Albania and Kosovo Souvenirs

While in Albania and Kosovo I managed to pick out a few souvenirs to remember my time there. As I take the photos for this blog post, I realize that I actually quite enjoy the things I pick up.


Traditional Albanian Bag This bag is one of the most common symbols of Albanian culture. Typically, they are hand woven (although in modern times they are mass produced by factories) in this same style that you see below. The shapes and symbols are part of the traditional Albanian weaving style. These symbols and style of weaving can also be seen in traditional hand woven Albanian carpets. I bought this particular bag in Kruja, which is the best place to get traditional souvenirs in all of Albania.

This bag is easily my favorite purchase throughout the whole trip. When I was a little girl, I had a mini version of it in red. I used to fill it with little childish trinkets and bring it with me everywhere I went. So when I kept seeing these bags all over the place, I decided I needed to pick one up.


Postcards These postcards were purchased from the Ethnographic Museum in Prishtina. Not only is visiting the museum free, the tour guide option is free as well. As a result, I knew I had to find a way to give a little back to the museum. That’s why when I saw these postcards, I picked them up. Since then I have accumulated quite a bit of postcards from many places I have visited and plan to create some form of artwork out of them.


Coin Purse This coin purse was also purchased in Kruja. There were so many of these pouches being sold in all the shops in a wide range of different colors and prints. I choose this particular one over all the others because the colors and prints are similar to traditional Albanian weaving. Fun Fact: Recently, I was in a Turkish bakery called Simit House Bakery & Co. in Montclair, New Jersey. As I pulled out this coin purse to pay for my sweets, the girl asked in shock if I got it in Turkey because she purchased a similar one from a bazaar in Istanbul. I told her I got it in Albania, but odds are the shop owner probably mass bought them from Turkish bazaars for really cheap and was selling them in his store. Do with that knowledge what you will. 


Rock Magnet I usually try to avoid purchasing the typical tourist souvenirs. They end up just piling up and eventually getting thrown away. They also fail to have personality to them. But when I walked into a pottery store in Prizren and saw this magnet, with the glimmering rock shape of the Kosovo boarders, I realized I needed to get it. It’s pretty, isn’t it? (P.S. I have no idea why this photo is sideways. I have done absolutely everything I can think of to position it the right way and it does not work).


Rock Art This rock was painted on to resemble an image carved into the ancient walls of  the Butrint ancient ruins. There is a slab of magnet attached to the back. But the rock is too heavy for the weak magnet piece to hold it up. So this just sits on my shelf with other rocks and crystals that I have collected over the years. I kind of like the idea of having an image that someone many centuries ago created.


Carpet Bookmark I think it is no secret by now that I love to collect bookmarks. I have collected many from all over the place and continue to stay on the lookout for them whenever I visit someplace new. I saw this particular bookmark in a little indie shop in Prizren and immediately knew I had to own it. It is designed to look like a hand woven carpet which makes it particularly unique and special from all the other bookmarks I own.


The souvenirs I have shared with you today are easily some of my favorite souvenirs I have ever picked up. What is a souvenir that is special to you?


The city of Prizren is easily one of my favorites in the world! There is so much history and culture among it’s streets. Below are photos I have taken while roaming through it’s many alleyways.

The view from my aunt’s rooftop


The Kalaja of Prizren is a medieval fortress that is located on top of a mountain overlooking the city. It is my favorite spot in all of Prizren! The view of the city from the top is utterly breathtaking. In order to get to the Kalaja, you have to hike. There are two hiking trails that you can take. The first is near the center of the city and paved. This route should only taking you 30 minutes. The second route is for the hikers and takes up to two hours. I prefer this one because you also get beautiful views of the mountains and forests on your way up to the top.

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.


Roaming The Streets

One of the things I love about Prizren is that at every turn there is a new thing to see that you simply can’t stop snapping pics!


Prizren at Night

When the light goes down, the people go out. The streets of Prizren get covered with people going out for an evening stroll. And there is no discriminating here, everyone goes out: families, couples, youth. Even all the street cats and dogs!

Do you see all the people on the other side of the river? THAT’S how crowded evenings get… with everyone enjoying the night.

And finally… Grandma’s House

Why not show you a little glimpse of the home I stayed at for three months?


Check out my review of The Albanian League of Prizren for another great thing to do!


When I was staying in Prizren I managed to make a few trips to the capital of Kosovo: Prishtina. I explored quite a bit of the city, from the main public library to the multitude of cafés. Here are a few of the things I did that I enjoyed the most. And best of all? They are all absolutely free!


Newborn Monument

The Newborn Monument was implemented when Kosovo declared independence. It signifies that the country is a newborn one. The monument is constantly changing and every time you see it, it is different. At first, it was painted yellow. After being entirely covered in graffiti, it was painted in green camouflage. After that, the flags of the countries that recognize Kosovo’s independence covered it. And now, it is painted plain white.


Ethnographic Museum

An interesting way to learn and gain an insight about the way in which Albanians – a culture not very known to the world – lived is by visiting the ethnographic museum. It displays a traditional home. The museum is not only free itself, but the tour guide is also free. There is however the possibility to give donations if you so wish.


Mother Teresa Cathedral

How is that a country in which over ninety percent of the population are Muslim has the biggest cathedral in the Balkans? One which is visited regularly? The Mother Teresa Cathedral was still being painted and constructed on the inside when I visited – but that did not make it any less stunning to see. I simply can not wait to re-visit to see it once it is completed.



Prishtina has many statues honoring some of it’s many important figures. Here are just a few I managed to snap pics of. Many others include the Bill Clinton statue and the Women War Fighters statue.


All in all, I enjoyed visiting Prishtina. It is so fascinating visiting a city that is constantly growing and re-inventing itself. I wonder what this city will look like in a decade.




IMG_2310[1]I spent two months living in Prizren, Kosovo. While there, I took a day trip to the little town of Korishe. Korishe is located approximately 30 minutes south of Prizren. It is located near the Kabashi Mountains of Kosovo. Many, if not most, of the people still living in the town have the last name Kabashi. This is a present day example of locative surnames: taking the name based upon the land or geographical features of where a person was born and lived.

The town itself, while small, has a lot of history. A lot of it’s more recent history revolves around the Kosovo War. Most notably, it is the location of the Korishe bombing that occurred in May 14th, 1999. Unfortunately, there is not currently a museum to exhibit and inform visitors of the history – although I do hope there will be one day! The only way to learn about it is directly from the people themselves. Which can be a very rewarding experience.

When visiting, instead of exploring the town itself, I decided to explore the nature surrounding it. These are photos that I took of that day:


Albanian League of Prizren

IMG_0212[1]Hands down, one of the top things you need to do while visiting Kosovo, or anywhere in the Balkans, is to go see The Albanian League of Prizren.

The League of Prizren was organized in January 5, 1877 as a defense of the Albanian territories and their human rights. The political organization was a response to western and ottoman influences. The western world, such as Berlin, attempted to give away Albanian land to neighboring countries as a way to decrease the influence of the Ottomans in Europe. The League was a way to demonstrate that the Albanian identity as a distinct entity from the Ottomans.


When visiting, there are four aspects of the League you must see. First, there is the outside: the architecture and gardens. The architecture has been rebuilt and restored to exactly match the original. After that, you can visit the three museums. The first consists of art work from many different Albanian artists. This was my favorite part of the museum – the artwork all relates to the League of Prizren and there were quite a few pieces I enjoyed viewing.


The second part of the museum is ethnographic and exhibits many rooms in traditional Albanian decor. There are also many old traditional items and clothing on display. I, unfortunately, only managed to get one photo.


And finally, the third and most interesting installment displays the old books and documents of the members of the League of Prizren. This aspect is less cultural and more political. There are photos of the original party members. And documents they wrote back and forth to other nations indicating their statehood and rights.


I love this row of photographs displaying the way the League looked throughout the years!

And finally, after you are done visiting the League of Prizren, I recommend you enter one of the MANY cafés right outside and have yourself some refreshing ice cream!


Vali Ranch


When I was in the third grade, my class went on a trip to the Zoo. On this trip, we all got on line for horseback riding. Amongst the many horses, there was one pure snow white horse that stood out higher among the rest. 

Every student in my class discussed the beauty and strength of this horse. Each classmate claimed that he or she would be the one to ride it. But when the beauty reached the top of the line, it was me who got lucky enough to ride her. I haven’t been on a horse since.


There is something so beautiful about horses: the way they can be strong and powerful while maintaining their gentleness and gracefulness. There is something so utterly breathtaking in their movements and approach to the world that I just can’t shake. That is why when I heard of Vali Ranch Gjilan while in Kosovo, I knew I would take any chance I could to get back on one of these beauties.

IMG_3592[1]IMG_3606[1]IMG_3735[1]IMG_3741[1]IMG_3703[1]I hope my love of horses continues to grow as I continue to take new opportunities to enjoy their company.