Tag Archives: sarajevo

Bus Ride from Sarajevo, Bosnia to Niš, Serbia

Today I am leaving Sarajevo and going to Niš, Serbia.  I am really excited about this.  I had done and redone this part of my trip 83274398274 times.  I wanted to go to Niš so bad.  I cant explain it, I just NEEDED to see it.  That happens sometimes, you just become completely fixated on seeing a certain place for unexplainable reasons, you just FEEL that you need to be there.  That is Niš for me.

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This part of my trip was so complicated to plan.  I wanted to take a bus and arrive, see Niš and get back on the bus and head to Bulgaria.  This seemed impossible to do since I could not find out the things I needed to know in order to do this.  Like for example, is there a bag check at the Niš bus station?  I still do not know the answer to this by the way.  So I opted to just spend a full day and night in Niš, and then later on got really excited when I discovered I could take an overnight train to Bulgaria.  This is a huge bucket list item for me.  Being that I have never done it, it seems so exciting.  I also have a feeling that as life goes on and I have gotten to do this more times than I can count, it will STILL be exciting.  Check back in a few years to see if I am right.

There are two bus stations in Sarajevo.  One is easy to get to.  The one that my bus is leaving from is not that one.  The owner of the guesthouse I was at told me how to take public transport to the bus station I needed to leave from.  it seemed really complicated so she offered that she could arrange for her driver to take me for 20BAM (which is about $13-ish USD).  Done deal!

I am picked up and whisked off to the bus station.   I had some Bosnia Marks leftover and spent them at the little newsstand inside the station.  I bought a few packs of gum and was actually proud of myself for a few moments that I was not leaving with a surplus of cash that would not be good at my next stop.  Big mistake.  Why?  Because before boarding the bus, I needed to use the restroom.  There is a sign that it costs .50BAM.  All I have left is .50BAM.  The man at the door keeps telling me “no”.  I point to the sign that says .50, show him the .50 and he still will not let me in.  He gets frustrated with me and takes out a pen and piece of paper and writes $1.  But it says fifty fucking cents.  He doesn’t understand English, I don’t understand anything except English.   I do not want to be one of those stupid Americans who go to another country without understanding the language and act like it’s the other persons fault for the communication breakdown.  I accept that this is my own fault.  So I don’t get to use the restroom.  Then I become obsessed with it.  I am going to be on a bus for ten hours.  Have you ever NOT had to pee, but thinking about how you COULDN’T pee made you have to pee?  Yeah that.

Oh there are no bathrooms on the bus either.

The bus pulls up and I am ready to board. No need to freak out about wondering if you are getting on the right bus!

Nis Bus

Communication breakdown number two.  There was a man loading luggage underneath the bus.  We had a very confusing conversation where neither of us understood the other, during which he would not take my luggage.  Finally he realizes he can show me and holds out a hand full of change.  OH.  You want some change, I am so excited to learn that this is an easily solvable problem.  I try to give him the fifty cents that the bathroom dude won’t take. He won’t take it either.  I have no more Bosnian money.  I spent it on gum I did not want or need.   I do not know what this man wants.  I think to try maybe giving him Serbian Dinars, which I actually have on me, from my layover at the Beograde airport the other day.  He still shakes his head no, completely frustrated with me at this point, as he should be.  He then motions for me to go on the bus.  We do the “we do not understand each other at all” gesture thing where I make sure this is okay and he repeat motions that it is okay and on the bus I go.  Still having to pee.

I don’t really mind long bus rides.  I just put my headphones on and close my eyes.  When I do decide to open them, I am treated to scenery that gets me all excited inside because I will  never get enough of the incredible feeling of looking outside a bus or train window, at a country I have never been to before, and feel that gush of pride that I got here all by myself.

bus scenery - Sarajevo to Nisbus scenery - Sarajevo to Nis

As the ride goes on, my need  to pee grows.  At some point around hour five, I cant take it anymore.  I take out my flip phone and access the internet on it, which is costing me eleventy billion dollars.  I try Googling to see if anyone else has taken this bus and blogged about it, so I can get an idea of what time the first stop is.  As I am Googling, we pull over!  I GET TO PEE!!!!!  I have never been more excited.

Our stop is at a restaurant. I don’t want to eat so I go outside, as do some others.   I am asked by three separate people if I am from the United States.  All three had no follow up questions for me.

We were at this stop for about half an hour I would guess.  Once the driver is done with his meal, we all load back onto the bus.  I pull out my phone to check the time and that’s when I see that UGH. When I had tried to Google to find out about the stops, my poor, pathetic flip phone could not handle loading whatever website I was trying to load before I realized we were pulling over.  So it has been stuck on “this page is too big to load” for about half an hour. So I have been on the internet for half an hour.  Paying roaming data charges. My phone company is going to LOVE me.

When we arrive in Niš, I plan to walk to the apartment I have rented for two nights.  Here are the walking directions:

1. Head south 270 m

2. Slight right toward Trg Kralja Milana 250 m

3. Continue straight onto Trg Kralja Milana Pass by Споменик Цару Константину (on the left in 78 m) 240 m

4. Turn right toward Генерала Милојка Лешјанина 11 m

5. Turn left toward Генерала Милојка Лешјанина 8 m

6. Turn right onto Генерала Милојка Лешјанина Pass by Medi-Service (on the right in 93 m) 220 m

7. Turn left onto Милорада Вељковића Шпаје Pass by Gnezdo (on the right) 210 m

8. Turn left at AIK Bank onto Nikole Pašića/Николе Пашића Pass by DiStefano (on the left) 51 m

9. Turn right at Minjon onto Александра Ненадовића

Destination will be on the right

I just can’t.  I get lost all the time, I cannot read a map.   I cannot read these directions. I am just not in the mood for this.  I find a cab driver who speaks English and he tells me it will cost me 300 Serbian Dinar to drive me.  That is like $4.   I am so down.

It turns out taking a cab was the best idea ever because once I figured my way around, I realized those directions took me in a really weird way. Finally I have done something right.

I check into my apartment, which cost me $20 USD/night.  God I love Eastern Europe.  Once I am all settled, it is only around 6:00 PM.  But I have a full liter of San Benedetto Peach Iced Tea (that I never opened on the bus because I had that whole “I have to pee” thing going on).  I also have a bunch of snacks leftover from my “I can’t eat any of this because I cannot wash it down because I am too scared to drink anything because I have to pee” thing going on.  The air conditioning is blasting.  I am so comfortable.  So in the end, I opted to shower, do laundry and spent the night catching up on blogging and sorting pictures.  Perfect night.

bed Prenociste Sunce, Nis SerbiaKitchen Prenociste Sunce, Nis Serbia

One Day Spent in Sarajevo, Bosnia

I had originally done a “quick picture post” of Sarajevo, here.

I had not planned to spend any time in Sarajevo.  I wanted to go to Mostar, and planned to use Sarajevo as a home base to travel to Mostar from, as a day trip.  However, after arriving in Sarajevo, I just felt like I wanted to be here.  I can’t really explain it.  I don’t know if the city affected me in any way, if I was just mentally exhausted, if I was so over Rome and all the people or what. I just knew I wanted to stay here. I woke up early and was raring to go.  I wasn’t really sure WHERE to go though.  I hadn’t planned on staying here, so I hadn’t done any research.  I hopped on a tram and took it to the end of the line and walked around a bit.  I found a cool park. park - sarajevo, bosnia Sarajevo has so much beauty.  I could not get enough of gazing at the multi colored houses in the hills. Sarajevo, Bosnia Sarajevo, Bosnia

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The Bascarsija section of the city:

Sarajevo, BosniaSarajevo, Bosniasarajevo, bosniasarajevo, bosnia   silver guitars sarajevo, bosniasarajevo, bosnia I spent some time in a casino and won about $30.  That was kind of fun as well. Then there is the abundance of leftover war damage. War Torn SarajevoWar Torn SarajevoWar Torn SarajevoWar Torn SarajevoWar Torn SarajevoWar Torn SarajevoWar Torn SarajevoWar Torn SarajevoWar Torn SarajevoWar Torn SarajevoWar Torn SarajevoWar Torn SarajevoI actually had a very nice, relaxing day.  That made me feel like kind of an asshole.  Hey Sarajevo – thanks for the relaxing day I spent taking pictures of the leftover damage from when your city was destroyed in a war!

But in the end, I got punished for having a nice day.  When I got back to the guesthouse I was staying in, I wanted to take a picture to send my sister.  At the end of the block was an adorable stray dog napping in the sun. I wanted to get him in the picture as well.  There was someone walking down the street, preventing me from doing this.  As I was waiting him out, a little kid came up and demanded “GIVE ME MONEY”.  Oh hell no.  “GIVE ME MONEY”.  No.  “I SAID GIVE ME MONEY”  I SAID NO.  “GIVE ME MONEY” NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

Then he starts playing the repeating game. “NO NO NO NO NO NO NO”  Oh you are an annoying little shit head “OH YOU ARE AN ANNOYING LITTLE SHIT HEAD”.

I never did get my picture.

Goodbye Rome, Hello Sarajevo!

Today I am leaving Rome and heading to Bosnia.  This section of the trip is both where I got all frustrated while booking it, and then even more frustrated living it.  I originally wanted to go from Rome to Puglia and take an overnight ferry to Dubrovnik.  Well today is Wednesday and guess what day of the week that ferries do not run?  Yes.  Wednesday.  So I opted to fly to Bosnia.  This was the start of several days where I watched my “Best Travel Planner EVER” crown turn to rust before my eyes.

Hotel check out is at 11:00  My flight is at 4:05.  I decide to go to the airport this early because I don’t want to be in Rome anymore. Plus my flight has changed and I am not all that sure of the new time because there is no wifi in my room and I am limited on what I can see on my phone.

There was no one upstairs when I checked out of my room. I just left the keys there.  I had to restrain myself to keep from leaving a note about YOU LYING BASTARDS. THERE IS NO WIFI HERE.

I walked downstairs and the dude who checked me in is out there!  He asks me how my stay is.  I say “there is no wifi” and he says “yeah…”  in this sheepish tone that causes me to FLIP OUT on him.  I am so pissed off,  I am yelling about how I never would have stayed here, this is bullshit and false advertising.  I basically just keep yelling at him.  He basically just keeps standing there.  I finally walk away while giving him the finger.  I am still so mad about this.  It is so irrational but I hate liars and to knowingly lie about having wifi when you don’t just really set me off.  The hilarity of all of this is that this is the first trip ever in my life where I have brought a laptop type thingy.  On any other trip to any other place I have been to in my past, I wouldn’t have even known that this hotel is a liar liar pants on fire.

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PS – When I got home, I emailed booking.com to tell them that this hotel is a LIAR.  They responded letting me know they would contact the hotel.  I guess that didn’t do much because these lying bastards are STILL advertising wifi.  THERE IS NO WIFI.  I AM STILL MAD.

So anyway.  There is a train to the airport for €14 or you can take a bus for €4.  No brainer.

I walked to Termini to catch the bus.  The weather is absolutely beautiful today.   The best weather day I have seen since I first landed in Europe.  Of course I am spending this beautiful day traveling all day long.  Or rather sitting around airports all day long.

First flight – Rome to Belgrade on Jat Airways, operated by Alitalia.  It is interesting to note that it said “Alitalia” nowhere at all anywhere on my confirmation.  I only figured it out via a combo of a screen with ticket window numbers for each flight happening to be an Alitalia window.  The Jat Airways window was never open at all the entire time I was there.  Also annoying, when I was on the line for Alitalia, I asked a woman who worked for them if I was in the right line, since my ticket/confirmation said nothing about this.  She told me yes, I am Alitalia and that I could skip the line if I wanted and go check in on the other side.  Guess what happened when I went to the other side?   I was told I had to go back to where I just was.  Great.

The seats on this flight are large and slippery.  I keep sliding out of mine.  This is so stupid.  I had also picked seat 3F – right side of the plane because I naturally lean to the right when I sleep sitting up.  I am now somehow in 4A and I cannot manage to sit still because I am on the wrong side.

Layover in Belgrade wasn’t too bad.  Got to buy a carton of sketchy cigarettes for €5.  As much as I started today just annoyed over losing an entire day to travel (my own fault) I will say it ended up being a nice relaxing day.  I have not had any free day in my life in months to just do nothing.  I got caught up on writing and picture sorting. I had time to think about the rest of my trip without making a panicked mental list of what I still needed to do before leaving.  The only way today could have been better is if I weren’t an idiot and didn’t leave my zen thingy in my luggage before checking it in at the airline counter.  Then I could have had a fantastic soundtrack to my thoughts.

Just so we are clear, I enjoyed all-day-transport-day more than I enjoyed Rome.  There, I said it.

My flight from Beograde to Sarajevo was delayed by over an hour.  The Beograde airport is perhaps the most boring airport in existence.  There is pretty  much nothing open after 8:00 pm.  Finally we board, finally we arrive in Sarajevo.  Finally I get to see this awesome Roulette wheel luggage conveyor belt:

roulette wheel luggage conveyor belt, sarajevo, bosnia

When I arrived in Sarajevo – twelve hours after I left my Rome hotel – I had a driver waiting for me.  That was cool.  As we drove from the airport to my hotel, he asked me how I liked Rome.  I told him I hated it.  I told him that there were too many people  I gestured to the empty streets we were on right now and said “LOOK!  NO PEOPLE!  THAT IS SO COOL”.  He pointed out that it was close to midnight and of course, that is why it was so quiet outside.  Oh.  Well anyway…

I am staying at a guesthouse tonight.  I am arriving both late at night and even later than I was supposed to, due to my flight being delayed.  The owner was kind enough to not make me feel like a disruptive asshole.  She showed me to my room, showed me how to use the fan, informed me that there is hot water as if this was a big deal…which made me realize how lucky I am that it would never occur to me that there would not be hot water.

After she left, I realized that FUCK I did not ask for the wifi code.  We are now on day four where I have not seen the internet.  I felt too bad to go up and chase her to her room to ask for the password so I just went to bed.

Another Quick Picture Post: Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo is a very bi-polar city.  As you are walking around, you see many beautiful buildings, such as this one.  It is the Sarajevo Academy of Fine Arts, housed in a former church:

academy of fine arts, sarajevo, bosnia

Beautiful, right?  In fact, it is so beautiful that you may have overlooked this bridge in front of it:

festina lente loop bridge, sarajevo, bosnia

Festina Lente bridge.  It is so freaking cool looking.

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The bridge is about the length of half of one city block.  Directly on the other side from the Academy is this war torn building:

war torn building, sarajevo, bosnia

On the drive from the airport to my hotel, it was so weird to see so much devastation mixed in with brand new fancy buildings.  I wish I had been driving myself so I could have stopped to take pictures of everything.

This is the Latin Bridge, which is maybe a 90 second walk from my hotel.  This bridge takes credit for being the starting point of the first world war.

latin bridge, sarajevo, bosnia

And once again, polar opposite. This is the luggage conveyor belt, made up as a roulette wheel:

roulette wheel luggage conveyor belt, sarajevo, bosnia

Finally, I leave you with an oddly named restaurant. I wonder if Bono knows this exists?

bono u2 pizza place, sarajevo, bosnia

2013 European Extravaganza Itinerary!!!!

So after close to two months, I have FINALLY cemented the itinerary for my next trip.  This one was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Being that I’m going to be in countries that don’t have useful train service,  and bus schedules that are impossible to find online, it was so hard to plan.

For example, I could not figure “Okay I need this amount of time so let me see when the bus leaves……” because I can’t find any information on the bus other than finding someone’s blog from 2009 where they barely mention having taken that bus…..

I also wanted to cry after I worked out the first leg of my trip and then realized that the night I had planned to take an overnight ferry from Bari to Dubrovnik was the one night of the week that the ferry simply does not run.

But as of right now, my itinerary should be:

Brussels – Paris via Eurostar

Paris – Naples via flight.  Naples will feature a side trip to Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius and Capri

Naples – Rome/Vatican City

Rome – Sarajevo via flight. There were two flight options for this, one had a long layover in Belgrade. I wanted to book this one, so I could spend ten hours in Belgrade.  But that schedule was only available through a third party website that Google tells me is unreliable.  The airlines own website never offered this option.  So now I’m just in Belgrade for 3.5 hours.

Sarajevo – Mostar, with a side trip to Dubrovnik

Mostar to Nis (this will be an annoying travel day for sure)

Nis – Sofia with a side trip to Belogradchik and another one to Rila Monastery

Sofia – Veliko Tarnovo with a stopover in Plovdiv

Veliko Tarnovo – Istanbul

Istanbul – home

Although my trips are way more hectic than the average Europe vacationer can stand, they start off even more crazy.  Then once I get deep into reading travel guides and looking at specific train schedules, I end up having to adjust down in order to see everything I want to see.  For this trip I have already cut out Switzerland, due to me deciding that while in Italy, I want to spend a day at Capri.  This cut out my night in Bern.

I had also wanted to visit Chamonix-Mont Blanc, but after reading a guide book, I realized it would be better to visit in a month that is not May, so that more lifts would be open and I could see more.  So that’s on the back burner for now.

This is the second trip where I am spending a lot of time in Italy, which was never on my “must see” list.  It just works out that it’s convenient along the way.  Once I started looking into it, it just seemed a shame to pass by so many things without stopping.  So once again, I have a bunch of time in a country I never had on my list of “places I need to see before I die”.  It works like that.  It’s all part of the planning process.  You never know where you are going to end up once you start working out the minute details of your itinerary.

I keep a diary of my travels.  For my last trip, I went to Target to buy a fresh book to write in.  I was so excited to find one with the leaning tower of Pisa on it, since I was going to be in Pisa.  How cool would it be to take a picture of my diary in front of its front cover in real life???  That was one of the top highlights of my trip, as you can tell by the picture on top of this page!

I also fell in love with Florence.  I never in my life had any desire to go to Florence. It just worked out to be along my route so I went.  I’m so glad I went and got to stare lovingly at the Ponte Vecchio.

When you start to get deeper into booking, you will find that any mental plans you had before you started really planning, can easily turn into the exact opposite of what you thought you were going to be doing.  For me this is exactly what happens and I have fallen in love with everything I have done, even if it wasn’t on my life long “to do” list.

Now I get to spend the next 77 days formulating more specific itineraries for each place I’m visiting. The more I do this, the more I realize just how ignorant I am to everything that planet earth has to offer.  I love learning and more importantly, I love seeing everything I’ve learned about.