Kosovo Photo Album

Here is a collection of photos from around Kosovo. Please wait a few moments for the pictures to load...I tried to make them as clear as I could :)

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General Kosovo Pictures
You can skip to a section --> Kosovo Life | Lighter Side | Pristina Buildings | Other Cities

Life in Kosovo is a mixture of the old and new. 

You'll see horse-drawn carts holding up the latest model BMW on the highway.  In Pristina, you'll find wannabe gangsters while in the village life is more laid-back and simple...probably the same it has been since as long as people can remember.   

Children peddle everything from phone cards to cigarettes in the restaurants and on the streets.  I don't advocate purchasing anything from under-age street vendors so I've included a picture of the "Vala Guy" outside Mission HQ.  Walking the streets of Pristina, you can buy everything from knock-off Calvin Klein boxers to switchblade knives from the vendors who set up shop on wood slats carefully balanced on cinder blocks or cardboard boxes. 

A big part of the culture in Kosovo is cigarettes and macchiatos.  People here can sit in a cafe for hours (maybe days if the cafes didn't close at night) smoking, talking, and drinking coffee.  Conversations can range from family to the ever volatile politics of the Balkans.  Local girls are more used to international men inviting them for a coffee now but in the beginning, inviting a girl for a coffee was a serious invitation...basically having coffee equaled going out on a serious date and guys didn't understand why girls were always refusing them!  But now, it is not unusual to see co-workers having a "friendly" office coffee downtown :) 

Peja/Pec - Nov 08
It broke my heart to see this child laying down on the sidewalk and begging in the middle of the downtown area. My friend gave him some money after we took the photo but it most likely won't make his life any easier :(

Peja/Pec - Nov 08 - Two adorable children near one of the mosques

Roma Children - April 07
Begging children come out of the woodwork when the weather starts improving in Kosovo.  At the two main traffic lights in Dardania it is normal either to find children begging or men trying to wash windshields

Roma Children - April 07
As you can see, often children are put in charge of caring for younger children.  It's not unusual to see small children heaving around infants.  One can't help but wonder why no one does anything to protect these children and give them a better life than being forced out on the street by their guardians or gang leaders?

Grand Hotel Booksellers
Near the lobby entrance to the Grand, you can find men selling books off plastic patio tables or sometimes even cardboard and brick creations.  The nature of the books varies from novel to English-Albanian dictionaries to medical journals.  You can also pick up a "In Your Pocket Guide to Pristina" from these guys!  - April 07

Father and Son on a tractor - April 2007

Street vendors along the gate of the UN Mission HQ.  As you can see, you can buy everything from purses to sunglasses to Zippo lighter fluid and fake Rolex watches! - March 07

The main road of the Open Market.
Located behind the UN Administrative HQ, a person can purchase anything from heavy hardware to clothing. The new set-up is much more user and employee-friendly than the previous market that was located near Mission HQ. This market has stores housed in little kiosk buildings rather than just underneath a dirty plastic tarp that drips! Not quite the same adventure but the same great deals. Bargaining is difficult...most people won't budge an inch when you speak English. I'm not sure if the local language would make a difference! - Fall 2006

We call him "phone card guy by Valentinos"  You can purchase a prepaid Vala recharge card from him for just a euro or two extra.  If you aren't sure how to input the code, he'll even do it for you.  A nice guy :) - Jan 07

Mother Theresa Street.  You can buy anything from cigarettes to baby clothes from the sidewalk vendors that line the left-side of the avenue.  The road is closed to traffic between 1900-0000 hours.

An interesting cigarette tower/sculpture near the Sports Center.

Finding horse-drawn carts on the main highway is not an uncommon occurrence in Kosovo.  It doesn't seem like there is much regulation for tractors, horses, Kosovo Harleys, or even the regular vehicles on the roads in Kosovo :)

A typical village scene.  Dirt roads and livestock.  The chickens ran away but they are a common sight through the villages.

Welcome to my lighter side of Kosovo...

Wine Tasting Tour - Rahovac, Sept 08

Double Rainbow over Pristina - Sept 08

Rainbow over the UN Mission HQ - Pristina, Sept 08

Rainbow Over UN Mission HQ and Grand Hotel - Pristina, Sept 08

Sunlight Through the Clouds - Pristina, Sept 08

Resident UN Puppies at the Entrance of the UNMIK Traffic Security Office - June 2004

I'd like to introduce you to my Galaxy Family :)  This is the group of nutty people that I work with in October 2002
Pristina is the capital and biggest "city" in Kosovo.  Before 1999, there were about 200,000 people reportedly living in Pristina.  Today, there is somewhere between 500-700,000 people living in Pristina.  With the sudden boom in population following the end of the fighting in 1999, the roads became congested and many houses were illegally occupied or constructed. 

But despite the congestion, traffic, and crowded space, Pristina still holds an allure for those living outside.  Internationals stationed in other regions complain that all the best restaurants and evening activities while the locals say that the most number of jobs in the difficult job market are available in Pristina.

UN Ambassador's Day
UNMIK held a fair for children on UN Ambassador's Day and allowed the kids to paint the blast barrier outside UN Mission HQ.  Instead of having Vetevendosje deface the wall in protest, now we have a great piece of artistry from the children! - Jun 07

UN Ambassador's Day
Children painting the blast barrier - Jun 07

UN Ambassador's Day
Painting the blast barrier outside UN Mission HQ - Jun 07

UNMIK Mission HQ

Making the UN appear more friendly to the local population. Workers reinforce the blast barrier and top it off with razor wire! - May 07

Government Building Fence -
The fence is lined with posters of missing Albanians who disappeared during the fighting - April 07

Statue of Mother Theresa -
Surprisingly a lot of people don't know it exists but it's smack-dab on Mother Theresa Boulevard!  I've never actually seen water in the fountain part which is unfortunate because I think it would look stellar. - April 07

Kosovo Museumum

Statue of Skenderbegeg
Found in front of the PISG (Provisional Institutes of Self-Government), phone card and mobile phone hawkers gather near the Skenderbeg statue to sell their wares.  Men sell second-hand phones from little cardboard box creations- April 07

Statue of Skenderbeqeq
The national hero of Albanians from the 1400's.  He was born Gjergj Kastrioti in Albania and served as a general of the Ottomans.  In 1443, he turned against the Ottomans to fight for Albania's freedom and is credited with the creation of the Albanian flag.  He continued to fight off the Ottomans for 25 years, successfully beating off 24 or the 24 Ottoman campaigs to conquer Albania.  Kastrioti died of natural causes in 1468.  The title Skenderbeg could be a deviration from the Ottoman name "Iskander Bey" which meant Lord Alexander. - April 07

The corner of the streets nicknamed "Police Avenue" and "5th Avenue/Grand Avenue".  The nearest building is the Banking and Payments Authority of Kosovo (BPK) and the large building in the background is the infamous (5-Kosovo stars) Grand Hotel.  - March 07

The back of the Sports Center.  The area used to be a huge open market area for vegetables, clothing, and household goods but now that market has moved to behind the UN Admin HQ (TSS).  The open space left from the removal of the market was supposed to be converted to a park area but so far the Kosovo government has not done anything.  Instead, the area is used currently for those learning how to drive before they bring them out onto the roads (which is still way too early!) - March 07

1245 - Rough Translation of Albanian is "Kosovo Welcomes the Future" (Feb 07)
No one really knows who put up the signs or what exactly it means. Albanian friends have guessed that it is because 1245 comes after 1244 (the UNSC resolution on Kosovo) and the fact that the status proposal has been released.

The Sports Center with one of the 1245 signs (Feb 07)

A MUP building that was bombed in 1999 by NATO forces.  The basement level housed a jail.  Since the building belongs to the Serbian government, no work can be done to the building to clear it.  If you are able to take a look at the building, you can actually see the damage the bomb did through the floors in the middle of the building.  There is a collapsed area through about three levels of the building where the bomb entered. - 2002

Kosovo Municipal Government Building - April 2007

The EUR (European Union Agency for Reconstruction) building - April 2007
One of the nicest in Kosovo! The interior is fantastic and as you can see, the exterior is quite impressive as well :)

What many have nicknamed the fork sculpture.  I think this is actually the Victory Monument but will confirm.

The fork sculpture - April 2007
Looking far less depressing as the winter-time photo I took earlier.  You can clearly see the two central mosques across the street as well as part of the Kosovo Museum between the trees (the yellow building)

The public library in Pristina - April 2007
Located on what is known as "Ramiz Sadiku Street", the library is an interesting structure with white domes and a decorative iron grate on the outside walls.  It is located on the backside of the University of Pristina property and next to the unfinished Serbian Orthodox Church.

The Serb Orthodox Church in Pristina - April 2007
The church was under construction when the fighting began and left unfinished after the Serbs withdrew.  There has been discussions about turning the church into a nightclub and other types of public buildings but as far as I know, the church still owns the building and property.

The Swiss Casino.  Closed down in 2006 for not paying their taxes but reopened in 2007.

Hotel Victory on Skopje Highway.  This is where a lot of the big-wigs stay when they have an overnight in Kosovo (although most come and go within an afternoon).  Rooms are around 100 Euros per night.  And yes, that's a replica Statue of Liberty on the top :)

A shot of the neighborhood of Dragodan.  I suppose that this area of town can be considered one of the more ritzy places to live as the consular offices and many international organizations are based on the hill.  There are few small houses around Kosovo.  Most are at least two or three stories tall! - March 07

Former PM Ramush Haradinaj's House in Arberi/Dragodan.  I personally think it looks more like a public swimming pool than a multi-million dollar house...but oh-well! - Feb 2007

Ramush Haradinaj's House looking far less bleary than the winter photo :) - April 2007

OSCE HQ - April 2007

A picture from OSCE Terrace of what has been dubbed "Police Avenue".  All the white Toyotas are the UN vehicles.  The taller building with letters on the top in the background is the Grand Hotel (supposedly five stars.)  To the right of the Grand Hotel, there are two semi-tall buildings.  That is the UN Mission Headquarters where I work.

This is a view again from the OSCE Terrace of Pristina.  The structure in the right background is the Sports Center which half burned down in Feb 2001.  The brown metal on the top of the Sports Center is iodized copper.  You can also see the Main Police Headquarters and Detention Center (nice term for jail) on the left side.  The Detention Center is the horse-shoe shaped building.

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