Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kosovo: hitchhiker's paradise

My hitchhiking experience in the Balkans in non-existent. I wish I could say that I hitchhiked in every country in the area but I can't. On the other hand, I was an extremely lucky bastard. Twice. 

I'm not going to write details about my experience in Kosovo or the Balkans because I already did, a couple of years ago. A couple of years ago, seems like a long time and indeed it is a long time but doesn't feel like it. I miss the times when I was going from place to place but I love being in Estonia right now. I needed this, after the well, you know how it was in South America for me.

When I started hitchhiking from Romania to Turkey I was lucky enough to find a straight ride from Bucareşti to Istanbul. Three days with the same truck driver. Once in Istanbul he invited to join him and his family for dinner and then drove me to my friend's flat.

Then, when I was going back to Europe, through the Balkans I was again lucky. After squatting an chapel on the Greek side of the border, I saw a hippy van with French license plates. Long story short, Vincent took me from the border across Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia in around two weeks. I scratched hitching a hippy van out of my list.

This is the reason why I don't have any hitchhiking experience whatsoever in the Balkans. I must go back, but when I do this has to be during summer. Winter was nice but I would like to see the region in summer.

Lucky for me, Alex did hitchhike in the Balkans, specifically in Kosovo. I met him at the Loft Hostel in Budapest. He was hitchhiking from Vienna to Chișinău. 

Alex is one of the admins of My Backpacker Guides. Great site with great tips and reviews. You should check it out. The photos in this post are also from My Backpackers Guides.

Here's what Alex thinks about hitchhiking in Kosovo:

Hitchhiking is the most fun when in countries with a completely different culture to your own. One obvious reason is that you can explore many places that you have not yet seen. But even more fascinating is your chance to get completely lost in moments that convince you that despite your extensive travel history you have still plenty of things to learn from others. And in what better way you can do this than by hitchhiking? One of those unconventional places is Kosovo, Europe's youngest country, which, so far, has not been blessed with a particularly good reputation. Alex from My Backpacker Guides has used this opportunity to dive into an experience that has left more than a positive impression.

In his recollection of his days spent hitchhiking in Kosovo he draws an appealing picture of the war-torn country which is recovering fast and keen on leaving the negative reputation to the past. In fact Kosovo is in a state of rapid reconstruction supported by stability and progress in the reconciliation process with Serbia. What is more, the people of Kosovo make that country so special: According to Alex, Kosovars are some of the most friendly and hospitable people in all of Europe.

In his hitchhiking report a few tips on accesing Kosovo by bus are followed by a description of the people and an account of the experiences he made while hitchhiking in the South of Kosovo. Alex mentions the language barrier as a part of the experience to engage in captivating conversations with the curious locals rather than denouncing it as an obstacle during his journey. "I feel that the most exciting experiences of my hitchhiking history have been the ones where communication seemed difficult at the begining", is his concluding statement. 

if you are interested to read about the Kosovo hitchhiking experience check the post by Alex here!

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