If you’re traveling through the Balkans by bus, there a few things you should know. The most important thing is that the people here are late for everything, they cannot sit on a bus for more than an hour at a time and timetables seem to be a mere suggestion and not something anyone takes seriously.
By the time we took the seven hour bus ride from Sarajevo to Belgrade, we had armed ourselves with blog posts about this ride. Some lamented the seven hour ride which actually ended up taking nine+ hours, while others talked about the driver nodding off as he maneuvered himself around curvy, narrow mountain paths. We mentally prepared ourselves to never get to Belgrade alive, bravely approached the surly woman behind the ticket sales counter and bought 20 euro tickets for the old-school Transprodukt bus.
We left late, but at least it was only by about 15 minutes. It was a cold Wednesday morning and we handed our backpacks to the driver, a towering man (did we mention that the Balkan people are enormously tall?) who gruffly threw our stuff under the bus. We settled into the cold bus with seven other passengers and we were off.
We stopped constantly. I mean, we stopped after about 10 minutes to pick up a couple of girls off the side of the road, and then again 10 minutes later to pick up a few more people. We stopped an hour into the ride for 30 minutes at some random bus station, where N had to deal with the “Turkish style” (squat) toilets. After another hour, we stopped again by a restaurant on top of a mountain for a 30-minute lunch break. I needed to use the bathroom, and of course, there was no toilet on this bus. I watched as an older man went inside the restaurant, came back out and ambled over to a wooden shack perched on the edge of the road with the letters “WC” painted on two of its barely-hinged doors. Oh hell no.