Labor Day Weekend Fun

I wrote this post two weeks ago and didn’t get around to publishing it.  Since then, we’ve been dealing with the loss of a dear cousin and friend in JR’s family.   It was unexpected and a sad reminder to not take a single day for granted.   This year has given us the highest of highs with Abby’s birth, but it has also been more difficult than anything we’ve ever experienced before.   My mom never let me say the word “sucks” growing up because I had a little brother and sister around, but I have to tell you, sometimes I just want to yell “This sucks!!”

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Anytime we have a long weekend, we prefer to take advantage and head out of town for a few days.  Anticipating that, JR and I both requested vacation days for last Friday.  As the weekend drew closer, we realized that with all of JR’s recent – and upcoming – travel, a staycation might be best.  So we decided to stay close to home and explore around here a bit more, and spend quality time with Abigail.

Friday morning we drove to Mirusha falls.  If you’re a faithful reader (hi Mom!), you might recall that I had quite the experience on this hike about a year ago.  Our sweet little VW Passat was not cut out for the unpaved, rocky road that led to our destination.  I also had zero recollection of how to get there, so I wasn’t certain we were in the right spot.  We contemplated turning around but didn’t want to give up.  Finally we reached the parking area with our car and tires intact.

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Abby and I stayed put while JR hiked to the next level of the falls.  It was a beautiful day, not too hot so we enjoyed sitting outside and waiting for him to return.

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That night we had dinner at one of our favorite places, Pinocchio.  It’s the best to us because the servers are super friendly and we always enjoy ourselves.  Plus they have a lovely view of the city.

Saturday morning we drove to Gracancica, a Serbian community with a beautiful monastery founded in 1321.  It was beautiful and peaceful.

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Abby wasn’t all that interested.

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After lunch – chicken wrapped in bacon, ah the joys of finding a restaurant that serves pork! – we visited the Bear Sanctuary.  I went last year but JR had never been.  It’s on the small side and you can’t really spend a long time there, but they’re expanding it and it’s so great to see the bears in this environment, compared to the tiny cages they used to live in.

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Sunday was a lazy day and Monday we went downtown to walk around and have lunch.  We also happened to find this little sign that I wanted to buy months ago!  It’s perfect for Abby’s room and a neat souvenir from our time here!

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Finally, Abby has a lot of cute clothes and we keep waiting for nice occasions to have her wear them.  She’s growing so fast that we anticipate her growing out of many of these outfits before they’ve been worn, so we had a few photo shoots.

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Also because I feel like a negligent cat-parent, here’s Annabelle.  She’s still pretty ticked off that we left her and then came back with a baby.

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Bears, Beets, Battlestar Gallactica

A trip this week made me think about one of our favorite Office quotes.

Anyway, this week it was Bears and Balkans! On Thursday, some friends and I took a little road trip outside the city to visit a new bear sanctuary. Until recently, it was not unusual for people to keep brown bears in cages near restaurants as attractions. Kosovo either recently passed a law about it, or just started enforcing it, because earlier this summer about 15 bears were taken from around the country and placed in this new sanctuary.

(Here are some articles about it: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/2-brown-bears-rescued-captivity-kosovo, http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/captive-brown-bears-gain-fresh-start, http://www.four-paws.org.uk/projects/bears/prishtina-sanctuary/).

The road trip was an adventure because these were the directions we followed:

Take the road through Gracanica, past Badovcit lake, then make a sharp left as soon the lake ends. (Should be a gas station there). Keep on the gravel road furthest to the right (White pebbles that look newish), and follow it about 3 km. The road ends at the sanctuary.

I struggle with directions when they are step by step from Google, so this was a bit of a challenge. When we turned left at the gas station, the gravel road was on the left, and a paved road was on the right. So we were confused. We went back to the gas station to ask the attendants for directions. They were happy to help, but they did not really speak English. I put my hands up like claws and did a little “roar” and they laughed and then pointed. And JR doubts my charades skills!

We made it to the sanctuary and were greeted by the employees. It’s a relatively small operation and I don’t know how many visitors they get, but we were glad we went. The man who showed us around was able to tell us some of the bears’ names, and ages. They were also feeding them while we were there – all produce, no meat. I’m not sure why that is, but possibly due to the cost of meat? (Also because I was curious, according to Google, only the polar bear is a true carnivore. All other bears eat both plants and meat. Who knew?)

Here are some pictures from our adventure!

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This is Kassandra.

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That’s Vinnie standing up waiting for food.

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They have pictures of the bears’ former cages – very sad.

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