Kosovo

Crossing the border into Kosovo from Serbia was painless unlike the stories I had heard about crossing in the opposite direction, authorities in Serbia don’t consider the designated crossing points from Kosovo to be official ‘international’ border crossing points. There were a long line of coaches coming the other way but only a couple of cars in front of me. I showed my passport and was then directed to a small hut at the side of the road to buy insurance. This is mandatory for all vehicles but only costs €10 for two weeks and you do get a nice souvenir.

Kosovan Insurance document

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Kosovo uses the Euro, shows how much planning goes into this, and already had Euro so didn’t need to immediately hunt down an ATM. One of the minor annoyances with travelling through so many countries is the mountain of small change in different currencies that accumulates. My tank bag was already rattling from Hungarian forints, Bulgarian levs and Serbian dinars. At least now I can separate out the Euro cents and make use of them.

I skirted around Prishtina and from what I saw it looked nice enough. There was a lot of building work going on and lots of new shiny car showrooms. Looks like a lot of money about.

I don’t normally like zoos but Prishtina bear sanctuary was close by and isn’t a zoo so I paid it a visit. I also considered it research in case I came across a bear in the forests of Albania or Montenegro :-), and if I didn’t at least I can say I saw one. The sanctuary has 19 bears all with names and in some very large enclosures similar to their natural environment. Just a few years ago it had been legal to keep bears, and most of these had been kept at restaurants in tiny cages in an attempt to encourage visitors. Although now rescued they still can’t be released into the wild as they associated humans with food. There is no doubt that they are much better off here and are well looked after but some still displayed that characteristic pacing up and down that captive animals do.

Continuing west towards Peja I noticed dark clouds and lightning in the distance. It was late afternoon and time to find somewhere for the night. I couldn’t find a campsite and wild camping is not recommended due to land mines! The dark clouds were getting closer and I noticed a few raindrops. I had witnessed the downpours out here before and I didn’t really want to be caught out in the open. Just in time I found a very nice hotel in a village called Laplje Selo.

It went from 37° one day to “I wish I’d brought my jacket” the next. So I took an extra day in Laplje Selo. And if it wasn’t for the broken Wi-Fi and big trucks that constantly pass by I could enjoy sitting in this cafe listening to their 80’s music collection. Now it’s Nik Kershaw and “The Riddle”.

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