Sunday, September 27, 2009

Passing the Time

Day 562
My flight wasn’t until early evening so I had the day to see the city, or do nothing. I know that I had mentioned a 24 hour bus ride before. I looked into it some more and it was only an extra $30 to fly. That plane ticket was worth every penny.

I had breakfast at this small place run by two elderly women who only made some sort of stuffed and rolled crepe thing. I have no idea what was in it but they were really good and I ate about 4 of them. I also spend a lot of time on the internet. I’m sure that I was just screwing around though.

I ended up at the airport early and had to hang out for a while. The flight to Athens was painless as was immigration back into the EU. Greece is country number 60 and the last new one for me on this trip. The metro was really easy to use and in no time I was checked into my hostel.

The first thing I did was head to the bar where I met some people and spent a few hours chatting before calling it a night.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Day 561
Luckily, I had met another American on the bus who was currently living in Albania. As it was still dark out the two of us went to 24 hour bar and got drinks while we waited for the sun to come up. When it finally did I got a cab to my hostel. I got lucky because not only did they let me go to my room at 6 am, but I was the only person in the room as well.

After a nice nap I went out to explore the city. There weren’t any museums that I wanted to check out and there really wasn’t much to the city. I basically just wandered around and took pictures of the various buildings around town. Eventually I got bored and ended up in a café called UFO working on my journal.

That evening I made dinner at the hostel and spent some time at an internet café. Eventually I went back and read until I fell asleep. I was very tired.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Change of Plans

Day 560
My original plan was to get up early and go to Ohrid. I had to cut it out though. Part of this was due to the day lost in getting to Kosovo, and partially because I just wasn’t appreciating cities the way I used to. I didn’t want to rush around so that I could be bored at another place. Instead I just slept in and then went to the bus station and got a ticket for that evening.

I ended up at an internet café for a very long time. I think that I did some typing and organized photos, but mostly just screwed around. Eventually I picked up food for my night bus and then, after hanging out at the hostel for a bit, I got a cab to the bus station. I guess the most exciting thing that happened today is that I stepped in a hole in the street and fell on my ass.

The bus was late, but that made me happy. It arrived to Tirana at a really weird time. The other people on the bus were incredibly annoying. They were loud and moved around a lot. Don’t people know that the others on a night bus want to sleep? I didn’t get any sleep at all and was dropped off in Tirana, Albania at 3 am!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Day 559

I was up early and Hanka decided to come with me to Skopje, Macedonia. The ride was only about 4 hours long and was really quite scenic. At the border neither of us had any problems. Hanka had been worried because he had less than 6 months left on his passport, but no one noticed.

Hanka’s linguistic skills got us an ok price on a cab to the hostel. I had prebooked, he was hoping that there was space, there was. The hostel was ok, but all the rooms were in the basement and seemed a bit damp.

Skopje is actually quite a nice little place, although very communistic in its architecture. There was an earthquake here in 1963 and some of the buildings had still not been repaired.

We didn’t go into any of the museums and after a few hours of wandering we headed back to the hostel. Hanka had a friend and headed out with him for diner while I stayed at the hostel and played around on the internet. I tried to go to sleep early, but this didn’t last as some jack ass Slovenians came in at midnight, turned on the light and made a lot of noise. I will not miss hostels!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Exploring Kosovo

Day 558
Part of me has begun to wonder why I’m even doing this part of my trip. I’m tired of traveling, this just happens after a while. Before I took this trip and other long term travelers told me about becoming jaded I would reply that that would never happen to me. And maybe it took longer for me that it has for other people. At this point I can very easily say that I’m definitely jaded. Once this trip is over I think it will be some time before I backpack again. However I know I will at some point. My real answer for why I’m still going now is rather terrible, it’s all a number at this point. When I’m done I would have been to 60 countries.

Despite how sick of travel I was it was still rather exciting to be in Kosovo, Europe’s newest country.

Hanka and I decided to spend the day together. After breakfast and some internet time we headed to the History Museum. Apparently most of the collection is being held captive in Belgrade. It wasn’t very large, or even very good. Upstairs the focus was on the war. Nothing was in English and Hanka’s Albanian wasn’t good enough to read the descriptions. All I could understand were pictures and dates. So many of the soldiers had been born in or around 1981. When I was graduating high school and heading off to college they were fighting and dying for their country. One room was full of very gruesome pictures of dead and wounded people, including a father crying over his child’s coffin. We left the museum feeling rather depressed.

There wasn’t much to do besides wander the streets. The art museum was closed. We went by the unfinished Orthodox church built by the Serbians, Kosovo is a Muslim country. The national theater looked like it was covered in eggs, it was very strange. I also picked up some books for an upcoming 24 hour bus ride.

Eventually we ended up back at the internet café .

Pristina is very cheap (and uses the Euro) and we went out for a very nice dinner. This restaurant could have been in any major capital in the world and fit in. The food was amazing, especially because it was so cheap. After a few drinks we headed back to the hostel where we met our new roommate, I don’t remember her name but she was from Seoul.

I called it an early night because I had a bus the next morning.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On The Move, For Real

Day 557

I was up early and after showering and packing up I went downstairs and took full advantage of the free internet. I got a lot of pictures sorted and entries loaded. Eventually I had the receptionist call me a cab and soon I was at the bus station.

I had been assured that the 1 pm bus would be running today. I was lucky to meet German Hanka while boarding. He studied Balkan languages and proved to be really helpful over the next couple of days.

The scenery from the bus was just spectacular. I would have missed it all had I gotten the night bus, but I don’t think I would have complained. At the border I got a Kosovo stamp, which was pretty cool. Some of the towns we stopped in were so poor and in such disrepair that I was reminded of India. Livestock hung out all over the place and partially bombed buildings had been stripped of anything that didn’t support them. Well, I think that some of them were stripped to the point of collapse.

When the bus got to Pristina I was extremely happy that Hanka was there. The station was empty and the level of English was really low. I had been feeling kinda sick on all the mountain roads so when Hanka got some food at the bus station restaurant I just ordered tea. The people working there spoke a bit of German and Hanka’s Albanian helped us order.

We then got in a cab and had them take us to the one hostel in town. We asked for the dormitory and ended up with us being the only two there. The room was split into two, I think part of it was once a balcony that had been enclosed. This gave us both some privacy. The best part was that there was a tv in the room with a lot of channels. After such a long day all I wanted was a beer, but there wasn’t anywhere to go really, so we just picked up some beers and some snacks at a nearby grocery store.

On the way back to the room we passed the computers where a bunch of Poles from Torun were hanging out. Polish happens to be a language that Hanka understands. The group said hello to us and we both responded. When we got back in the room Hanka told me that one of the Poles had said “you can tell she’s American by the way she say’s hello” in a very condescending manner. I had to charge my ipod on the computer and I went down to do that. When the Poles started chatting to me I apologized for offending them with the way in which I said hello. They looked at each other all thinking that I could speak Polish. They stuck to English and had nothing negative to say around me after that.

Even though the day had just been on a bus I was pretty tired. The only thing on tv was Animal Planet so I watched that until I fell asleep.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Make it Work

Day 556
My alarm went off at 3:30 am. It really hurt. I packed up my bags out in the hallway and walked the short distance to the bus station. It wasn’t far, but it’s always a bit eerie to be out at this time with all the empty streets. Soon I was on a bus headed to Podgorica, I had never heard of it before, but this is the capital of Montenegro.

About 3 hours later I was in Podgorica. There wasn’t a bus to Pristina until 8 pm. I had a very long wait in front of me. There is nothing, and I mean, nothing to do in Podgorica. First I finished my book, then I started to get my blog up to date. I’ve been pretty good about it lately and there just wasn’t all that much to write. I also got my haircut. Every little bit I would move to a different café.

Eventually I had nothing left to read or to write. I wandered for a long time before I found the only internet café in the city. After about 2 hours there the power went out. I still had 3 hours left to kill.

I wandered back to the bus station and sat there trying not to sleep. I was beyond exhausted and I really needed a shower. A night bus was going to be torture, but at least I was tired enough to sleep thru most of it.

About 10 minutes before the bus was meant to leave I went to the desk to grab my things that I had checked all day and to find out what platform my bus would be at as it wasn’t posted. This is when I found out that the bus was canceled, had been all day. I got my money back but I didn’t get an apology or anything, just a stay in a hotel or go to Belgrade, the complete opposite direction.

After throwing a bit of a fit and started walking. I was so beyond tired at this point that I was having real issues carrying my bag and staying calm. The first hotel I came to was way too expensive but the guy working there was really nice and understood my predicament. He called a place that was further out of town but cheaper and then called me a cab. While I waited for the cab I picked up a bottle of wine. I figured I deserved it.

The room was still expensive but I had free fast internet and my own room and bathroom. I called my Mom and chatted for a bit and then called Edward. Eventually I was too tired to go on and simply went to my room and passed out.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Day 555

I was up early for a bus. All of my entries seem to start this way lately. I should really just copy and paste that line. As I walked to the bus station the morning call to worship began and I was reminded that not only was I in the Muslim area of BH, but of the call to worship I first heard, several years ago in Amman, Jordan. It scared the hell out of me, causing me to sit straight up in bed and I was unable to fall asleep afterwards. This time, walking alone in the dark, the noise was almost comforting.

On the bus the ticket checker said that I had the wrong ticket. I got really angry because the woman had sold me the wrong thing and I had to change money with some nice tourists on the bus who had Euros, I was all out. Later on I looked more closely at my tickets. The woman hadn’t exactly sold me the wrong ticket; she had just sold me one from Dubrovnik to Kotor, not from Mostar. Did she think that I planned on walking there? What freaking moron!

The ride was rather annoying because the cost is in BH and Croatia. We had to have our passports checked every few miles. Luckily they didn’t stamp every time or I would have no space left in my passport at all. I was really happy to finally get into Montenegro and for the passport checking to come to an end.

Soon I was in Kotor, Montenegro, a whole new country for me. Kotor is a really cute walled town with some castle ruins sitting above it. Pretty much everyone who comes here treks up to it. I am way too lazy and it was way too hot out for me to be bothered with it. Instead I got some lunch and wandered the town.

Laundry at the hostel was cheap and I was glad to finally have some clean clothes. The guy at the hostel told me that there was no way that I could go to Pristina for at least 3 days. This did not work with my itinerary so I went to the bus station myself to see what my chances were. It was there that I found out that I could make it the next day.

Back at the hostel I waited forever for my clothes to dry. They had a dryer, it was just taking forever. I had wanted to shower when I had clean clothes, but it was about midnight when this happened and there wasn’t any water. The guy at the front desk told me that it was often turned off at night. The toilet wouldn’t even flush! How is this normal or even something that should happen!

I went to bed dirty but with clean clothes for the morning.