May 13-16; 20-22: Kosovo never ceases to surprise me. Within 24 hours of getting back to Pristina from the US I was leaving again to spend Friday through Sunday with a working group revising the Criminal Code of Kosovo. The Dept. of Justice set up the retreat at the village of Istog in Western Kosovo, north-east of the city of Peje and near the Montenegrin/Serbian border at a small resort called “Trofta” which is Albanian for Trout. I also stayed there the entire next week-end doing the same thing.
Trofta was a lovely little resort. It consisted of a “modern” looking hotel and restaurant, a series of Bungalows, around a small lake, a large outdoor restaurant a large creek flowing into the property which contained a number of large ponds, spillways and cement enclosures holding hundreds of Rainbow Trout. In addition to being a surprisingly nice little resort the place is a full-blown trout farm and hatchery.
I stayed in a one of the Bungalow’s, actually the same one both week-ends. The Bungalows are duplexes consisting basically one room with a bathroom on each side. They are nicely done and modern; Wi-Fi is available throughout the resort in and outside of the rooms. The rooms have a small flat screen TV. It was quite a nice setting with well-kept grounds, lots of flowers, peacocks and a waterwheel.
An hour and a half drive from Pristina, this place would be great for a week-end get away and it is a short drive to the Rugova Gorge or the Ducani Monastery. With the exception of one night we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at the outdoor restaurant, the food was very good. I had trout served a couple of different ways, steak and chicken. Aside from the meat entrée the rest of the meal never varied a bit. After two full week-ends cooped up in a conference room 10 hours a day and six full days of eating there I was ready to get back to Pristina. Like I said the place would be great for an overnight some Saturday but it was wearing a bit thin by the time we left.
The large spring that feeds Trofta was interesting. One evening I went on a walk and followed it to it source; about ½ mile from the resort the spring comes gushing out of the side of the mountain. Very dramatic, if it weren’t for the fence and cement dam built around it.
The one night I didn’t eat at the restaurant on site Beth, one of the other advisors, and I were invited to dinner at the home of the family of a young lady who gives Beth Albanian lessons. Lena is from Istog and goes home on the week-ends but lives and works in Pristina during the week. Her family showed us a great deal of hospitality and fed us a huge meal of traditional Albanian cooking which I thought was very good. Lena’s siblings spoke English pretty well but her mother and father did not, though her father spoke German and a couple of other languages.
They had a nice well-furnished home near the outskirts of the village. They told about how before the war many Serbs lived in their neighborhood and that they all got along just fine. During the war Laina’s family had to flee Kosovo and while they were gone the Serbs burned down their home and stole many of their possessions. After the war the Albanians apparently got some payback and burned down the Serbs houses and recovered some of their stolen items. I say burned down the house, which is incorrect, the houses here are made from brick and cement or stone and you can burn them out but the ruins are still standing. The day I followed the spring to its source I walked through the Serb neighborhood which was full of half destroyed and burned out houses. It seems like not much good happens in war.