Republic of Serbia Transportation Tips by GyuriFT Top 5 Page for this destination
Republic of Serbia Transportation: 26 reviews and 39 photos
Blue ZS railbus arrived in Kosovo
Finally we got the first photo shots of Lesak exchange point and the formalities. Lesak is on the "Albanian" side of the administrative border with Kosovo. The entire procedure is very simple. The only documents being checked (Aug 17. 2007) were the train tickets. Due the disputed nature of the border it is PROBABLY not much different now either. The control in the train seem to be much more easy-going (no control, some policemen present but not active) than on bus.
1) Blue ZS railbus arrived in Kosovo from Kraljevo, the red-nose NOHAB Diesel-Engine with train to Kosovo Polje (close to Pristina) is next to it. Passengers change the trains without formalities.
2) Kosovar (Albanian? Serb? not sure) official gives free signal by hand (this is still very popular way to signal in most of Europe)
3) The station of Lesak, from distance. Note the old "Kennedy" 661 series diesel of Serbian Rail now re-painted in new Kosovo paint scheme with a freight from north to Kosovo
WARNING: I uploaded these pictures from http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/, the author is Martin Heier, not me.
I took the freedom to publish these here because such pictures are still scarce.
IMPORTANT: Who can read German please read the last comment from European railway enthusiast "Jesuskind" about travel to Serbia and via Lesak: "Also keine Panik auf der Titanic" = "No Titanic-panic" and "eben Menschenansammlungen meiden" = "stay away from large crowds". Enough said, this warning is valid everywhere worldwide. It was interesting to read, people can actually get away with the known "Serbian passport stamp" problem because of some obscurities - don't count on it tough. ;)
Maybe will challenge my luck and take a stroll this Summer...
garderoba is the little window on the right
Several visitors had concerns about the location of the left luggage storage at Belgrade train station. The location is not really tricky, the service is safe (once I stored there equipment worth $5000) but the building is not marked properly and for newcomers it may look somewhat scary while in the reality it is not. The service is very inexpensive and who has a lot of luggage can ask porters to help.
There are always several policemen in service at the station. Ask them the "magic" word "GARDEROBA" ("guard - de - robah").
Just in case you are confused:
1) de-train, all trains are ending in Belgrade, the through trains are always reversed.
2) turn towards the exit.
3) locate yellow markings made for cars. These cars are personal cars of passengers. "Auto-trains" are very popular in Serbia, people often travel on trains with their cars loaded in the back of train. These markings lead to special car loading tracks, always separate from the "regular" tracks.
4) walk slowly on yellow markings, but make sure it's not the time when the cars are unloaded, otherwise drivers ( = maybe some of your fellow passengers!) will be not to happy, so watch the cars.
5) precisely where the yellow markings turn a slight left is the window of "garderoba". It is really near - the problem is that I am not sure are the pictograms there or not and overseas visitors aren't familiar with European pictograms.
The entire process of finding the garderoba is more easy in the reality than to describe.
The car-train to Montenegro
Serbian railway indeed offers car transportation. The cars of the passengers are transported inside covered or non-covered railway wagons. This is a very inexpensive, very convenient way to take the car from Subotica, Novi Sad, Beograd to Bar (Montenegro) or from Beograd to Thessaloniki.
There is, however a catch: despite of what seem to be an "open possibility" described in the Serbian Railway home page regarding the size of vehicle, the reality is: no car over 1.55 meter high is allowed. At least. I tried to inquiry twice and it's what I was told at the Beograd station on June 30, 2008. Why is that - can be seen from the pictures.
From today (March 6, 2008) Russian citizens do not need any kind of visa.
Earlier at the border either a vaucher or an invitation had to be presented. Otherwise the Russian traveler had to have a visa in the passport. For Russians, the Serbian visa was one of the easiest and cheapest (<$20) - but it seriously hindered the tourism from the province since Serbian consulate is in Moscow and St. Peterburg only.
This simplifies the overland travel to Montenegro and Greece and large families can take advantage of the rail discount.
It is well possible to travel to and from Kosovo by train. It is even cheaper than by bus. It can be slower but has some advantages:
1) very low-profile
2) large crowds do not travel by trains
3) the probability of being not controlled (see the infamous entry stamp trap) is the highest on the train
4) trains are politically motivated and state-sponsored, busses are not. They tend to run regardless of tensions.
5) trains are often cheaper
6) more space to walk around, toilets
7) good guys from far away countries sometimes allowed a cab ride without much formalities
Because of recent controversies I decided to make a little research and created a collection of train schedules valid in 2008 in the area.
I have to disappoint the tourists looking for adventure like train robbery, using sleep-gas on passengers, rape. If that's the goal, a Belgrade-Lesak-Kosovo Polje-Skopje train ride will be extremely boring.
The first picture is how to go around Kosovo by train starting in Kraljevo.
The second picture is how to get to/from Kraljevo by train.
Here is nothing new, I just compiled what is out there. To the finest tradition of Central European railways, all information is somewhere deeply buried into a maze of pages strictly in local (Serbian, Albanian) language. I tired to pull the information out and compile on few screenshots.
Keep in mind, this information is NOT AVAILABLE ELSEWHERE, the German Railway web site is not updated properly. This is THE correct schedule. Save and print out the picture from the link and use it as guide.
The trains in the area can run late but the so called "Voz slobodne kretanja/Treni i lëvizjes së lirë" trains WILL wait for the 3831 and 3833 from Kraljevo no matter what. The same is true the "other" way, if the "Voz slobodne kretanja/Treni i lëvizjes së lirë" is late, the 3832/3834 will wait for it at Lesak.
The scenery is very nice, many tunnels, bridges - but not as stunning as between Belgrade and Bar.
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