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Published: March 11th 2013
Day 25 - Tuesday 7th March
It was an early start as the bus was due to leave Titograd at 6am. It was still dark as Heather, Michael, Tomio and myself climbed out of the bedroom window (luckily the Canadians had been allocated a room on the ground floor), crept through the hotel gardens and headed for the bus station. Our group of westerners for this bus trip increased as five more people had travelled on the late bus from Dubrovnik. Although there were crowds of people at the bus station, we all managed to get a seat. Tomio immediately fell asleep and so I concentrated instead on the scenery. It was certainly beautiful - snow-capped mountains as the road followed a stream. Some areas were very green but there was not much land, which looked flat enough for easy cultivation. After a third of the journey - a crisis as Denis started to feel ill and desperately needed a toilet - not possible though. There was only one local lady at the back with us and we somehow persuaded her to move to the front allowing Denis to do his business in a polythene bag which was then chucked out of the window. The smell eventually improved and Denis felt much better with a few tablets.
Meanwhile the road continued alongside the stream towards Pristina. Unfortunately it was only a short boarding stop because there was a very busy looking bazaar by the side of the bus station and it would have been very interesting to look around. You could see the influence of Turkey and for the first time, I noticed the number of mosques. The next stop would be Skopje. The view was still dominated by the snow-capped mountains. Along the route the villages looked extremely poor with seeds being sowed by hand and ploughs being pulled by oxen. There were lots of horsedrawn carts along the road and everyone was wearing traditional clothing. The driver drove at speed and a little erratically and not surprisingly we arrived at Skopje early.
We headed for the train station to check the timetable to Thessalonika and then had to decide on whether to stay here or travel further today. The next train was due in three hours and so we decided to carry on - Tomio was staying in Skopje. We bought our tickets and then had a very brief walk around the local area. Unfortunately I was left with more dinars than was really necessary and you can never guarantee being able to exchange small amounts of currency. The train journey was without incident. The three Canadians stayed at the station in order to catch the next train to Athens whilst we headed to the local Youth Hostel after checking timetables for Wednesday. The Hostel was supposed to stay open until 11pm but there was the sign "closed at 10pm". Good fortune though as the warden had not left and allowed us to stay despite the time - so somewhere cheap at 20 Drachma as confirmed by the basic facilities (approx £1=80 Drachma).
An expensive day for travel costs but a good day for the distance travelled.
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