Of course, I don't blame anyone for wanting to try Albanian food in Kosovo. It's delicious. But I do get a little concerned when people over-idealize what they perceive as "authentic" or "traditional," to the point where they miss what Kosovo is actually like.
The fact of the matter is that daily life in Prishtina is rarely picturesque. The city is smoggy and dusty, full of communist-era apartment buildings and graffitied walls. Garbage is dumped on the sidewalks or left burning in dumpsters. The "simplicity" admired by many tourists is actually poverty and a lack of viable options.
If you want authentic, that's it. The real deal. But the point of this blog isn't to get you to love the "real" Kosovo. Actually, I want to suggest that you probably can't. I've lived in this city for nine months, and I'm still dealing with the complexities of life here, oscillating between love and hate, knowing the pain and seeing the beauty. If you're only here for a week, you'll never fit your head around it all. And that's okay. You can stop trying.
What if, instead of searching for the "authentic," we settled for simply enjoying the journey?
When Sam and I were in Stockholm, I spent at least an hour in the bathtub every day, because I don't have a bathtub in Prishtina, and I was ridiculously excited to see one again. I might have missed out on a few sites, but I don't regret my decision at all, because once again, I was just acting like I had a day off. I did what I wanted to do and didn't worry about the rest. Looking back, I don't remember every little street or restaurant. I remember that bathtub and how happy I was to have it. It was, for me, the small choice that made the whole journey so much more enjoyable.
I wish you a summer of wonderful travels, whether you go across the globe or across town. And America...I'll see you soon!
Liz (and Sam)
As always, support can be sent to
Sam & Elizabeth Steere
3601 Ginger Creek Dr.
Springfield, IL 62711