Technically this was to be the second to last day of the “tour”, and for me what we had planned was pretty much one of my highlights, Mitrovice.
The 411 on Mitrovice is that it is the most northern city in the “country of Kosovo”, separated slap bang in the middle by a river, north of which live the Serbs, south of which live the Kosovan’s, both of whom believing that they live in different countries. Despite much of the trip alluding to danger, this place genuinely was danger, only 4 days ago there were riots here with 3 KFOR soldiers getting injured. I smell a sitcom……..
Upon arrival we headed straight for the bridge to be greeted by a tank, a group of Italian soldiers and a bridge that had been barricaded to stop everything bar foot traffic from getting past. A quick chat with the soldiers revealed that indeed there had recently been trouble, and that if we did decide to cross the bridge, we were a) Crazy, and that b) we should not speak English too loudly or risk getting our heads kicked in. These were odds I liked, so we crossed the closest thing I can imagine to the bridge of no return in Korea, all agreeing that we would return before nightfall (the traditional rioting time).
Upon hitting the “other side” despite being separated by only bridge it was immediately, and strikingly very different, with Serbian flags, anti-EU posters, and racist graffiti fucking everywhere, most amazingly to me I saw Combat 18 written almost everywhere. For those who do not know Combat 18 is an ultra-right group from the UK with the 18 alluding to A(1) H(8), as in Adolph Hitler. Now I have met a lot of Nazi’s in my time traveling, and what truly does my head in as that most of them clearly did not read Mein Kamph in too much depth, Hitler fucking hated Slav’s, but then again when did extremism ever need rationality. I also took a picture of some graffiti that had some Serbian followed by what I assumed to the English translation of “Kosovo is Serbia” underneath, only to be later informed that in fact the Serbian actually said “death to Kosovan pigs”, how touching that they censor the words for our weak English eyes……..One little highlight though was a souvenir shop selling very anti-American postcards, which I duly stocked up on. Whilst I am not anti-American, postcards that show the downed stealth bomber with the words “sorry we didn’t know it was supposed to be invisible – greetings from Serbia” or indeed funny. FACT.
We had a few beers in a local Serbian bar, accidentally letting it get dark, before going back over, when it really did feel like the bridge of no return. Got myself shaved and a portion of chips on the Kosovan side for a Euro. If thats not a real country I don’t know what is…...