But the people from Prishtina are creative, dynamic and forward-looking - the friendly, open and positive vibe is infectious, and natives live peacefully alongside a notable international community. Some impressions of the city's character and its characters:
White Prishtina: view of the city from a flat in the neighbourhood of Dardania - 4 degrees weather brought us snow on the weekend
French or German buses run through the city: Europe's hand-downs. A bus line was installed only recently; near the Bill Clinton boulevard (peppered with a Hillary boutique) you see people queuing for the bus by the roadside with no bus signs in sight
The main university and most shops and restaurants have generators to manage losing electricity and avoid eating your pizza in the dark. Insides of bars and the like are usually quite dark, candles always on standby and heaters prominent everywhere to warm up from the cold (pictured: Aroma cafe off the main boulevard)
The left bank of the Seine is this local, tiny little cafe off the main Mother Teresa boulevard - a true reflection of the city's cosmopolitan cafe-intellectual culture, which was fully in swing even during the 1999 war. The cafe owner has been in business for thirty years, serving meat to hungry Pristinali sheltering from the cold, sun and rain. Amongst eminent customers I am introduced to are the ex-director of the Kosovo museum, a notable composer and an ex-war photographer who now shoots for the main 'Koha' daily. There's also a lame cat sniffing around who has been taken in by the cafe and is duly fed by visitors
One of the cafe's customers is introduced to me as a stereotype of a Prishtinan woman - smoke whilst you eat!
The cafebabel.com team (French, Catalan, English and Italian journalists and photographer) have just come back from the latest 'Cities on the ground' editorial monthly project to Prishtina. Watch out for our special city edition published on 2 January 2008
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.