more pictures of pristina than you could possibly want to look at
As far as formerly war-torn capitol cities go, Pristina (Prishtina, if you're spelling it the local way) is pretty nice. The roads are good, the apartments are cute, and the presence of thousands of expatriate diplomats and do-gooders means that there's a substantial contingent of nice restaurants, shops, and other distractions. It still has lots of Yugoslav-era architecture, as exemplified by the Grand Hotel:And the national and university library:
Mostly, though, Pristina is just a modern, Eastern European city:Albeit with a Tex-Mex joint:And more than one sushi place. This is NOT where we had sushi and karaoke on Friday:Despite the incredible reconstruction, there are still signs here and there of what was before, including this view from Steve's new apartment:Here's a panorama of the city as viewed from Dragodan, the hillside where many expatriates live:You'll notice Pristina's most distinctive architectural feature in the second photo above, the former Yugoslav youth sports center. My hostess refers to it as the "rack of lamb":
Moving closer in, you get a look at the large picture of a Kosovar revolutionary who was killed in the 1999 war. This is everywhere; it says something to the effect of, "now, it's finished," meaning that the goal for which he fought is now complete:There are lots of pictures, statues, and memorials to those who died fighting the Serbs in the 1999 war:As well as monuments to old Albanian nationalists who died a hundred years ago or more:
Of course, other signs of Kosova's new independence are everywhere as well. The "Newborn" sign above is the monument from independence day; everyone signed it that night. Here's the first thing you see at the airport: And signs like this are all over the city:Here's the new Kosova flag (which everyone hates), along with the ubiquitous Albanian flag:The six stars stand for the six ethnic groups that live in Kosova. One of those stars, of course, is for the Serbs, who, as you can imagine, are pretty unpopular with Albanian Kosovars.
And here's the president, larger-than-life:
This sign is everywhere. It tells people that because they love Kosova, they need to behave themselves:There's also a movement to get away from the "managed transition" that Kosova is currently in (In which international experts under UN, EU, and NATO auspices help develop the country's political institutions while ensuring its security. It's a fascinating experiment, but the UN peacekeepers are really unpopular.) This graffiti is all over the place and opposes an EU-ized version of that mission:
Overall, I found Pristina to be a welcoming and fun city. The hospitality towards Americans can't be beat - one gets the sense that if anything were to happen (like an attempt at mugging), everyone in a 100-yard radius would come to one's defense. I highly recommend a visit.