Conveniently located right in the city center, Maxi Hypermarket is a basement grocery store that carries all the food you could ever need, along with basic household and personal care products. It is open daily from 7:00 am to midnight, and is located less than a block from Mother Teresa Boulevard. This is a great place for anyone who is self-catering during their stay, or for people who need snacks for their bus trip out of Pristina.
Just in case you've been in a coma these past few weeks/months, on the 17th February, Kosovo declared independence. Visiting so soon after independence, many streets had stalls selling lots of tacky items bearing the Kosovo and/or Albanian flags.
Places to look:
- Outside the Grand Hotel among the booksellers.
- In Prishtina market.
- Outside Boro Ramiz Sports palace (opposite UN building)
- An alleyway off Deshmoret e Kombit...head towards the university and look for an alleyway heading downhill on the right. If you can hear Albanian pop blasting out a dozen CD shops, you're in the right place.
- Prizren, by the Stone Bridge.
What to buy: Keyrings with the new flag (a yellow map of Kosovo on a blue background with six white stars above) on one side and the Albanian flag (red with a blag two-headed eagle) on the other seem to be the most popular buy, and they sell for less than a Euro each. T-shirts of the new Kosovo flag in various colours go for 2-3 Euros, alongside ones bearing the slogan "Bac, u Kry" (pronounced bats oo krew, meaning "this business, it's finished") and the face of Adem Jasheri, a Kosovar war-hero. Flags from pocket size to ones that could cover a small building. Bumper stickers. Lighters. If you can put a Kosovar flag on it, they probably sell it.
Head downhill from Xhamia e Madhe, past all the Islamic bookshops, and you'll soon find yourself in the middle of the central Treg or market. Not the liveliest of markets, although it is an interesting place to wander around, and is more extensive than it appears at first. The stalls mostly cater to locals (fruit & veg, electrical stuff, clothes, coffee) but one or two stalls sell Kosovo paraphernalia such as flags, keyrings, t-shirts, etc. I'm not too sure how long these will remain on sale...independence had only happened the previous month, so maybe the stalls won't exist much longer.
Pristina's "Green Market" - what a find! A large maze of market stalls spanning about four square blocks, the Green Market sells everything from fruits/vegitables (beautiful!), spices, meat, kitchen ware, and electronics (MANY MANY remote controls). This is where the local Kosovars do their shopping! It's crowded, loud, but very fun! It was so much fun, I will likely dramatically decrease the number of trips I make to the various hypermarkets outside of town.
What to buy: Vegitables, Fruits, butchered meat, spices, home electronics (used), etc.
What to pay: Far less than in conventional shops
One of Pristina's large "hypermarkets" (equivalent of something like a warehouse-like large supermarket in the United States ... kind of) is Albi Commerce. They have a fairly impressive cheese and meat selection, along with many other standard grocery products. You can also buy bulk beer, wine, soda, etc.
Albi Commerce is located slightly outside of Pristina on the road to Skopje (Route Hawk). As you are driving outside of Pristina it is on the left hand side.
What to buy: Selection of foods and drink
What to pay: Prices at the hypermarkets tend to be competitive
Pristina is home to hundreds of women's shoe stores - most ranging in price from three to ten Euros per pair. They are not the highest quality shoes in the world, but many people have fun checking these shops out and buying inexpensive shoes!
What to buy: Shoes, Shoes, lots of shoes
What to pay: Between 3 and 10 Euro
The Open Market is kind of like a bazaar but in Kosovo as an international you get a fixed price...no negotiations here. However, most items that you purchase here are a fraction of the cost you'd pay in other stores in downtown.
There are two sections of the market. One is for veggies and the other has everything from qebaptores (little grilled sausage restaurants) to clothing. The market is open Mon-Saturday from around 10am - 5pm.
I'd suggest parking in the Viva supermarket parking area and then walking the rest of the way. The locals do bring in their vehicles when making large purchases but driving through the market is tricky at best because you can easily get stuck somewhere!
What to buy: I have found a couple good stores in the market.
One is a shirt store that has no name. If you enter the market and turn right down the first row of shops, it is the first store on the left. You can buy very good faux-Lacoste/Hilfiger polos or good quality plain t-shirts. The polos run 5 Euros and t-shirts are 3 Euros.
The next place sells cables, tools, and bicycle supplies and is called Te Culi. This shop is located at the very end of the fifth/sixth row of shops.
There also are a couple good linen stores that sell towels and bedding. The first is located in the main row of shops, no turning off into rows required, and is towards the end of the long road. The second is located at the very end of the main road and to the right.
What to pay: While the prices are fixed, you will pay significantly less than you would in downtown. Negotiation doesn't really work as an international and I'm not sure if the locals do anyways :)
One of the best places to pick up flowers in Pristina is Remember Me flower shop in downtown. The store keeps a good selection of different colored roses and other seasonal flowers, reportedly imported from Belgium. House plants and bamboos can also be purchased at the store as well as Belgium chocolates by the kilo.
What to buy: Pick up a mixed bouquet or roses for that special someone!
What to pay: A dozen roses with some greenery, wrapped up for gift presentation or putting in water is around 20 Euros.
If you are looking for a good pharmacist, I highly recommend the Barnatore next to Valentino Cafe, across from Police Station #1 (Central KPS Station). They speak very good English and the pharmacist is quite knowledgeable.
Medicines are much cheaper in Kosovo but you do sometimes have to wonder about the quality (many are manufactured in the Balkans). For prescriptions issued by doctors in the US, I would suggest that you bring at least a six month supply with you when you come to mission. You may not always be able to find the same (even a generic) in Kosovo or nearby countries. I discovered that the medicine prescribed to me for migraines in the US is prohibited due to some of the drugs it contains being previously abused in the region and therefore sales were banned.
What to pay: Medicine is really cheap in Kosovo and most do not require a prescription.
For those of you that want to print business cards, t-shirts, or signs for parties, I've been dealing with an excellent designer named Krenar. He owns a design studio by OSCE called NightDesign Studio.
Printing 100 one-sided business cards cards is around 12 Euros if he is still giving a discount (other places charge around 15 Euros for the same order). He can also print color signs in every size for parties or special events. Printing t-shirts is easy as well and only takes a couple of days.
What to buy: Krenar does all my printing for posters, t-shirts, and business cards. He does not charge extra for the design and really has a great eye and imagination. You can take him your ideas and he will create exactly what you need, no matter how many little changes or tweaks you want to make to the original design. He is very patient and works quickly.
What to pay: Business cards cost 12-15 Euros for 100
T-shirts vary depending on the color of printing, sides, and t-shirt quality. Expect to pay around 1 Euro a shirt for just printing or 3-5 for the whole package deal.
A3-sized posters are around 2Euros for excellent quality paper and color printing...well worth the cost. There is no charge for the design :)
The Bazaar and fresh fruit and vegetable market in Pristina is well worth an hour or two browsing through the stalls or just taking the time to say hello to the locals who are more than happy to practice their English with additional hand gestures (in the nicest possible way). They also sell all sorts of household and electrical goods, clothes and some knock off watches and perfumes etc, and all manner of things you expect to find in a variety flea market.
The vendors I have found to be honest and straightforward, charging their wares to us at the same rate they charge the locals, a problem I encountered in many other parts of the world. It is always refreshing to meet friendly and open strangers who remember you for walking past their stall twice!
What to buy: Fresh fruit and vegetables mostly or maybe a live chicken or two.
What to pay: From 20 cents.
Due to large number of foreigners working in Pristina, exported products are not hard to find at all. One thing I find frustrating about groceries/minimarkets in Pristina is the fact that they often sell goods well passed the expiry date!!! That is why I stick to ARDI which have the broader offer and take care of the quality, although they're a bit higher priced than usual.
Reproductions of the Dardinian Goddess [Hyjnesha Dardane] can be found in local craft stores.
This one resembles the ones removed from Pristina to Belgrade for "safe-keeping". Please see the travelogue on "The Return" for the exhibition of the missing treasures. This goddess was given to me by a Kosovar friend. The original dates from 3500 BCE. [Neolithic era]
Most of the stores in Pristina service the international community, but it IS heartening to see the range of produce after the effects on recent events on food production.
What to buy: I didn't take a picture, but there is a very popular bakery on the streeet going up the hill from the university.