I have just arrived back from Pristhina, the capital city of Kosovo. It’s a relatively new country who gained independence in 2008 from Serbia. However, Serbia doesn’t acknowledge Kosovo as a country so it is said that the country is not safe. However, the truth is different. In this post I will mainly share some characteristic of the city.
Get on a taxi with taxi meter
I arrived to Pristhina International Airport at noon. Since there is no public transport from the airport to the city we had to take buses. Before leaving I read that we should find a taxi which has taxi meter, otherwise we would have to pay much more. And when I arrived I made this mistake.
The taxi driver just came to us to ask if we needed taxi. I asked if he had meter. He said no. I was quite surprised but when I asked how much was the road from the airport to the accommodation, he said 25 EUR. I thought it was a normal price, but when I talked to the receptionist of my accommodation it turned out I paid much more. Usually it’s just between 13-15 EUR. And it was right. Going back to the airport I asked them to call me a taxi. I got a taxi with the meter and I had to pay 15EUR. So if you get a taxi there, make sure you get on the one which has meter.
We arrived to the accommodation and wanted to look around. Who knew in the middle of the winter how much snow it had. It was at least 20-25cm high snow. Therefore walking was really hard, since our accommodation was on the hill, we were afraid of slipping down the steep. It wasn’t cold but there was a lot of snow, which made it hard to walk around. Not to talk about the pedestrian road was either full of fresh snow or parking cars. Which means we couldn’t walk there. We had to walk on the road where the cars were coming back-and-forth. The cars had to go slowly, but they were very calm. There wasn’t horn nor shouting. They waited and went slowly until we moved aside.
The snow slowed down the transportation. However, whenever we called a taxi, it arrived within 5-7 minutes. So after all the taxi system is good there.
Odd public transport system
However the public transport is another story. A lot of people took a public transport. It cost around 0.40 EUR, which you pay when you get on the bus. The funny part is that you only see what bus number is coming, but you don’t know where it goes. Because the stops don’t have name. Even when you are waiting for the bus, you only see the bus stop itself. But you don’t know which bus stops there, where it goes, nor the bus stop’s name. I was wondering how the locals could take the bus. Turned out they only know which bus go to their house and city center and that’s it. They don’t really know about rest of the buses. I also only knew which bus to take because the receptionist told me.
Kosovo has it’s own culture which the museums and the sights represent well. We visited the Etnographic Museum and Kosovo Museum. Due to the snow and slippery road we took a taxi to go there. The distance was around 2,4 km and it cost 1.90EUR. It was so cheap that I was surprised and couldn’t believe in it.
The museums were really interesting. In the Etnographic Museum we had a guide. There were two buildings, but one was under construction, so we took a look at the other one. It was a traditional house of a rich family in ancient times. The guide showed us around explaining the furnitures and places. It was interesting to see how people lived in the old times. It wasn’t a big place, but it had a lot of cultural and historical background. The entrance is free.
The next place was Kosovo Museum. You can see the things they used from the prehistory to nowadays. It’s good timeline to show how the country and its population changed during the years. The entrance is free.
Near it we visited the the Clock tower and the Sultan Mehmet Faith Mosque. There are many mosques in the city. People practice their Muslim religion everyday, but it is not that noticeable, since they don’t strictly wear the Muslims clothes.
We walked around the Green market where they sold vegetables, seeds. The other part of it sold clothes. This part was the old city of Pristhina. You can see the houses which look like the ones they used in old times. The condition of the houses weren’t good so they weren’t for living.
Sights with its historical background
In the winter time they decorate the city beautifully as well. We walked along the Mother Teresa Boulevard. It was decorated with lights, so in the evening it must be very beautiful. Unfortunately we didn’t stay out at night. It was like a Christmas market with a lot of stall which sold mulled wine, hot chocolate and chestnuts. They also built a Cathedral for Mother Teresa in respect of her influence.
We searched the NEWBORN sign, which represented the independence of the country. But when I found it it was NEW10RN. I didn’t understand it at first, then I realized they keep changing the sign and the colour. This time due to the celebration of 10 years independence they put the number there.
Kosovo is grateful to the United States. They even built a statue for Bill Clinton, who helped them after the Kosovo war. You can see the American flag in most of the places. Even the number of fast food restaurants are high where they usually sell burgers, pizza.
The next day I went to search the National Library which had an interesting architecture. To be honest, I think Pristhina has one of the most unique architecture. You can’t figure out what kind of building it is unless you look it up on the internet.
Near the library you can find the Christ the Savior Cathedral. This is an unfinished Serbian Orthodox Christian church. Seen as a symbol of the rule of Slobodan Milošević various Kosovo Albanian intellectuals have called for its demolition. In response for calls for its demolition, the church has been heavily desecrated and vandalised.
The Royal Mall is another interesting place. It was different from what I expected. There wasn’t a lot of shops nor people. The building looks like a Parliament or an important authority building.
Everything is cheap
Since it’s a new city which is developing the prices are low. As I have mentioned some of the prices above, Pristhina in an extremely cheap place. In the grocery stores most of the products cost between 0.40-2 EUR. The taxi can be as low as 1.90EUR. A main course in restaurants cost around 8-12EUR. The public tranport is 0.40 EUR. Shoes cost around 13-15 EUR. Check here how much it costs to travel to Pristhina.
Despite the conflict situation in the Balkans, Pristhina is a safe place. There weren’t a lot of people on the street nor in the shops. But whoever we met were really nice. They said hi and smiled. Police were walking around, but there wasn’t any situation where we would feel we were in dangerous place. So it was a good experience that we didn’t listen to the media.
In summary, I can say that Pristhina is a nice place. It is still developing and making things better. The service for tourist is still getting better, but in my opinion it is advisable to visit now. Not only because the prices are cheap, but also because it’s still in the state where you can see and feel the traditional culture.
Here is a tourist map: