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Transportation Update

23 June 2020

Hi Everyone.  Hope you are all well and safe, and getting to enjoy a bit more liberty.  Border restrictions seem to be changing (finally) but it’s all still pretty confusing and messy.  Here, to the best of our knowledge, is the current situation:

Note on Border Crossing Permission!  Our friends at Zbulo  https://www.zbulo.org/ tell me that Kosova has announced they will not grant any permissions this year.  Two tour agencies in Peja (Kosova) are lobbying the gov there against this, but not sure how it will go.  Zbulo says they do NOT recommend applying now as a) you won’t get it and b) if you get permission while borders are open and then the border closes maybe it will look like you did something illegal (this is because they just manually input your crossing into the system – ie, instead of having your passport scanned at a border control, they manually enter your crossing ahead of time.  Ergo – it could look like you crossed, even if you didn’t).

Albania:

  • Re: Airports – Just in from the US Embassy (16 June): “On June 15, 2020, commercial flight activity resumed in Albania with flights from Tirana to Vienna, Belgrade, and Athens.  Currently, there are no direct flights between those cities and the United States and, as such, the Government of Albania has declared that only European Union residents and citizens are eligible to board these flights at this time.  U.S. citizens may be eligible to board flights in early July once direct flights from select European to the United States cities have been re-established.  Please be advised that international travel is highly unpredictable at this time and flights and countries’ entry requirements are subject to change without advance notice.”
  • Land borders opened on Monday (1 June) but it’s a little weird . . . you can enter Albania, but if Kosova (our nearest neighbor) closes their borders (which they are threatening to do) so you wouldn’t actually be able to leave again.  Sigh.
  • You can move around the country as you wish.
  • Here’s a very Albanian (so slightly unorthodox) solution:  If or When you are able to fly into Montenegro (see below), you can actually WALK to Valbona in a couple of hours.  We’re not busy at the moment, so would be into hiking over to get you, even with a pack horse to carry your bags!  Oh.  Of course this would be totally illegal.  Oh – no!  Our borders are open!  So we could apply for border crossing permission for you too!  Wow.  That’s such a Balkan solution.  But sounds like fun, to me?

Kosova:

  • We ‘heard’ that airports are going to open in ‘maybe’ July.
  • NewsFlash!!!  Landborders are open and have been for a few days.  Only you’re supposed to wear a mask and gloves when you pass through.
  • But be aware that they keep changing internal restrictions as numbers of cases fluctuate.

Montenegro:  (well, this is weird)

  • Airports were opened for private and business flights on 20 May, but . . .
  • Only “countries with fewer than 25 active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents will be eligible to visit Montenegro.”
  • News: 20 June!  “Starting June 21, Montenegro will close its land borders with Albania due to the increased number of COVID-19 cases in Albania”

Macedonia:

  • Airports have been closed since March, with no plans to reopen.
  • “The Government of North Macedonia continues to prohibit entry of foreigners via land borders from all neighboring countries, including Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, and Serbia, but will permit travelers to exit via land border if they have permission to enter a neighboring country.  The Government of North Macedonia has not announced an anticipated date for re-opening land borders for entry of foreigners.”

Well I still think Dirigibles are the way to go.  All my friends are planning to start visiting in July, so maybe we’ll see you then too!  And by the way, there were only ever 4 cases in Tropoja, all in the space of a couple of days (people who had family just returned from Italy – poor Italy!) – so Tropoja has stayed pretty much as usual, and it’s been – and I guess will be! – ‘the’ place to be during Quarantines?