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I Got Tear Gassed In Pristina

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Jan 29th, 2015, 01:03 PM
  #1
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I Got Tear Gassed In Pristina

After weighing all my travel options for the day, I head downstairs to Anja Restaurant for an amazing breakfast which is included in my $23 per night room rate. It is past nine in the morning and that removes one of my options to visit Prizren in Kosovo which although is less than 100km from Skopje is almost impossible to visit on a day trip using the local bus system.

Prizren is a popular tourist destination from Skopje but there are only two morning buses. Although only about 100km away surprisingly it takes about two hours to cover the distance because of the road conditions and border crossing formalities. Another option of a rental car for a total cost of about 50 euros a day plus what I consider the hassle of the border crossing forces Prizren of my list.

With hourly bus service to Pristina the capital of Kosovo, for 320 denars I am headed there on an 11am mini-bus. For me, a big part of visit to Pristina turns out to be a scary heart-racing but cool experience as I witness the largest protest in the city since 1998 and get tear gassed in the process.
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Jan 29th, 2015, 01:15 PM
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What were the natives revolting about?
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Jan 29th, 2015, 07:32 PM
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PalenQ

I think this link explains it better than I can:

http://www.reuters.com/.../us-kosovo...KBN0L01JX20150
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Jan 29th, 2015, 07:37 PM
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PalenQ,

A better link:

http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics...7&nav_id=92999
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Jan 29th, 2015, 07:50 PM
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What?? You were tear-gassed?

I looked at your last link, but clearly I am not up to speed on local dynamics. How did you manage to get in the middle of things DMB? This must be an interesting story.

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Jan 31st, 2015, 02:18 PM
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Pristina Protesting

After a double border crossing and picking up passengers along the way we arrive in Pristina in the early afternoon. Stepping from the bus into the cold air of a small but busy bus station I approach a local passenger from the bus for some guidance in visiting Pristina.

As I am having this conversation I am joined by another passenger who is seeking basically the same information. We are told we have picked an interesting day to visit Pristina as a big protest is planned in the city. This seems like a good way to get a pulse of the city and peaks my interest.

My first destination in Pristina is determined.

Overhearing our discussion another passenger from the bus joins in and he offers to guide myself and the other passenger around the city. As outsiders neither one of us could have asked for a better situation and we get a great education about Kosovo along the way.

On our walk to the city center my attention is drawn to a tall building in the distance with a larger than life size billboard with a smiling face on it. Approaching the building it all makes some sense as stories beneath this billboard is a statue of none other than the former US President, Bill Clinton.

President Clinton along President Bush and NATO forces were all instrumental in freeing Kosovo from Serbian aggression and “ethnic cleansing”.

At the intersection of Klinton Blvd and Bush Blvd we cross the street and continue toward the area for this afternoon's planned protest. We pass small groups along the street with a few group members carrying Kosovo flags. Soon we arrive in an area where a larger crowd has assembled and the activity level has picked up.

I find it interesting that across the crowd from us a bright yellow cat with big white teeth is smiling down on us from a building where it is painted.

Standing on the perimeter of the crowd our guide for the day, Max, is determining our next course of action as he is trying to navigate us to the Kosovo Museum. Our direct route to the museum is now blocked by protestors.

As he is contemplating this the activity level of the crowd intensifies and in what seems like a split second later shots of tear gas are fired in our direction. A stampede of hundreds begins and a big part of it is headed our way. With a jump now in my heart activity the only thing I can think to do is run and that is exactly what I do as I watch a few people fall and almost get trampled.

Soon my eyes are burning and a nasty taste fills my mouth as my breathing begins to labor. The air is now filled with the irritating gas even as we have moved away from the initial dispersion area. A man who apparently was closer to this area passes us with bright red blood shot eyes. There is a bit of panic in the air as ambulance and police sirens can be heard wailing across the city.

We have seen enough and Max works on an alternate route to get us to the museum. Although crowds are gathered along our new route the intensity and protesting level is a bit more subdued than at the focal point. We eventually make it to the museum where Max says his good-byes but gives an invite to his home in Montenegro at anytime. I promise that I will take him up on that offer.

Admission to the Kosovo Museum is free and although its displays are simply they tell a sad part of Kosovo's history. The “ethnic cleansing” that took place here up into the late 1990's is ridiculously sad. As we get ready to leave the museum I find the main entrance door is locked. I am standing there for a few minutes when an employee approaches and informs me that the museum is closing early because of the protesting activities going on in the city.

It takes some navigation around unknown streets and through a city park to avoid the protesting that is still going on. However, taking Max's advice we head back towards the university but I am surprised that some of the protesting activity has now moved in that direction. Late into the afternoon the air is still filled with gas and the crowd now at the intersection of Klinton and Bush Blvd has grown larger.

Although at first this seems like an obstacle to getting back to the bus station some more off the main path navigation and soon enough I am enjoying a “Pita Pizza” with a delicious sausage topping.

Big snowflakes are falling as the bus station comes into sight and I think what a cool way to end what has been an exciting experience.


Video:http://youtu.be/Qi0Zla_UhqE
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