Sunday, October 01, 2017

Gjakova, Kosovo - Bajram Curri, Albania

Gjakova, Kosovo - Bajram Curri, Albania

10 Sep 2017

We would be leaving Kosovo for Albania this morning via bus from Prizren to Gjakova, Kosovo then continuing our journey to Bajram Curri, Albania, and onwards to Valbona, Albania. From our hotel, we walked to the bus station for about 15 mins, 1.2 km. We took the 10.40am bus from Prizren to Gjakova from the Prizren bus station.  The journey to Gjakova would take about 1 hour, 30km. There are buses leaving for Gjakova every 30 minutes. We bought the ticket on the bus for EUR 3 per person. When we checked with our hotel, the bus ticket fare quoted was 2.5 EUR, but the boy who we bought the ticket from asked us for EUR 3 and did not give us any tickets. I guess they took some small amount of commission.

our 10.40am bus to Gjakova
Gjakova bus station

From Gjakova bus station, we had to look for "Mula Jusuf square at Ismail Qemajli street near the Catholic church", according to my internet research to get the minibus or furgon to Bajram Curri. First we asked a guy at the bus station and he pointed us towards Ismail Qemajli street, so we thought we were in the right direction and it couldn't be too far away. There is no buses to Bajram Curri from the bus station.

So we proceeded towards Ismail Qemali street. It turned out that this street is a very long stretch and there was no signage to indicate where we could get the minibus to Bajram Curri. So we tried to search for the Catholic Church and asked around. We saw a Tourist Information kiosk, but there was no one inside, so we continued to walk towards the Old Bazaar area. We asked a guy in the Hadum mosque, and he asked us to continue walking towards another mosque, and wait there. The minibus would be coming in about 1 hour.  We saw the mosque described by the man at a roundabout nearby, but didn't see any minibus waiting there. So we continued walking until we reached Kisha Catholic Church as per the internet description. But also we didn't see any minibus here.



Gjakova Old Bazaar

Kisha Catholic Church

Then suddenly a guy approached us and asked us if he could help us. We asked him where should we wait for the minibus to Bajram Curri. So he asked us to follow him back to the roundabout, then asked us to wait there. True enough, a minibus bearing the sign Bajram Curri finally arrived after about 30 minutes, so we could heave a sigh of relief.

Here is the direction from Gjakova bus station to the minibus stop for Bajram Curri. Click the image to zoom in



This is the roundabout to take the minibus to Bajram Curri

roundabout to wait for minibus to Bajram Curri

the minibus to Bajram Curri

The journey from Gjakova to Bajram Curri would take about 1 hour, 40km. We paid EUR 2 per person after we reached Bajram Curri. We crossed the Kosovo - Albania border at Qafa e Morines checkpoint but didn't need to have our passport stamped. So we were now in our third Balkan country- Albania, where 59% of the population is Muslim. The language spoken here is Albanian, which also has Slavic influence.

We noticed that the local village people goes to Gjakova to do their grocery shopping. A family was waiting for their mother to load the groceries into a wheelbarrow by the side of the road after alighting from the minibus. The view from Gjakova to Bajram Curri was beautiful with scenery of mountains, farms and cattles.

view of mountains from Gjakova to Bajram Curri

farm and cattle view fro Gjakova to Bajram Curri

In hindsight, we should have spent an hour or so at the Old Bazaar of Gjakova browsing for some souvenirs and have lunch there. We also forgot to take the picture of Hadum mosque as we were too focused on finding the minibus stop.

Arriving at Bajram Curri at 2.15pm, we would now have to find another minibus to take us to Valbona. According to the internet description, we have to wait at Ram Sadria in front of Hotel Halili 1. However, when we reached there, yet another guy approached us and asked us where we were going. We said that we were waiting for the minibus to Valbona, but the guy said the last minibus to Valbona had already left at 2pm. He offered to take us to Valbona with his car for EUR 10. From my research before, a taxi from Bajram Curri to Valbona would cost EUR 25; and we didn't know the schedule of the minibus. So we accepted his offer. His father and brother was also in the car, and they were on the way back to their village. I guess this is a sort of hitchhiking, but with payment.

statue of Bajram Curri, an Albanian national hero at the city named after him

background of mountain view at Bajram Curri

mountain view from Bajram Curri to Valbona

river among the mountains, otw to Valbona

more cattle by the roadside

the car that we "hitchhiked"


He delivered us safely at Villa Dini, and we paid him as per our agreement. At least there was no further fleecing. What a day! The journey from Prizren to Valbona deserve its own post. So the post on Valbona proper will be on the next one. Stay tuned!

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