This year I had the good luck to visit Pristina twice, first in June for a week and then in October for just a couple of days. In order to boost tourism over there I decided to write some reasons why you should visit Pristina and Kosovo too!
The good vibe
Kosovo is the youngest country of Europe (second in the World after South Sudan) and the capital Pristina has a relatively young population.
You can see and experience that when going strolling in the main promenade or going out at night for a drink.
Most of the people I met were friendly, with a nice sense of humor, spoke good English and had interesting stories. Most of them have worked for the government or one of the many international organizations helping building the new country.
Anyway, as I experienced in other places with a harsh recent history (such as Israel and Colombia) also in Kosovo I found people wanting to have fun and enjoy life.
Maybe I met a small percentage of lucky folks (official unemployment figures are up to 30%!) but the impression is that everyone constantly goes out for a drink, a coffee or just a stroll in the main street.
I was surprised to hear so many people talking English, but again is because of the presence of international organizations and projects.
The best macchiato
Honestly I didn’t try it but seems like Kosovars are really proud of their macchiato, that they claim to be the best in the World.
Considering the number of people having a macchiato in the multitude of cafes around Pristina, I would say that the said “practice makes perfect” has been applied here.
What I had were a few cappuccinos (I admit, also in the afternoon that is an absolute no-go in Italy!) and the cream on top featured a delicious chocolate syrup.
Unless you’re a addicted to pork-meat, you won’t have a problem here. That’s the only meat you won’t find easily in this largely Muslim country.
I could have day-in day-out a delicious burek for breakfast, the pie made of filo dough filled with cheese, spinach (my favorites) or meat, while sipping an Ayran, the yogurt based drink with salt and water. That would cost just 1€ in most of the places.
For lunch, cevapcici (read something like cebapcece), a dish with grilled minced meat, with kaymak, that is a kind of cheese made with boiled milk, and a pita bread. This combination is simply delicious and so tasty that I didn’t feel bad at all about eating meat everyday.
If you visit Pristina, you’ll have great Balkan food.
With beers at 2€ the pint or 1.5€ the bottle, huge traditional meals in a restaurant for 12€ and a coffee for 50 €cents, visiting Kosovo is very cheap.
And the best part is that you can pay in Euros!
No, Kosovo is not part of European Union, but they do have a couple of advantages as if they were.
They actually adopted Euro before few European countries just because they have no national currency, and the many ATMs around will provide you Euros.
European mobile SIM cards will have the same rates as in Europe, because Kosovo has not yet an international country code so they have roaming agreements with providers in Slovenia or Monte Carlo in EU.
A smokers paradise
This is actually true for the whole Balkans: if you feel persecuted in your country, as you should be, for your silly nicotine addiction go visit Kosovo and you’ll feel in paradise. 99% of women and men over there are heavy smokers!
Some strange things to see wen you visit Pristina
The statue of Bill Clinton, located in Clinton Avenue, may sound like a strange homage to the ex US President but USA played an important role in supporting the NATO forces that helped Kosovo independence. And the result is that US presence can be seen everywhere in Pristina.
The American School of Kosova, the American Hospital or the Hotel Victory featuring a replica of the statue of Liberty in the roof are just few examples.
All over Pristina is also visible the contrast between the new buildings, sometimes extravagant or criticized like the Public Library or the new Catholic Church (to serve a mere 2.2% of the population and replacing an high school), and the old buildings often with roofs about to collapse or already damaged.
Some good things to see when you visit Kosovo
I haven’t seen that much, but as far as recommendations go the old town with the bazaar is a must, as well as Germia Park just outside of the city, where a sneaky snake crossed our path.
And if you’re in Kosovo, a trip to Prizren (just one hour from Pristina) is definitely a must!
There you can have… a coffee, maybe Turkish, walk up to the kalaja (the fortress that will soon undergo a renovation), drink some water from the fountain (according to the tradition, if you do so you’ll get married with someone from Prizren) and take pictures of the old bridge that slightly remembered me of the famous Ottoman bridge of Mostar in Bosnia.
Back to Pristina, don’t miss the White Tree Hostel where you can have a drink in the outside area and later at night the buzzing Créme de la Créme bar, just at the corner, where you can drink the local beer Peja, some dangerous rakia or just another macchiato while chatting with the locals.
I hope I gave some good reasons to visit Pristina and experience Kosovo. If you have any question about it, do leave a comment below!