An Unexpected Journey

No hobbits, I promise. Thursday I spent much of the afternoon with Marija, a girl I met from a popular social networking application. She has offered to take me to a music festival in Greece, about 100 kilometers from Thessaloniki. On my trip, I have quickly adopted a policy of not saying ‘no’ when possible. So we met up and had some tea at a cafe outside of Skopje and discussed the topic. Unfortunately, I don’t believe this excursion is going to be a probability. First of all, I have already been to Greece (although I’m never opposed to revisiting most places). Second, I have already been to a music festival this trip (and it was expensive and not as enjoyable as I’d hoped). Third, my general itinerary that I prefer to follow is in a northerly direction from Macedonia, not south. And fourth, the finances included in the festival and transportation just don’t seem to warrant that big of a detour. It’s not that I couldn’t afford it, but it would take a significant amount of my monthly budget for a five-day festival. Unfortunately, I’m afraid it is in my best interest to let this opportunity pass.

But that is not the unexpected journey at which I hinted in the title. The next morning, around 0900, Lola messaged me and suggested we board the next bus to Prizren, Kosovo, in order to see the last two days of Dokufest, a film festival of documentaries. Well I jumped at the chance, having wanted to see Kosovo next anyway. The next bus that we both would have time to make was at 1600, so I got some lunch and hung around the hostel the rest of the day. The bus station was only a 10 minute walk, and I made it there a bit early. Lola, I have discovered several times, is not very punctual. I had to hold the bus driver for a few minutes while she withdrew money at the atm and bought her ticket. Then we were off to Prizren!

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I’ve heard of this city from several of the locals in Macedonia, but every time someone says the name all I hear is ‘prison’. “You really should go to prison, it’s beautiful there.” “Prison is a cute place with kind people.” You can see where I would be a bit confused. We got to town a bit late and one of Lola’s friends helped us find a place to stay. All the hostels were full because of the festival, so we had to get a hotel room – what could have possibly been the last hotel room in the city. The Classic Hotel is quite swanky, with a matching price tag. The second night we found a room at the nearby Hotel Kacinari for about half the price.

Despite arriving in town late, we did have a chance to see several documentaries. Well, we saw one showing with six shorts. I’ll try to find links to these clips before I post this blog, but here are the names of the minis we viewed that (very cold) evening: Whatever the Weather, Mother, A Night in Tokoriki, Manoman, World War Cup, Lost Exile, and The Sadness Will Not Last Forever.

Whatever the Weather: This is just the trailer. The video was pretty introspective.

Mother: Just another trailer. This was about an underage Mexican porn star.

A Night in Tokoriki: Again just a trailer, but this was a good short. And the main character looks like Ted Mosby.

Manoman: Found the entire clip here. This one was confusing yet hilarious.

World War Cup: Again just a trailer, but I just saved you 6 1/2 minutes of your life by not posting the whole thing.

The Sadness Will Not Last Forever

Lost Exile: A clip about a human smuggler from Serbia to Hungary

That was the lineup on the first evening. We split a pizza afterwards, then had my new favorite dessert: tri leçe. I have even eaten it twice more today.

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The next morning Lola and I enjoyed the free breakfast at the hotel before checking out and walking down the street to drop our bags off at the next hotel. It was still fairly early, so we couldn’t check in yet. We returned to one of the four theaters set up to see Tower, another documentary. Based on the true story of the University of Texas at Austin shootings in the 1960’s, it was a really sad film with many first-hand accounts of the full hour and a half that James Whitman was on the top of the clock tower with a sniper rifle. After the movie we toured an ethnographic museum and had some gelato and tri leçe, then bought tickets for a documentary called Behemoth. I was really expecting much more than was offered for this one. The 91 minutes of video footage about a Chinese iron mine could have been easily compressed into 15 minutes. I couldn’t help but pass out a few times during the show. I’m sure I didn’t miss much.

Tower: Wish I could have found the entire movie of this one.

Behemoth: Here some information from the Huffington Post. Don’t bother watching the whole movie even if you can find it.

Yasmine Hamdan: Here is one of her most popular songs.

After that waste of time Lola and I got some dinner – more kebabs. We were going to go to some of the award ceremonies this evening, but she was too tired so we went back to the hotel. I’m currently writing this in the dark while she naps.We have tickets for a performance later by Yasmine Hamdan here in town, but that doesn’t start until midnight. Over dinner today I casually mentioned that since we are already in Kosovo we should just take some extra time and head up to Prishtinë, and she agreed. The only issue is her schedule; she is on vacation now but the last day she has available is Monday. So IF we go to Prishtinë we will only spend a day and a half there. We joked about taking a ride around town on one of the horse-drawn carriages earlier, and she mentioned that she has never ridden a horse before. So that is something we are looking into when we get back to Skopje on Monday. Having gone from Macedonia directly into Kosovo, I have very little choice but to return to Skopje before heading to Serbia. I can’t legally go directly from Kosovo to Serbia without having already visited Serbia first. It’s just a bunch of stupid politics.

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Well, it is almost 2130, so I will be waking Lola up soon. I think it may be too late to catch any of the award ceremonies tonight, but I’m going to keep the Dokufest Program so I can try to find all the movies and shorts I missed. I must say I enjoyed this much more than probably any music festival. Hopefully it is not as unbearably cold as it was last night. We have an outside concert to see!

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UPDATE: The concert last night was fairly enjoyable, but still exceptionally cold. We were up until around 0500, so we missed breakfast this morning. It is about time to check out, and I think we are going to stay in Prizren most of the day and catch a bus to Prishtinë later in the afternoon. But right now it is time to eat!!

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