Monday, June 13, 2005

Out on the town

We had a nice family weekend in Pristina. We explored some of the ethnic restaurants in town and Sunday we had Gushta (our favorite taxi driver) take us 90 minutes south to the town of Prizren.

The ethnic restaurant tour surprised me. We started off Friday night at an authentic Italian restaurant (Il Pescatore) up on Dragodan Hill. It's run by a lady from Italy and she makes everything by hand - pasta, sauces, desserts, etc. - in her little home kitchen. The plates and silverware look like they're right off her family table too. But the food was delicious. We had the antipasto buffet - grilled fresh veggies, frittatas, marinated cheeses - the lasagna, and I indulged in a slice of the most heavenly tiramisu. Such a friendly, homey atmosphere - the proprietor spent 10 minutes at the end of the meal talking to us and trying to get D to say "Ciao!"

For lunch on Saturday we went to a Mexican restaurant that was also surprisingly authentic, with touches like real steamed flour tortillas, cumin-rubbed chicken, beans and rice, and tortilla chips with dip! Yum! I'd go back just for the chips and dip and an ice-cold Coca-Cola Light. Especially since besides the regular salsa and sour cream they served my favorite dip - a mixture of sour cream, yogurt, farmer cheese and green onion. It's fresh and delicious and good on everything, including tortilla chips. The only thing missing was the large-screen TV in the corner showing some college ball and we could've been in any small TexMex restaurant back home.

Saturday night we walked to downtown Pristina. It was beautiful - a bit warmer than the last week or so (although we still need long sleeves and fleeces) and the rain has dampened the dust. Ok, ok, it was actually quite muddy, but still better than being indoors. We bought some bootleg DVDs, and I was amused to see they had a copy of Madagascar, which I believe just opened last weekend in the States. Then we went to a nice Thai restaurant in downtown Pristina for some good Pad Thai. It was nice having a change from the regular, albeit delicious, fish and potatoes or curries or grilled sausages that are standard fare in most restaurants here.

Sunday we woke up bright and early (I feel like I'll never sleep past 5:30 a.m. again) to the nicest day we've had since I've been in Kosovo. We decided to hire Gushta to drive us to Prizren, a small border town about 90 minutes south of Kosovo. Gushta is quite the character. He's a Kosovar, but has lived in London, Germany and all over the Balkans. He speaks five languages, including English. Anyway, he knows everything about anything in the grand tradition of taxi drivers. The drive to Prizren was lovely, up through the mountains, and Prizren itself is a real treat to Pristina-weary eyes. It has a very charming "old city" alongside a river, with real Balkan-style stone houses, monasteries, mosques and some old ruins. There were also a LOT of KFOR troops there from France, Germany and Italy. I'm beginning to get used to seeing tanks and Bradleys and heavily armed soldiers everywhere. We had a nice lunch, walked along the river and then sat at a cafe (which is almost an art form here) for a bit. Altogether a lovely day and a great break from the city. I think M was a little disappointed that there wasn't more to do (i.e., ruins to explore, museums, something with a cultural feel) but it was just so relaxing to be outdoors near water and people watch. Plus D was NOT in the mood to go exploring. I think she just wanted to sit and people watch too.

My outlook for the day really depends on the weather, so I was happy to wake up this morning to more sunny skies and mild temperatures. D and I made our regular Monday morning bread-and-fruit excursion, then it was back home to do some Laundry.

We've finally settled into a routine here. I think.

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