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

Top Markets in Eastern Europe (Flea and Otherwise)

As the title of my blog implies (the kitsch part), I am a collector.  I have mild hoarding aspirations that I attempt to disguise by portraying myself as a discerning collector of random, yet CLASSY things from around the world.  Most of the time, this turns out to be postcards, maps, pins and badges, and antique clothing pieces – among many others (including snow globes).  I’ve written a post or two about this, but thought it would be useful to provide a run down of my favorite markets in Eastern Europe for anyone with an eye for kitschy communist goodies from the former Eastern Bloc.

We’ll start from Tallinn, Estonia, before making our way south to the Balkans, and east to the Caucasus. Read more

Balkans, Baltics, and Caucasus, Oh My! 2015 in Review

So I know that the time for year in review posts has come and long gone, but, like your hoarder neighbors who leave the Christmas wreath up until Spring, I too have put off this seminal blogging event.  Blah blah, working 50-60 hours a week, I won’t give you excuses so you don’t have to read them.  Instead, let me jump right into a recap of what became my most eventful year in travel ever.

Tbilisians are not afraid of a little color.
Tbilisi, Georgia
Exploring Tbilisi in Winter allowed us to avoid the tourist hordes.
Tbilisi, Georgia

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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

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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