World Cup in Kosovo: politics and football

Almost everything in Kosovo boils down to politics, and this is true for soccer (yes I’m American) as well.  Kosovo is not in the World Cup, which is to be expected from a country that is only recognized by 65 nations and who is in a diplomatic stalemate with Serbia-which is in the World Cup- over its independence. With the majority 90% Kosovar-Albanian supporting independence Serbia is not likely to win too many World Cup supporters except for those from the Serbian enclaves.  So the question which country garners the most support? Make no mistake, just because they don’t have a national team in the tournament, it has not dampened the excitement in Prishtina as a hundred cafes, bars and betting halls play each match to crowds of supporters. To help answer my question, I decided to enlist the support of consumerism. I spent the day crisscrossing the winding streets of Kosovo’s hilly Read full article…

Hiking in Letnica, Kosovo: A Black Madonna, abandoned villages and the old Croat miller

The road ends at the small Kosovar village of Letnica on the border with Macedonia. The white church of the Black Madonna watches over the town from a small hill. The large church only magnifies the empty feeling of the town where only about 100 people are left. Dirt roads snake into the town in between dilapidated stone houses. Despite the abandoned air the town is surrounded by forested rolling hills, giving the area a peaceful feel. The twittering of songbirds floated through the air as we climbed the small hill to the church. If the town was ever to have a crowd we found it as four men sat outside the church socializing and taking in the surrounding views. A middle aged man reeking of raki (the Kosovar equivalent to Italian grappa) shadowed us the whole way, pleading for money and trying to be best friends the way only Read full article…

Kosovar and Serbian Border Crossing: what you need to know

I handed my passport to the Serbian police officer. He scowled, not from the encroaching cold, but because I was American and had Kosovo visa stamps. Thankfully, I also had a Serbian entry stamp so there was nothing he could do but waive me through. A few kilometers down a windy country road I reached the Kosovar border checkpoint. Normally when you cross borders you only have to worry about a valid passport (don’t forget it needs to be good for at least 6 months), and your visa. With Kosovo and Serbia things get a bit more complicated. There is an ambiguous international legal rational for Kosovo; a battle in the Security Council between the US, Russia and China over sovereignty and self-determination; a unilateral declaration of Independence by the Kosovar Government (supported by 65 countries in the world, but not the UN); and the blanket denial of that independence Read full article…

Behind a NATO checkpoint: Kosovo’s Visoki Decani Monastery

Handing over our passports to the Italian NATO troops we waited in the crisp winter air to enter. The secluded canyon exuded peace and tranquility, at odds with the tank barriers, sandbag bunkers and matching barb wire. We weren’t crossing a boarder, or even trying to enter a military base. We were there to visit Visoki Decani Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site and probably the best preserved medieval church in the Balkans. Nestled in the embrace of western Kosovo’s Decan Canyon, surrounded by grapevines, chestnut trees and bucolic pastures the abbey is a lovely two hours drive from the capital Pristina. Ten years since NATO’s 1999 bombing campaign and accompanying peacekeepers, tensions are still evident between  Serbians and Albanian Kosovars. Many of the Serbian cultural heritage sites have a NATO protection force camped on the perimeters. However, at Decani tensions are much lower and it offers a model of Read full article…

Mirusha Falls, Kosovo

In October I moved from Sri Lanka to Kosovo. Coming from Colombo the streets of Pristina, the capital city, seemed orderly and quaint. The city is a mix of historical Ottoman era mosques, drab communist housing, and new buildings catering to the ever present contingent of international development workers. There is a fantastic cafe scene and a variety of international restaurants that I have not found in other developing countries. A major downside to the city is the pollution due to, a dinosaur of an electrical plant spewing cheap coal fumes over the city and the use of the cheap coal in family stoves to stay warm. Escaping the city is easy though, and Kosovo is blessed with abundant nature and is ringed by amazing mountains. You just have to be careful to stay on the paths as unexploded mines still lay hidden in the undergrowth. Taking advantage of the Read full article…

© 2006-2010 Todd's Wanderings Suffusion WordPress theme by Sayontan Sinha