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The Balkans by Bus

"Just fly," my friends told me. "Or rent a car. The bus will take forever."

The Balkan bus system is a confounding web of coaches and stations. Unlike in the U.S., there’s no equivalent to Greyhound. Each vehicle in the Balkans seems to be owned by a separate company. Meanwhile, the roads are narrow and treacherous, snaking along steep mountains that drop into the sea.

But I loved leapfrogging through the former Yugoslavia by bus. The vistas are breathtaking, and the buses are crammed with travelers from all over the world – Montenegrins share seats with French and Australians.

After each harrowing five-hour trip, dodging mopeds and plummeting through tunnels, the bus would dump me in yet another strange medieval town. No parking, no reservations, no fuss. I could walk into the Old City with only a backpack and a tourist map, or hop the next bus to another coastal village. When I was tired, an army of cabbies offered hostel beds for 20 euro a night. Rarely have I ever felt so free.

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"Just fly," my friends told me. "Or rent a car. The bus will take forever."

The Balkan bus system is a confounding web of coaches and stations. Unlike in the U.S., there’s no equivalent to Greyhound. Each vehicle in the Balkans seems to be owned by a separate company. Meanwhile, the roads are narrow and treacherous, snaking along steep mountains that drop into the sea.

But I loved leapfrogging through the former Yugoslavia by bus. The vistas are breathtaking, and the buses are crammed with travelers from all over the world – Montenegrins share seats with French and Australians.

After each harrowing five-hour trip, dodging mopeds and plummeting through tunnels, the bus would dump me in yet another strange medieval town. No parking, no reservations, no fuss. I could walk into the Old City with only a backpack and a tourist map, or hop the next bus to another coastal village. When I was tired, an army of cabbies offered hostel beds for 20 euro a night. Rarely have I ever felt so free.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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