two years of concrete and kitsch

It’s hard to believe I’ve been at this blogging gig for two years now.  Having just re-upped concrete and kitsch’s Bluehost account for another year of blogging indentured servitude, I was filtering through old emails from my blog infancy.  Turns out, that June 25 was my two year blog-iversary!  It’s a fun coincidence that I have just published my hundredth post – making my post frequency about one per week (that is an average, of course, as the last few months I’ve been pretty good at posting once per month…).  I thought it apropos to do a little roundup of our travels since I started blogging (especially taking into account that I never got around to a recap of our 2016 travels).  

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Let’s start with some stats, shall we? Read more

My Favorite Ugly Building: The National Library of Kosovo

I’ll be honest, we ended up in Kosovo on a technicality.  When I spontaneously switched jobs last fall and decided to take an impromptu trip through the south Balkans, we were thinking primarily of Buzludzha.  We tacked on Macedonia to Bulgaria for Skopje’s space age Brutalist masterpieces and the relatively undiscovered Lake Ohrid.  We only ended up in Kosovo because it was cheaper to fly into Pristina than it was to fly into Skopje.pristina-29

But boy were we glad we did.  We spent three days there, between Pristina, Pec, and Prizren, and while we loved the latter two towns, Pristina (bad weather and all) was the Kosovar city to really win us over. Read more

Closed for Business in Kosovo

Let me preface this by saying that we loved Kosovo.  It was about as disorienting and wacky of a place that I’ve ever visited – I’d put it up toward the top of the list with Mongolia on the disorientation scale.  But we had a perennial problem in the country.  Everything was closed!

And closed for no good reason, I believe.  Granted, we were there in the off season, so maybe we should have expected it? There is no well beaten tourist path through the country yet (we didn’t see a single other tourist in the whole of the country, literally), and people tend to be on Balkan time, so I’m not sure why I expected things to run on schedule like a Japanese train.  

jpegs-4_22442803476_o jpegs-3_22281992499_oOur first encounter with unavailable services came when we attempted to visit Pristina’s Tourist Information Center.  I am a big fan of tourist information centers and kiosks, and drag David to them in every country we visit.  The little blue-circled lower case “i” on city maps brings me joy, just knowing that increased knowledge can be found just a short walk away! Read more

5 Reasons to Travel in the Off Season

When one thinks of a vacation, usually it’s very much associated with the summertime, when good weather is almost assured and families with children are able to take time off to jaunt to exotic locations around the country and the world.  This said, of the three big trips we’ve taken over the past year, two have been in the off season, and one in the almost off season.  

And we certainly wouldn’t have it any other way.  Traveling in the off season is, for us, a much better alternative than traveling in peak season.  Here are the reasons why:Jpegs-470Jpegs-460 Read more

Road Tripping Kosovo: From Pristina to Pec to Prizren

As I’ve said before, the spontaneity of our Balkan adventure this October made me get out of my comfort zone while planning.  So, when I knew we’d have two nights in Kosovo – one in Pristina, and the next in Prizren – before heading to Macedonia, I wanted to make the day in between really count.  I had lofty goals of seeing the Patriarchy of Pec on that day, which would require either bussing between all three cities, or hiring a car.

My typical MO when planning trips to places with less developed tourist infrastructures is almost always to hop on Tripadvisor forums first to see what is possible.  This was especially useful this trip as my other main source of information, other travel blogs, are a bit scanty on information about Kosovo outside of Pristina and Prizren.  So off to the forums it was, and even then, information wasn’t readily available.  No problem, I just started my own thread, and waited for replies to arrive. Read more

We’re Going to the Balkans…Day after Tomorrow!

Where to start?  My life has been a crazy whirlwind the past two weeks and I want to tell you all about it.  Where to start…

David and I got back from our honeymoon on September 12.  On September 11, a random on Linkedin added me to his network, and I confirmed about midway through the week on September 16.  Turns out, it was a recruiter, and I ran through about six rounds of interviews with a major company in Seattle, let’s call them…Ahab’s Tea…and last week (September 30) received a ridiculously generous offer from them.

October 1, I put in notice with my current job, with my last day being Friday, October 9.  Also October 1, I confirmed with Ahab’s Tea that I would start on October 22.

So…I know what you’re thinking – there’s a 12 day gap between those two dates.  We’re taking a trip – looked around for cheap(ish) airfares, and landed on a trip overland, starting in Pristina, Kosovo, through Macedonia, and into Bulgaria.

Here’s what I’m most excited about, and what I’m reading to get me excited:Christ the Saviour Cathedral in PristinaPrizren o6.01.2010- Read more

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