April 2018: As part of a 10-day trip across Eastern Europe with my friends Jimmie and Frank, we spend two days in Kosovo. Since our time in Kosovo was short, I chose to visit Prizren because it was smaller than the capitol Pristina and had a nice-looking Ottoman era old town that I thought we could enjoy a few days visiting. I also wanted to see Kosovo because it is one of the world’s newest countries. Although it isn’t fully recognized by all of the United Nations (U.N.) since Serbia still claims it and is therefore not a UN country.

 

 

Kosovo

Kosovo is a mountainous country with a majority of the people being Albanian Muslims. There is also a minority of Serbian Christian people. Kosovo was once part of the group of countries that formed the former communist Yugoslavia and when Yugoslavia collapsed it became part of Serbia. However Ethnic conflict between the Serbians and Kosovar Albanian Muslims soon after the breakup of Yugoslavia led to war. Serbia didn’t want to give up Kosovo since it considered Kosovo to be holy to Christians for being the location of battles between Christians and Muslim ottomans during medieval times and the Serb army under Slobodan Milosevic was accused of ethnic genocide against the Kosovar Albanian people in the late 90s. This led to the involvement of NATO and the removal of Serb forces from Kosovo and the establishment of Kosovo as an independent country.

 

 

Prizren

 

 

 

We flew to Pristina via Austria Airlines from Vienna and booked an old rickety taxi at the airport upon arrival. The airport was far removed from both Pristina and Prizren so we didn’t have a chance to visit Pristina with its statue commemorating President Bill Clinton for his role in helping Kosovo become independent. Instead, we went to the smaller and more scenic city of Prizren, which has a charming old town and some old forts in the mountain ridges overlooking the city. During our stay, Prizren was crowded with local people out enjoying the cafes and the old city and the city was full of life. We didn’t really have an agenda. We had two days, and our goal was to walk around the city and see as much as possible. We stayed in a guesthouse right in the heart of the old town.

 

 

Ottoman era mosque in old city of Prizren

Mideivel bridge in old city

One of the highlights was a random arcade we encountered in our exploration with bumper cars. I really destroyed my friend Frank by blindsiding him with my bumper car in the video below.

 

Bumper cars

On our hike up to one of the old forts in a mountain ridge overlooking the city, we came walked through a Serbian neighborhood that is now abandoned. Many of the houses were burned down and one of the churches in ruins. The damage I would learn occurred during the war.

 

Damaged Serbian Church from the war

Some churches were still functioning, and we visited these as well as an old mosque with worshippers praying.

 

Old Church

Old Church

Dome of a mosque

Ottoman era mosque

View of Prizren during sunset from the old fort overlooking the city

I didn’t get to see a lot of Kosovo but from what I did see, it appears as if the country is successfully moving passed the war and is finding itself a place in modern Europe. I enjoyed my few days in Kosovo and wish I also had time to do some hiking in the wild looking mountains that we could see from Prizren. From Prizren we took a taxi back to the airport the next evening and flew back to Vienna.

 

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