Eat and Drink in my Prishtina


AdsızThe capital city of Kosova, a small newly independent country, is around 570 km squared, with a population of approximately 400,000. This makes for a city full of love hate relationships, where you are never invisible.

To understand business in this city, one must understand the daily routines of its trendy young population. Once you’ve understood this you will evidently know that coffee and bear are on the daily to do list. Socialising is key in this town, it can be a lonely place if you have no friends, this is virtually impossible to occur with such friendly and curious people around.

I’ve been exploring this city for most of my life and am finally seeing major changes and growth occurring in Prishtina city, mentally and physically. If you ever find yourself in this city, here are some places that will amaze you, welcome you and make you laugh. Beware this review is for those that do not live in the city the rest of you are probably aware of these easily accessible places. As a tourist you will not need help finding these places.

Here’s a pallet guide to my city, the places that promise a positive vibe and just a plethora of quality drinks as well as mouth-watering unforgettable munches! I’m going to mix it up and talk about a food venue then a drink venue so in no particular order of preference, here they are:

  • Papirun (No Fork)

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Visit this cosy little food venue for THE best sandwiches you will ever eat! And that’s a promise. You might think ‘hmmm sandwich…boring’ ummm hell no! This place keeps it simple, which if you haven’t noticed by now I really appreciate. You will have a choice between a few sandwiches even salads (let’s stick to the sandwiches). The all-time favourite and highly recommended would be the ‘Crunch’. Order a Crunch and come back a changed human. The Crunch consists of succulent juicy chicken breast fillet deep fried and covered in crispy cornflakes… yes I just said cornflakes! Coating this immaculate chicken piece is the signature sauce that is home made, mayonnaise? Nope umm mayo and ketchup… I could spend all day trying to figure it out. All this hugged by fresh homemade flatbread soaking up some of that generously applied sauce. Yep that’s a sandwich I go back for every second day, all at the price of €2.40. Once you go Crunch, no other food will you ever Munch!

  • Dit e Nat (Day and Night)

IMG_5110This is a place that changed the youth of the city. I know you’re asking ‘how can a café bar change generations?’ I’ll tell you how, by introducing literature! Until this place socialising did not involve intellectual talks (between teenagers that is) about books or theories or even discussion of school projects. Dit e Nat is a small self-service coffee house book shop where you can visit to have coffee reading a great book, eat a vegetarian meal from their new menu, or even come to at night and try their local draft beers. The staff is always welcoming, and how often do you visit a place where the regulars play their music and the owner socialises with you. Let’s not forget the main house member, Lule the cat. She’s a huge hit at the place, comforting all those in need. By the way if you’re having a glass of wine, try their amazing cheese cake with a cherry on top, try it with the tea too, also the coffee… just eat the cheese cake. With their new renovation Day and Night have clicked into the trendy open space interior that is popular in Prishtina at the moment within the crowd of artists and hipsters.

  • Tokyo

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For someone that lives in London, getting used to the fact there is no Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Jamaican food in anyone’s daily menu is crazy. I have however found a Japanese Sushi restaurant that could beat 80% of sushi restaurants in London. Tokyo is a tacky restaurant if we’re judging interior and atmosphere however sometimes over the top is needed, particularly in a city where Asian culture is being introduced. The service is interesting to say the least, the lady of the restaurant is bubbly, polite, and always ready for action. As entertaining as she is and cheesy the interior, the food is immaculate. I highly recommend the mixed sushi platter that comes with a salad and soup for two. This would be my preferred platter not because it tastes better than the rest unfortunately but because it’s more on your plate for a little less than the rest. The prices at Tokyo are considerably higher than most restaurants in Prishtina. However for those of you that live in Europe these prices are still cheaper than back home that’s for sure. So put on your Kimono and awkward shoes and have an exotic Asian meal in the middle of the Balkans.

  • Restaurant Gresa

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There’s something special about Gresa, they appreciate delicate pallets, so fear not if you’re not into experimenting with your food and you want your steak to be medium-well in the middle of your plate with just enough of everything, your pasta to be not al dente, not soggy but just right! Because that’s how you like your food and it’s not too much to ask to have ingredients together how you’re used to having them and presented in a normal way no fussing around! Then Gresa is perfect for you. They really haven’t gone wrong with anything on their menu yet. More specifically the sea food platter is great, there’s a mix of fish, squid, prawns and vegetables, good for two. The restaurant shows its true spirit in Spring when they take on an Asparagus menu supporting Kosovo’s Asparagus farmers, offering you Asparagus soup, starter, main and sides.

  • Soma

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The new comer has definitely made a statement on its arrival. This place is a bar, restaurant, café and also sells books, sound familiar? Its location is 30m from Dit e Nat. So what makes this place different to Day and Night? Soma is an industry, it’s the New York compared to Amsterdam. Both unique and appealing in their own ways however Soma is larger, flashier and louder to be in. There is not a moment where this place is empty, their cocktails are spectacular and the interior is to die for. The best part however is their garden, where you can sit with a bitter cocktail snacking on a mountain of chicken fingers under the twinkle of their lights.

  • Hemingway

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Hemingway is one of the few sea food restaurants and now has a new location in an enclosed complex Marigona, on the outskirts of Prishtina. The setting is peaceful with something for everyone. Around the restaurant you have a selection of fancy shops, hairdressers and children’s play areas, all catered to a perfect evening with the family. Hemingway is a family run business and meals here are always personal and customised to your taste. The chef is great at what he does, offering his own recipes. Hemingway pays close attention to taste and presentation, providing you with the fine dining you set out for. The prices are great for sea food in a landlocked country. The mixed sea food platter is my personal favourite; this is a meal that you will thoroughly enjoy in the moment but even more when it’s over. I have had daydreams of this meal and have always had a great time at the restaurant.

Stockholm


There is something about Sweden that satisfies my soul.

Maybe this will come as a shock to many, but Sweden is an appropriate getaway for the romantic couple wanting a ‘perfect life’, to start a family in a perfect country like Sweden.

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Apart from the obvious support given by the government to its people, Sweden has Stockholm. The city of romance where almost every street leads to a view of a river or some form of water. With beautiful architecture and wonderfully cute old cafes scattered around the old town, walking around Stockholm is definitely amusing.   Stockholm

Stockholm! A small city compared to my home town London, much to my satisfaction. This perfect little city captures the essence of Swedish mentality and perfection, by perfection I mean the symmetry, something I am obsessed with aesthetically, the realism in their classic sculptures, modern art carefully placed around the city, entertaining the eye in every corner.

As well as the streets of Stockholm, the people that live there seem to all agree on a dress code, personal manor and of course hair colour, before leaving their cute little apartments to majestically walk the streets. Something I also noticed and found slightly eerie.

I am in constant awe of the Swedish beauty, maybe this is according to taste and not everyone’s cup of tea, but hey these people are definitely my definition of good looking. You walk around Stockholm feeling certainly under dressed  slightly shabby but not as out of place as you would feel in say, Malmö, where there is less of a racial mix and diversity of tourists.

The people in Stockholm will be more adapted to the lost tourist therefore happier to assist you on anything you need assisting, from ‘where is the nearest corner shop?’ to ‘where can I get a good drink?’. The Swedes are surprisingly outgoing once you’ve warmed up their ice cold exterior with a little alcohol, they’re a great time!

I was particularly surprised with the laid back attitude at clubs and bars of the age mix, the absolute acceptance of this odd mix was visible to an outsider. Seeing an older lady in a skin tight, checked short dress, dancing like Madonna and no one but me gobsmacked by her, was definitely a reality check for me, coming from a more judging environment. I love it here!

HOWEVER! Stockholm is slightly expensive if you do not have a inside guide to the bargains and cheaper places to eat and drink. You will find yourself slightly lost and skint if you’re not careful! Come prepared with a packed itinerary so you can avoid wasting allot of money for things you can buy for a third of the price anywhere else.

Fast Forward to Summer in South Albania


The rugged coasts of Albania have a way of hypnotizing the stranger, with their immense heights, intense rough, rocky mountains followed by the sudden fall, down to the gentle turquoise waters below. I found myself asking where has this place been hiding until now?

The South coast of Albania begins to shine and sparkle from the city of Vlorë all the way down to Ksamil.

It appears that this diamond in the dust has finally begun to attract the friendly tourist. With its tourist numbers rising each year, now is the time to find out what the fuss is about.

Top places for the adventurous camper to visit are; Dhërmi, Gjipe and the more popular Jale.

Getting to the South of Albania may be easier than expected. There are many bus companies that travel to the less accessible Dhërmi or Jale. These are easier to get to from the capital city of Tirana. Traveling by bus is also the cheapest form of travel, costing approximately €13 from Tirana to Dhërmi.

On a larger scale, getting to Tirana, there are four means of traveling into the country; by bus, by airplane, by ferry or by car. By bus is again more obviously the cheapest form of travel yet the longest. If you’re up for an exciting journey and a view of the Balkans in its true glory, I do recommend this way of traveling. You can take a bus from Prishtina, Kosovo to Tirana. Belgrade, Serbia to Tirana or Skopje, Macedonia to Tirana. On the way you will see small ghetto villages as well as prospering towns and cities. You will meet hospitable people, people in the Balkans, you will find will cater to your every need and are very fond of the tourist; their hospitability is embedded in their tradition. Bus journey’s in the Balkans are usually bumpy, hot and long however since this is a once in a lifetime experience you must be open minded and bear in mind the hundreds of euros you are saving, also learning the culture’s mentality all on this beautiful journey.

Dhërmi

Beautiful clear waters in Dhermi – photo by Viola Ajdini

I begin my journey across the South coast of Albania from the first beach I encounter traveling north to south. Dhërmi has to be the most laid back, chilled beach in Europe. With bright white pebble beaches and turquoise waters there is no question as to why the people that come here become regular visitors, staying faithful to their virgin beaches of Dhërmi.

The village of Drymades also known as Dhërmi (due to the short distance between them almost unnoticeable where one ends and the other begins), is the hot spot for all the free spirited, traveling campers, due to it’s great facilities for camping and peaceful ambient. Before you reach Dhërmi, it is highly recommended that you exchange your money in the nearest city such as; Tirane, Durres even Vlorë. This is purely for the fact that these areas are more populated and the ratings appear more beneficial for the tourist rather than the ‘last minute’ exchange at your hotel for example, where I found that the rates are not so practical and seem to change according to the mood of the natives.

View of the beach from Dar Bar

Sunset romance from Dar Bar lounging area

For a cheap drink amongst the beaches coolest hipsters a must-see is the recently renovated Dar Bar.  The bars favourite and quite lethal drink, ‘Dormeo’ cocktail, costing 400 Lekë, equivalent to £2.30 will loosen you up in no time. Throughout your visit to Albania you will find that wherever you go the drinks will be cheaper than back home, however that seems to be the case with many places away from home… The staff at Dar Bar will be more than happy to cater to your every need, welcoming you to ‘their’ beach as though you were family. I can’t emphasise enough that if you really want to save money, bring your own drinks bought at the local market, or even be creative and make yourself a drink you will feel better for it, and no one will judge you.

Fire and moonlit oceans – photo by Viola Ajdini

Although Drymades lacks choice when it comes to bars and restaurants, the reason I visit this location is definitely not to laze around bars. As even the people at ‘Dar Bar’ would suggest, ‘build a fire, get a guitar and relax on the beach’, they will also add that you should not use the umbrellas for fire wood, an amusing gesture I have witnessed many times.

Once you’re settled by a fire you will find that crowds of people will join. I must say the cheapest, most entertaining nights will be spent by a fire drinking, singing and dancing like the free spirit you truly are.

There are a few accommodation options in Dhërmi that satisfy every type of traveller; the more luxurious hotel, the camping site, or the cheaper larger group apartment accommodation.

The Drymades Inn View from the restaurant and swimming pool

The luxurious hotel would have to be the ‘Drymades Inn’; located ON the beach of Drymades. This hotel has it all, swimming pools, conference rooms, large restaurant, perfect views and quality service. Prices in the peak time of summer are usually €100 per night, per room. You can book online in advance at their WEBSITE;

The whole virgin beach experience would not be complete if I were to spend my time in Albania cooped up in ‘so-so’ hotels, playing cards!!! When I could experience the location to its fullest.

The atmosphere of Sea Turtle tent areas at night

Turtle Camp entrance

Choose ‘The Sea Turtle Camp’, 3 minutes (if youwalk slowly) away from the beach, this funky camping site offers the camper all the essential utilities that a camper could need, including a constant feed of music, organised events bringing DJ’s from around the world right to your tent. However if you are in the mood for something quieter, there are plenty of camping sites around ‘The Sea Turtle’, which are open for exploring, although these are strictly first come first serve facilities. The price to stay at the Sea Turtle, per person, per day is; €7.17, which includes accommodation and two meals (breakfast and dinner). For more information on the camp facilities and the organised events at the camp visit their ‘facebook’ page.

Gjipe

Gjipe beach from a distance

Gjipe… this is a miracle on Earth, this beach truly makes your dreams of being stranded on an Island, with nothing but you, sun and sea, a reality. If that is your dream… Gjipe was once in function, there are small details left behind showing that the beach had purpose, like an abandoned run down building in the corner of the beach. This place was once tame and has now become  impossible to reach and wild. All the better for the explorer. I recommend the easier way of reaching Gjipe, also safest, which is by boat from Jale, instead of the horrific also painful in flip-flops, method of climbing down which takes 30 minutes, worse climbing back up.This is the perfect location for a camper to truly test their camping endurance, where you can set up camp and stay for as long as your mind can handle. This is a highly recommended challenge, highly rewarding in the end. Beware there are no shops, hotels, restaurants or bars, not even houses on or near this beach. Proper preparation is recommended; we don’t want to really be stranded now do we?

Make sure you have a number of someone local with access to a boat willing to pick you up when you want to escape, or that your car/vehicle is not too far. It’s never clever to be completely alone and not to inform others of your location, this applies to anywhere you go.

Jale

This magnificent location for campers has been a camper’s top location in Albania for much longer than the other two places that’s for sure. Jale has one of the oldest camp sites in Albania, where thousands of campers gather throughout the summer. The atmosphere at these sites is irreplaceable, as though all the great people traveling through Europe decided to meet in Jale, you will find them all here. However due to the hustle and bustle and the busy camp sites you must keep your more valuable belongings safe at all times, very rarely does it occur that things are stolen but it’s always good to not lose anything.

Jal Camp, the ‘dining area’ – photo by Viola Ajdini

There are frequent festivals organised in Jale where the whole village participates. For example there was a Reggae festival organised by South Vibes, bringing musicians from Italy, Jamaica, Germany and the UK, as well as visitors from all over the world, all camping at Jale, soaking up the sun, laying around the beach, perfect.

A recommended camping site would have to be; ‘Jale Camping’, founded in 1999, therefore you can expect great facilities and experienced campers here. The camp also organises activities like more intimate concerts, movie nights and recreational sports, making the more busy bodies as happy as they can be. The camp charges €10 per day per person; this includes tent, breakfast, dinner and activities. For booking find out more on their WEBSITE.

This is South Albania, the cheapest form of holiday for the young spirited, adventurous being.

Peace and love Albania until next time.

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