My 100th visited country !
Aug. 18 - Aug. 24, 2023
Continued from Albania...
Leaving Valbonë (Valbona) in Albania, we had quite a journey to Peja (Kosovo). We took a 6:45am taxi from Valbona to Bajram Curri (Albania). The driver was from Bajram Curri, so he knew all the people in town. On the corner of Rruga Beselidhja Malesise and Rryga Haxi Zeka (50m from the post office), this is where all non official transportation to Kosovo was leaving.
From there, we paid 3 Euros/pers. and a shared car with old men left at exactly 8am for Gjakova (Kosovo). At the border, entering Kosovo was a breeze ! Our passports weren't stamped (like most countried in the Bakans). From Gjakova, we took a bus to Peja. Kosovo is/was my 100th visited country !
Peja, was a non touristy city. Nestled amidst majestic mountains, the city had charming streets lined with cafes, shops, and a vibrant local old bazaar. The 13th-century Patriarchate of Peja (monastery, picture right) stands as a testament to the past. We had to show our passports to KFOR guards to visit the place.
After Peja, we took a bus to Prizren. My Lonely PLanet book describes Prizren perfectly: "Picturesque Prizren, with its charming mosques and church-filled old town, shines with an enthusiasm that’s infectious. It’s Kosovo’s second city and most obvious tourist town. The castle high above the city is a must-see and the town can be used as a base for day trips to the Shar Mountains (we hiked Oshlak peak 2212m). The young population means that in the evenings the old town buzzes with revellers and enjoys a very sociable air.''
We had the BEST apartment view over the city center (picture below).
Prizren viewed from our balcony
From Prizren, our aim was to catch a glimpse of the Shar Mountains – a truly unexplored and untouched mountain range in Europe. Since there were no available buses heading to Prevalle, we opted to hire a private driver for this one day trip journey. This decision, however, led to a relatively costly adventure. On our way back, the road to Prevalle was unexpectedly closed due to a rock avalanche, forcing our driver to navigate a two-hour detour. Despite the unforeseen challenges, the hike we embarked upon from Prevalle was spectacular. Over our 6 hours hike that we journeyed along the trail, 5 of those hours were spent above the tree line. Our path traced the mountain ridge, ultimately guiding us towards the summit of Oshlak peak (2212m). This 8-kilometer one-way hike involved an elevation gain of 800 meters.
Following our remarkable hiking experience, we embarked on the next leg of our journey.
Taking a bus, we ventured towards Skopje, the captivating capital of North Macedonia.