En route to KosovoAugust 4 in Kosovo
Day 2 - Waking up in a beautiful mountain town in Montenegro was reminiscent of a Canadian or American mountain town. Fresh, clean alpine air, little cute cottages and villas dotting the landscape, and there is an air of peace and calm as the people all feel relaxed.
We took a little bit of time leaving, as there is not a set time we have to get to our next destination. Oh, by the way, we should mention that we found out on day 1 that this isn’t a challenge race, where you need to be at a mandatory briefing at 7:15 every morning to get your new list of challenges, you also don’t have a cutoff time for when you need to make it to your next destination. This is called, the Great Balkan Ride, not challenge, and apparently that’s the differentiator. So to summarize, not a competition, but still an amazing adventure!
We had decided that we wanted to check out a zip line opportunity over the Tara Canyon. We did some quick internet research to see if the place was legit as it is over 2500 feet in distance and as high as 400 feet above the canyon. We decided it looked acceptable. We arrived and it certainly was an intense zip line, not like one we’d ever seen before. For Steve, this was his first zip line so he was a bit nervous, as admittedly I was, but we decided we would regret not doing it, so we were pretty convinced. As we walked up, there was a young lady working for the company who is clearly there to convince those with any doubts. She asked what we were waiting for and we said we wanted to see it to be sure. She told us that kids and elderly folks do it all the time and they are just fine and in fact, a little girl just got done doing it right before us. So she had us, we agreed and it was up to the platform to get fitted in the harness. No turning back now! We were harnessed up and ready to go and with a push from the the crew, we went flying out over the canyon! What an exhilarating rush we experienced!
Interesting note here, there are no forms to be signed, no instruction to be had, you simply walk up to the platform, get your harness on and away you go! When you get to the platform on the other side, a guy asks you for 20 Euro and it’s over. An absolute thrill and had the effect we were hoping for. A nice shot of adrenaline to start out the day and carry us on our drive into Kosovo.
The drive through Montenegro into Kosovo was through beautiful mountains and valleys, but maybe we are a bit desensitized to the beauty of this by all of the breathtaking landscapes we saw on the previous day’s drive. The exit from the Montenegran border check point to the Kosovo entrance covers several miles through a mountain pass. Upon arriving in Kosovo we are told we don’t have the proper insurance and we need to go buy some at a shack down the road, 15 Euro and now we can enter the country legally.
A long, fun, descent passing through dozens of mountain cows grazing along the switchbacks and we arrive in Peja, Kosovo. We are successful in locating our hotel quickly and it turns out we are the first team to arrive. I wait in the car, parked on the street, while Steve goes to get checked in and figure out where to park. The front desk attendant didn’t really speak English and Steve seemed to be a bit off on his pantomime game, thus leading to an impasse and with the understanding that there are “no reservation and hotel full!” Well, that’s a problem and who knows when the organizers will arrive so let’s ensure we have a room somewhere, we drive around to a couple hotels and they are full as well. But we asked at one of the hotels if they could give a recommendation and possibly call for us. Fortunately the place they called had some rooms. The bellhop was nice enough to walk us over to the hotel and see to it that we were able to check in successfully and we were satisfied. We would find out that this was a sign of more incredible warmth and hospitality the people of Kosovo would continue to display.
Given the current political climate in the World and in the US, some places in the World aren’t as welcoming to American tourists. However, thanks to the support from the US in the recent Kosovo conflicts, the people are incredibly happy to have us here and are as accommodating as can be. Some walking through the streets to see the nightlife, drinks with our fellow travelers, and it’s time for sleep as we have a long day of treacherous mountain driving ahead of us!Read more