Kosovo – Prishtina
Posted on February 8, 2015
By bus, it’s only a couple of hours from Skopje, capitol of Macedonia, to Prishtina, capitol of the not yet fully recognized country of Kosovo. Kosovo is a breakaway land from Serbia where the predominant culture and language is Albanian. Years of civil war in the late ’90s left the land under UN protection until independence was declared in 2008. Our former President Bill Clinton is given great credit for helping bring the conflict to an end. Although there is still great poverty in the country, it is not really apparent to our tourist eyes in this thriving city. But still today people are streaming out of the country of less than two million people, seeking better lives elsewhere.
After booking our hostel last summer, it went out of business in the meanwhile so we are being put up in another place, the White Tree Hostel. We pull our suitcases a good mile to get there. The place is almost empty so it’s quiet and we have the kitchen almost to ourselves.
We put our things away and hit the pavement for a day of exploration. It isn’t long before we come to a row of small, new hotels. We are curious so we go in one and ask to see a room. Very nicely appointed and price worthy, too. The proprietor owns the place, built it up from scratch a few years ago and is so proud of his accomplishment. We leave with everybody beaming.
Here’s our first impression of this city of 200,000 people, a bit checkered in its development it seems. Almost all the building projects seem to be funded by outside agencies, such as the EU, the US, Germany.
Shortly we are at the NEWBORN monument, commemorating the founding of this new country, for which the Albanians are so proud and energized.
The economy must be perking along as we see many ATM machines, such as these at the end of the monument.
Here’s another one in an older part of town, not quite so accessible.
At the upper end of the pedestrian mall are a number of interesting things to see. First is one of the few remaining buildings from another era.
Now it’s time for lunch and we pop into a tiny mom and pop cafe for a delicious meal.
I need a haircut. Around the corner from the hostel is just the right place. Very professional. The assistant seats and carefully prepares me for the cut. The barber is attentive to every detail. I’ve never been treated better.
By the time they have finished with me the owner of the shop drops by. Engaging conversation results. An order for coffee is placed with a nearby shop. We all sit on the sofa and for nearly half an hour we trade stories of our lives.
Now we are back on the street enjoying the sights and hordes of people.
We soon find ourselves among a plethora of mobile phone shops. We count 28 shops that sell Apple iPhone. Nearly every other person on the street seems to have one in hand.
The day is getting long now. Eva needs a new hat. We start shopping. Here’s just the right store for her.
We pass the university and its controversial library building of 1982. We watch the students as they slip and slide along.
We go inside and check it out. The place is rather interesting, not like a library at all. We see no books, as they are ordered at a certain desk upstairs. One uses a card catalog system to find what’s needed. During the decade-long occupation by Serbs, 100,000 volumes of Albanian texts including collections of national heritage were destroyed.
Just inside the front door is located a room devoted to American studies.
We head for home now as the sun has all but set.
Now this morning pretty early we lug all our stuff the mile back to the bus station. We are heading for the interesting town of Prizren, a couple of hours away.