Playground / Park in Dragodan

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There is a beautiful new park in the Dragodan / KFOR base area, quite close to the German embassy.  There are paths in a little green wood, benches, picnic tables, work-out equipment, a life-size chess board, two play areas for kids with swings and slides and more.  Bring a picnic and enjoy a perfect afternoon.  This park area is great for all ages.

Directions: (Walking)  Starting at U.S. Embassy Bravo gate to your back, turn left up the hill toward USAID.  As the road splits, bear left up the hill.  You will see the road is barricaded in front of you. Turn left and walk up the steps built into the USAID white wall.  At the top of the steps, take a right.  Walk past the guard booth / road blockade.  Continue on this road until you see the German embassy on your right.  The playground is directly to your left, through a few trees.  It will take 15 minutes to walk to.  Since there are steps, strollers are not a good idea.  Most young kids (3-4) can make the walk without trouble, if they are in a good mood!

Coordinates:  (You can paste into Google Maps) @42.669097,21.152426

Ujvara e Drinit te Bardhe Waterfall

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Directions:  (Driving)  Turn right out of Bravo Gate at the U.S. Embassy.  Go down the hill.  Take a right at the bottom of the road onto Ahmet Krasniqi.  At the first circle, take the 3rd option to get onto E-65/M-2/E-80 (toward Shkup / Viva Fresh / airport).  At the second circle, quickly take the first option toward the airport / Peje (M-9).  From here, you are staying on this road about 76 km (48 miles).  Stay with M-9, continuing toward the airport.  When the road splits at the next circle, continue with M-9 toward the airport (essentially bearing to the left).  Continue with the M-9 past the airport.  When the road splits, stay right, going toward Peje / Pec (away from Tirane).  Pass the turn off for Mallisheve.  Go through the town of Balince.  Pass through the town of Kijeve.  Pass the turn off for Gjakova.  Keep going through Zahec.  You will see a sign for Rozaje on your right.  Take this right (onto the 106).  If you pass by a red ETC on your right, you’ve gone too far.  Continue on 106, following signs for Rozaje.  You will come to a circle.  Take the second option, toward Rozaje (first option is toward Mitrovice).  Continue on 106 and you will see a sign for Ujvara e Drinit.  Then you will see a big blue and white sign that says Trofta.

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Take a left here.  Drive past the restaurant as far as you can.  Park the car and walk through the cement pylons.  The waterfall is up ahead on your right.

Coordinates: (You can paste into Google Maps) 42.738376, 20.306511

Novo Brdo

Not too far from Pristina is Novo Brdo, a medieval fortress ruins.  This is one of those sights that is so uniquely Kosovo.  It’s a must-see.  How many places can you hike peacefully through so much history, up close and personal?  Just nearby are a very old Xhamia (mosque) and a tyrba (tomb), also just amazing to take in.

Web site:  http://tourism-novobrdo.com/

Learn more about the history before you go:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novo_Brdo

Price:  Free

Difficulty:  Easy.  No strollers, but young kids can hike with close supervision (there are some drop offs) and a surefooted adult with a baby carrier should not have a problem with a little one.

Driving Directions:  (~45 minutes to 1 hour)  Starting at U.S. Embassy Bravo gate, take a right to go down the hill and take a right onto the main road (Ahmet Krasniqi).  At the first circle, go around and take the last option, toward Viva Fresh/Maxi (Ferizaj).  At the next circle, take the second option to continue straight through the circle (M2/E65/Ferizaj/Shkup).  Stay straight until you pass Albi Mall on the left hand side.  Take the exit onto the M25-2 toward Gjilan (as if going to Viva Fresh/Albi Mall).  At the end of the exit ramp, take a right to go under the highway.  Go straight past Viva Fresh.  When the road forks a little, stay to the right.  Continue through Gracanica, straight past the monastery.  Continue on the road, past Lake Bodovcit.  Go through the town of Silvovo, through the small town of Progovac.  Very shortly after you see the sign for Llabjan, you will be making a left onto R123, toward Novo Brdo.  The sign says “Novo Brdo.”  After making the left, continue on the road, following arrows on signposts which point you up and around the mountain toward the Kalaja (fortress/castle).  There will be a flat place to park quite close to the castle.  Park and explore!

Lake Badovc (Liqeni i Badovcit)

Sometimes you just want to see beautiful water!  Lake Badovcit is close, big, and really nice.  It is a big reservoir, but in the summer months you will see people fishing and swimming and hiking.  Kids can throw rocks, catch fish and frogs, and wade in.  Who could ask for a better day?  Bring a picnic lunch and make an afternoon of it.

Tip:  Close to both Gracanica Monastery and Ulpiana archaeological dig site.

Driving Directions:  (~20 minutes)  Starting at U.S. Embassy Bravo gate, take a right to go down the hill and take a right onto the main road (Ahmet Krasniqi).  At the first circle, go around and take the last option, toward Ferizaj (Viva Fresh/Maxi).  At the next circle, take the second option to continue straight through the circle (M2/E65).  Stay straight until you pass Albi Mall on the left hand side.  Take the exit onto the M25-2 toward Gjilian (as if going to Viva Fresh/Albi Mall).  At the end of the exit ramp, take a right to go under the highway.  Go straight past Viva Fresh.  When the road forks a little, stay to the right.  Continue through Gracanica.  As you drive past Gracanica a few km, you will see the lake on your left hand side.  There are trails down to the lake.  Find a convenient spot to park and trek down to the water.

Lake Battlava (Liqeni Battlava)

By the town of Orlian is the beautiful, big lake of Battlava.  It does not yet seem to be on the radar of the internationals living in Pristina, but plenty of local Albanians visit in the summer months.  Cars back up close to the shore and leave the hatchback open to play music. Families and young people spread out beach blankets on the grass, put up umbrellas, eat picnics, and splash around in the water.  There are several places along the shore where paddleboats can be rented for 5 euro.  There are also hiking trails in the wooded areas around the lake.  It is a great way to spend a warm summer day.

Price:  Depending on the time of year you go, there may be a 1-2 euro fee charged by someone standing on the side of the road.

Driving Directions:  (~1 hr due to winding roads) From U.S. Embassy Bravo gate, go right down the hill and take a left onto the main road (Ahmet Krasniqi).  Continue a short distance to the traffic circle.  Take the last option (Zagrebi) the third road; the sign says “Podujevo.”  (Tantamount to making a left off of Ahmet Krasniqi; you will pass by the bottom of the Dragodan Steps and Pandora Tower on your left.)  In just over 1 km, the road will fork a little.  There will be an option to bear right up onto a small overpass and then go left.  That road (Vellezerit Fazliu) bears left to take you north on the 25/E-80.  It is a main road.  The turns are not well marked, but there are several left hand turns you can make that will feed you onto the E-80.  You should pass a Pro Credit bank on your right, then make a right onto the E-80 north at the next big intersection.  It sounds harder than it is.  Once you are on E-80, stay straight for awhile, ~15 km.  Pass through the towns of Bardhosh, Trude, Lebane, Prugoc, Besi, and Vranidoll.  When you get to Shakovice, you will be making a right onto the R125.  There is a small sign that tells you Battlave/Orlian is that way, but you might miss the turn off the first time because it looks like a small dirt road.  That is the right turn.  Get on this road and stay on it.  Follow it through the small village and around the mountain.  In perhaps 20-30 minutes, you will be rewarded with a view of the lake below.  There are several good restaurants on this road, overlooking the lake.  Look for a group of people or paddle boats parked on the shore to tell you where there is a good spot.  Park your car and enjoy!