A Bus Ride to Remember

17th Dec 2019

Travel is good for a lot of things but what I like most about traveling is "travel stories" . Traveling surely throws one in some of the bizarre, funny and sometimes serious situations that create some unforgettable moments and remembering them sure does bring a smile on your face.

Enjoying in Mykonos before the bus ride

I have mostly met nice and friendly people while traveling (except when somebody stole my wallet in Greece) and believe that most people around the world are not very different from us.

One such unforgettable memory from my last year's trip was this. So, we were on a Balkans road trip and were covering Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia. While each country will have a piece of my heart, there was something special about a bus journey that I did from Greece to Albania.

Photo of A Bus Ride to Remember 1/3 by The Travelling Lipstick
Rozafa Castle in Shkoder, Albania

While there are many ways of traveling to Albania from Greece (Plane, bus, car and ferry), we opted for the cheapest option, Bus. A bus trip from Athens to Albania takes about 10-12 hours and cost around 30 euros one way.

We boarded the bus from Athens late at night around 8 pm. We were really tired (from all the fun we had in Mykonos) and slept as soon as we got to our seats. We were suddenly woken up by the bus conductor pretty late at night for our immigration formalities. To our surprise, we were the only ones called to the immigration office as they had some questions for us and also we were the only tourists (Non Albanians) in that bus. Holding both of our passports in her hand, the lady officer asked why were we headed to Albania. We replied with all the enthusiasm we had and explained that we like explore places and Albania is a beautiful country and hence we made plans of visiting it. She was not at all convinced and asked us again, this time reframing her question," Why Albania ?" . My husband showed her our passports this time pointing out the stamps as they were some kind of trophies and tried to explain her that we like to travel to far off countries. Anyhoo, she was not convinced until the bus conductor interrupted by saying " Tell her how much money you have" and we told her and then she let it go.

Photo of A Bus Ride to Remember 2/3 by The Travelling Lipstick
Driving in the streets of Albania

As soon as we got back on bus, a guy called Carlos, approximately our age, approached us and said he is sorry that we had ṭo face this. We started having a conversation and got to know that Carlos was from Albania and was studying engineering in Greece and the only person who could speak English in that bus. We had conversations about cultures, farming, technology, dating in Albania as well as in India for the next few hours. Few other oldies aunties who sat next to us just kept smiling at us and asked few questions through Carlos themselves like where are we from and are we married. I gladly replied that we are fom India and yes we are married. Got me thinking aunties are same universally, worrying about your marital status.

Photo of A Bus Ride to Remember 3/3 by The Travelling Lipstick
Overlooking the Shkoder river in Albania

So, the next few hours went by peacefully until the bus stopped and everybody just started searching for something in their hand bags and luggages. We could not understand what was going on and Carlos was asleep by that time. We were super confused as to what was happening with all the noises of plastic bags opening. Finally Carlos woke up and came to our rescue and we got to know that somebody in the bus was having motion sickness and everyone was looking for a tablet or a candy or anything that could help the person. We also contributed our share of candies for that person. But we were really overwhelmed by their gesture of kindness towards each other. Next few hours went by snoozing and we woke up again during the wee hours this time, of course again the bus stopped. This time we saw that the conductor was carefully inspecting each seat with a stick. Again, being unable to understand what was expected from us, we turned to Carlos. This time Carlos explained that some Aunty had lost her shoe as she was sleeping and it might have moved due to the motion of the bus so, the conductor was checking for the lost shoe and also advising all the passengers to not take off their shoes. Well, it seemed funny but again showed the care and kindness they had towards each other.

Finally, we woke up in Tirana just few minutes before our stop and the entire bus bid us goodbye with their warm and friendly smiles. That bus ride was surely a night to remember.