On the Road: Skopje to Bitola (Macedonia)

I wish I would have thought to catch a photo of the bus before we left Skopje; I wish I would have thought to catch a photo of anything along the way, actually. I remember too late, once my bags are packed, once I’m running to catch the bus or waiting in line to use the restroom behind some quaint old restaurant situated in the middle of the Macedonian mountains and little else around save sheep and scenery.

My cousin and I got the call at 1:45 that our bus would be leaving the city at 3:30… Less than two hours for two girls to get back for a five day trip away? Yeah, cue whirlwind packing and, in typical Albanian style, the family adding to the frantic atmosphere. We managed quite alright though and were at the bus station early enough to catch glimpse of our bus pulling in… Setting my cousin off into a state of panic, :-P. I’ll admit, the bus was quite a bit older than all of the others at the station, smelled strongly of old smoke, was dark and muggy, and just not the nicest of bus experiences I’ve had. The difference between she and I is simple: Macedonia is her home and my trip. If I was at home, I don’t know if I’d be as keen on half of the things I am abroad (public transit, hostels, etc.) but to be honest, I just can’t say. Anyway, with that slight description, welcome to our bus, our suitcases stowed underneath and our two seats at the very front of the bus packed with our bags and ready to roll with snacks and entertainment.

I don’t want to write in excess about the bus ride or bore you with details that are far from unique so here’s to a list, yeah? 😉

Skopje to Bitola:

  • Macedonia is full of natural wonders. We rode from nearly 4 hours and there was never a moment without sight of a mountain, some still capped with snow from the winter. Rivers flowed in some areas and fields of green too. I don’t know why this surprised me so much…
  • That restaurant I mentioned above? The scene was simple, rolling mountains and green pastures, and I’m waiting behind the building in line for the restroom when a sheep herder comes along with his classic look and trusty companion dog, all in a day’s work. A part of me sincerely hopes our path back to Skopje is the same for hope of stopping at that same restaurant and maybe, just maybe, catching sight of that again (and this time, I *will* carry my camera with me).
  • Inside the bus, my cousin and I killed time in the usual ways and, for awhile, propped up the mini-laptop to watch Crazy Beautiful, trying to avoid the fact that some of the scenes were, well, racy and the entire bus behind us could see what we were watching, :-P. The laptop died though so I’m still not quite sure how the film ends.
  • Oh, and ketchup flavored chips? Tried ’em. Hotdog flavored chips? Couldn’t do it, just couldn’t.

I’m starting to realize how much potential lies in the actual transportation behind our travels, alhamdulillah, even if it’s just laughing, singing, and dancing like a goofball with the person next to you. What’s *your* favorite experiences on a bus? 🙂


About Toni Lupro

"I've got a plan, I've got an atlas in my hands."

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