Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Dateline Kosovo

With it's cute little cobblestone alleyways winding towards my room right on the lake, Ohrid was the kind of place where I really wouldn't have minded sitting around for a couple of days doing nothing.

But even though I was now a day ahead of myself on my schedule, there was still this blank space on my map between Kosovo and Montenegro, so I thought I should give myself room for screwing up.

Therefore, after a morning sitting by the lake, I took a taxi over to the bus station for the 11 o'clock back to Skopje. The hills we went through in the dark on Monday were nice, but not as dramatic in the sunlight. And every single eastern European capital has totally congested traffic, so it was 2:30 when we got to Skopje's station. On the other hand, there was a fortuitous 3:00 bus for Pristina, the Visa ATM was now working, and the money changing guy was smiling.

There are a few scenic hills between Skopje and the Kosovo border, which was manned by the UN. (Although a bunch of UN station wagons and a jeepful of KFOR soldiers standing around would be all the multinational presence that I would see.)

The hills flattened out within about 10 miles, and the rest of the way it was mostly flat, with low hills on the horizon. It was also mostly the opposite of scenic, with inordinate amounts of dirt and auto junkyards, and a 'motel' about every kilometer. By the time we got to the capital, Pristina, at rush hour, there was about as much of a big ugly mess as you could get out of a city of 150,000.

Fortunately there was a bus heading for Pej in ten minutes. And then away we did go, ending up here at the far end of Kosovo at around seven.

Zoning issues aside, all the Albanians I've met are really, really nice people. And they really, really like Americans. When I got off the bus in the dark at Pej, an Albanian who spoke English immediately took me under his wing, and spent 20 minutes asking around about how I would get out of there tomorrow morning. Then he took me to his car and drove me about a quarter of a mile, where he then took the time to negotiate a room for me at a one and a half star hotel.

Anyhow, I could tell in the gloaming that the mountains here ARE finally serious ones. Other than that, though, I'm afraid Kosovo, while eminently peaceful, so far isn't the greatest of tourist destinations.


At 2:55 AM, Blogger Susan said...

Wondering where to go in 2020? Things to do has ranked as the best include a remote, idyllic island and the design capital.


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