A Chilean, a Spaniard, 2 Americans, and an Italian in a Van

Today I took another great day trip with the hostel (Buffalo Backpackers).
Our first stop was a UNESCO site- the Novo Brdo Fortress. We drove up the hill in our VW van, expecting to simply walk around the outside of the fortress. The fortress is currently under reconstruction, and UNESCO does not allow anyone inside one of their sites while that is occurring. As we walked around the outside, we saw a man approaching us. We thought he was going to tell us to leave and run us off. I started to slowly inch my way towards the van, expecting an angry encounter.
I was completely wrong. Instead of yelling at us, he introduced himself as the director of the project and offered to bring us inside and give us a free tour. Gotta love the Balkans. What UNESCO doesn’t know won’t hurt them, right?
He took us around the different areas of the fortress and described what each room used to be and the different artifacts they have found there.

The director explaining the fortress to our group:

Cannonball casually lying around.

After a tour of the fortress he walked us down the road to a mosque. Although the mosque was newer, it had a detached minaret from the the 1700s. It was extremely narrow, but we were able to go up the tower a few people at a time.

Our unexpected tour guide then walked us across a field to the grave house of Mehmet the Elder (an Ottaman soldier known for his bravery). According to local legend, if you turn a tile over on the roof, you will have a happy marriage. So, of course, I had to try it. They just didn’t specify when you would get married.

After the fortress we went to the Bear Sanctuary of Prishtina, which is run by an organization called Four Paws. They go around the area rescuing bears that are in horrible conditions. One popular practice here, besides dancing bears, is they used to put bears in really tiny cages outside of restaurants. Four Paws rescued the bears and brought them to the bear sanctuary. Here the bears have lots of room to roam around the expansive habitats . You can even bring fruit with you and donate it for the bears.

What some of their cages were like before they were rescued:

We kept going after the bear sanctuary. There was a lake nearby that we stopped and swam at. There are no swimming signs, but everyone swims anyways. Rules schmules. We hung out on the banks of the lake for awhile, and enjoyed the refreshing water.
Our final stop of the day was Ulpiana, an area of ancient Roman ruins outside of Prishtina. They have only recently started to really excavate these ruins. Ulpiana was established as a Roman municipium during the 1st century AD.

They cover the mosaics with dirt and rocks until they can find the funding to preserve them:

At night Chelsea took me out for my birthday dinner and some of her friends were nice enough to join us. We went to eat at a place called Renaissance, which is now one of my favorite restaurants in the world. Celebrities like Nicole Kidman go to eat there when they are in Kosovo. It is basically a 5 star restaurant, but you pay 15 euros for unlimited food and drink. They were supposed to be closed that day, but we called ahead and they opened the restaurant just for us. We sat on the back terrace and they brought the meal out slowly course by course. We had such a lovely time, and the meal was so spread out, that we didn’t leave the restaurant until 3 am! I would definitely recommend Renaissnace to anyone who visits Kosovo.

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