Edinburgh man on epic trip stranded in Kosovo for more than a month

Mike Elm was stuck in the country after the borders were closed.

A man from Edinburgh and his partner have been left stranded in Kosovo after international borders closed in March.

Partners Mike Elm, from Edinburgh, and Rosie Watson, from Cumbria, were partway through a 10,000 km trip to Mongolia to raise awareness for climate change, when they were caught up in Kosovo’s lockdown.

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Now the pair are limbo in the city of Prizren, in the western part of the country.

“I was only planning one night in Prizren, but was taken by the place,” Mike said, “so then planned for two nights.

“When I first arrived, Ismail, who runs the Arra Hostel, generously put me up for one night,” the 32-year-old said.

“Then the whole place got locked down, so Rosie hitched from Pristina to join me and we've been in the hostel ever since.

The pair have been struck by the hospitality of the locals, despite tough restrictions imposed by the Kosovo government.

Rosie and Mike met Tjaša Ficko, Deputy Mayor of Ljubljana, on their travels, learning how the government is making the city better for people on foot and bike.

“We've become good friends with Ismail and his brother Ardi, and their three cats,” Mike said.

“We're in a beautiful spot just below the city's ancient fort, so we have a great view of the whole city and the snow capped Pashtriku mountain.”

Residents in Prizren are only allowed out for 90 minutes each day to get essential items and exercise, but the couple are “both doing well”, Mike said.

“We’re keeping up exercising - running when we can,” he said, “also leading some online yoga sessions and workouts.”

In August last year, Rosie set out running and hiking through Europe and Asia, gathering stories of new ways of living and working in the era of climate change.

“We are living in a climate crisis,” the 25-year-old wrote on her blog, “and urgently need to re-address how we live. https://newstoryrun.wordpress.com/about/

“I am meeting people along the way who are dedicated to tackling the climate crisis and its related issues.”

Spurred on by Rosie’s “New Story Run”, Mike decided to start cycling the same route in November, starting in Vienna.

“I was inspired by her,” Mike said, calling his journey “New Story Ride”.

Rosie and Mike plan to continue their trip to Mongolia – and possibly beyond – when the borders reopen.


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