Saturday, September 2, 2017

[PRIŠTINA] The Kosovo Daytrip

The 9 AM bus was cancelled. The 10:10 bus never arrived. Waiting for more than an hour, we all just pounced on the first vehicle that had the word PRIŠTINA on its windshield. It could have been an ox cart for all we cared, we just didn’t have the patience to wait anymore. Apparently, it doesn’t matter what your ticket is for. It seems as though buses, mini buses, and mini vans just get their half of the ticket and maybe exchange it for cash at the office later on. When in doubt, just ask the driver.

Priština was more like a filler destination. Kosovo briefly entered my travel hitlist when they declared independence and included Philippine passport-holders on their list of visa-free travelers. When they removed us from that list a few months later I was, like, fuck Kosovo? But as with most countries in the Balkans, you are allowed in if your Schengen C visa is valid for multiple entry. It’s really tempting if you find yourself in Skopje, you know. After all, how long is the bus trip? 2 hours? Up the country count, yes?

Crossing land borders in the Balkans is a tricky adventure. Macedonia did not stamp my passport going out. Kosovo did going in. And then I didn’t get any more stamps even if I exited Kosovo and entered Macedonia again. It’s not that big a deal because I’ll surely get an exit stamp flying out from Skopje’s airport anyway. For other people, though, it might pose a problem. I really have no idea what you should do. Perhaps getting off the bus and speaking to the immigration officer is an appropriate solution for that?

There is nothing much to see in Pristina, if you go there on your own, that is. I’m sure that if you know a local he or she will be happy to show you places that are worth seeing. I don’t. This is not to say, though, that the young nation doesn’t have much to offer. They have several UNESCO World Heritage sites, some not so far away from the capital. Unfortunately, I can’t give any tips because my excursion here lasted no more than half a day and I didn’t really dare to go far away from the city center.

What I wanted to do was take a stroll along Bill Clinton Avenue. Yes, Bill Clinton has his own avenue here. ‘MERICA! I’ve read somewhere that Kosovo is truly appreciative of what the US and the UK have done for them to establish their sovereignty in the region. Not every country is happy, though. Spain, for example, does not recognize them as a state. Why? Because giving them that recognition means that Madrid would also have to extend the same to Catalonians and the Basques. At the end of the day, it’s all about politics.

I did end up at Bill Clinton Avenue after walking for a while. There you will see the Mother Theresa Cathedral at one corner. It’s hard to miss because of its size but it seems all too modern to warrant a tourist’s attention. I wanted to go in for a change but it was under construction so I just took a not so flattering photo and left. A few backflips down the road is a place called Newborn. That very word is spelled out with sculptures of the letters along the sidewalk. Young people love hanging out there.

That’s also where three teenagers saw me, pointed a finger, and laughed loudly. Thanks, children. That’s the personification of ignorance right there. I don’t want to generalize, of course, but that prompted me to include Priština on my list of xenophobic cities I probably won’t visit again. I understand where it’s coming from, though. The only other Asian I saw there that day was a Taiwanese girl on the bus who disappeared as soon as the bus parked at the station. Such experience leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

In that same area is a queer looking building. You climb a series of colorful steps and you end up at a square with that structure as a backdrop. Its presence is imposing, although I really had no idea what it was. I thought it was the library described on Wikitravel as the one that looks as though it was built with Lego bricks and enveloped in chain mail but it seemed clear that it wasn’t the same building. My guess is that it is a museum of sorts but since I went on a Saturday, I just assumed that it was closed.

The only other place I went to was this pedestrian street at the city center itself. It wasn’t that full of people for a Saturday afternoon. There were a couple of statues here and there. There was also a big yellow Lego brick standing at one spot of the park. It was an odd mix but sort of cool, to be honest. And in the absence of anything touristy to do, I then opted for something “extra-curricular” before hopping on the bus going back to FYROM. All good, but I’m not coming back anytime soon.

[PRIŠTINA] The Kosovo Daytrip

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