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Travelling to Kosovo

Myself and my girlfriend are both photojournalism students at Loyalist College in Canada and we are going to be travelling to Croatia and Bosnia this summer to cover the Medjugorje pilgrimage (late July to early August).

We would like to also go to Kosovo while we are in the area, but have no idea whether this is a good idea or not.

Is it viable? Is it easy to travel into Serbia from Bosnia or Croatia as tourists? Is there anything that we should know or be aware of?

We both hold Canadian passports and she also carries one from the UK.

Any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated!

Cheers!

by Andrew Spearin at 2007-06-27 01:04:46 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Hamilton , Canada | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Any tips about travelling to Kosovo or to the Balkans in general?

by Andrew Spearin | 30 Jun 2007 18:06 | Hamilton, Canada | | Report spam→
If your trip will start from Zagreb there is bus lines to Sarajevo, and there is train Zagreb-Sarajevo-Ploce, or you can rent-a-car.
But I think this solution that Robert pointed is better coast line Split/Dubrovnik than bus/rent-a-car to Mostar/Medjugorje.

by Jasmin Brutus | 30 Jun 2007 20:06 | Visoko, Bosnia & Herzegovina | | Report spam→
No problems or whatsoever. However, there are no direct flights between BiH and Kosovo. If you want to travel to Kosovo from BiH best is to get a car and drive through either Serbia or Montenegro.

Giulio

by Giulio Zanni | 30 Jun 2007 21:06 | Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina | | Report spam→
try matt lutton, hes there right now

by [former member] | 30 Jun 2007 21:06 | Salt Lake City, United States | | Report spam→
I’ve been traveling/working in the region (Serbia, BiH, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo) since March, and can say you shouldn’t have any problems making your itineraries or stories happen. Travel between these countries is not an issue, besides long bus rides over some ugly roads (though, there are usually great views out the window). Border crossings can be a little intimidating (i.e. crossing into Republika Srbska at 3:30am, seeing ‘most wanted’ posters for Karadic and Mladic on the walls of the checkpoint), but I never had any delays at borders (have been through dozens since being here). Shoot me an email or PM about specific questions; i.e. where are you planning to go (cities), timetable between them (I can give you an idea on travel times) and what you’re hoping to cover here in Kosovo.

by [former member] | 01 Jul 2007 14:07 | Pristina, Kosovo | | Report spam→
best to rent a car in croatia and you should have no problems driving anywhere in the former yugoslavia.

Don’t drive with serbian number plates in kosovo but croatian is fine everywhere.

from Medjugorje in bosnia the best routes to kosovo are as follows:

Back down to coast (Neum), take coast road south to through Dubrovnik to Montenegro (Herzeg-Novi), if you have time, take the small road up Mt. Lovcen from Kotor to Cetinje, otherwise make the left turn at either Budva or Petrovac to Podgorica, then it’s north through Bijelo Polje and Berane to the Rozaj border crossing that gets you into Kosovo at Pec. (Peja in Albanian). Or, if you want to meet the Kosovo Serbs first, you can go can go from Rozaj through Zubin Potok and get to Mitrovica. There you will find the most direct, continuing confrontation between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo. From either Pec or Mitrovica it’s a quick drive through the heart of Kosovo to reach the capital Pristina. This whole drive, in summer with lots of traffic on the coast roads, will take at least 8 or 9 or 10 hours. Maybe 6 or 7 if you do it at night really fast.

Go to at least one or two of the Dalmatian islands. Dubrovnik and Mostar I don’t need to comment on; MUST SEE. Kotor is a lovely old town, well worth visiting. Another detour to Perast with the view out the Bay of Kotor is one of the most breathtaking and classic views in Europe. Cetinje is the old royal capital of Montenegro, also worth a few hours. Have cocktails and swim on the beach at Sveti Stefan.

Once you get inland you find yourself in a different world very quickly. Podgorica is not particularly great, a mostly Socialist construction city.

I’ll leave it to others to fill in the tour guide for Kosovo itself — this here is for the voyage, not the destination.

Keep in mind that highways Zagreb-Belgrade is only 4 hours, Belgrade-Pristina 3-4 hours. Sarajevo-Zagreb is 4 hours.

If however, before or after Medjugorje, that you have flown there (to Mostar, Sarajevo, or Dubrovnik), you can also just fly to Pristina. But the one thing you cannot do is fly to Belgrade, rent car there, and drive to Kosovo — you have the Serbian number plate issues! but you CAN take bus from belgrade to Kosovo, that’s fast and easy.

(please update number plate situation and other local conditions and concerns if you’re there now or been recently!)

by [former member] | 01 Jul 2007 17:07 (ed. Jul 1 2007) | New York, NY, United States | | Report spam→
Thank you all for the tips and info! I’m sure it will all come in handy. I will post any updates here once we are in country, which is not until later this month… for now we need to make sure we can still land in Glasgow on Tuesday…

by Andrew Spearin | 01 Jul 2007 18:07 | Hamilton, Canada | | Report spam→
I can concur on the numberplates issue, at least in Kosovo: Serbian plates are not welcome south of Mitrovica (they’ll be stopped by Albanian Kosovo police, and hassled at least.. ostensibly for the security?) and vice-versa for Kosovo plates north of the bridge. Besides the police, it should be obvious, having the wrong plates can get civilian revenge involved too. You’ll actually see a number of cars without plates driving in Mitrovica .. those who cross the bridge often and are chums with the UN who allow such practice for security reasons, I imagine.


PS – for Alan’s quoted times between cities, add a few hours for each if you’re taking local busses. They stop at nearly every city and drive slowly, probably good because I don’t think many of the old busses could take much more speed! Belgrade to Kos. Mitrovica for me was closer to 6hrs during the day, quicker at night.

AND my vote is for Kotor (or even better, Perast! My new favorite place on earth) over Dubrovnik .. especially in the summer. Too hot, way too many freaking tourists. The bay of Kotor is a sight to behold. Check my blog for a report (yea.. a little plug..)

by [former member] | 01 Jul 2007 19:07 (ed. Jul 1 2007) | Pristina, Kosovo | | Report spam→
from the Baedecker’s Austria-Hungary, 1911:

Cattaro, Croatian Kotor, the Roman Ascrivium, a closely built frontier-fortress with 6040 inhab. and a considerable garrison, the residence of a Roman Catholic and a Servian bishop, is grandly situated at the E. angle of the bay, at the foot of the lofty mountains of Montenehro, on alluvial soil deposited by the Scurda, a torrent which falls into the bay to the N. of the town walls. On the E. the walls run up to Fort San Giovanni (see below). The town is entered from the harbour by the Porta della Marina, from the N. by the Porta Fiumera, and from the S. by the Porta Gordicchio. A small market is held outside the Porta Fiumera on Tues., Thurs., & Sat.; this is attended by Montenegrins, who have to leave their weapons at the frontier….

(there is plenty more. i will scan the relevant chapters and email it to anyone who wants to read it. just PM me. you will, of course, leave your weapons at the frontier!)

by [former member] | 01 Jul 2007 21:07 (ed. Jul 1 2007) | New York, NY, United States | | Report spam→
All has been said. I second Perast and Kotor area… shhhh ;)) Pay attention to which plates you have and where. I recommend the bus, it’s inexpensive and you sometimes get a little history lesson on the way. An excellent way to get to know new people. Srecan Put!

by Rachael Jane | 02 Jul 2007 05:07 (ed. Jul 2 2007) | Kansas City, United States | | Report spam→
U will be fine in Kosova. I have lived and worked here the last 5 years. No worries. However if you decide to go to Macedonia (only 60 minutes away from Prishtina) as Canadian citizens you will need a visa. You may want to get one before you come, only in case you deside to go there. If you have any specific queastion feel free to e mail me

by andy | 03 Jul 2007 19:07 | kosova, Serbia | | Report spam→
are u sure canadians need visa for macedonia? i think you can get at the border…

by [former member] | 03 Jul 2007 19:07 | New York, NY, United States | | Report spam→
Perast, ahhhh! I spent almost every summer until the war broke at my uncle’s house in Perast. It use to be most beautiful place on Earth for me.
But I don’t know now, people like Michael Douglas and Goran Bregovic apparently bought houses there. Now Perast is one of those ‘for foreign consumption’ places. Even my dear uncle converted his extra basement flat into the luxurious rental.

Traveling Balkans is not a problem, just leave any ‘coming from the western civillisation’ arrogance behind (if you have any) and people will embrace you and help you along the way…

Have fun…

by [former member] | 04 Jul 2007 04:07 | Montreal, Canada | | Report spam→
velibor, is it possible, that everybody’s uncle has a house in Perast?!? Because I, too, stayed at a friend’s uncle’s house there, what, in 1999 or 2000…went all the way down to Bar, yeah…

by [former member] | 04 Jul 2007 05:07 | New York, NY, United States | | Report spam→
Alan, that makes 2, not everybody:-) Perast is a very, very small town (200, maybe 250 houses) and the reason it is as beautiful is that it can’t grow due to it’s geographical location. The last house build there was some 200 years ago.

Funny though, I met a woman in Montreal who also comes from Sarajevo and has a family house in Perast. We had never met before, in our previous life, either in Sarajevo or in Perast.

What’s your friend’s name?

by [former member] | 04 Jul 2007 12:07 | Montreal, Canada | | Report spam→
Make it 3 :)

by Rachael Jane | 04 Jul 2007 12:07 | Kansas City, United States | | Report spam→
now i remember, velibor! it’s not that everybody’s uncle has a house in Perast, it’s that everybody knows somebody who has an uncle that has a house down there…and it was actually Tivat or Prcanj where the house was, not Perast itself (!)…

my friend is Marija Baralic from Belgrade, and it was her friend’s uncle’s house that we stayed in, this was right after the overthrow of Milosevic in October, 2000, her fiance was one of the young OTPOR organizers, the regime had tried to squash the students by enforcing their draft notices, and so Ivan was inducted into the navy…so we went to visit him at the Kotor naval base…it was amazing, he had no sleep for weeks, as he and the other dissidents in his unit (they had smuggled cellphones) had been organizing and spreading discontent in those final, tense, days…he was so frustrated to miss the storming of the Federal Parliament…

…and I was mixing up this trip with one the year before, August 1999, right after the war ended in Kosovo, I went with a writer to Podgorica and Bar, we did a story on how Montenegrins felt about the whole nonsense…really it was an excuse to go to Sveti Stefan and the beach after months of covering death and destruction…

by [former member] | 04 Jul 2007 13:07 | New York, NY, United States | | Report spam→
Me too, I’m going in south Kosovo in early august. I’m looking for some info about visa. Do you have some notice about? Is the passport enough?

by Nicola | 05 Jul 2007 16:07 | Rome, Italy | | Report spam→
Hi Nicola,
there is no visa needed to be in Kosovo. This is because it is under the rule of the UN still, but if you are planning to stay in Kosovo for more than 90 days you must register at the Police Department for the Registration of Foreigners. Gianluca

by Gianluca Cecere | 07 Jul 2007 14:07 (ed. Jul 7 2007) | Naples, Italy | | Report spam→
Thank you Gianluca, you’re better than an embassy.

by Nicola | 08 Jul 2007 20:07 | Rome, Italy | | Report spam→
Interesting piece in today’s London Independent about Kosovo

by Paul Hardy Carter | 11 Jul 2007 19:07 | Valencia, Spain | | Report spam→
Sounds like a great trip. I would advise going through the Bosnia Serbia way. It may be more shakey but a lot more interesting.

I am looking for rides to and from Kosovska Mitrovica, Kosovo soon. Anybody going my way?

by Blake Farrington | 12 Jul 2007 16:07 | Burgas, Bulgaria | | Report spam→
The train through Bosnia is great – all the way to, or from, Budapest overnight.

I don’t think they’ve fixed the rail lines in Kosovo yet so the easiest way to get there is bus from Belgrade. P.

by Paul Hardy Carter | 12 Jul 2007 16:07 | Monte Pego, Spain | | Report spam→
the train goes from mitrovica kosova to skopje macedonia twice a day. if u need a schedule let me know

by andy | 12 Jul 2007 21:07 | kosova, Serbia | | Report spam→
Just returned to Ireland, and made it to Kosovo with no problems. I will outline the route we took, for anyone who may be wondering:

Fly into Split, Croatia from Cork, Ireland. Arrived around 2am.
Immediate bus to Medugorje (as part of a tour group).
Immediate taxi to Mostar (beautiful city, definitely need more time there next time I am in the area).
06.00 bus to Sarajevo. 6 hour wait.
Bus to Novi Pazar, Serbia. Spent night in a hotel.
09.30 bus to Rashka, Serbia. Short wait.
Bus to Mitrovica, Kosovo.
Mini-bus to Pristina.

Spent a few days there, definitely not enough time. I want to go back Nov. 1 and stay for a month or two.

Then on the way out, got an overnight bus to Sarajevo from Pristina. No problems at the border because we probably had the right stamps. Some people were kicked off though at two different Serb checkpoints.

Huge thanks to Matt Lutton for all the help he provided to me :) And I will definitely return the favour if anyone is curious on getting to Kosovo, feel free to contact me!

by Andrew Spearin | 04 Aug 2007 19:08 | Cork, Ireland | | Report spam→
ah, yes, Novi Pazar. it’s ten years ago now but if i remember right the main hotel there is an astonishing 1970s yugo-orientalist structure, concrete and steel with weird minaret-like adornments and a monstrous lobby. i think this may have been the place i went to the front desk to hook up my computer to dial-up an outside line, i tried to explain to the guy that this was similar to a fax, at which point he looked at my computer, and asked me if there was a pussy inside of it. Or, he may just have been exclaiming the ubiquitous “pichka ti materina,” not intending to mean anything in particular. I wonder what ever happened that guy Uglanin there…

the mini-bus saga sounds like fun (i guess!!!) wouldn’t it have been easier to rent a car?!?

srecan put.

by [former member] | 04 Aug 2007 21:08 | New York, NY, United States | | Report spam→
Hmmm Alan, is that hotel this one?

The mini-bus was fun. I was crossing the street from where all the mini-buses are lined up in Mitrovica, and as I was doing so, a guy shouted to me as he passed: “Hello! Prishtina?”

And I said “Yes, Prishtina!” and followed. I have no idea how he knew, because I wasn’t even wandering around the mini-buses, but just in the general area… Perhaps the rucksack and camera was a giveaway.

The vehicle was packed with two people more than the amount of seats. I was lucky enough to have a seat, my girlfriend on one side, and this old guy with a bushy beard, Albanian football shirt, and blue eyes, on the other.

My girlfriend’s camera bag was moved by the driver so that the extra people could fit, and it was out of our sight, two rows up… and the side door was left open for most of the journey, so there was a constant fear of it falling out… annihilating the gear. It didn’t help that the driver would overtake four vehicles at a time, and narrowly miss oncoming traffic.

The man beside me was interesting. He would get in an argument with the driver (we were in the back row, so he had to yell all the way to the front) about passing vehicles. There were also these two fairly attractive teenage girls getting a ride to the pool in between Pristina and Mitrovica. The guy beside me (who didn’t speak a word of english) kept nudging me, and when I would look over at him, he would glance towards the girls, nudge me again, look at me again, and look back at the girls… and nudge me again. I would just smile at him.

The man eventually got off, the side door was closed, and we got that bag back. So all was well.

by Andrew Spearin | 05 Aug 2007 12:08 | Cork, Ireland | | Report spam→
hi Andrew,
are you images from the Medjugorje pilgrimage posted anywhere? I’d love to see them..

by [former member] | 05 Aug 2007 14:08 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
that’s the place! now…what…overgrown with plant life, trees, a billion dollar renovation?!? i’m sure it now has wi-fi and free internet and god knows what else…man, i remember it dark and gloomy at night as i was frantically trying to file my photos…

…glad you had a good trip!

by [former member] | 05 Aug 2007 15:08 | New York, NY, United States | | Report spam→

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Participants

Andrew Spearin, photojournalist Andrew Spearin
photojournalist
(aspiring to document war)
Toronto , Canada
Jasmin Brutus, Photographer Jasmin Brutus
Photographer
Sarajevo , Bosnia & Herzegovina
Giulio Zanni, Giulio Zanni
Sarajevo , Bosnia & Herzegovina
Rachael Jane, Photographer Rachael Jane
Photographer
Kansas City , United States ( MCI )
andy, andy
Kosova , Serbia
Nicola , Photojournalist Nicola
Photojournalist
Rome , Italy
Gianluca Cecere, Photographer Gianluca Cecere
Photographer
Naples , Italy
Paul Hardy Carter, Photographer Paul Hardy Carter
Photographer
(meet Triumph and Disaster...)
London , United Kingdom ( LHR )
Blake Farrington, Photographer Blake Farrington
Photographer
Los Angeles , United States ( LAX )


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