I am “real” and so are my food journals. There are times when I travel and I eat great things and other times the food is just ordinary. While traveling through the Balkans, there were times that I ate whatever was available and it was uneventful. That is life and that is travel.
This food journal covers three Balkan countries: Albania, North Macedonia and Kosovo and unlike Part One, this food journal has more common foods. I find it interesting none the less because of what foods were available to me at the time.
The reality of the situation was there were moments that I did not have time nor the energy to pick myself up to find a restaurant in my neighborhood. Plus staying in residential areas, the luxury of having a decent restaurant in a half mile radius at times, did not exist. Sometimes you have to weigh out having a good meal, checking out the city and resting.
From a carnivore’s dream dish in Skopje to ice cream for dinner in Albania, my food journal of ‘What I ate in the Balkans – Part 2’.
Balkan Road Trip Snacks
Crisps, chips or whatever you call them, trying out these easily consumable snacks in different countries is always fun. Typically I had grabbed a bag for a long bus ride to another country, that is how I enjoyed Balkan chips. There are many similar versions of the chips that we have in the States, as well as different flavors. I am not a chip connoisseur by any means but those were my obvious observances.
Some chips were a hit and some were a miss. I was not fond of the Clipsy Max Chicken Wings at all. It tasted like I was not eating anything and was still hungry after finishing the bag!
It is incredible how quickly things change in this part of the world. When I visited this country it was named Macedonia. Then shortly after it was renamed North Macedonia. This had been a topic of conversation even when I visited, so I will now call it North Macedonia.
I had better luck in Skopje finding interesting food other than tourist, trendy, snack food or sandwiches. The foods were quite heavy and high caloric which is made to sustain a person for the whole day. That was fine for me because I needed it for the whole day.
The Traditional Dion
This dish had so much meat and cheese in it that I was surprised I made it out of Café Restaurant Dion in Skopje. This carnivore meal was a mix of pork, beef, chicken, mushrooms, all in a savory sauce and topped with melted cheese. It was very good dish but also a very heavy one.
Café Restaurant Dion is a terrific place to catch a bite as they serve both international and traditional North Macedonian dishes.
For location and restaurant information, please visit their Facebook page – Café Restaurant Dion
Vending Machine Coffee and A Balkan Bear Claw
This was one of those instances where it was all about convenience. Since my hotel was in a residential area and my walking tour started in the downtown area of Skopje, I needed something quick to eat. I figured there would be bakeries along the way and I was right, so I picked up this savory pastry. When I asked for coffee, they pointed me to a vending machine on the sidewalk. Yes, that is how it goes sometimes!
Sitting in front of Mother Teresa’s Memorial House, waiting for my walking tour to start with my breakfast and vending machine coffee.
Blurry Baklava in the Old Bazaar
The glare of the sun on the baklava was quite much as it was a warm day in Skopje. I had just finished the free walking tour and decided to stop at the Old Bazaar to shop and have a snack. There are a few places in the Old Bazaar that sell baklava, so be sure to get a couple of pieces before you leave.
I enjoy eating baklava wherever I have gone. It is a favorite dessert amongst the Balkans, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. It is a constant pastry that you can enjoy from country to country.
Stuffed Peppers in Skopje
I was definitely not expecting the stuffed peppers that I ordered to look or taste like this. Although different from what I am used to, I enjoyed this version very much. This version is stuffed with cheeses and deep fried, it was very rich and delicious.
Stuffed Peppers were on my “To Eat” list in North Macedonia and I found them at Café Restaurant Dion in the city center of Skopje. This restaurant Dion is a terrific place to catch a bite as they serve both international and traditional regional dishes.
For location and restaurant information, please visit their Facebook page – Café Restaurant Dion
Welcome to North Macedonia!
I was on a free walking tour in Skopje and we were lead into a bar where they offered us welcome shots of “Who knows?”. This happens more than you think on these walking tours. I know I had more than one shot though- Welcome to Macedonia!
Good times- Sharing shots with people from all over the world, in a city called Skopje.
No lies, I was very confused with Albanian food and where to eat. I was recommended a couple of very nice restaurants in Tirana but I never made it. I was in Albania for a couple of busy days, those restaurants were not close to my flat and I ran out of time- it happens.
Many Albanians cook and eat at home, I am assuming that is why it was difficult to find a casual restaurant. I thought I could find food in cafés that looked like restaurants but many of them only served drinks. I was talking to other travelers about this and they were just as confused. Luckily I had purchased groceries for my flat but other than that, I was eating non-eventful Albanian food. It was more of snack or tourist food. I figured that mishap will make me be a better Albanian traveler, the next time and focus more on the cuisine. #TravelGoals
Dinner- Ice Cream and Booze
This is what I am saying! There were several large cafes in a row that all looked like restaurants. I sat down at one of them and ordered a vodka tonic and asked for the food menu. No food menu, it was just ice cream. That was my diner- ice cream and booze.
Do not worry, I did not starve. I had sandwich items in my flat but I was hoping for a proper meal while in Tirana.
An Italian Crepe
I took a day trip into Berat and found a café that served food and I was very happy. It was a crepe restaurant so I ordered the Italian crepe which had olives, peppers and feta cheese. It was good for the price as it was under $1.50 USD, which for us is unheard of.
The town of Berat is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Albania and worth the trek from the capital, Tirana. It is a lovely, historical, riverside town with hillside homes and a relaxed vibe. Personally, I would not mind spending a couple of days exploring this region the next time I visit Albania.
Snacking and Stealing Wi-Fi
Since my flat had very bad Wi-Fi, pretty much non-existent, twice a day I had to sit at the trendy Mulluri Vjeter and use theirs. A girl has to do, what a girl has to do. Luckily there was a Mulliri Vjeter a couple of buildings down from my flat.
While sitting at Mulluri Vjeter, I did grab a snack or two which were quite nice- a cheesecake with a jam base which I liked. Plus a simple sandwich of ham and cheese on a poppy seed roll, which was also quite good. I did enjoy this coffee shop though. The vibe was relaxed, coffee good and their Wi-Fi was free.
For location and café information, please visit their Facebook page –Mulluri Vjeter
Berat Iced Coffee
This selfie was in celebration of getting myself to Berat. I did not take a day tour but I hopped on their public bus that goes directly from Tirana to this city, with a few stops along the way. It was quite the journey! Before I got to the main part of Berat, I stopped at a café for their Wi-Fi and ordered an iced coffee. The server was very nice and offered me a glass of iced water, which you know is typically not free in Europe.
I am not sure if this café knew what I wanted when I asked for an iced coffee. I described it as an “Americano with ice” but that is not what I got. What I received was fine though, it was still refreshing and the server was very welcoming.
Somewhere in Albania- A Sandwich
This sandwich reflected what I ate in Albania besides the crepe in Berat- A sandwich. I was on a bus headed to Montenegro, where I made up the lack of food in Albania. One of the stops along the journey had pre-made sandwiches. This was my sandwich and I was happy to have it.
My plastic wrapped possible salami sandwich somewhere in Albania.
Although I do joke about the food choices, I was grateful that I had food. I am grateful that I had Albanian Leks left for this sandwich that kept me full until I arrived in Montenegro. I am grateful for travel.
Kosovo is an interesting little country as it is not recognized by several other larger countries. Also you can not enter into nor leave from Serbia, as there is still a lot of tension between these two countries. Other than that, you can easily enter from the surrounding countries like North Macedonia, which is how I entered.
After a few hours on a hot and bumpy shuttle ride, I found the first nice looking restaurant in Pristina’s city center. I do not know the name as I walked in and sat down. Then I ordered this chicken risotto. I am assuming that I walked into an international restaurant because of the menu items were a variety of European dishes. It was delicious though and I could have eaten two plates.
I ordered a chilled iced tea drink and was served it in this. I do remember looking at the jar with the lid and thought how clever it was. Then I started to wonder if the dark sediment were tea herbs. Yes, I am sure it was the tea herbs. I drank it.
I also remember this being a refreshing drink after sitting on a hot shuttle bus from Skopje, Macedonia. At that point, I did not mind the sediment along the sides of the jar.
Gratitude and Two Bottles of Water
While waiting for my shuttle bus back to Skopje, I purchased a bottle of water at the bus station. While I was in the store, a man was harassing me to buy something or to give him money, I cannot remember.
The owner of the store stepped in and told him to leave. That was nice but I am sure he would have eventually left. The nice thing was that the store owner gave me a second bottle of water after I paid for one. Then he told me to sit and wait at the tables where it was safer, shaded and comfortable. He was very hospitable!
That second bottle of water was a God Send though and I was so grateful for it. The shuttle bus ride back to Skopje was worse than the one going to Pristina, Kosovo. The shuttle was very hot so the water kept me cool and hydrated. Thank you Dear Store Owner, thank you.
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