Village of Brod
In the south of Kosovo you’ll find a village nestled in the mountains with merely 900 houses and that’s none other than Brod. The people here are Gorani/Serb and they are Slavic Muslims. That is really quite contrasting for a village in Kosovo itself, since the population of people in Kosovo are mainly Albanians, so if you can speak Albanian, don’t use it here! Communication was a huge problem for us as they can’t speak English (at all). We had to rely mostly on charades and Google translate.
Getting to Brod and settling in was the biggest challenge. We looked up on the internet and the only information available was on wikitravel, and that small amount of information was surprisingly sufficient. Thankfully the people we met were all incredibly helpful and went out of their way to assist us. And as accurate as it states on wikitravel, there is literally only ONE guesthouse in Brod run by a man named Bilygaip. I’ll further explain that later on.
Getting into Brod:
Prizren –> Dragas –> Brod
PRIZREN TO DRAGAS
From Prizren we hopped on a mini bus from the main bus station to Dragas, this will cost about â‚¬4 (don’t buy tickets from the ticket booth, just ask the bus drivers directly). Dragas is the nearest town to the village. The bus, however, did not drop us directly in Dragas. We told the driver where we were headed and he dropped us off at a split road where a taxi picked us up, along with an old lady and her grand daughter. This taxi dropped us off at the bus station in Dragas and we paid â‚¬0.50 per person.
DRAGAS TO BROD
You can either pay for a taxi (8km and a lot of money) or you could try hitchhiking. Turn left from the bus station (at this point the bus station should be behind you) and walk towards Brod. You can ask for directions, and once you’re on the only road towards Brod, it’s easy to flag down any vehicle for a ride. We got picked up within 15 minutes of walking. The man was old and gray, his car seats were covered with fleece and it smelt like stale smoke. He wasn’t much on a conversation, maybe because he can’t speak English. When we arrived at Brod, he turned and said “3 euro” and my first reaction was laughter. I honestly thought he was joking, but no… the man was serious. We still paid him since it was way cheaper than a taxi, so all was good. Plus we finally arrived in Brod!
BROD BACK TO PRIZREN
Leaving Brod, we hitch-hiked twice to the split road where the taxi first picked us up after alighting from Prizren, because we got to Dragas and found out that there were no more buses to Prizren! However these people in the cars didn’t expect money from us and they were awfully chatty and even offered us cigarettes, which I kindly declined. At the split road, there was a man selling these little pink balls of compressed caramel popcorn. With more body language, he told us to wait in this particular spot for a bus to Prizren. A big bus arrived shortly after and we paid €3 for the journey back.
I don’t know how we got the impression that we could just waltz in the village and ask anyone for a roof in their home in exchange for some money. This probably won’t work especially with the communication problem. We approached an old man sitting outside his fruit shop, and asked for a bed. He said something to the boy who could speak a couple of English words, and signaled for us to follow him. Then, the kid brought us to this big house where an elderly woman and his daughter/daughter-in-law lived and there they handed him a set of keys. The nice granny kept patting me on the back and smiling, shaking my hands and the words that came out of her mouth were practically alien to me, but I assumed it was a nice gesture so I pat her back and she hugged me after. Interesting experience!
Once we had the keys, the kid led us to a small rundown shack, with traditional wooden doors that had a big bolt on them. Walking in, there were 3 beds, a kitchen and a toilet on the ground floor, and another 6-7 beds upstairs. The place was practically empty, the kitchen had no pots, only a kettle and the whole place was very basic. Beds were old and didn’t look too clean, but there were thick woolen blankets and a heater in the room on the ground floor so I was pleased with that. Thankfully there was also hot water in the shower so amen to that! The kid struggled to tell us that 1 night would cost €10 a person, but because we were the only people in the house, we didn’t know how to return the keys after! He kept saying “sutra! sutra!” but it was pointless. Both parties were lost in this terrible conversation that got us nowhere for 10 minutes and I could tell he was getting frustrated. Turns out he was trying to ask us what time we were leaving, so he could come and pick up the keys SUTRA, which means ‘tomorrow’. HAHAHA
We later learned from our “horse guide” that this house is owned by Bilygaip who inherited the house from an elderly man who had no children. There are pictures all over the walls in the guesthouse of the first owner of the house, his wife, with Bilygaip and his kids. And since he already had a house, he started the first and only guesthouse to host visitors who came to Brod. The town is so small that everyone knows everyone, and if any tourists came looking for a bed, they’ll bring you directly to Bilygaip’s family.
People are generally nice and incredibly welcoming. I have observed that most of the people working in shops in the day, and roaming around at night are mostly men, or children. We hardly saw any women chilling in the coffee shops, only inside the houses, or around outside doing house chores. At night there were children playing jump rope in the main square of the village, and when they saw us they surrounded us, insisting to take pictures with us on their phone! They can’t speak much English either, apart from the very commonly used phrase “what’s your name?”, but I could tell how curious they were and how excited they seemed to have strange people in their village 🙂
Visiting the canyon:
We tried to look for a mule or a horse to take us to the canyons and the mountains, but to no avail, so we eventually decided to go on foot. It was a nice hike, with an alluring scenery to soak in while you’re at it. Midway through, a truck stopped to offer us a ride to the only hotel in Brod, which is run by the Albanians. From there we were at the start of the canyon.
That night we went to the only place we knew had wifi — the coffeeshop next to the only bar in the village. There we met a man named Balje Erden. He offered to take us to the canyon with his horses for €10 – €15 per person! We contemplated for the longest time since we thought we had already seen the canyon on foot, but i’m glad we went through with it in the end.
Visiting the canyon by horse is a much better way to see it all. We rode on to the mountains, saw the canyon from a higher viewpoint, sat on the grass and had a small picnic for lunch where we all shared food, visited old farm sheds where herds of sheep and cattle could be found in the summer.
Balje also brought us somewhere to get fresh water from the mountains. Without any warning, he practically grabbed our only bottle of water and emptied it out! We were both stunned and tried to stop him but he quickly went into a stream and got us some cold refreshing water. “SUPER WATER!”, he called it.
From these mountains, it is also possible to see all the way to Albania and Macedonia! Balje wasn’t very well versed in English, he used the same phrases often and spoke a lot of Italian to us despite the fact that we told him many times that we couldn’t understand the language. But it was one helluva experience !
The funniest but toughest part of the day trip for me was steering the horse. Balje practically threw me on a horse, gave me a branch/stick and handed me the only rope that was used to control the horse. No crash course, no instructions… nothing. My horse ran around off course a few times that day and I was yelping for help. It was hilarious! I suppose I should be a pro at riding horses now.
I’m unsure if other locals in Brod have horses to take tourists around, but hanging with Balje was really amazing, and despite the language barrier, I did have a blast on this short half-day trip. If you’re keen on doing this in Brod, it would be wise to ask around for him by name for horse tours, and then look for Bilygaip for accommodation.
Exploring and eating in Brod:
There’s not much to see or do, or even shop in Brod. Based on what I saw, there’s about 4-5 small grocery shops selling fruits, vegetables and snacks, 2-3 stores selling food, a couple of coffee shops, 1 bar and 1 bakery. The community is small in this village and everyone seems to know everyone. Balje brought us to one of the stores to have dinner, and all they had was to serve us was Hamburgers. It was basic, but sufficient and didn’t cost too much. The hot chocolate and coffee there was also delicious, especially on a cold day. Apart from that, we survived on eating snacks like cookies, or fruits since there was no equipment in the guesthouse kitchen that we could use to cook.
I really enjoyed my short stay in Brod and would highly recommend everyone who’s in Kosovo to drop by. While I was there (in Nov 2013), they seemed to be starting on construction of cable cars up to the mountains. It might just be commercialized in 1 year once they’ve decided to turn the whole place into an expensive ski resort area :