Pristina notes

Imagine a third-tier Ottoman city, accidentally elevated to the status of a national capital, and you have Pristina.  Furthermore, that is a pretty good thing!  The town is charming, walkable, and has first-rate street and cafe life.  There is one good monastery nearby and some quality Brutalist architecture.  My favorite site was the National Library of Kosovo:

National Library of Kosovo – Pristina, Kosovo - Atlas Obscura

Here are additional views of the building, is it fair to call it one of the greatest Communist achievements of Yugoslavia?  1982.

Government debt is only about five percent of gdp.  I am not sure how accurate is the data, but growth rates are not so bad.  The country has about 5k per capita gdp, but about 15k PPP-adjusted, that is a large gap and maybe the truth lies somewhere in between.

Might this be the cheapest country in all of Europe?   I had one good meal in a nice restaurant with nice decor for only five euros.

Tiffany served the tastiest and also most representative meal, there is no menu and they simply bring you what they have.  The food is in general excellent, though not varied.  Be ready for meats, sausage, cheese, tomato, kebab, green and red peppers, and bread.  There is pasta too, but few other foreign offerings.  I didn’t see any Asian food whatsoever, or any international fast food chains, or any Starbucks.

Throughout the town you find scattered statues, such as the obligatory Mother Teresa, and the others of very masculine heroes, often labeled explicitly as “heroes.”  The quotient for sexual dimorphism is reasonably high.

It is quite safe, so more people should visit.  In three days I saw zero tourists.  It is not a “thrills destination,” but where else can you ponder all the historical reasons why, for so long, a “Greater Albania” has proven impossible?

Cheat sheet of neighboring countries:

Serbia: Feels imperial, “seen better days,” no longer a transport hub, looks toward Moscow.

North Macedonia: Stands a bit apart, closer to Bulgarian culture, less recent historical trauma, more right-wing and pro-U.S., keen to integrate with the West.

Albania: Tenacious, spent decades lost in the wilderness, never been able to “play its hand” on that Greater Albania thing, did it ever recover from the fall of Venetian Albania?

Few parts of the world are more interesting, or unsettling.  All of these are great countries to visit.


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