Greetings from Kosovo!
I have officially arrived in the beautiful city of Pristina. My two flights were relatively uneventful (eight hours from Boston to Frankfurt, then two hours from Frankfurt to Pristina). My bag and I arrived exhausted, but intact.
Flying into the city, I was shocked at how green and gorgeous this part (and perhaps all) of Kosovo is. We swooped in over rolling hills and craggy cliffs dotted with little groupings of white homes with red tile roofs. It looked like something out of a fairy tale. The airport is very compact but clean and modern; it took about four minutes to get through passport control, get my bag, and walk out the door.
My Airbnb host kindly offered to pick me up from the airport, and as we departed the parking lot and began the twenty minute drive, I was determined to learn as much as I could from a native Kosovar. One of the main pieces of information he was adamant about imparting upon me was just how much Kosovars love Americans. I had heard this from a few sources prior to my departure, but was surprised at his vehemence. In all my experiences traveling and living abroad, I have never encountered a nation with such love for the United States. From what I have learned, this stems in part from the aid the U.S. provided to the country in the Kosovo War (the only statue in the world of President Bill Clinton lives here). The second nugget of information was food-related; my host explained that Kosovans eat a lot of onions and garlic. A lot. He was very happy to hear that those are practically my two favorite food groups. We made small talk for the rest of the journey, as he assured me again and again how much of a fantastic time I would have in his country. Frankly, I was sold as soon as the wheels of the plane touched the tarmac.
My apartment is on the outskirts of Pristina, it is a block away from a well-known street called Rruga B, full of cafes, grocery stores, and shops. My building is brand new (one of the many popping up on the outskirts of the city), and is filled with families and children. From my balcony, I can just see the rolling hills and little red roofs of the homes outside the city. The city center is about a twenty minute walk, which I made yesterday for the first time. I passed beautiful fruit stands (there are a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables available here), restaurants, and schools before I hit the major thoroughfare. I made my way to the famous "Newborn" monument, and meandered down tree-lined streets bordered by lovely little cafes and restaurants, each more appealing than the next. I was told by my host that Pristina is experiencing major growth, and it is clear to see the revitalization taking place; old concrete buildings house posh coffee shops that would rival any in New York City. I am so excited to keep exploring! I was briefed before leaving that the coffee here is world class, and will ruin you for American coffee drinks forever. I have been here less than a week, and I already agree.
I have been settling into my apartment for the past few days, and will be starting work at CLARD this week. My coworker has already reached out and offered to pick me up for my first day so I won't get lost. Expect another update when I have some work days (and more macchiatos) under my belt!
The view from my apartment's balcony:
The famous Newborn monument:
My first (of many) macchiatos: