This was not such a long time ago, in 2009. This was my first long time experience in Balkans, working for the international relations department of Kosovo Railways, during 12 months.
Why Kosovo, and why railways? Well, the reasons are pretty personal, I would say. Since I was a child, trains were my passion (not as much as Sheldon in TBBT though), and I had started to develop a deep interest for Balkans after repeated travels in the area. As a student, I had to perform a year abroad. I sent CV's in Southeastern Europe, Kosovo Railways made me an offer.
That's how I landed in Kosovo, for the first time of my life. I got my office, analyzing all the partnerships opportunities for the company. A lot of paperwork, both technical and administrative, but an unforgettable, and pretty unique experience.
It was a time of change and hope, both for Kosovo and for its railways. The declaration of independence had been proclaimed one year before, and prospects for the future were high. The ghost of the 1999 conflict would fade, and the international community would help the newborn country. For the railways, optimism was the rule as well. Despite the fact that the company lost the control over the northern part of its network, which had been taken over one year before by Serbian Railways, change was about to come. A few years before, Kosovo Railways had been freed from UN management, meaning they would have now more liberties in terms of development, while structural changes were forecasted.
Years passing, the situation happened not as easy as it seems. The economic developments, as well as the political ones, after some fast changes in the years following the independence, did not really improved in the past 5 years. Prishtina/Pristina and Belgrade blaming each other for the situation.
And what about the railways? Well, they recently discontinued all the passenger services, except for the international train to Skopje... I guess it tells a lot about the situation.
Regarding photography, it was the first time for me to work on a subject for such a long time. The quality was far from being optimal, given I just had back in the time a tiny Canon 350D with its infamous 18-55mm kit lens. However, I think the pictures I took are still worth something, as they are a small testimony of that time.