Published on May 24th, 2014 | by Lindsay4
A Budget Traveller’s Guide: Pristina, Kosovo.
Kosovo is normally a little pricier to fly to from the UK than many of the countries close by. This in mind, we visited Kosovo via Skopje, Macedonia. Unfortunately, we were limited on time and could only spend one day in Pristina, however, the journey between Skopje and Pristina is so short that this is perfectly achievable.
The first minibus from Skopje to Pristina leaves at 9am from the main bus station in Skopje. You can buy a ticket just before boarding from the information desks. Our bus was pretty empty – and it was a minibus so I don’t think they fill it up with pre-booked tickets too much.
You can only buy a one-way ticket though, the price in Macedonia being in Macedonian Denar, and the price in Kosovo being in Euros. €5 in fact! A bargain.
Arriving at the bus station in Pristina we were a little wary of how far it was to get into the centre, but seeing as we only had €20 each and we didn’t fancy spending it all on a taxi, we following the advice of the men in the information booth at the bus station and headed “that way”!
We were feeling doubtful. “That way” was looking more and more like a housing estate and less and less like a city centre, but we soon surprisingly stumbled upon the corner of what turned out to be Boulavardi Bill Clinton. The smiling statee of Mr Clinton gave us an easy marker to work with when we came to head back to the bus station later. Although, it was pretty creepy in dark thick fog…
The final great thing to note about visiting Kosovo is that most nationalities don’t need a visa (hooray!) and, if you’re British at least, you get a stamp in your passport on entry (double hooray!).
Kosovo isn’t known for its cuisine. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad! In fact, one of my most memorable food moments of all my travels was our kebab shop find in Pristina.
From a little trundle around the city, it seemed that a kebab would be on the menu for lunch. I’d never had a kebab. When I think of kebabs, my little British mind thinks of this:
If you feel like I did, it’s worth going to Kosovo (or anywhere else in the region) just to prove yourself wrong, that actually, a kebab is more like this:
It seemed that we were hungry at the same time as everyone else in the city, as we could barely get in the door of the kebab shop for bodies. After a couple of minutes of trying to suss out the menu, we were called forward to place our order.
“Hallo! Do you speak English?” I asked, hopefully, a day in Kosovo not being enough to perfect my Albanian.
The restaurant fell silent. And I mean silent.
He raised a finger in a gesture that looked like ‘moment, please’ and ushered over another member of staff.
“Hello, how may I help you today?”
“Hello. Dva kebab yu falem nedereet?” I’d learnt that bit.
“Ok, no problem. You want to eat here or take away?”
“Here if we can!” I laughed, looking around at the full tables and queue behind me.
“Haha! If you can, if you can! No problem, you can!”
Within minutes, we were being given a table and a plate full to the brim with mini burger patties, salad and bread. Wow.
And that is the story of how my opinion on kebabs changed.
Well, that may be so, but the joy of Pristina is itself. Walking around the city and soaking up the atmosphere of the second newest nation in the world. There’s calm in the air, the people are friendly and the sights you do see are often very moving.
Even the bright, if slightly grafitti-ed, Newborn monument tugs on the heartstrings. The monument has recently been repainted with flags of the countries that recognize Kosovo as a country, as a part of this, there are 5 white spaces on the back with the names of the 5 EU countries that don’t recognize Kosovo stencilled on in solid black paint.
The Newborn monument is there for all to see and touch, just like the guns in the Kosovo Museum. Guns, on display in a free public museum, in a country that has seen one of the worst ethnic cleansing in history, and they are just there. Exposed. No bullet proof glass, no security guard, no CCTV. Just trust. Amazing.
A slightly less sombre sight in Pristina are the little reminders of how mich they love America here, and especially Bill Cinton. His golden statue stands proud at the head of Boulavardi Bill Clinton and American flags fly proudly alongside Kosovar flags.
Put simply, Pristina will leave you curious, and eager to see more of this new country.
Check out our short video of a day in Pristina, Kosovo.