Monday, April 23, 2007

Belgrade and Pristina

Really sorry, but the computer I'm using won't let me upload pictures. I'll do it next time I'm online. use your imaginations...

okay, so its been a long time since we last posted. we've been many places since the last one.
First off, the train ride from Bar to Belgrade was really beautiful. I think my mouth was open the whole time we travelled anywhere in Montenegro.
One of the first buildings we saw after getting off the train in Belgrade was the former ministry of defense building. It's been left standing as a bombed out wreck, whether the reason is to remind everyone of what happened or just legal arguments wasn't clear. Nevertheless it was interesting to see what was left of these 2 buildings, the bullet holes in one of the neighbouring ones, and then the 2 very nice classical looking buildings on the opposite sides of the street.
We spent most of our time in Belgrade in Stari Grad (means old town, pretty much every city we've been to recently has an old town), although we also went to see St. Sava's temple, which is the largest Serbian Orthodox Church in the world. it was big, whatever. The old town was nice to stroll around though, especially because a large part of it is pedestrianised. We also enjoyed the many city parks that are scattered around downtown Belgrade. While here we also got into our first conversation about politics and the recent history of the Balkans, which Tara and I only kind of know about, being 10 years old when Yugoslavia started to come apart.
It was interesting to hear a Serb of a similar age to us talk about her point of view. She said she didn't really know what was happening in Croatia and Bosnia, being a kid at the time but also because the people there were being somewhat insulated from all the news.
All in all we enjoyed Belgrade, it was a nice city and the weather was great while we were there, and that always helps.
We then took a bus south-west to Pristina, the Capital of Kosovo. We had originally intended on going here before Belgrade, but Serbia does not recognize the UN stamp you get when you arrive in Kosovo. To them it is still a part of Serbia and thus make it difficult on people going in and out of the area.
We didn't expect big things from Kosovo. In all honesty, we just wanted to see what it was like there and what the people were like. It definitely was not a pretty city like some of the others we've seen, but the people were noticeably warmer. About 80 to 90% of Kosovars are ethnic Albanians, and like I already mentioned, we liked them. Tara commented that the people we'd met there and in Montenegro gave off a warmer vibe than the Serbians, and I agreed. It wasn't a massive difference, but you did see it in the way people interacted. The nicest building in town was the library, which had an interesting design. There are also a bunch of mosques around town, which is a noticeable change from the churches of Serbia and Montenegro. One other thing we noticed about Pristina, is that many of the vehicles you see are white 4x4's with the logos of international organizations on the doors (UN, EU, etc.). We both agreed upon leaving that we liked visiting there and seeing what it was like this soon after being a war zone. One kind of scary thing about Kosovo, as well as the other former Yugoslav countries, is that they were heavily land mined during the 90's. The guidebooks make it clear that you should not wonder off trails when hiking in certain parts or poke around in abandoned buildings. We aren't doing either one of these things, don't worry, but still it's kind of a scary thought.
We took a couple buses from Pristina back into Montenegro, to go to Durmitor National Park. Once again, as soon as we got to the border it was mountainous and beautiful. How do they do it?

1 comment:

MEGAWATTI said...

Thanks for the post card!
I was so excited to get it-probably the most exciting thing that's happened to me in about 10 years.