Interview with Gulf News in Dubai - German man cycles to UAE to raise funds to build classrooms in Sudan
Clinton, rap and bears in Kosovo
Km on the clock: 2,871
I slowly climbed up another hill to the Serbian border post. Today I'd leave Serbia and enter Kosovo. Although I just spent the longest and one of the worst nights on my journey so far, life was good again after a few hours of sleep and a quick breakfast at a small village store. And since I freed some puppies from a trash container in the morning I kind of felt like a hero.
I could see that the border official watched me already for a while and he was laughing at me as I arrived totally sweaty at the post. I was the only person wanting to cross the border from Serbia into Kosovo. Dozens of cars were lining up on the other side of the border to enter Serbia.
'How are you?' asked the guy with a slightly sarcastic tone and big smile on his face. 'Well...it's a bit hilly here' I answered. He kept laughing as he checked my passport. 'Where do you sleep?' I answered 'I've a tent' and pointed at my bag on the back of my bicycle. 'And where do you eat?' 'My kitchen is in here' and pointed at my front right pannier. 'Okay', he said and handed me my passport. 'Have a good trip'.
'From here you'll be faster on your bicycle. Now it's only going downhill until Pristina', he said as we reached the top of the hill. I thanked him for his help, jumped on my bike and bombed down the hill into the countries capital.
I spent most of my time with exploring the city. I really liked Pristina! It's a nice but also a bit quirky place. All the major sights were in walking distance from Pristina Center Hostel. There's a Bill Clinton Boulevard and a three meters high Bill Clinton statue.
Kosovo named the boulevard after him and built the statue to thank the former U.S. president for his help when they were struggling with the Yugoslavian government in the end 90's. By the way, there's small clothing store next to the statue called Hillary. A picture of Hillary Clinton is also attached on the facade. Seems like some Kosovan's have a good sense of humor. There's also a Madeleine Albright monument and I heard there's even a George W. Bush Street. The connection to the U.S. can be seen and experienced in many places in Pristina as well as the connection to Germany. I was surprised to see many cars with German number plates and that quite many locals speak German. The shelves in the supermarkets are filled with German brand products. One of the supermarkets around the hostels corner even played some bizarre German rap music every time when I went there. It didn't really create an inviting shopping atmosphere but I was happy to get some familiar products.
One interesting fact that I learned about Kosovo is that there was no law against keeping brown bears until end of 2010. Baby brown bears were snatched from their mothers by animal dealers in the forests of Kosovo and Albania and then held in small cages at restaurants as an attraction for customers. As I heard, the living conditions of the bears were horrific in most cases and some restaurant owners and customers gave them alcohol to see drunk bears for their amusement. However, since 2013 there's a bear sanctuary just outside of Pristina to provide those bears a natural habitat but also to create awareness to animal welfare and environmental problems in Kosovo.
Although Pristina is a nice place to visit for a couple of it's not a bicycle friendly city. There are no bicycle lanes and there's also lots of room for improvement regarding road signs. It took me a while until I made it out of town and on the R6 road in direction south to Skopje, Macedonia.
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