I must admit, the idea of a prominent statue of Bill Clinton and a major road named in his honor struck me at first as a little humorous or even kitschy. In the case of Kosovo, after catching up a bit on the relevant (recent) history, it does make sense though, I think. However, Kosovars’ positive outlook on Americans and American foreign policy isn’t just limited to the Clintons. It stems from our support of them as a country as well as our support of Albanians in general. Things started with Clinton, but they continued unchanged with Bush and Obama. There is actually a George Bush Boulevard as well. Ah, but Clinton, it runs a little deeper there. People have named their sons “Klinton.” As for current politics, the women’s clothing store “Hillary” has opened a couple of locations in Pristina and is doing brisk business. That might give an indication of the election outcome they’re pinning their hopes on this year. But politics aside, Americans do seem to be pretty warmly received in Kosovo. It’s really a nice exception…. a place where we have intervened militarily that, only a couple decades out, actually did some good for humanity, engendered some goodwill, and didn’t turn a country or region into a complete shitshow.
Anyhow, while Kosovo is a bit off the beaten path, it’s a very approachable and friendly place. We had no problems crossing from Macedonia by bus and have had a very nice reception everywhere we’ve interacted with people… Shopkeepers and random people on the street seem to be more willing to interact in a friendly manner than (at times) in neighboring countries. We had an overnight visit in Pristina, staying at an AirBnb in the City Center. We actually noticed companies in Skopje offering day trips to Pristina, so for anyone looking for a quick visit, that may be an option. We didn’t know if that was possible beforehand though and planned accordingly. I’m glad we did, as it was a very interesting experience. We stayed in a VERY Soviet-style apartment building with a thick metal door that couldn’t be brought down with a battering ram, wires hanging all over the place, and water cut off from 11pm-6am. All the decor felt transplanted from the eighties, and a lot of the construction felt transplanted from the seventies. There is a lot of new construction and development in Pristina… at the same time, they still have a ways to go. I definitely recommend an overnight trip at least to see the city monuments, check out the green market (reminds me of the night markets in SE Asia) and have a few meals there.
This has been the really hectic part of our trip, as we’re off to Albania before the sun comes up!