Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Kosovo: Pristina

Europe's newborn nation, Kosovo
Tuesday 28 May: Taking the afternoon train to the Kosovo border I change trains and soon arrive in this new country's capital city, Pristina. With all the feel of a provincial town only the train driver and I disembark at the deserted station and there's not even a taxi in sight. I ask at the empty station bar, it's only a short walk to the centre of town.
Friday 31: Nine-foot tall lettering decorated with the flags of all the nations who accept Kosovo's legitimacy is Pristina's only monument, not a statue in sight. The Serbs gutted the city's museum before withdrawing so all it now houses is a sad assortment of small arms from the conflict.
I'm staying at Guesthouse Velania where an American UN worker befriends me. He's showing me to a good local restaurant when we bump into one of his Kosovan friends, Bujar Berisha, who in typical Muslim hospitality style insists that we eat at his home. I say yes but only if I can bring some beer as a gift. He reluctantly agrees as he has plenty of beer at home and I am a guest in his new hard fought-for country. The Berisha family live in a large comfortable apartment where his two loving kids are keen to practice their English. His wife is out so Bujar makes us a starter of olives and dried beef followed by a simple pasta dish and more beer. Bujar is the charismatic lead singer and front man of the region's most popular heavy metal band, Troja. Later his wife returns and the boys adjourn to the band's recording studios on the other side of town. Another band, Jericho, are there when we arrive, via a liquor store, with more beers. We talk of music and how challenging it was for young musicians in Tito's Yugoslavia to hear western bands - Beatles, Stones and Noel Redding (of the Hendrix Experience fame). There's much drinking, smoking and music until around midnight when Bujar drives us to his favourite bar. It's the one at the station, but now it's heaving. Everyone knows Bujar and beers come our way from all directions. At around 3:00am he drives us back to the guesthouse and gives me a Troja CD to remember him by, good evening, great Albanian Muslim guy.
Saturday 1 June: Bus to Tirana.
Slideshow of Pristina and videos of Troja playing Amaneti i Clownit and Mretnesha Kohe.


  1. Your trip looks awesome. My girlfriend and I are flying into Dubrovnik in June and out of Skopje. Were looking at doing similar. How did you get between Ohrid and Kosovo?

    1. Bus back to Skopje and afternoon train north to Pristina. You change trains at the border but it's straightforward. Exit Pristina's little station and turn left along the main road, turn right for the city centre. Have a good trip.