- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
The holiday weekends are upon us – a pair of Easters, May Day, Europe Day, Spring-in-your-step-so-you-just-want-to-take-time-off day.
Everyone is travelling. And congratulations if you’re planning to spend the time in Kosovo where the economy and the environment needs you to linger. Enjoy the slopes of Brezovica, the cultural monuments of Prizren, Velika Hoca, Novo Brdo, Junik or Decan, the landscape around Rugova, all offering homestay or restored traditional accommodation.
I’ve written before about many of these places, but if you’d like information on homestay with raki in the restored old houses of Velika Hoca, or the homestay with horseriding in Novo Brdo, or the homestay with blueberries in Rugova or the kulla hotels in Junik and Decan… then do get in touch.
And how to get there – or elsewhere around Kosovo? Your options:
1) Private car, burning dirty fuel just for me as I tear up the road.
2) Train (had you forgotten? There are two routes – Pristina-Skopje and Pristina-Peja. Both offer a really comfortable service, with a scenic route although there’s a limited timetable – see www.kosovorailway.com where information is available in English, Albanian and Serbian. Click on ‘passenger transport’ and the ‘train schedule’ link to see the timetable)
3) Bus. Kosovo’s bus services are generally reliable, comfortable and friendly (on my journey to Gjilan last week we were all given a choco-banana sweet by the conductor. You don’t get that on National Express in the UK). If you’re lucky you get a film as entertainment (if you’re unlucky you get a compilation of ‘comedy’ clips). Departure times are regular (every 15 minutes on some routes at the busiest times) and the journeys are cheap (as little as 1.5 euro for some intercity routes).
And now there is a fourth option – an innovative website set up with an Albanian target market for carpooling around Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Preshevo and even beyond (their ‘Europe’ tab optimistically lists not only the 27 EU member states with Lichtenstein, Monaco, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey, but Albania and all the countries of the former Yugoslavia).
Vozitja.com (‘vozitja’ means ‘drive’ or ‘lift’ in Albanian) gives you the chance to advertise car journeys you are planning to make in your own car, for which you’d be willing to take passengers, or journeys you’d like to make if there was someone else with a car willing to take you. You put in your dates and starting and destination point and there is the option to offer or ask for a regular ride if you have a daily or weekly commute, or to specify a one-off journey. The online database matches you up with others planning the same journey and from that point you’re put in touch with them directly to negotiate meeting points, whether payment will be made towards petrol costs, and any other details.
I’ve asked to share a few rides next week – will let you know how I get on. Come and join me! And if you can’t find the lift or the passengers you want on Vozitja.com but you can see the benefits of carpooling then how about posting the information about a trip to friends or colleagues?
Informing the office intranet or your Facebook friends that you’re making a journey and would be willing to have passengers could bring you some company for the ride, some reimbursement for the petrol, and could halve the number of cars on the road.
However you get there, here’s wishing you safe and happy journeys, treading lightly across Kosovo’s fragile landscape.
Elizabeth Gowing is a founder of The Ideas Partnership, a Kosovan NGO working on educational, cultural and environmental projects. She is also the author of the recently published, Travels in Blood and Honey; becoming a beekeeperin Kosovo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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