A boring bus ride

Hi folks, actually I was going to write something only at the end of my Dalmatia trip, but what happened to me today during my bus ride from Budva to Shkodra deserves an entry of its own.

It’s 6:45 a.m. and my cell phone alarm clock snaps me out of a crazy dream. Confused, I pull up, right my bus trip to Shkodra. I fall back briefly, thinking “let’s go” and already I sleep on. Usually this only happens to me when I should go to work :).
7:14 a.m.: For some reason I wake up again. Startled, I look at the clock. 16 minutes until the bus leaves, fuck, that’s it….
I instinctively think about my alternatives and then… ok fuck it, I’ll try. I jump out of bed, gather my stuff and throw everything into the backpack. Luckily I had packed almost everything in the evening. I quickly brush my teeth and off I go. 7:18 a.m., 12 minutes until the bus leaves and about one kilometer of walking. Should be fine. I run off and pray that I haven’t forgotten anything in the apartment.
It is pleasantly fresh outside, fortunately it is morning and the sun is not yet burning so brutally.
The people look at me strangely as I rush along the streets with my two backpacks on my shoulders. 7:28 and 50 seconds shows the clock in the terminal as I finally reach the bus station. I pull out my ticket and hand it to the bored ticket control guy. He just points with his finger to the waiting bus. Made it…

Sweating I sit in the bus and notice that I have forgotten my water. 4 hours ride without water? Whatever, that’s fine. Let’s go. The bus first drives along the coast and then turns north towards Podgorica (the capital of Montenegro). I am a bit surprised because this is not the shortest route, but it will fit. Maybe he stops somewhere and I can buy something to drink on the way.

Nothing happens until we reach Podgorica. As expected, he drives to the bus station there and says that we would make a 10 minute break. Great! I buy a Pepsi and water and I’am happy. Got 30 minutes more sleep and did morning exercise. Not bad a bad start.

On we go, but only for a moment. The driver stops at a gas station. Cars pile up there and he waves his arms in stress, drives the bus from gas pump to gas pump until we finally get the signal from the attendants. Then he jumps out of the bus and disappears. Everyone waits but the driver does not show up. After 10 minutes the first ones leave the bus – cumbersome over the driver’s door. I just wait. I have my drink and I am satisfied. Then the driver shows up again, gets on the bus, drives back a bit, parks and opens the door, waving to us that we can all get off. I suspect that something is wrong with the payment system because other cars and trucks are also waiting and do not drive on.

Maybe I could get something to eat? And so I stand in the rest stop and examine the sandwiches. Tomato-Mozzarella doesn’t sound bad. I tell the girl behind the counter and she gives me to understand that she is working on it. I wanted to buy a ready-made one but if she wants to make it fresh, I’m happy too. And so the agony begins…
She carefully spreads pesto over the sliced bread. Then she takes a fresh tomato and mozzarella from the fridge and leisurely begins to slice both. Nervously I look around, this seems to be taking a while here. But everyone is still standing in the restaurant and waiting. I would not have thought that one makes itself at a gas station so much trouble with a simple sandwich. But she is the calmness in person and devotes all her attention to her craft. Another fresh lettuce leaf on top and finally my sandwich is ready. I look around again, still everyone seems to be waiting. The driver is standing outside the door smoking. Ok, I might as well have a cappuccino with that. A mistake…
Suddenly everything goes very fast, the driver comes in and pays. Then waves to departure. The remaining people from the bus leave the gas station while my friendly waitress is still foaming up the milk. Damn. Nervously, I turn back and forth and signal to her that my bus is about to leave. She just looks at me confused and continues working. A little syrup over the foamy milk and the coffee drink is in front of me. Finally. I hand her my credit card and turn around. The bus is leaving. I shout something to her and run out of the gas station, waving to the driver to please wait for me. I’m almost at the exit when he finally sees me and stops. Puh. I run back, the waitress gives me my card back, it seems to have worked with the payment. Again I run out and get into the waiting bus, cursing.

Honestly, if I sit on a bus as a guest and notice someone is missing, I would tell the driver. Apparently no one has done it… Faith in humanity -1.

The bus drives off. While I’m still angry and brooding drinking my coffee and thinking about what would have happened if the bus had just driven away there is suddenly a loud bang. I startle. The bus comes to a halt on the side of the road, rumbling and jerking. Yep, the tire I think to myself, fits. Strangely the mood in the bus is not clouded. Some even laugh. Only the driver is annoyed and waves everyone out. After the obligatory photo of the burst tire, we look for a shady spot and wait.

Not too long and the 8:30 a.m. bus shows up, maybe 5 minutes behind us, I could have taken that one too, might have been better… well too late. A few of us get squeezed in there and continue on. Most have to stand and that in a minibus, I don’t have to do that, I prefer to wait. And that was apparently the first right decision on this day. After another 15 minutes, the repair van comes and repairs the broken tire in no time.

Well and that was it. We pass the border control to Albania without any problems except for the fact that the driver smokes constantly, throws his plastic garbage out of the window and is called by a woman every 20 minutes and the two shout at each other for minutes (I guess because he is too late). I arrive in Shkodra without further adventures.

So tomorrow I’m off to the Albanian Alps with a 4×4 jeep at 6:30 a.m. Let’s see what happens there :).