I can hardly believe my luck, I was offered a flight over Kosovo out of the blue and of course I accepted. It was a helicopter flight in December and it was a bit cool but the view was incredible. We left from Pristina and I’m pretty sure the direction was north although I didn’t ask. I assume we started out in that direction as we landed in the north for a look at the Kosovo/Serbia border.
Kosovo is a beautiful country from above and the landscape is filled with rolling and rugged terrain. We were at a rather low elevation so the cars, cities and villages were quite visible throughout the entire trip. Each of the villages and small cities we flew over appeared quite active with plenty of foot and vehicle traffic. One feature I thought was quite interesting were the number of half built structures and although I heard a few explanations as to why, I’m not sure which was correct. It seemed to be quite common to see a three story structure with only the bottom and perhaps part of the second story finished to a state in which someone could live.
The explanation I heard repeatedly was due to taxes of some sort which seemed plausible as it’s a new country and possibly grappling with income sources. The other story I heard was that people were working in Western Europe and sending money home to build the structures but the money dried up or jobs were lost which also seemed reasonable. I’m not sure but there were quite a number of partially built buildings. Another thing I noticed was the roof structures, rounded or traditional angular as I see in the west. Although I’m don’t know, I did hear one explanation, that is was due to religion with the Islamic community having one roof shape and the christian community another.
It’s possible but again, I’m not sure. The whole thing makes the country interesting when you combine it with location, culture and past events. The divergent cultures which are tied to their specific religions self segregate for various reasons which I can only speculate at. But, I should mention that in my travels this habit seems to be quite common as the old saying goes, “Birds of a Feather Flock Together”. Not that this is a bad thing, people generally seek out others with common interests, cultures, religions for various reasons, safety and familiarity being high on the list.
We ended up landing at a site in the north close to the border area and we then stepped off the flight for a brief period and walked to the border. Not to the checkpoint but on an overlook where we could see both countries. It’s difficult for me to understand the deep seated suspicion and mistrust the locals must have for each other and it’s evident in their efforts to live in areas where everyone has similar religious or cultural beliefs. The area where we landed was hilly, rugged and covered with trees making for difficult movement on foot should one try to cross the border over land. After stopping at a store on the border we hopped on the flight and headed back through what appeared to be a different route. This time we passed over a reservoir, quite large actually and the surrounding area was beautiful. I think I heard mentioned that this was a water supply for the country although I can’t say for sure. I was able to see quite a few little cities along the way as I mentioned earlier and I couldn’t wait to perhaps drive the route up to the north to see the place on the ground. That was to come later but I thoroughly enjoyed the view from above and would do it again if given the chance.