The Best Restaurant In Pristina, Kosovo, Might Be The Best Health Food In The Balkans

home restaurant pristina

The concrete construction of Pristina, the capital of the small rebellious republic of Kosovo, isn’t the prettiest. Old cement apartment blocks with weathered paint are evidence of a stalled economy, the similar story shared by many disputed and autonomous territories around the world. A short walk up though from the dull apartments looking over Mother Teresa Square though you see something new, a restaurant bringing Kosovan food back to its main ingredients.

Balkan Clean Cuisine

Aptly named Home Restaurant inconspicuously sits behind a small garden of lazy ivy while boldly serving some of the best fresh foods dishes in the region. Spend enough time in the Balkan capitals like Sofia, Bulgaria or Belgrade, Serbia, and you’ll come to find there is a lively petri dish of healthy eateries cultivating an ever growing number of unique vegan, vegetarian, gluten, sugar, whatever-weird-allergy-you-think-you-have free restaurants.

home restaurant pristina menu

Home Restaurant, a lot like these other places however doesn’t alienate its cuisine, but rather incorporates locals dishes into its vision of the original.

Going Back To Roots

Many restaurants focused on health trends tend to think up original dishes with completely foreign ingredients, trying to create an entirely new cuisine to cater to vegetarians, vegans, or the lactose intolerant. At Home, traditional Balkan dishes are brought back to their origins of varied fresh vegetables, fish, meat, and hearty soups with plenty of legumes. A lot of Kosovan cuisine, like Turkish for example, is unintentionally vegan.

home restaurant salad pristina

Home serves freshly cooked food daily and the menu variable enough that it too can change day to day. Aside from offering traditional meat dishes there are also modern touches like the sesame tuna steak or falafel for vegetarians. All of the meat and eggs are from farms – not the factory kind – sadly, a feature one has to look for in modern cuisine. The vegetables too are grown locally, something you distinctly notice in the taste of everything you eat at Home.

As It Should Be

Home highlights Kosovan foods without constraining itself. The sauces are simple, vegetables in season, and care is taken to add to the ambiance by staff who – as cheesy as it sounds – make you feel at home. In case you’re wondering, the prices are also moderate by Pristina standards, cheap compared to much of Europe, even its eastern fringes.

home restaurant pristina kosovo

At this point, I’m rambling on about how great Home is because I would go to Pristina just to eat there. There’s probably a deeper story about how it came to be in Pristina (since it’s a bit odd Home is there in the first place) but I never got around to finding out because I was too busy eating during each visit.

home restaurant pristina fish

The excellent food is served by friendly staff at reasonable prices plus they offer free wifi (they also accept credit cards). You should not miss Home Restaurant if you’re in Pristina, and to be completely honest, it might be worth visiting just to eat there if you’re traveling in Skopje or other nearby cities.

Targu Jiu, The Best City To Visit In 2015, Is Making Its Own Tourism Trail In Romania

targu jiu night winter romania

There may not be a whole lot going on in Targu Jiu, the city you voted as the best to visit in 2015, but much like Craiova, the residents of this southwestern corner of Romania are deeply passionate about it.

You hear a lot about ‘off the beaten path’ places everyone seems to know about. Want to get off the regular tourist trail? Targu Jiu, and the greater Oltenia region, should be in your Romania travel plans.

Targu Jiu, In Short

The population of this industrial city has been falling over the last decade as employment opportunities have shrunk in Targu Jiu, where there aren’t a lot of industries to begin with. The Jiu River, most notable as a tributary to the Danube, calmly flows through the city so innocently, it looks like an empty road at night.

jiu river targu jiu romania

Targu Jiu is quiet, at first.

Sculpting Tourism

A younger couple asks, as I look over the Jiu River from the park where The Avenue of the Heroes sculptures are located, what I’m doing there. The man is a Romanian who’s visiting his childhood home for the first time in years, noting it’s changed quite a bit, but perhaps not enough yet to attract tourists.

Across the street, Irish Pub quickly gathers a large crowd but the bartender is already a good friend. Step a block away though and you won’t notice it, the streets are empty, though only because the crowds are concentrated in small pockets of activity.

The Best Places To Eat In Targu Jiu

There are two really good choices for food in Targu Jiu though Antique, which doesn’t look like much from outside, is the one you’ll want to keep going back to. It has a good selection of Romanian foods traditional to this part of the country served in a cozy encompassed mansion basement. The service is great and (as you’ll get accustomed to if you visit Targu Jiu) the staff are friendly and inquisitive because there aren’t that many foreign visitors.

antique targu jiu restaurant

Your second option is Restaurant Ambassador, serving a blend of traditional and semi-food-you-find-everywhere though without the ambiance of Antique or small attention paid to the preparation of all the dishes. I mention it because Ambassador is a good choice in Targu Jiu, but Antique is a good choice in this region, reminiscent of the excellent Crama Ileana in Sibiu.

taragu jiu church romania

Slowly but surely, Targu Jiu begins to change from “wait, what, why, where?!” to “I am now starting to get why so many people voted it The Best City To Visit In 2015.

Travel Expansion

It was clear to me during my visit to nearby Craiova in 2014 that the local governments are trying to create a new tourist trail in the Oltenia region or Romania. By building new town squares as well as investing in promotion, cities like Targu Jiu are trying to emulate the successes of the Brasov, Sibiu, and others in Transylvania, which has become an sizeable source of income for central Romania.

targu jiu christmas romania travel

Without vampire or castles though, Oltenia is having to come up with modern attractions, advertised to the world through a grassroots campaign of locals who love their towns. Targu Jiu’s residents for the most part are enthusiastic – with typically eastern European realism – about what their city has (and doesn’t) to offer. I’m incredibly grateful to the people who voted and brought me to Targu Jiu in 2015, much like Craiova in 2014, its a place I hope more people see too.

The Starfleet Academy Experience In New York City Is Federation Utopia For Trekkies

starfleet academy experience intrepid

There are a lot of geeky reasons to travel so when I heard about the interactive Starfleet Academy Experience on board the Intrepid Museum in New York City, I knew I had to make it a part of my annual convention pilgrimage. The Starfleet Academy Experience (SAE) was anything but disappointing but be warned, you’ve got to be one step beyond a casual Star Trek fan to truly enjoy the exhibit.

starfleet academy experience intrepid museum

What The Heck Is A Starfleet Academy Experience?

Well timed with Star Trek Missions, the first major Trek convention in New York City in a very long time, the long standing Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum has opened a (very) interactive exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original show through October 31, 2016.

Essentially, the exhibit is broken down into the major fields of study seen on Star Trek, from tactical to communications. Your progress is tracked by a wrist band that digitally updates your own personal voyage through Starfleet Academy. The first stop is in medical, where you’re asked to scan an injured Klingon, and diagnose his condition based on a number of tricorder readings.

starfleet medical

You make your way through the individual areas, taking 30 second touchscreen tests, learning a lot of sci-fi and science along the way. The creators of SAE put in a lot of thought to make every section interactive but different so it doesn’t get boring.

Beam Yourself Up

Admittedly, I did not expect stepping onto a transporter and watching myself beam up would be nearly as fun as it was. Or plotting a course for the Enterprise around 6 or 7 astronomical phenomena on a touchscreen the size of a large television. The longest line was for phaser practice (basically a one-person arcade shooter) which, if you’re pressed for time, can be skipped without regret.

You’ll learn a few phrases and be tested on your Klingon pronunciation as well. (If you really want to try your skills, read this post I wrote entirely in Klingon.) All of this taking place in a large area built to look like the halls of the Enterprise from The Next Generation. The effort on creating the look, feel, as well as appeal to casual and hardcore Trek fans is noticeable.

Sit In The Captain’s Chair

Given that the entrance fee is $25 (or $35 if you don’t want to be forced to visit at a scheduled time) the extensiveness of the Starfleet Academy Experience is appreciated. As you make your way toward graduation, which takes about an hour if not more, you’re welcomed with a recreation of the Enterprise bridge where you take the Kobayashi Maru test. Then, pose for countless photos in the captain’s chair, helm, security, engineering stations… and again, depending on your enthusiasm.

starfleet academy experience bridge

On the way out, you scan your wristband on last time to get your Academy results, plus a read out of the starship positions you’re best cut out for. You can have that, as well as your transporter video emailed directly to you. The Starfleet Academy Experience is open 10am-7pm daily, through October 31st. I recommend arriving early, then purchasing tickets to visit the Intrepid Museum itself, on the aircraft carrier by the same name.

You Don’t Know You Like Belgrade Yet, But You Do

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belgrade serbia Skadarlija

Serbia’s capital city is like an intimidating uncle you barely know who’s rough around the edges but when he visits is so interesting, you want to endear yourself to. For most people around the world, still, Balkan cities conjure up greying men with stern faces and apartment buildings dotted by bullet holes. And still, there are plenty of beer bellied 40 year-olds proudly packing man purses and old Communist apartment blocks that needed new pain a century ago, but now they’re filled with vegan food and jiu-jitsu schools that have nearly as many female fighters as men.

Belgrade is, like most Balkan capitals, surprisingly modern, if not a little weird, with Internet that’s faster than most anything in the West, offering the quiet, night, or high life depending on your preference and budget.

Getting Around The Not-So-Obvious

I’m often asked whether or not people in the Balkans speak English, or if there are ATMs in the major cities. To sum up, everyone under 35 (and a good portion of those older) speak English so accent-less it’s nearly distracting. There are ATMs everywhere, but many prefer to pay with credit cards, and half the population walks around hunched over the addicting glow of a cell phone.

belgrade serbia streets roads

  • How To Arrive Internationally – Flying is by far the easiest method, as train routes from nearby countries are very limited. Renting a car from other Serbian cities is a possibility, but nearly all rental companies won’t let you cross national borders, at least in this region of the world.

There are parts of town you want to avoid and you should order your taxi from this number to avoid getting ripped off. In all, not perfect, but modern, and very familiar to most people who’ve seen Europe, America, or similar.

Meat To Vegan Spectrum

Traditional Serbian food is hearty meats, with lots of heavy sides like beans, creamy salads, and other dishes that make you feel happy when it’s frosty outside.

gradska restaurant belgrade serbia

One of the best places in Belgrade to try home-cooked, traditional Serbian food is Gradska.

A 20 minute walk from central Belgrade, it’s location is so inconspicuous that you’ll doubt you’re headed in the right direction, no matter what your GPS says. (Getting a local SIM card for phone and Internet access is easily done from one of the small corner shops around town.) The waiters are very friendly, recommending what’s been cooked up fresh that evening (take their suggestion, trust me).

radost restaurant belgrade serbia

  • Radost – On the other side of town is Radost, a restaurant which is a reflection of the growing Balkan obsession with sugar-free deserts, vegan dishes, and alternative health-foods.

The Balkan version of veganism isn’t a militant one or the type where people restrict themselves to a diet which constantly makes them cranky. In Belgrade for example, people go out for a vegan meal occasionally but most don’t necessarily adhere to the lifestyle. Probably due to this softer attitude, many younger Serbians are open to the idea of going out for a vegan meal, since vegan and health-conscious options are often integrated into the menus of mainstream restaurants. Meat lovers might not drop buttered pork for pumpkin soup or beet burgers permanently but a craving could crop up occasionally after a trip to Radost. The coffee is also great, with or without soy creamer.

Stroll Scene Is Strong

During my time in Ukraine, I met with a local expert on Ukrainian history, who mentioned once that eastern Europeans love to walk stroll, particularly on Sundays, looking into shops they have no intention of buying from. I have found this to be true from Romania to as far as Albania, Serbia being no exception.

belgrade national assembly

  • Skadarlija – Plenty of small cafes, pubs, and restaurants like Tri Sesira if you’re looking for Serbian favorites in large portions. You’ll find a local fruit market at the end of the street near the tramway rails. Good for produce shopping if you’re staying in an Airbnb with a kitchen. (Prices for accommodation of moderately priced hotels are about the same as local apartment rentals.)

tri sisera belgrade serbia

To work off the food, or work up another appetite, a hike up to the Kalemegdan (Belgrade Fortress) is worth the the views of the city and where the Danube and Sava rivers meet.

belgrade fortress

Many places around the world are a mix of “old and new” but Belgrade is a mix of really old, less old, new, and upcoming, under a microscope.

Surprising Less

Training at the Gracie Barra academy, where I was warmly welcomed during my time in Belgrade, the instructor asks if I’ve ever seen this many women in a jiu-jitsu class. He takes pride in the fact that his school has opened up a very male dominated sport to so many women and children as well. Walking out of the class after a training session I hear a band practicing heavy metal in one of the large rooms nearby, echoing off the halls. All of this takes place in the mostly abandoned BIGZ building, the former headquarters and printing press of National Printing Institution of Yugoslavia. From Communism to choke holds, Belgrade isn’t taking the conventional road to modernity.

gracie barra belgrade

Belgrade is making its own path, while retaining Serbian culture with a toughness cultivated over a history of harsh winters, wars, and general hard times. Frankly, Belgrade is cool. Like much of the Balkans, staring at you with a strong, straight face, you’ll have to earn your smiles. Once you figure out how though, you’ll leave feeling a part of the group.

5 Unusual But Useful Tips For Traveling With A Toddler

This is a guest post by Lillie Marshall, who’s previously written about traveling while pregnant. Lillie is a travel blogger at and mother to two young children. Find her at @WorldLillie on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and beyond.

mother toddler travel

Let’s get the obvious parts of toddler travel out of the way so we can move on to more unusual goodies. First, toddlers are insane, hence toddler travel can stink. Second, toddlers are hilarious and cute, so toddler travel can also be the most fun activity ever. Third, when traveling with a toddler, always have snacks, diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, and a sippy cup of liquid on hand, plus Elmo on an electronic device for emergencies. Fourth, adjust your travel speed and itinerary to honor naps and bedtimes. Fifth, do what it takes each day to maintain self care and sanity for yourself.

Ok, that’s done. Now for some less obvious tips!

1. On Road Trips, Call Ahead To Activate The Food Situation

Our family just finished our fourth annual 14 hour Boston-to-Cleveland road trip with our toddler, and as each mealtime neared, I’d use Yelp to find a certifiably yummy spot about 20 minutes up the road and call ahead to reserve us a table and high chair. We’d sometimes even use online menus to put in our order so food would be waiting for us, thus minimizing toddler meltdown potential upon arrival. On a related note, we have had particular success with Japanese restaurants, since many we’ve visited have had fish tanks: perfect for mesmerizing our little guy. “LOOK! BLUE FISHY!”

toddler eating Mystic Connecticut

2. Help Can Be Helpful… Or Harder

Whenever possible, I’d recommend getting assistance with your toddler during travel, be it in the form of bringing along grandparents, other relatives, friends for part of the trip, or hiring a vetted babysitter through your hotel one or two nights. Know, however, that having “help” can actually become MORE stressful if it’s not clear who is doing what and when. For example, during a recent extended family vacation, we suddenly had EIGHT adults staring, immobile, as our toddler raced towards a gleaming clump of poison ivy. Our mistake? Not designating who was “On” for childcare during that portion of the day.

toddler travel outdoors

3. Consider Mixing Different Travel Types And Permutations

Regarding mixing travel types, we loved touring Quebec, but were exhausted after a few days of keeping up with our little guy. Hence, it was ideal that the second half of our vacation was in tranquil Cleveland with my in-laws, where the only sightseeing we did was staring at a big bowl of food while we caught our breath again. Regarding mixing travel permutations, the classic recommendation is to leave the toddler(s) with trusted adults and have a solo couples vacation, but don’t rule out other combinations. I loved traveling alone to Dubai while my husband stayed home and watched the toddler, and became a much better mother when I returned for having the space away to clear my head.

Mont Tremblant Canada

4. Changes Are Always Afoot, Stay Agile

As of four days ago (during week one of our month-long travels this summer) our toddler can escape from his travel crib?! YEEK! After a full day of online research and asking our networks of other parents for advice, we found our savior: a night-vision baby monitor on sale. The best part? It has two-way listening and speaking capabilities, so when we saw our guy’s little leg emerge at the rim of the crib, we blared, in, “GET BACK IN BED, LOVE!” and Devi, shocked by the voice on high, immediately lay down and fell asleep. This level of the video game of toddler travel has been cleared, but next up is… travel and potty training. Oh my!

Hollyson Digital Security Baby Monitor Videos Camera with Night VisionHollyson Digital Security Baby Monitor Videos Camera with Night Vision

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5. You Are You, And Your Kid Is Your Kid. Experiment!

As a teacher, I’m clear that what works in my classroom may not work for another teacher, but it’s taken several years to realize that the advice one friend or article is giving me on child-rearing is not necessarily The Word of Truth for All, and it’s ok if I muddle through making my own bag of tricks. During hour four of our recent road trip, I discovered through experimentation that our guy could entertain himself for thirty full minutes by putting a small bag inside a bigger bag, and then on his feet. During hour twelve, I learned out that my lip syncing to Michael Buble made him raptly calm and happy.

traveling with a toddler

What smile-inducing victories will you discover when you allow yourself the freedom to mess up enough to find your own toddler travel style?

Want more detailed ideas? Check out my other articles, How To Travel While Pregnant During Every Trimester, Travel With a Baby, How to Travel With a Toddler, and Travel With a Toddler While Pregnant!

Thank you Lillie (and toddlers!) for sharing your experiences and travel advice with us. If you have any questions for Lillie, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Be Sure To Do This Before Visiting The Tesla Museum In Belgrade, Serbia

nikola tesla museum blegrade serbia

One place you really shouldn’t miss while you’re in Belgrade, Serbia, is the Nikola Tesla Museum. The Tesla Museum is an interactive experience about Tesla’s past as well as our technological future. A history about one of the world’s greatest minds you won’t be able to truly appreciate if you don’t call ahead to the museum first.

Who Was Tesla?

There aren’t enough science museums in the world and while old rocks or abstract paintings are mildly compelling to look at for a moment, watching a group of visitors hold up florescent lights being lit by wireless electricity is something hard to forget. Summing up the engineer Tesla is something one line of text can’t do but if you’re using a laptop right now that’s plugged into the wall, using wifi, sitting under florescent lights, and have ever used a remote control, you can thank Nikola Tesla.

Tesla was born in 1856 to Serbian parents in Smiljan (now in modern-day Croatia), later moving to the United States to work with Thomas Edison. Despite only spending a day of his life in Belgrade, the (then) Yugoslavian government established the Nikola Tesla Museum 9 years after his death. All of his belongings in the U.S. were sent by his nephew to the small building, now the museum, along with Tesla’s ashes.

nikola tesla ashes

I learned a lot more and if you’re particularly interested in the technical details of Tesla’s accomplishments, you should definitely take one of the offered tours.

Call Ahead To Take Advantage Of The Tours

The tours, where you can actually play with wireless electricity, are offered in different languages at varying times throughout the museum’s hours, 10am-6pm, open all days except Monday. You need to call ahead to join an English tour (ideally the day before or latest morning of) since the tour times change daily and aren’t listed on the Tesla Museum website.

tesla museum belgrade

  • Nikola Tesla Museum Tour Phone Number: +381 (0) 11 24 33 886

I made the mistake of just showing up, where I hopped on to the Serbian tour. The guide was very patient and translated everything for me but noted it’s not his preferred tour method. English tours are 500 Serbian dinar (~$4.50 USD), lasting 30-40 minutes.

A Museum Worth Visiting

I can’t recommend the Tesla Museum enough to see how far wireless technology has come yet at the same time, how much further ahead we could be. (Why the hell are we still charging everything with wires?) The tour guides are very informed – frankly passionate – about Tesla and the science of his accomplishments. Getting to the Nikola Tesla Museum is simple either by taxi or a 20 minute walk from most parts of interest around town. Just don’t forget to call ahead for the English tour times.

Edit: Additionally, reader Clabbe notes that the Tesla Museum is not state funded so relies on tour and souvenir sales to keep running. Another good reason to join one of the tours.

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More

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Recent Articles

The Best Restaurant In Pristina, Kosovo, Might Be The Best Health Food In The Balkans

The Starfleet Academy Experience In New York City Is Federation Utopia For Trekkies

You Don’t Know You Like Belgrade Yet, But You Do