Before venturing to southern part of Kosovo I warned everyone, in particular my mother under any circumstances NOT to use Russian language. That did sound logical.
On one occasion I did shock my family. We were driving between Pristina and Prizren. I asked a gas station attendant (presumably an Albanian) the directions in English. That wasn't successful, so I tried to do in the same in German. We were 30 km from Prizren but it wasn't clear, does the gas station attendant mean "dreizig" or "dreizehn" (30 or 13). I asked again... switching instantly from German to a Russian/Serb "mix". How come? After we went our way I explained my family that I watched the fingers of the attendant. He made a gesture for the number "three" no Albanian ever would make.... so I applied a different rule.
On the picture you see my friend visiting Yosemite while staying with us in the States. Please guess his nationality.
KEK (corruption-ridden Kosovo electricity company, "run"(?) by Albanians) is infamous even in Albanian community.
And (of course!) they make the life of Serbs as difficult as possible. That means: the Gracanica monastery is without electricity most of the day.
The Swedish KFOR military contingent has floodlights and own generator. They are not allowed(!!!) to help the locals out. But they do their best to at least light the monastery during the night. The entire situation is bizarre: while staying in the monastery's guesthouse I had no electricity the monastery outside was swimming in the light!
While Kosovars are not expected by local waitstaff to leave a tip after a meal, it is often expected that foreigners will leave around 10% of the total bill. This is optional and certainly not obligatory.
When you walk the streets of Kosovo, you will notice a whole slew of people selling everything from icecream to underwear along the streets.
It is local custom to purchase books, cigarettes, cell phone chargers, and whatever else you might find from the street vendors. It saves time and you only pay an extra euro or two for most items.
There are also guys that go around to the restaurants and sell cigarettes and phone credit scratch cards from little makeshift cardboard carriers.
With nearly 70% unemployment most locals pass the time by sitting in one of Pristina's hundreds of cafes drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. At night if you walk along the street that goes from OSCE towards Dragodan, a whole street of cafe after cafe has popped up and the street is full of locals drinking & smoking in the evening hours.
For a backpacker or tourist, it is great fun to strike up a conversation but be aware that often topics will take a turn towards politics and frustrations over the resolution of Kosovo's status.
Kosovars are generally extremely hospitable. If you're out with some locals, be ready to pay before anyone has a chance to reach for their wallet. They will most likely do everything they can to pay, and sometimes the argument isn't even worth it, but I found that I really had to take the initiative to pay before anyone noticed to avoid the discussion. Offering to pay the bill is a common sign of curtousy (probably won't be more than 10 euros for 5 people anyways)
You will see newspaper kiosks throughout the Balkans. This one bears the name of Rilindja -- the oldest Kosovo Albanian language newspaper -- having commenced publishing in 1945.
The ambassador's comments on the webpage below should be put in perpsective as Rilindja has been warned on occasion concerning its journalism in the current tensions.
July is melon season in this part of the world -- thus the many impromptu roadstands that open at that time.
Or you can pick your fruit from the trees in front of your house:)
I've commented on their prevalence in the nightlife section -- these neighborly examples were just out the window of my husband's room!
Visnja & Valon, once again proved that the people can live together, no matter of the religion, etc.....
They crossed the bridge - Visnja from Pancevo, near Belgrade and Ibadethe from Prishtina and proved that the friendship doesn't depends from the politicians...