Taking the furgon from Bajram Curri in Albania seemed easy: after arriving from the boat ride from Koman to Fierze, I could hop on a furgon taking me directly to Bajram Curri (which I found is pronounced quite differently from what I had expected), and my driver pointed me to the guy responsible for transportation. I checked with him about a furgon to Prizren, and he pointed to the seemingly brandnew airconditioned minivan waiting for passengers, about to leave in 10 minutes. I thought myself lucky, and waited outside with a group of other travellers. There was a sign on the frontwindow, stating Tirana as the destination of the van, but I assumed that was a mistake. I took the front seat, and after leaving town, we took the turn for Pristina and not Tirana, and I felt reassured about our destination. Passing the border was a breeze: we could even stay in the bus while our passports were being stamped. The road was pretty good, and we quite soon came through a sizable city; just to be sure, I checked with the driver whether we had reached Prizren, but he pointed ahead and mumbled something about the remaining distance. After a while, we entered a highway, and the driver pointed to a city on our left, saying "Prizren!". We then sped past the exit for the city, and when the city really disappeared behind us, I realized that there was no other exit. I asked the driver again for Prizren, and he now stopped the bus, explaining he was going to Tirana; we were about to cross the border. A discussion started, in which I asked to be left off the bus, but the driver initially refused; in the end, I had it my way, and found myself crossing the highway with my bags, climb the VANGRAIL, and walk towards the city, always facing the traffic so I could ask for a ride, luckily, a van stopped within a minute and took me to the outskirts of the city. My introduction to the city was a walk from there to the historic city centre.
It was pretty warm, and I desperately wanted to get rid of my bag, so I asked around, and it turned out that I was close to the bus station. I had a drink, left my bag at the bar, and walked to the river running through Prizren. The first thing I wanted to see, was the Ottoman bridge, and after walking some of the winding streets on the other side of the river, I reached the Old Stone bridge, made by the Ottomans, restored to its former beauty with several windows. It looked particularly nice since the afternoon sun was shining on it, and I decided to come back later. I walked to a church that was guarded, had an ice cream, and walked around the Sinan Pasha mosque, also recently restored. On my way to the Kalaja, or fortress, of Prizren, I passed more old houses, some restored, but others in a bad shape. The steep street leading up the hill passes the St Savoir church, which basically only has a facade but no more roof, and is under repair. It was not clear to me how the church was damaged so badly. The fortress consists of a sturdy wall on which you can walk for unlimited views of the city of Prizren below; inside, there are mainly ruins that badly need a thorough reconstruction. But the views are great; you can clearly see the Prizrenska Bistrica river cutting through the historic centre, the Old Stone bridge I had just been standing on, the many mosques of the city, the churches, the roofs of the traditional houses, you can look inside the empty Church of St Savoir that I just passed but which is closed for reconstruction - all this looking against the sun.
When I came down to the city below again, I walked the promenade next to the river, went inside the Sinan Pasha mosque which has been restored, and almost looked shiny new with paintings on its walls, turned the corner, saw a wall full of colourful graffiti, slogans painted on walls about the independence of Kosovo. I now took more time to see the Ottoman Old Stone bridge, walking its cobble stone surface, and walked down to the river level for a different angle. Looking east, the bridge now rose above me, above it still I could see the Kalaja I had just come down from, and to its right, the minaret of the Sinan Pasha mosque towered high above the bridge. It was time to explore the north side of the river, and I walked to the great Gazi Mehmet Pasha hammam, and from there, back to the river, coming across some lovely traditional houses, and a teqe, or dervish order mosque. I went to the southern side again, criss-crossing the streets, and took another bridge to walk to the Orthodox church of the Virgin of Leviša. Targeted by people who wanted to damage it, it is guarded not only by barbed wire but also a small security box with an officer inside. It was now getting dark; it was time for something to eat, and move on to Pristina. Close to the bus station, I came across the ruins of an old mosque in a small park, and felt l had seen much of this city which had turned out to be much more attractive than I had somehow imagined.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Prizren (Kosovo). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Prizren.
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