Monday, May 30, 2011

Kosovo day trip. Returning to long-term travel.

I awoke early with the sun, and my hostel is still silent except for a quiet hum of appliances and cars passing outside. Sitting on the couch with my cowboy coffee, the sun highlights my hair through the window. I relish this solitude. Today I'm off to Ohrid, which is south from Skopje, still in Macedonia.

This trip is like coming home. Home to the world, where I have time for strange people and strange places, where I see new things, where I speak two languages, where time is not so essential. My days in the clinic feel like a distant memory, in a place where often time and space stood still. Since I've previously done long-term travel, it's easy to relax into my new-old life. It feels comfortable, like an old shoe. I know what to do.

Travel is my nature. I'm grateful to be set free in the world. To be without a schedule. To have no constraints. To rely on the kindness of strangers. To watch. To tell the story of who I am with my whole heart.

Kosovo is still a country-in-repair, but interesting and diverse, in a more extreme way than Macedonia (ok so I prefer Macedonia). It feels very developing, but the people were nice, and many spoke English or German so getting around was no problem.

I wondered where they get these old ghetto buses, but then I realised probably from nicer countries' leftovers.
This old man (he is sleeping, not dead, even though he looks like it!) bought me an orange drink and shared his Twix. He was from Bosnia. We did not share any languages but it was ok.

Pristina is Kosovo's capitol. This is the main pedestrian way, which felt fairly modern, but then side streets were still crumbling.

The town is infected with NATO and American forces, but they like us there. So it is ok, even good to be American.

Yugoslav-era hotels here are not recommended, even if they say 5 stars. It is a hoax!

After hearing a saxophone wafting, I saw the Audio Lab, and was happy.

Here is a street cafe overlooking rubbish.
I grew up in Minot, ND where the town slogan was, "Why not Minot?" I used to spend a lot of time thinking of all the reasons why not. I am not sure that "Why not" is the best slogan.
The first time I have seen a street of this name, I think.

And a statue of Bill in a foreign country. Funny as.

I took this to remind people: a small thing you can do is to hang your laundry out- and your clothes smell so good, not burnt out of the dryer... Just a thought. I've been doing this for about six years now. It is a nice small thing.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Macedonia in a nutshell

I walked around old town today with a couple guys from my hostel. We stopped in the Museum of Contemporary Art, which was atop a hill behind a castle. The building looked unkempt and uninviting from the outside, but inside was clean modernity. After wandering past the art, I spotted a bathroom, and decided to make use (bathrooms are not so ubiquitous in Europe as elsewhere). The bathroom was tidy as well, with all the modern western amenities installed (toilet paper & paper towel holders, toilets), but all completely empty and missing toilet seats. They'd built the infrastructure but couldn't maintain the finances to keep it up.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Three Month Vacation, Day 1: Skopje

Skopje is crumbling and constructing at the same time. (Like me.) Maybe that's why I like Eastern Europe countries so much.

An onslaught of emotions assault a person embarking on an extended holiday, especially in conjunction with an international move and job erasure. The last month was not fun with daily surprises associated with my move. But less than twenty-four hours from my departure, it all feels to be in the distant past. New horizons beckon, and worries have been lifted.

I arose late and breakfasted with several other hostelers from around the world. A communal feast and travel talk lifts all spirits. Plus, tips from fellow travelers are generally better than any travel book's advice. I felt instantly at home- lifting any residual anxieties I had regarding my choice to travel again for an extended time.

However, I made an error in packing. It's hot and humid, and some of my German clothing are a bit much, so I took a special trip to the post office. Well, two trips- one to find it, and one to mail the clothes. I don't mind going on odd errands as such, because it's usually a cultural experience as well. This was no different.

The woman behind the counter didn't speak English, but several of the people who were there did, and kept helping. One man even came outside and gave me more instructions in his broken English. It was heartwarming. Later when I returned, the counter lady smiled and packed up my things into a small box that she had behind the counter. About $30 later, I was 5lbs lighter, and feeling happy at the experience.

So here I am at day one again, feeling good and ready for the road ahead.

The post office. I could not see it even when it was right in front of me.

Excellent sugar-free coffee. (They just whipped the milk/creme.)

The package to America.

The longest ash ever on that lady.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Moving pictures and Last Fruhstuck mit Ernst & Helga

The piano being crated!

Everything waited on the curb for the truck to arrive.


With everything inside and the wall built.

The mini was sparkling for customs. Note the USA license plate.


Camping in my house.

Ernst & Helga.

Goodbye Fruhstuck.

Next stop:

That's all she brought! The green bag strikes again!