I have just spent a week in Kosovo. This are a few tips and thoughts on my week there. Please feel free to contact me on busygoingnowhere (at) hotmail.com if you want to know more.
Getting in and out
The easy way in is always to fly. Since I avoid flying as much as possible I arrived to Kosovo on a bus from Skopje. I left on a bus to Tirana.
Borders were no problems what so ever. The bus driver collects ID-cards and passports from the passengers and give them to customs. You get it back after the border is cleared. Going in, I think the whole border passing (exiting Macedonia and entering Kosovo) took 15 minutes.
I left Kosovo on a bus from Prizren to Tirana. The border crossing here was – if possible – even swifter. It seemed more like a highway toll station than a border.
The hardest thing was to get a hold of the tickets. I wanted to buy my ticket to Prishtina the day before departure but the woman at the bus station in Skopje just shook her head and said “tomorrow”. And that was that. I showed up an hour before departure to get a cup of coffee and to use the facilities – and I was the first one there. But the bus left Skopje five minutes ahead of schedule. So don’t be fooled by what looks like a laid back attitude to time…
When leaving Kosovo, I think I spent about an hour walking around the very confusing and spread out bus station in Prizren. The bus station itself is not the problem, but the tour companies where you get your ticket is another matter. After a lot of questions and looking around, I managed to get a ticket the following day. But even here it seemed like the thing to do was to show up and buy the ticket a few minutes before departure.
I used local buses in Prishtina and domestic buses to and from Mitrovica and to Prizren. Three words: it is easy. Three more words: it is cheap. Find the bus station (Google maps or your guide book) and you will hear someone call out the different destinations. Jump on the bus of your choice and pay when you are in your seat.
In Prishtina you pay a fee of 5 Eurocents (€ 0.05) to get out onto the platform at the main bus station. Many passengers skip this which has led to the creation of an informal bus stop on the ramps that lead up on to the highway, some 500 meters from the bus station. Many buses stop here for 15 – 30 minutes to fill up with passengers before taking off. This meant that my travel time to Mitrovica was closer to two hours than the official 90 minutes.
Why go to Kosovo?
Because you want to see this lovely country with an interesting history before everyone else does. Even if there is a peace agreement with Serbia (I hope that happens!) and borders are changed, I don’t think too much will change in the next five years or so. But I believe that within the next ten years a lot of changes will have taken place.
Also, there are things to see here but in many aspects you can create the Kosovo you want to see. There isn’t a “must see” list. Well, not yet. That leaves room for doing what you want instead of being limited of other people’s expectations and definitions of what you should do. Plus, nothing here is “touristy”. How can it be when there aren’t many tourists around? And that is always a pure pleasure to experience.