My brother and I were in Berlin on February 17, 2008, the day that Kosovo declared independence. At the time we considered flying immediately to Pristhina to join the celebration. That proved difficult, but visiting Kosovo was always on our hearts. Four years later, we finally had the chance to visit.
Read more of my classic trip report through the Balkans
Introduction: Road Trip Through The Balkans
Review: US Airways A330-300 Business Class Philadelphia To Munich
Balkans Day 1: Sick In Belgrade
Balkans Day 2: Belgrade – Sarajevo
Balkans Day 3: Sarajevo – Dubrovnik
Balkans Day 4: Beauitful Dubrovnik
Balkans Day 5: Accused Of Espionage In Montenegro
Balkans Day 6: The Diverse Architecture Of Tirana, Albania
Pristhina is located 2,139 feet above sea level and as such, temperatures are much cooler than surrounding capital cities. The average high peaks around 80ºF in August. It was less than 70ºF during our stay.
That alone made me fall in love with Pristhina, as it was more than 30ºF warmer the day before in Tirana and I detest hot weather.
Our bus left at 6:00AM on Martyrs of the Nation Boulevard, right in the heart of Tirana near the communist-era sculptures of workers. Our 260km, four hour bus ride was only about $10 and totally uneventful. I wasn’t sure what to expect at the border, but Albania and Kosovo have good relations and we were quickly stamped out of Albania and soon stamped into Kosovo.
We stayed in a little apartment in Pristhina…I wish I had more pictures of it, but the living room gives you a sense of the feeling Kosavars have toward Americans. That’s a generalization of course, but we found people lit up when they found out we were Americans.
View from our apartment (note the American flag):
Refreshment In Kosovo
Our first stop was for a shave…only $1 (and they use USD in Kosovo). I detest shaving but love to be clean-shaven and so love when I don’t have to do it. But shaving is part of the culture here a well…men sat around all day and talked in the barbershop and we were happy to talk about Bush and Obama, though the big hero in Kosovo seems to be Bill Clinton. By the way, my face got all cut up during the shave and then the guy put some aftershave oil on that stung horribly. Oh well, it was still worthwhile and my face would heal.
Kosovo is a new country, but the Yugoslavian infrastructure dates back further. We spent the next couple hours walking around town, visiting the historic Newborn Monument.
In the heart of town is Bill Clinton Boulevard, which includes a 10-foot statue of the former U.S. president. The statue was erected as a thanks to Clinton for helping Albanians in Kosovo in their struggle against Yugoslavia. Clinton was present when the statue was unveiled in 2009.
The sun soon set and we found a bustling street full of restaurants and bars. The night life was vibrant, food/drink prices cheap, and we had an incredible evening.
I’m sure the city has come a long way since our 2012 visit:
Pristhina was another fun city to visit. The cooler weather was greatly appreciated and I loved how affordable and comfortable this city was.
Next time: the pain of discrimination in Skopje