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.
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!
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.
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.