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Peja

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008 | Balkans 2008 | 42°39' N, 20°17' E
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Peja

I got a bus to Peja. It was not a long run through the Kosovan countryside. We passed a lot of memorials to fallen KLA fighters on the way, all with the Albanian flag flying over them. Half-built houses seemed to be everywhere. It was hard to tell if they were ruins being rebuilt, or just haphazard new construction. As we headed towards Peja, someone came around the bus to collect tickets, and also to hand out sweets, which I thought was very cool.

In Peja I had thought I might go to see the Patriarchate of Peć, an orthodox monastery outside town which is supposed to be very impressive. I walked through the city, along Tony Blair Street, and out towards the monastery. Ahead of me, the fantastically named Accursed Mountains looked gloomy and forbidding, their peaks wreathed in cloud. But my plans were soon thwarted when I reached the Italian KFOR post which protects the monastery from Albanian harassment. They asked to see my passport, then searched my bag. They said they’d have to take my camera, and apologetically removed it. Then they decided that actually they’d have to take my whole bag. Even if I just wanted to walk up the road a bit, I couldn’t take anything with me. And according to my book it was far from certain that I’d be able to get into the monastery anyway. So I decided to abandon the plan.

I got the impression that my visit was one of the more exciting things that the Italian KFOR guys had had to deal with. They had to be here to stop the monastery getting attacked, but I supposed that their presence put off most would-be attackers and that they probably didn’t have a whole lot to do most days.

I walked back to Peja, and got a bus to Prizren.

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