After checking out late of the poshest most expensive hotel in Gnjilane (40€) we thought we had an easy 50km to Pristine. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The 400m climb out if town was easy and we thought we would roll down the rest of the way but were instead confronted by a headwind so strong we had to peddle hard while going downhill. Then the were the drivers. With about average age of 26 you would expect Kosovan drivers to be bad, but not this bad! Finally getting to Pristine we were left feeling lucky to have made it and made a promise to get the bus to Skopje instead.
Second rule of cheating: cheating death = not cheating.
Road signs for tanks.
Central Pristine was a bit chaotic but otherwise nice. People seemed friendly and relaxed but most of the buildings are new. Everything from the smallest store upwards has a security guard but you wonder why, it’s very safe. A relic of the war perhaps.
The picture above is one of Pristine’s most famous monuments, the Newborn sculpture. Each year it’s repainted with a different design, this year it’s flags if countries that recognise Kosovo.
Early evening we bumped into Andreas, who’s cycled 100,000km around Europe and agreed to meet later in the only Irish bar in town to swap stories. He has a FB page and website called cycleguide, check it out, especially if you can read German.
Later on in the night we met some freelance soldiers and went to a couple of bars with them, a few were decent but others quite twisted. It’s a strange world they live in. I just hope the Kosovo situation clears up quickly so they can move on.
On our way home we found a club packed full of Kosovans drinking and dancing, the music was great, it was good to see how much fun Pristine can be.
I chatted to several people about the situation with Kosovo and Serbia and to me it seems crazy that people fight over territory. I’m lucky enough to be from the UK, live in Austria and work in Italy for a Swedish company and I don’t want or need a country, Europe is my home. It seems inevitable that when these countries join the EU and people can move freely then fear will disappear and tensions will cease. All of these countries will join the EU within the next 10 to 15 years and for me it can’t happen soon enough. There are still disputed regions with Serbian majority in the north of Kosovo, I hope these can be given to Serbia, who cares about history, it’s what the population of those regions wants.
The bus into Macedonia was interesting with snow covered mountains and a not so friendly border guard. Kathi had a nice sleep as usual.