How to travel through the Balkans by bus

skopje-statue-wonderland

Let’s go!

Last month I wrote a dedicated guide to Albania on the same topic, because bus travel in Albania deserves a post all of its own. This month is a quick guide to the rest of my bus route through the Balkans. More

How to navigate the bus system in Albania

Or: an Ode to global Bus Travel

Chatting with some fellow travellers in the middle of my recent Istanbul to Zagreb ruins-and-beaches hop, I discovered how odd my choice of vehicle seemed to many others undertaking a similar trip. The idea of European train travel popularised by films such as Before Sunrise and enjoyed by countless students every summer revolved around railways and the (nowadays) phenomenally expensive Interrail ticket – or the even more expensive Eurail pass for non-European citizens.

The two women I was speaking to had hired a car for their journey. This is another popular choice, although if you’re travelling in a line rather than making a circuit fees for different pick-up and drop-off points kick in, and once you start to country-hop these can ramp up quite fast.

Nope, you can save your trains and cars. For me, the most economical and frankly most interesting way to travel a long distance relatively quickly is the humble public bus.

“But I can’t do that. I’m travelling through ten countries, none of which speak a language I’m familiar with!” I hear you cry.

Fear not, linguistically baffled traveller, for here follows my common sense guide on how to navigate any bus system, anywhere, but with particular reference to Albania.

Berat museum city

Berat ‘museum city’

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How to travel through Central Vietnam by bus

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to end up with a spare six weeks on my hands in Vietnam on a single-entry visa, so what better to do than explore the country and travel slow?

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How to move to a new country #2: hit the ground running

New culture, new horizons

New culture, new horizons The Grand Mosque, Muscat

The month since the last, ‘How to…’ has been spent merrily travelling around Vietnam whilst waiting on all the official paperwork for the move to Oman, a totally new part of the world for me.

As I described in last month’s, “Before the leap,” post, it was possible to get preparations for the move underway well in advance. However, a number of others things could only begin once I arrived. Those are the meat of this post.
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How to move to a new country #1: before the leap

On the brink of another international move, I sat down to think about all the things I do to settle in to a new job, in a new city, in a new country.

This will be the third move in just over five years, not including briefer sojourns such as short contracts and a recent study break in Thailand. The basics – packing up the house, planning the move etc. – are common to any moving experience. The removals might be handled by international shipping rather than Uncle John, and if you’re moving pets internationally there’s a whole raft of paperwork, depending on where you’re going, but it’s manageable and your new job will probably have a lot of experience supporting people through the practicalities.

This is the extra stuff for when you really are boldly exploring a strange new land and have no previous point of reference on What To Expect. What are the dos and don’ts in your new home-to-be? What’s the local language? How will you find like-minded people? How do the buses work?

You will notice as this post progresses that a lot of what I do post-interview but pre-actual-moving involves the Internet as the key line of information from the greatest number and variety of sources. Nothing in this post is revolutionary; everything is common sense, but here’s my one-stop guide to how I go about answering those questions.

Kimchi jiggae at the Hanok HouseNew sights, new friends, new food, new culture

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Mission: possible

Happy New Year

It’s the lunar New Year and Year of the Monkey. It’s a year since I started blog number 2, a simpler number which is basically for my burgeoning photography habit. It’s almost a year since I reestablished my commitment to writing on this blog (admittedly the last couple of months have been patchy). Now, I’ve decided to go for broke and introduce an item a week. Part of the reason for this is I’ve been through a number of changes of scenery in the past five months and I have a lot of material which I hope will be useful to the online multiverse. Another part is that I think I’ve finally discovered my blogging niche, and it’s been hiding under my nose the whole time.
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