In the Balkans there is Kosovo. When we say Balkans, we mean war, and when we say Kosovo, we mean… war also. It’s a shame, the war is over and Kosovo deserves a visit
Kosovo is far above its bad reputation
There are countries like this that do not inspire a very high level of confidence. We have seen Kosovo in the headlines for years. This country still suffers from a terrible reputation: dangerous, unstable, ruined and violent criminals armed to the teeth. In short, a disastrous country. No one wants to go there to visit it. Neither to the wild mountains, nor to the ski resorts or hiking trails. The cities even less, and the Kosovars there, certainly not.
It’s a pity, because Kosovo is a very interesting destination
The country has beautiful natural parks where adventurers can practice trekking, climbing, mountaineering, hiking, mountainbike, etc. Nature lovers will be amazed and will also use and train their legs: Kosovo is tough! Lakes, forests, waterfalls, the beauty here is 100% natural.
Pershendetje Kosove, emri im eshte Christine, une jam francez, mire qe ju takova! здраво Косово, зовем се Цхристине, ја сам Француз, драго ми је!
Gastronomy in Kosovo is good (and not very expensive)
The meals are rich and the gastronomy interesting. A real mixture of East and West, as is often the case in the Balkans, we find Turkish influences, a heritage of the Ottoman Empire.
Byrek, qebap, baklavas, coffee is also Turkish. The stuffed vine leaves (sarma) will remind us of Greece, as will the Djath cheese, which is similar to feta. There are many dishes and stews, including one that tastes very similar to French cassoulet: pasul. With all that, the unchanging pita or pogaqe, the flat bread. Lots of salads and soups, sausages, grilled meat. Surely this is not the place where the traveller will starve.
Outside of tourist areas like Prizren and its walled city, the prices are reasonable. A complete meal in a typical restaurant should not exceed 5€.
There is a lot to see in Kosovo: a remarkable fauna, flora and especially Kosovars!
Kosovo has picturesque villages, charm and very interesting Kosovar folk architecture. Kosovo is the ideal country to explore off the beaten track and tour operators.
There are also beautiful monasteries, wild landscapes and breathtaking protected parks. The wildlife is abundant: Bears, lynx, chamois and many birds can be found in the mountains. A good reason to explore it if you are hunting… for pictures.
Do not look for interesting cities in Kosovo. Prizren is the most beautiful city in the country. Pristina still has a lot to do to become really worth a trip
Although the traces of the war are still there, Kosovo is not an ugly country. The capital, Pristina, is of little interest because it has suffered much in recent decades. It is not representative of Kosovo as a whole. The heavy, stressful atmosphere is often described in the criticism of travellers; this is not the case in Prizren or other regions.
The capital, Pristina, is not very attractive, fortunately Kosovo has a pearl: Prizren
Although very touristy, Prizren surprises above all by the reception of the locals. In a modest restaurant in the city centre, I was really friendly welcomed by the owner, who did not speak a word of English. He tried very hard to help us with the menu. The food was pantagruelikal and the offered tea and smile included. A warm, cheerful and sweet atmosphere, as one would not expect in Paris.
The Kosovars are hospitable and caring
The country is heavily stigmatized by the tragedies of 1992, 1999 and 2004. With such communication it is understandable that tourists do not rush to visit it. The events are, historically speaking, young, but 16 years have passed since the war. It is undeniable that some areas are still tense, but they are a minority. You just have to avoid them to meet hospitable Kosovars. The inhabitants are smiling, helpful and very, very polite. Hospitality is an important tradition for the locals. It is very common to be invited for tea, on the streets locals are happy to see and talk to foreigners.
A short history lesson will help the traveller to better understand Kosovo
As everywhere in the Balkans, the traveller will be careful what he or she says and avoid sensitive subjects. The country is 92% Albanian and 8% Serbian. Other minorities are represented, a total of 6 (Gorani, Roma, Turks, Egyptians in addition). Serbs and Albanians have fought a war in Kosovo and each side has its own point of view. It is not advisable to engage in a debate or to speak out loud and clear about ethnic cleansing, politics, religion, etc.
One last thing, in Kosovo they speak Albanian and Serbian.
Faleminderit Kosova, mirupafshim, të shohim së shpejti!
Хвала Косово, збогом, видимо се ускоро!Hvala Kosovo, zbogom, vidimo se uskor
Next trip: Why not North Macedonia?
Northern Macedonia is a country, not just a region. Skopje, the capital, is incredible and the Macedonians all look like Alexander the Great! No, I’m kidding, but there are other surprises …