Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Post Peace Corps Road Trip: Balkan Blitzkrieg

15 September, 2009

After I finish my service in the Peace Corps in the next two weeks, I will be heading out on a Balkan Road trip. To where? you ask. Here’s a handy map!

Sept 24: Anita and I pickup our rental car and we hit the road to Ohrid, Macedonia (via Skopje).

Sept 25 Spending the night in Ohird, we head to Gjirokaster, Albania where we’ll spend the night and hang out with some Albanian PCVs. I have been told that there will be a once-every-five-year Albanian folklore festival. I’m really looking forward to seeing this and meeting up with several other PCVs.

Sept 26 The next day we’ll drive up the Albania coast and spend the night somewhere along the way.

Sept 27,28 The following two days, we’ll spend the night in Kotor, Montenegro. Kotor is home to the deepest fjord in Europe and is considered Dubrovnik’s little sister.

Sept 29 The next day, we’ll drive to Dubrovnik, Croatia for a short day trip. As you may remember, I have already been to Dubrovnik but it’s in the neighborhood.

Sept 29, Oct 1, 2 After spending time in Dubrovnik, we head on to Mostar, Bosnia for a day or two. After this, we head on to Sarajevo for the night. (I have three days alloted for Mostar and Sarajevo however we want to divvy them up)

Oct 3rd start heading back to Bulgaria, route to be determined! We’ll most likely spend the night in a national park in Montenegro.

Oct 4th return to Bulgaria.



Amateur Mistakes

19 April, 2008

I made some rookie mistakes this morning and I’m still a little frustrated about them. Travelling in Bulgaria can be easy if you know what you’re doing and often when you don’t. A prime example is taking the bus. If you’re going to a large city or final destination, you shouldn’t have any problems. However, problems arise when you don’t. Bus drivers don’t like to make stops often. More than once, I’ve been told I can’t go to a city because the bus driver doesn’t want to stop on the side of the freeway to drop me off-even though it was on the way. Sometimes the ticket cashier won’t sell a ticket if you’re not going to the final destination since your seat isn’t getting full fare. All this can be frustrating to say the least.

So my story: Last night I went to Karlovo to support Cindy in the opening of the charity art exhibit she’s been working on. The proceeds from this gallery will go to support a local orphanage. She went to Veliko Turnovo for a tourism meeting about publicizing the ecological center she works with and the mountain huts they operate. Her train was at 6 o’clock this morning. I was wondering what I’d do since she was leaving so early. I decided to visit my good friend and BAMF Barb at her site, Dupnitsa. I planned on meeting her at the Central bus station in Sofia, where she was spending the night. Dupnitisa is only about 45 minutes South. To do this, I planned on catching the 6:30am bus to the capital. I went to the Karlovo bus station with my backpack, looking like I was ready to go somewhere, and went to the ticket window at just after 6am. “Can I have a ticket to Sofia?” “You buy them on the bus” “Ok, thanks”. So I waited until 6:30. No bus. “No worries” I thought, “it’s probably running a little late”. While I was waiting, my heart rose and sank as every bus that pulled into the sector was for Plovdiv. At 20 minutes late, I went back to the window “Do you know where the bus to Sofia is?” “On Saturday, the only direct bus to Sofia is at noon”. I was dumbfounded. It was very clear I was hanging around for the 6:30am bus. Why she didn’t tell me this 20 minutes ago, I have no idea. I’d have to go through Plovdiv if I wanted to go home so I let Barb know about my situation and that I’d tell her if I decided to nix the whole thing.

I boarded the bus and fell asleep. My mind was racing “is it worth going all the way to the Dup if I have to go home tomorrow?” “Do I really want to spend this much money?” I remembered that there is a direct bus from Plovdiv to Dupnitsa. I was pretty sure that it left at 9am and I got into Plovdiv at 8. I went up to ticket window “When is the next bus to Dupnitsa?” “в един чаша” (in one hour). Great! I threw down the 10 leva and went to a cafe to relax. I ordered my coffee and settled down. I re-checked my ticket because I thought I saw something about changing buses in Blagovegrad. That’s when I saw 13:00. Shit. I just bought a ticket for the 1pm bus to Dupnista. I ran back to the ticket counter “Is the next bus leaving for Dupnitsa leaving at nine?” “No, it’s leaving at 1…13:00” Crap. Remember when I bought the ticket she said “в един чаша”? Depending on the stress of “чаша” it can be the number of hours or “o’clock”. Bulgarian can be tricky. “How much is a bus ticket to Sofia?” (the next bus left at 8:30 and it was currently 8:15). “14 Leva” “Can I have my money back for this ticket….it’s too late for me and buy a ticket to Sofia?” “No.” “Really?” “Really.” Dejected, called Barb to tell her that I wasn’t going to be coming to visit; arriving at 4pm and having to leave at 5pm the next day was too short for me. And I certainly wasn’t going to spend 24 Leva, one way, to get to Sofia and then spend more to get to the Dupe. I left with my tail between my legs for not being careful when buying the ticket. I headed to the train station to buy a train ticket home (I wasn’t going to confront the ticket ladies for another ticket for another location in the opposite direction. Plus it’s cheaper to catch the train).

So instead of rocking out with awesome friends doing awesome things, I’m doing laundry and procrastinating cleaning my apartment and going for a run. At least this is a learning experience, right?

On the bright side, Cindy and I bought our plane tickets to Austria last night. We’ll be going to Vienna and Ljubljana, Slovenia in Mid-August for eight days. Exciting!