Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lufthansa Magazine: Why should spend holidays in Kosovo

A church in a suburb of Prizren © Meiko Herrmann
Lufthansa Magazine has published a long article about Kosovo, giving some good reasons to spend holidays in this landlocked country. 
Florian Sanktjohanser is the author of the article, where he presents the most impressive things about Kosovo’s nature, culture, attractions and people. 
“A holiday in Kosovo? Yes, please! Pristine nature, cultural traditions and a vibrant urban scene are just some of the young nation’s charms. Best of all: the people and the warm welcome they offer you.”
First he starts with DokuFest, a music and film festival, and a magnet for creative minds and culture fans from all over the country. The festival attracts 30 000 people, and locals rent out their spare rooms to make up for the lack of hotel beds.

What’s about Pristina?

The city’s patriotic heart beats here, and statues of the national saints stand proud: Skanderbeg, Ibrahim Rugova and Mother Teresa. It’s a strange boulevard, seamed as it is with an eclectic mix of glass bank tower, luxury hotel and swathes of socialist concrete. Only a handful of Ottoman mosques remain, and there’s no intact historic center. It takes true determination to admire the other landmarks: the national library with its veil of steel bars and 99 domes, and the Palace of Youth and Sports, a masterpiece of brutalism. Everyone loves the monument in front of it, though: the word “NEWBORN,” spelled out in three-meter steel letters. Unveiled on February 17, 2008, it celebrates independence. Each year since 2013, the letters have been presented in a special way to mark the anniversary. This time, the letters N and W were laid flat and connected with white paint to read “NO WALLS” as a reminder of the limited freedom of movement Kosovars have.

Mirusha Waterfalls

Mirusha Waterfalls © Meiko Herrmann
The Mirusha Waterfalls, widely considered a natural spectacle, seem disappointing, as a blue pipe connecting two kiosks spoils the lowest fall. At the fourth fall, the banks narrow to form a dramatic gorge, and only a threadbare, partly broken rope hooked to the wall provides support. 

Sacred Sites in Kosovo
Two of the most sacred sites of the Serbian Orthodox Church are in the west of the country; both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites protected by high walls and KFOR soldiers at the gate. The Visoki Dečani Monastery is a place of pilgrimage; King Stefan Uroš III Dečanski lies buried here, “uncorrupted after 700 years,” as the young guide earnestly explains. We are the only visitors crossing the immaculately kept courtyard to the marble church. The only other place even more sacred is the Patriarchate of Peć, the medieval spiritual seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It is also silent and deserted. A Japanese tourist skulks around the 800-year-old mulberry tree; a stern-looking nun ensures no photos are taken.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The best destinations that you shouldn’t miss in Kosovo

Kosovo is a landlocked country, but there are a lot of spots where you can have a great experience. Kosovo provides troubled ancient and modern history, rich culture, stunning nature, numerous religions monuments and friendly people.
If you are more into ancient cities then you should definitely head to Prizren city and Gjakova:

Prizren City
Prizren is a charming town which gives the impression of flowing along the banks of a shallow stretch of Bistrica river which slices it in half. In addition nestled in between towering green mountains and a city constructed over many centuries with a mixture of architectures but clearly dominated by the ottoman influence Prizren is definitely one of the most attractive town of Kosovo. Prizren’s delightful city centre is the best-preserved and most picturesque in Kosovo, with a good collection of religious and profane buildings and quaint residential quarters, all within close range of each other. The city’s long tradition of religious and ethnic tolerance is apparent in the close proximity of Catholic and Orthodox churches, mosques and tekkes, many of them hundreds of years old.

Gjakova City
The city of Gjakova has its roots way back in the Dardanian period of history. Known in previous times as Patkova, Reka and Altin, the name Gjakova, first appeared in historical Ottoman records in 1485. Pride of place in the centre of the city was the Çarshia e Madhe, or Grand Bazaar, a large marketplace attracting traders from all over the region that was seriously damaged during the 1999 war but that’s now almost completely renovated. Hotspots to visit in Gjakova: Bektashi Tekke (Teqja e Bektashive), Hadum Mosque, Tailors’ Bridge (Ura e Terzive), Sacred bridge (Ura e Shenjte).

Rugova Valley
Rugova Valley located in the heart of Dukagjini, in north-western Kosovo, it is a perfect place for people who love to explore nature and wander through this breathtaking valley. It covers an area of 32.000 hectares. Its highest peak is Coursed Mountain, with an altitude of 2560 meters. Among several characteristics that distinguish this valley, following are the most important ones -Bistrica River, which passes throughout 12 kilometers of the valley -Waterfalls that fall from a height of 30 meters -Two lakes at an altitude of 1 800 meters above sea level and -A number of caves Rugova Valley is considered as an ideal place to spend a day or a couple of days, when you need to relax and get away from the daily routine and dynamic life in the city. It is a quiet preserved and unexplored region, and this offers a unique entertainment opportunity for the lovers of eco and rural tourism.

Mirusha Waterfalls
Mirusha Waterfalls is a chain of waterfalls found in the Mirusha River, situated on the south of the Gremnik Mountains; on the way to Gjakova at an altitude of 572 meters. Its distance from the capital city is approximately one hour. Mirusha River engraved a 10 km long canyon and created 13 river lakes with 12 waterfalls between them. The waterfall with the biggest height is the one between the sixth and seventh lake, and it is 22 meters high. Those waterfalls between the lakes, together with the stunning landscape, and rocks and caves around the waterfalls, form an overwhelming sight and present a special tourism attraction. Although the water temperature is usually quite cold, throughout summer when the temperature is high, swimming there can be incredibly pleasant.

Decan Monastery
Decan Monastery located in Decan 2 Km from the town. The monastic catholicon is the largest medieval church in the Balkans containing the most extensive preserved fresco decoration. The monastery was established in a chestnut grove by Serbian King Stefan Uros in 1327. The following year the king died and was buried at the monastery. The monastic church, and built from blocks of red-purple, light-yellow and onyx marble, was constructed by builders working under a Franciscan monk, Vitus of Kotor. The church is distinguished by its imposing size and Romanesque and Early Gothic structure and design. In 2004, UNESCO listed the monastery on the World heritage list citing its frescoes as "one of the most valued examples of the so-called Palaeologan renaissance in Byzantine painting" and "a valuable record of the life in the 14th century".

Park of Bears in Pristina
The Bear Sanctuary Prishtina is a national park in Kosovo in close proximity to the city of Prishtina. The sanctuary is built on an area of fifteen hectares. Everyone who visits Pristina shouldn’t go without seeing this park with dozens of bears.
Photo: Bear Sanctuary Prishtina

Thursday, January 19, 2017

6 Reasons to Visit Kosovo- Top Backpacker Destination

A couple traveling from Melbourne, Australia, enjoyed a lot their trip to Kosovo and decides to highlight “6 Reasons to Visit Kosovo” on their website, “Goats on the road”.

They admitted first that they didn’t know much about Kosovo, but after they visited this place, their opinion changed a lot. And here are some reasons to visit Kosovo listed by Goats on the Road:
The reason number one is that Kosovo is Tourist Free Zone. “Kosovo is probably one of the last truly off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe.”

The 2nd reason is that the country of Kosovo is a beautiful place, with the amazing city of Prizren, and Old Bazaar of Gjakova.

The 3d reason is: Kosovo is Possibly the Cheapest Country in Europe. Accommodation costs are on par with the rest of eastern Europe, with a highly rated hostel costing around 10 euro per night. A beer should cost no more than 1.50 euro. You can usually find a meal for less than 5 euro per person (and that’s at a ‘fancy’ restaurant). A burek or cevapcici sandwich will only cost a couple of euros. Plus, most attractions are free of charge!

The 4th reason to visit the country is people and food. Kosovars are wonderful people according to Goats on The Road. What about a Macchiato in Kosovo? Kosovo Makes the Best Macchiatos in Europe (and perhaps the world?)

Reason5. The cobble stoned streets of Prizren are a great place to sit in the sun with a tiny cup of deliciousness, and watch the world go by. You will be joined by plenty of locals, especially on weekends. Coffee is a way of life here!

Reason6. Last but not least, is the fascinating history of Kosovo.
By visiting Kosovo, you have the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts about one of the most significant conflicts of recent times. It brings history out of the text books, and into real life.

See full article:

Monday, December 19, 2016

Prizren in Kosovo is among 6 Top Balkan Destinations for 2017- by

Vogue: Prizren stands as the country’s beacon of creativity
City of Prizren attracts a lot of traveler writers because of its rich Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. Prizren has made it to be on the Vogue’s list “6 Non-Touristy Balkans Destinations That Should Top Your 2017 Travel Lists by Vogue.” The travel writer and photographer Michaela Trimble describes the city of Prizren as the country’s beacon of creativity. There’s no perfect time to visit Prizren, but during August you can enjoy more time while the city hosts DokuFest, the largest film festival in all of Kosovo, featuring live music sets, photo exhibitions, and screenings of more than 200 films from around the world.

Prizren, old houses 
 “In Kosovo, Prizren stands as the country’s beacon of creativity, set at the base of the Sharr Mountains along the river Bistrica and host to rich Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. Visit during August when the city hosts DokuFest, the largest film festival in all of Kosovo, featuring live music sets, photo exhibitions, and screenings of more than 200 films from around the world. Stay at Hotel Kacinari or Hotel Centrum Prizren, and to get the most of both city and country life, tour the area with Butterfly Outdoor Adventure and Airtour: Begin with an interactive workshop at a local filigree factory, dine on kebabs near Prizren’s Stone Bridge at Te Syla, and venture uphill to the Prizren Fortress, which offers the perfect view of bustling Prizren from above. Head into nature on a hike to Struzha, where you can stay at a traditional guesthouse and enjoy a campfire and local meal before completing a cross-country hike from Kosovo to Macedonia, summiting Scarpa Peak and passing Kara Nikolla Lake along the way.”

Prizren, view from above

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Kosovo Holidays, a reputable and efficient English-speaking tour operator

Kosovo Holidays, is a reputable and efficient English-speaking tour operator offering group and custom trips for activities from outdoor adventures and Bosnian village lunches to cultural city and wine-tasting visits throughout Kosovo, Margo Pleiff wrote for San Francisco Chronicle.
She had an adventurous experience in Kosovo and shared her impressions of this trip with others in the article tittled: "Europe’s youngest nation, Kosovo is full of surprises"

"It is hard to believe that Kosovo is the youngest nation in Europe, of 8 years old, and the numbers of visitors who come to Kosovo are increasing every year. We explored this beautiful country together with Kosovo Holidays tour guide, Arsim Rexhepi", she said.

Margo finds Kosovo full of surprises as she gets to know the wild beauty of the mountains and the old city of Prizren. She has seen a lot of fascinating sites of Kosovo and definitely says a lot of things in her article.

Find out the adventure experience of Margo Pleiff in Kosovo:
“For all the highly visible strife of the 1990s, Kosovo turns out to be a safe, diverse, wildly beautiful and inexpensive English-speaking destination with good roads, hotels and restaurants. National parks make up 11 percent of the land area with scenic, accessible mountain terrain.
There are traditional mountain villages and UNESCO cultural icons, including 13th century monasteries. Rarely visited even by Western Europeans who flock to nearby Croatia, it’s also still charmingly unpretentious and welcoming. And, as I said, they love Americans like no other place I’ve ever been. The landmark 16th century Old Stone Bridge arches elegantly over the Bistrica River. I visit the 1615 Sinan Pasha Mosque and Kosovo’s grand UNESCO-protected 14th century Our Lady of Ljeviš Orthodox Church. In the well-preserved Ottoman quarter, Turkish is spoken by one of the country’s many minorities that also include Bosniaks, Serbs, Roma and Ashkalia. Walking up a steep pathway to the castle encircling a hilltop overlooking Prizren, there are great views of the city, with its more than 20 mosque spires pointing heavenward. Spinning around, I watch pink sunset rays lighting up the snow-capped peaks of the Sharr mountain range. In the morning, hiking guide Edis Krusha drives us up a canyon road, zigzagging through forest and past hilltop castle ruins toward those mountains. After 90 minutes, we arrive at Prevalla, in winter a small ski center at 5,000 feet, and lace up our boots as a young shepherd urges a herd of sheep past us toward summer pastures.

Hiking up the flank of one of the Sharr’s highest peaks, 8,559-foot Bistra, we cross alpine meadows blazing with wild orange crocuses and set up a picnic alongside a bubbling spring with views of valleys and snowy peaks. Bistra is on the Via Dinarica route, a 1,200-mile hiking trail crossing eight Western Balkan countries. It was named Outside magazine’s best new trail for 2014.

See full article:

Monday, October 24, 2016

Nat Geo Traveler in an adventurous tour to Kosovo

The new state of Kosovo is remarkable for its beautiful nature and cultural heritage. Some of the best travel magazines are writing about this new born destination. But this time the hospitality of Kosovo has impressed the writer and traveler of Nat Geo Traveler. She starts her route from Montenegro border with Kosovo. Here is how she is describing her tour to Kosovo:

By Emily Chappell

“What does a landmine look like anyway?” I suddenly wondered, as I freewheeled down the Cakor Pass into the canyons of Kosovo. I’d read all the warnings. Stick to the road. Avoid camping anywhere that hasn’t obviously been grazed in the last 10 years. Don’t approach suspicious devices. But I had no idea what qualified as a ‘device’, or what might make it ‘suspicious’.
I hadn’t seen another human being the whole afternoon — since, in fact, I’d turned off the main route in Montenegro and followed this narrow lane up into the mountains. Not a single car had passed me. I wondered if they knew something I didn’t, fretting about landmines and roadblocks and kidnappings as I slowly climbed up above the treeline, gazing back at mountaintops that had towered over me the previous day, and sweating steadily in the late autumn sunshine, that morning’s frozen fingers and steaming breath already a distant memory.
So, I’d entered Kosovo through the back door. No border guards; no passport stamps; no one even knew I was here. Shaking with nervousness, excitement and exhaustion, I followed the river, watching the sunlight retreat to the tops of the surrounding cliffs, and wondering what I’d do when darkness fell. Camping was a bad idea in landmine country and Peje was several hours’ ride away. Eventually, the gorge opened out, and down on the floodplain I spotted what must be a resort: a large building surrounded by log cabins, with an encouraging plume of smoke emanating from the chimney.
The place was deserted save for the owner, an elderly man in a flat cap, and a teenage waiter, who translated our exchange. Of course I could camp here. Anywhere I wanted. The old man swept his hand in a wide arc to indicate that what was his was now mine. Then another brief conference in Albanian.
“My boss, he is worried you will be too cold,” said the teenage waiter. “He will give you a room for free.” And so that there could be no doubt about it: “Gratis. No money.”
Tears came into my eyes as I thanked the owner in every language I could think of and shook his hand. Within five minutes my bicycle was locked safely in a barn and I was standing in the doorway of a large, clean, hotel room. Within half an hour, I was watching as five days of sweat and grime swirled down the plug hole. Soon after, I crawled into the big bed, stretched myself out to all four corners, and fell asleep with the feeling of cotton on my clean skin.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

New York Times: The Medieval Monasteries of Kosovo

New York Times, one of the world's most prestigious media organization dedicated a full article to Kosovo’s Medieval Monasteries and its tourism prospective.
The journalist Elisabeth Zerofsky traveled to Kosovo through a cultural tour to discover what this new born destination is offering for outside world. This article is focused at Gracanica Monastery, and other cultural heritages and historical sites, and the their resistance during the hard times.
“Gracanica was the last monastery constructed, in the early 14th century, by the Serbian King Stefan Milutin, who had promised God that he would build a church for each of the 40-odd years of his reign.

One need not count oneself among the faithful to be silenced by the suffusion of contemplation and color — seabed blue, the opulent scarlets and gold halos of the sainted patriarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church, their faces blackened remarkably little over seven centuries.”

Pristina has the beginnings of a tourism industry without the tourists, so to speak. The recently renovated airport gleams with anticipation but remains low in traffic, reflecting the euphoria that accompanied statehood eight years ago, which has turned into frustration.

The city is a postwar boomtown of sorts, with luxury high-rises popping up in every other neighborhood and cranes in primary colors punctuating the skyline. 
Still, 70 percent of the population is under 35, and many corners of Pristina rock with energy. On a weekend evening outside Dit e Nat, a bookstore of exposed brick and reclaimed wood floors that is also a cafe and event space, 30-somethings stood on a patch of gravel drinking Birra Prishtina and smoking Winstons while a Romany rock group performed.

See full article: