27 July 2001

Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania & Greece


Currently in Tuzla, Bosnia. Tuzla is cool, although it has been raining loads (appraently it has been raining solid for 2 wks), but it appears to be improving... Staying in a nice enough place. They still havent got water all the time. Teaching starts on Monday. Venice was good (as it always is!) - we've all had a good time bonding. It's weird being the leader of the group - they all expect me to know what is happening and what to do... No major problems yet and everyone's getting on. All the teachers are getting on very well.

This weekend was awesome - during the week we met some SFOR peacekeepers and they invited us on a tour. So on Saturday they took us to Sarejvo via some villages. They were 2 Finnish SFOR troops who took us around in their people carrier. First they took us to a village where they are trying to get people to return to their homes and they are helping them to rebuild them. We got dressed up in bullet proof vests and helmets, which was quite amusing. They were enthusiastic about lending us their shotgun to take photos with....

Whilst we were there we met some American troops, who were quite funny (stereotypes are so true). They seemed very dumb and were quite ineffectual. hen they took us to Sarajevo and told us so much about the history. It's only now that we really can appreciate what went on. They took us to all the significant landmarks or places from the 4 year siege. The Serbs used Naypalm during the seige and used to aim their snipers mainly at children. They even advertised on the internet that ppl could come and pay 100DM to shoot at children... After they left us in Sarajevo we had a nice evening and went clubbing....it was okay. Sarejevo is an amazing place.

Today we had placement testing and it was such hard work. Within the fisrt hour about 70 ppl came at once, which was very stressful. After that hour it felt as if 10 hrs had passed...
Tomorrow teaching begins, butit will also be quite stressful since many ppl didnt turn up for the testing today...


Arrived in Pristina, Kosova this morning from Sarajevo. It's not quite in pristina condition, but a very interesting place(excuse the bad pun). The coach journey was quite harsh - lots of loud smokers on the bus (it took 15 hrs). The bus was overbooked and they had to chuck ppl off - the second time this happened in the space of one day. In the end, i spent around 24 hrs on buses (including 2 nights in a row), since i went to Mostar in the south of Bosnia, before going to Sarajevo and then to Pristina.

Pristina isnt that nice a city, but it's been good to see it. Have met lots of cool people from all over the world (Kazakstan, Romania, Kosova and Holland). Houses in the countryside are quite badly damaged. Have been trying to set up a new English language program, so that we can send ppl from cambridge to pristina next year as well as tuzla. It looks very likely to go ahead. It's a completely safe place.

There's loads of international UN workers and peacekeepers (all British, with stupid looking red roses in their berets...). There's a few probs - the electricity just went out for the 2nd time today and there's not running water. Had a few border probs on the way here - lots of hassle of Montengran officials. They were telling the macedonians they were gonna get shot when they got home. They were making jokes about me being from 'Great' Britain.

Today I got some fake ID off a girl organising - my name is now Daud. That's so I could get a room for tonight in university accomodation - it was quite funny.


Well I made it out of Kosova alive. Am now in Tirana, the capital of Albania. It's a weird country - didnt know what to expect. The scenery in the north of the country was spectacular - very dramatic unspoilt mountains, a bit like Greece. It's so unspoilt that the roads are aweful.
Albania has 750,000 nuclear bunkers and they;re everywhere - all over the countryside. They're concrete and mostly damaged. It's a weird site, especially since there are only 3m albanians. Tirana was pretty much like Damascus - lots of conrete buildings, without proper pavements. A very manic place, but interesting all of the same.

What was also weird was the complete absence of tourists - i didnt see a single one. And i had quite a lot of difficulty with language - hardly anyone speaks any English. I also went by train to the coast (adriatic). The trains were in pretty bad shape - they would have been thrown away in England a long time ago, with many broken windows. However, it only cost 12p to go the distance of London to Cambridge....


Am now in Greece with my friends for 5 days. The bus from Tirana to Greece was quite painful. I had run out of cash the previous day (they dont take credit cards in Albania) so had hardly eaten the day b4 the bus. Then I spent from 6am til midnight on a bus to Greece, where all I had was a packet of crisps and a dodgy packet of biscuits. When I got to Greece I still couldnt get any food due to the absence of anywhere taking credit cards yet. So I felt very ill and was quite sick. 18 hrs on the bus didnt help. It took 2 hrs to clear the border into Greece which was also quite a pain. Arrived in Corinth at midnight and the bus dropped me 6km from the town. I still had no money, was feeling ill and it was late. I thought I would end sleeping in a park or something, but luckily i found a supermarket which i got some food from (took credit cards) and they even gave me some cashback, so i could get a taxi to town. I managed to get a hotel OK as well, so i turned out to be quite lucky.

On Thurs, I met up with the others and we explored the ruins of Ancient Korinth. Then on Friday we went to Mycenae and today we're in Athens. Tomorrow we:re going to Delphi. It's good to be with the others - has been quite amusing. Dont think i would have wanted to spent more than a week with them though. Quite intense travelling. And they're seriously economising. We've eaten breakfast, lunch and dinner every day so far (3 days) on the street - i.e. from supermarkets or cheap kebab takeaway places. I should have expected it, given that i am travelling with the 3 tightest people i know. They are currently in the museum of athens. I went in, but it looked seriously boring. I've made a special request for us to go to a restaurant tonight.