Safarnevesht

Kosovo: Pristina, A Capital That's Not Appealing

Kosovo

Until 2 days ago I had no idea travelling to Kosovo would be this difficult. From Skopje in Macedonia to Pristina, capital of Kosovo it’s just 90 kilometers. But someone told me if I go to Kosovo then I would be denied entry to Serbia, and I was planning to visit Serbia next.

So what’s the story? Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence and considers Kosovo part of its territory. If you enter Kosovo from Macedonia, Albania or Montenegro, Serbia considers your entry to its territory illegal and there is a 90% chance that it won’t allow you enter Serbia after that. If you have an Iranian passport this possibility will be very close to 100%.

To remedy this problem I bought a ticket from Skopje’s bus terminal for €6 to Bujanovac in south of Serbia. My guess was that I could find a bus or train from Bujanovac to Pristina but I was wrong.

Skopje bus terminal, beginning of my difficult journey

Skopje bus terminal, beginning of my difficult journey

Taxi drivers that had surrounded me in Bujanovac were asking for €50 to get me to Pristina but when they realized I am an Iranian they all folded and went away 😅. They probably had never seen an Iranian tourist and thought all Iranians are illegal immigrants.

There remained only one guy named Rajab who still insisted to drive me. In the end we agreed on a €20 fare for him to take me to Gjilan city in Kosovo. Rajab didn’t know even one of English and with body language asked me many times if my papers are in order!

Upon arriving at the Serbia/Kosovo border the process of checking my passport and visa took longer than usual on both sides and even Kosovo police asked me to step out of the car and answer a few questions. Questions like why are you travelling to Kosovo, how many days are you planning to stay and how much money do you have. These questions were completely normal for and I’m used to them but Rajab was so scared and his face was already pale and was already regretting to had accepted to drive through the border. 😂😂😂

Mr. Rajab 😎

Mr. Rajab 😎

We passed the border after 15 minutes and until Gjilan in less than an hour Rajab finished one pack of cigarettes.

Scenery outside of Gjilan was very beautiful and green, like Gjilan in my country, Iran. It was 5pm that I arrived in Gjilan. I paid Rajab €20 as we had agreed and after having kebab got on a bus that took 2 hours to take me to Pristina. My journey from Bujanovac to Pristina was finished after 6 hours one that should have taken only 2 hours.

Scenery around Gjilan

Scenery around Gjilan

I saw this cute little car in Bujanovac, Serbia

I saw this cute little car in Bujanovac, Serbia

A mosque near Gjilan in Kosovo

A mosque near Gjilan in Kosovo

Bus terminal in Gjilan, Kosovo

Bus terminal in Gjilan, Kosovo

Nature outside of Gjilan

Nature outside of Gjilan

Later I learned that if I had gone straight from Skopje to Pristina, I definitely would have been denied entry to Serbia from Kosovo. They even check your passport in bus terminal and if you entered Kosovo from a country other than Serbia, they won’t sell you the bus ticket to Belgrade. So if someone enters Kosovo from Macedonia and wants to travel to Serbia after that, he/she has to go to a third country first, like Macedonia, and enter Serbia from there.

Serbian police on the Serbia/Kosovo border don’t even stamp your passport as they don’t recognize that border as an official border.

Clock tower of Pristina church

Clock tower of Pristina church

A park in Pristina capital of Kosovo

A park in Pristina capital of Kosovo

ODA Hostel is located in the center of Pristina and feels like a house. To enter you have to take out your shoes and there is a carpet in its lobby. A bed in a 6 bed room cost me €10.

Guests tonight are from all over the world: Spain, France, Albania, Chile, New Zealand and United States.

You can see this flag, which is Albania’s, all over Kosovo. Majority of people in Kosovo are from Albania.

The problem with ODA hostel was its internet which kept disconnecting all the time. 😑

A photo with guests and Albania's flag in ODA hostel

A photo with guests and Albania's flag in ODA hostel

Simple breakfast in ODA hostel

Simple breakfast in ODA hostel

At night I walked around Pristina for a couple of hours. Except a walking street there isn’t much else. If you have a limited time and a tight schedule for your travels, I suggest don’t spend any time for Pristina.

Mother Teresa Boulevard which is also Pristina's walking street

Mother Teresa Boulevard which is also Pristina's walking street

Next morning I visited the city park and an old cemetery which was on a hill. I could have a good view of city from cemetery.

Cemetery on the hill in Pristina

Cemetery on the hill in Pristina

View of Pristina from cemetery on the hill

View of Pristina from cemetery on the hill

Skanderbeg the most popular Albanian noble man at the end of Mother Teresa Blvd.

Skanderbeg the most popular Albanian noble man at the end of Mother Teresa Blvd.

Walking to Pristina bus terminal on a rainy Sunday

Walking to Pristina bus terminal on a rainy Sunday

Bill Clinton statue on Bill Clinton Boulevard in Pristina

Bill Clinton statue on Bill Clinton Boulevard in Pristina

Gracanica city is 30 minutes away from Pristina. The famous Gracanica Monastery which is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List is located there.

There is no bus from city center to Gracanica on Sunday. I had to go to bus terminal, get on a bus to Gjilan and take off after 30 minutes. It was too much trouble and it would have taken all my day so I decided not to visit Gracanica Monastery and instead got on a bus to my next destination in Kosovo, Prizren.

If you ever got a chance to visit the monastery please share your experience with me and site visitors. 🌺

Iranians need a visa to visit Kosovo. However, if you have a Schengen visa which is multiple entry and have used to at least once before, you can visit Kosovo without any other visas. I used my Schengen visa to enter Kosovo.

Travel date: Spring 2017

احمد خانی

Ahmad Khani Iranian backpacker and travel lover

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