunt sees me in my jams?

WELL… She did show up but alongside an uncle, her 4 daughters and 2 other cousins! The 4 daughters and 2 cousins all look like straight up models and are dressed to go out after this to the club. So I sat there and visited in my floral jams like a Meme. How embarrassing?!?!? I apologized for my outfit and tried to “own it” the whole time, serving up baklava, juice and water to my in laws in my floral Target special. Thankfully they are the nicest people you could EVER meet and they didn’t make fun of me for it.

Moral of the story is this: Kosovars don’t fuck around. I need to up my A game. Be ready for anything!

You’d think after coming here for the 5th time now I would learn something…