This morning, I went to the Belgrade bus station to get information on a bus to Sarajevo tomorrow. Their website (which has a very good English translation) put the only bus as being at 4PM with an arrival at 11PM. My host in Sarajevo said that a late arrival would not be a problem and he would arrange a transfer for me for 10 Euro (which I knew was a bit less than a legitimate taxi).
But I really did not want to arrive that late. For one thing, I have to leave my apartment by the late morning and the last thing I wanted was to have to figure out where to kill a few hours while dragging all my luggage. So I decided to go down to the bus station and see if there might be other buses that are not on their website for whatever reason. Like in Bulgaria, there are numerous carriers and the information isn’t centralised yet.
Based on my arrival at the Belgrade bus station, I expected that getting information would be frustrating and complicated because there didn’t seem to be a central point of information. Well, there was ample signage in English directing you to where to buy tickets! I went up to kiosk and asked the man if he spoke English. He haltingly replied, “15 or 16,” pointing in the direction he wanted me to go. There was no one at window 15, but there was at window 16 and he spoke fluent English. Now, yes, it would have been nice if they had an “English spoken here” sign on the kiosk window, but that was still good service! I cannot get over how eager Serbians are help.
The man at window 16 told me that there are morning buses, including one at 11:30, which was perfect. I could have a slow morning, pack, and then walk the 1KM to the bus station. He didn’t have more information than that for me, like if there’s a transfer or which bus station I would get to in Sarajevo. You see, there are two bus stations in Sarajevo. One is in the city, very near my apartment, but the other, Istočno Sarajaveo (East Sarajevo) is quite a bit out and near the airport. I would need the transfer from that one. I bought the ticket (2,510RSD or about 30CAD) and the clerk pointed to it to show me what platform to go to tomorrow.
When I got in some time later (I may have stopped at a cafe for a macchiato along the way and then for a to-go slice of pizza), I tried to get more information about my ride tomorrow. I was able to confirm from the ticket that I’m going to Istočno Sarajevo and so I was able to let my host know that I’m coming in around 7:30PM and definitely need the transfer. Yes, that’s an eight-hour bus ride to do 300KM… Apparently, the wait at the border is really long.
I got on Google and found a bus company that has buses from Belgrade to Sarajevo at 6:00, 9:45, and 12:30. Still nothing about the 11:30 trip!
I examined my ticket more closely and realised that it might have the name of a bus line on it. I popped that info into Google and voilà! I finally found some information on the 11:30 am bus from Belgrade to Sarajevo.
So all that to say, you can’t really rely on Google or a site like rome2rio.com in the Balkans to give you all the answers. It’s worth it to go directly to the bus or train station to get the information in person.
Bosnia’s official currency is the Convertible Mark (KM), but the Euro has widespread use and research tells me not to bother getting any KM. So tomorrow, I will convert as many of my remaining dinars as I can into Euro. I’m glad to be going into a more “universal” currency. I was left with a handful of BGN that is now useless to me and hope that I won’t have as many dinar left. Since I have my bus ticket already, I’ll leave myself perhaps 200RSD for incidentals for the bus ride in case with have a rest stop on the Serbian side after buying myself snacks for the very long day ahead. I hope this bus has a bathroom… The ones to Nish and Belgrade didn’t!