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095: daytrip to Peja+ Decani Monastery. 2012/8/4

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[Photo album today = well-worth visiting Decani Monastery]

Before arriving in Pristina I re-considered the accommodation possibilities and other related facts.  As a consequence, I decided I should base myself in Priština for four nights and do the rest of Kosovo as day trips, namely Peja (Péc in Serbian), Prizren, and Gračanica Monastery.

Since Peja/ Péc is the farthest, I decided to do it first, together with Dečani Monastery, which is some kilometers away from it.

LP says that the bus ride to Peja takes two minutes.  Somehow one-way ride took me at least three hours.  That meant a lot of sleeping in the bus.

LP also says that Peja has on Saturday mornings a cheese market, but since I don’t know how tricky the ride to Decani can be, I decided to go for Dečani first, even though it was already almost 11am when I arrived in Peja.

The place in Dečani where I got off to walk the final 2 kilometers to the monastery are quite some café-restaurants, and at least one of them has a big “wi-fi” logo on it.  I thought maybe I could return to this place for a bite.  I went into one of the tourist agencies here – these are meant for locals to plan their vacations, obviously, not to serve a foreigner like me – and asked for directions.  The people I met happened to speak very little English, but at least I found my way.

The two-kilometer walk is short enough, and shortly before I arrived at the monastery was a fork: one leading to a “Spartan Camp” (some military stuff obviously), the other to the monastery, and there’re several pyramid-shaped concrete blocks to have cars drive in a zigzag way.  There’s also a check-point-like kind of booth at the entrance of the monastery, the booth being even camouflaged.  A guard soldier (NATO, obviously) emerged from the booth, and told me I couldn’t enter – I was wearing shorts instead of pants.  He spoke very little English (if any), and I even offered to borrow his pants for half an hour and asked him at least let me have a peep at the entrance.  No, not possible.  Well, that sucks.  I do want to respect other peoples’ cultures, but I guess I became a bit careless since my not-too-short shorts never gave me problems in Serbia.

Then came a young man, a young woman, and someone who looks like their dad.  The woman was in a sleeveless top, and all three of them wore shorts, and understandably they also got a no-go.  As I was turning to leave, the young man shouted “Hey!”, and I turned to look at him.  “Do you want to go inside? [having] walked all the way here?”  Of course I do.  “We have pants in our car.”

Wow! So this very nice young guy offered to lend me a pair of jeans (G-star, btw – thin enough to be almost breathy, perfect for this weather.  And gee I could actually fit into this pair, which is somewhat a surprise to me considering how skinny this tall guy was.  Yeah I know I’m obsessed).  They turned out to come from somewhere not too far from Nijmegen, the Nethelands, and the father seems to speak not very much English.  The young man had an exchange program in Priština, and right now he’s having a Balkan trip with his sister (I think), though obviously far less thorough as I am.  They rented a car in Skopje, and they seem to have to return the car sometime after they visit Montenegro, which is where they’re heading to after Peja, and they’ll continue the rest of their trip by train.

Luckily he made me this kind offer, because the monastery itself is not bad.  There were also a bunch of soldiers making photos in front of the church as we entered.  A monk(?) in the church offered to be our guide in English.

Like Studenica Monastery, this monastery also has wine and honey in their souvenir shop; the difference is that here they offer much more elaborate and ornate Orthodox religious stuff.

The young Dutch man also offered to give me a lift till Peja.  Lucky me.  in fact had I planned to go from here to Montenegro I could have even saved the trouble of getting transportation, haha.

Today was Saturday, so while there is a tourist information in this city (but not in the capital Priština; how odd), it’s closed.  (I have to thank a couple of very nice waiters in a spacious café with popular outdoor seats; they told me how to get to the tourist information and the post office.) The post office was however open, so I quickly jotted down several lines on the Dečani Monastery postcard I just got and sent it away to Vincent.  I was told that it would take five or seven days.

On the car ride I quickly leafed through the Dutch travel guide the two young people had, and tried to memorize a couple of dining choices in Peja and even in Priština (for instance, a certain eatery “Bosna,” as well as the place “Aurora” that the hostel owner also recommended as the best) as well as a basic idea about the map in Peja.  Unfortunately, serviceable as my memorizing capabilities may be, I couldn’t really imprint the map with a photographic memory.  After a few steps outside the post office I gave up and turned to a fancy hotel right near a square.  Well, that was a smart thing to do: the very nice receptionist gave me a big, clear free map, and I even asked for an idea for local food.

For lunch I had in the marketplace the same kind of meat stuff I got in Novi Pazar; actually the meaty stuff stays the mainstream for the coming days.  Such Serbian food is really way too much after two days (or let’s say after two to three meals).

On my way to the bus station I saw quite some shops with ridiculously pompous dresses, and there are also some rather flamboyant choices for kids.  I wonder how often these people have parties.  On a probably not entirely unrelated note, I saw some Mercedez Benz cars in town, and from the first day in Priština I saw a couple of fancy race cars.  During the last block before I reached the bus station some young people from a tiny eatery shouted “Kina!” and made funny noises.

I caught a bus that was about to slide out of the station and didn’t have to wait.  Which was lucky, since as I said the ride was longer than described in the travel guide.

Before reaching the hostel I settled in a café for making a phone call.  I think the coffee brand used is “Don Caffe,” which is seen everywhere here, and I really don’t like the coffee.  And I really couldn’t smoke all the smoking everywhere.  Here’s obviously a smoker’s paradise, hence a nightmare for me.  Yeah, I was sitting in the open-air area, but all the smoke was the same irritating.

At night some locals continued to make offers to meet, but I found it difficult to communicate with “young” people.

8/4記帳:
公車:5+ 1+ 5= 11歐
明信片+ 郵資= 0.8+ 0.4? = 1.2?
午餐:1.3
咖啡:2 =.=
超市:1.2+ 2.3歐
croissant:0.4
住宿:10
總計:29.4EUR

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