Tuesday, June 17, 2008

And behind this door, Hotel Number 1

The Pristina skyline is dominated by a tan marble and concrete behemoth: the Grand Hotel. As the geographical center of town, both locals, visitors, and colonizers use it as a point of reference. Apparently, during the war, Serbian paramilitaries used its twelve floors of hotel rooms as a center of operations and dormitory.

At this point - and of course I find this out only after staying one night - the Grand is the hotel frequent-visiting foreigners 'love to hate.' Hrmph. I had an interesting time. The entire place is a time capsule for a foreign time and place: 1970s Yugoslavia. Once considered opulent, it was clearly the epitome of modern design and style when it was built. From the black and white marble floors and trim of the entrance to the vomit green carpeting in the rooms to the iridescent red headboards and curtains (that apparently haven't changed since they were first installed), nothing has changed since Tito stepped foot in the place. Except for, of course, the installation of wireless internet. Good wireless. Fast wireless. The conduit through which I started this blog. This modern convenience is juxtaposed with the state of the bathroom: none of the electricity worked, nor was there hot water to the shower.

To recap:
6 kbps Wireless? Check. Bathroom lights and a hot shower? Maybe next year...

The smoke-filled lobby is filled with tired looking middle-aged men in either rumpled suits with red security badges or gray sweaters (cab drivers waiting for a job). My room was comfortable and had a nice view of the southern part of this city - better when the power shut off at ten past midnight. Though you can barely see the faint outline of buildings at first, you are practically blind for about twenty seconds, when the not-so-faint whirr of the hotel's generator starts up. One of the room's lights turned back on, while the city remained dark.

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