Where is Gjakova and who travels there? Why should you (or should you NOT?) visit Gjakova when you go to Kosovo? Is there anything interesting in Gjakova at all? I had no idea this place even existed until a high school graduate, Gentrina, invited me to her hometown. That’s how I decided to give it a go. Was it worth it or not? Read to find out… ;-)
Gjakova is a town in western Kosowo inhabited by approximately 100 000 people. Busses from Pristina to Gjakova leave quite often, as far as I remember every 90 minutes. The ride takes about an hour and a half and the last bus from Pristina to Gjakova leaves between 5 pm and 6 pm. This means you can easily make a day trip if your jumping base is Pristina. Of course, if you still want to after reading this article…
Cafes in Gjakova can threaten your health!
No one wants to run out of magnesium in the blood, right? Having said that, I must warn you, the Old Bazaar (Çarshia e Madhe) in Gjakova, Kosovo has too many cafes and you would only feel tempted to drink coffee in each of the cafés. Results? You will leave this place with magnesium shortage in your body. That happened to me, I know what I’m saying. You don’t want that.
No chain expensive cafes
If something is so cheap, it is suspicious. Just travel to Kosovo and you’ll see this rule applies to the whole country, not only Gjakova. If good quality, thick, tasty, freshly ground coffee tastes 50 cents, there must be some hitch! Even worse, in Gjakova you’ll find only local cafes, no Starbucks, no other cafe where you can pay through the nose for a bucket of milk and sugar with a faint flavour of coffee.
Don’t visit Gjakova – it’s cuteness overload
The Old Bazaar in Gjakova is just too cute. The decorations hanging between cafes are just too colourful and because of that people feel too relaxed. The atmosphere is just a bit too friendly and too nice. That’s not how you imagine travelling to Kosovo, right?
Too many nice views from the Çabrati hill, you might get too relaxed
If you want to eat, you eat, not admire the views. It’s so distracting to be watching over the panorama of the city when you just want to eat! Never go to Gjakova, never go to the Oxygen restaurant at the top of the Çabrati hill overlooking the town, because you will just waste time admiring the views and chatting with the locals instead of eating your food.
Only local food in Gjakova
Same as for the cafes, you won’t eat the famous hamburger containing all the cows of America here. Get yourself prepared for freshly baked bread, juicy lamb meat, fresh Shepherd’s salad. Also, getting to know new tastes is so risky! You might like something a lot and since it’s not expensive, you’ll eat to much and get fat.
Travel to Gjakova means too many options for hiking in tranquil nature
Holidays are to relax and hiking is not relaxing, is it? And Kosovo has so many options for hiking. Who would want to get the body moving, to walk surrounded by nature, to run through untouched forests and breathe fresh air? I bet there are no such people, that’s why no one goes to Gjakova. This town has parks and hills with no traffic where you could only tire yourself by hiking. No, no, no. Bad idea.
Travelling to Gjakova means buying handmade souvenirs, you might stand out too much!
Obviously, you have to buy and bring some souvenirs for your family or your close friends. What’s better: magnet made in PRC or handmade necklace/drawing/plate that no one else in the world has? Price being roughly the same? Obviously the magnet! I don’t know why people would like to buy good quality, handmade, original, captivating things created by the local artist. Really, I just don’t know. Maybe you know? (Things below were made by Mimoza Rracit).
Friendly, open local people will not let you stay alone in Gjakova
If you don’t feel like talking to anyone, just don’t go to Gjakova (or shall I say to Kosovo?). It is inhabited by so strangely friendly people, you will feel tempted to get to know them and talk to them! And once you do, maybe they will change your plans for your stay, maybe you will make friends, and then you will have to go home and will miss them! That’s not worth all the trouble. Better go somewhere else where the word “hospitality” has long disappeared from dictionaries.
Nothing spectacular to see in Gjakova except for … half of Gjakova
Gjakova in Kosovo has nothing interesting to sight see. Of course, the Old Bazaar in Gjakova, which is also the oldest bazaar in the whole Kosovo doesn’t count. Who likes the colourfulness and the vibe of bazaars anyway? Not you! Also, the Hadum Mosque which dates back to the 16th century and is very intricately decorated inside doesn’t count. Nor does the Christian church, old baths, old streets.
No interesting history in Gjakova
Gjakova has no interesting history. Kosovo has no interesting history. The Ottoman period when the town was a centre of trade, the later Balkan wars and complete destruction, the worst of all, the Kosovo war when Gjakova was heavily damaged and roughly 75% of people were expelled from their homes by the Serbs is nothing to be interested about. Same like the Gjakova’s struggle to rebuild itself and reinstall life and good spirit into the town once again. Sounds boring, doesn’t it?
Too much diversity is unhealthy
It’s so bad when a town or a country is diverse. Here a mosque, there a Christian Cathedral, here the old bazaar, there modernist blocks of flats. Meh, it should all be same! Otherwise you might get confused or learn too much.
Too much uniformity is unhealthy, too
Oh wait, the roofs are the same, they are all red! So boring!
Young energy of Gjakova will make you feel old
The last and the worst, it has many young, energetic people who do not spare time to energise their town. If that’s not your cup of tea, just don’t go. Otherwise you might feel tempted to do some changes in your own life and, for example, decide to get engaged in extra things after your work, like signing up for the Red Cross. And then you will have so much less time to browse your Facebook wall and wonder why everyone else is doing interesting stuff but for you.
OK, that’s enough. :D I was actually laughing while writing this post, because I could not be more obvious in my intention to say that Gjakova is the place you actually should visit. It’s cute, charming, vibrant, has plenty of things to sightsee and has a very violent, long, and uneasy history if only you want to listen. In short, if you ever visit Kosovo, be sure to put Gjakova on your list and you won’t be disappointed.
To read more about Kosovo, click here.