Kosovo

Given their tumultuous history, it’s no surprise most people in Serbia warned us not to go to Kosovo. Although more than 100 countries (including the US) recognize its sovereignty, Serbia does not. That makes for a few border tensions, as you might imagine.

 

There are memorials like this all over Kosovo. Usually the average age of those listed is much younger, too. While I was graduating from high school, lots of kids my age were dying as soldiers in Kosovo.


 

The Halo Project is responsible for cleaning up the landmines leftover from the conflict.

  

Nonetheless, we decided to go, and I’m glad we did. Kosovo has some of the friendliest people, and our biking there went smoothly.

I suppose I should mention first that we took a bus to Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo, from Belgrade. Serbia’s a bigger country than many we’re visiting, and we didn’t want to spend an inordinate amount of time there on our way to other places on our agenda.

We found a cool AirBnB place to stay in that night. It was called Green Corner, and is part of an NGO called UnaVision. Our hostess, Sarah, is part of a group working to build a community space with a garden and aquaponics in the center of Prishtina. Their aquaponics is in its early stages, but they have a great rooftop garden with tons of raised beds and amazing views of the city. They also had just finished building their pizza oven (a future project for us), so they invited us to the inaugural pizza party.

  
After exploring the center of town for a bit the next day, we set off along George Bush Rd. and turned left onto Bill Clinton St. (Really. Some of the main streets are named after recent American presidents, though I’m not sure that is the exact route we took…). The US seems to be viewed pretty favorably in Kosovo for its early support of the young country and its intervention along with NATO when shit hit the fan in ’99.

   

Lots of things are named for Clinton in Kosovo.

We headed south out of Prishtina toward the Macedonia border. We were greeted constantly with friendly waves and smiling kids. Everyone wanted to help if we stopped for even a minute on the side of the road. This came in handy later in the day.

As we neared the border, we decided to start to look for accommodations for the night. After passing what we thought was one of the last towns on our route for the day, we decided to ask the locals where we could sleep. Some young men in their 20s gathered around us. Only one spoke English, so he became the leader. After many animated side discussions, they told us we should go back the way we came (uphill!) to a hotel 10km away. We declined. Eventually, the English-speaker and a friend hopped on bikes to escort us to the intersection where we wanted to turn toward Macedonia (I think they thought we were lost, too). There is a rather large climb, however, and we knew we wouldn’t get far so close to dark. When we asked about camping, they finally came up with a solution. We could camp at a popular picnic place for families on the weekend just 1km down a side road. Again, they escorted us. Despite its somewhat exposed nature, the campsite was perfect, and they assured us it would be okay. They were concerned that we might not have food and flashlights, so I don’t know what they thought we were carrying in all of our bags. Finally satisfied that we wouldn’t perish without continued supervision, they took off.

The next morning we climbed our way to Macedonia, but more on FYROM later.

Comments
2 Responses to “Kosovo”
  1. Be sure to visit Lake Ohrid in FYROM (Macedonia). It’s beautiful. Good luck, LongTour camp.

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