Balkan Summer 2022 Trip, Part VII: Sarajevo to Skopje via Kruševac

The sunny August morning we left Sarajevo, it was harder than I thought it would be to find our way out of town. I don’t remember exactly why; some combination of narrow streets and Google Maps trying to lead me onto a pedestrian footpath might have had something to do with the smell of burning clutch and frayed nerves in the morning.

V, A and I worked together and managed to make a series of navigational decisions that – while not winning any efficiency awards – also didn’t result in any fender benders. Thankfully at least, when hearing how early we wanted to get on the road, our AirBnB host decided he didn’t need to do our checkout in-person after all and allowed us to lock the apartment and hide the key in an agreed-upon location. We eventually hit the highway east and later, due south for the last few hundred miles of our road trip.

B and D’s weekend house outside Kruševac
~ Pepeljevac, Serbia

It was going to be a long couple of days in the car; we were headed back to Macedonia, and once we left Bosnia we would cross back into Serbia first, stopping in Višegrad once more for lunch, followed by visiting V’s childhood friend B, his wife D, and their family for an overnight in Kruševac, the town where V had fulfilled his Yugoslav Army service between 1987 and 1988.


From Sarajevo to Višegrad (A) 70 miles, then across the Serbian border and another 100+ miles to Pepeljevac (B) and (C) Kruševac – the latter two so close together they are indistinguishable on the map

When we stopped in Višegrad, we opted for sports bar fare rather than the Hotel Višegrad for a second time. After some delicious schnitzel, burgers, and pizza, we did some quick math on planned spending and managed to change the various currencies from countries we’d left behind to a combination of dollars and euros. Given our departure from Europe in a few days, this seemed the most practical thing to do.

A was looking forward to visiting B’s weekend house in Pepeljevac, a village outside the larger town of Kruševac. She had last visited there with V in 2016 while she was still in high school, and right as word of our second tour assignment to Australia hit my phone; she’d been excited to learn this time that his two daughters, who were about her age and had since moved away to study, would also be there. A had been hanging out with V and I nonstop on this trip, and I was glad she was going to get a break from us old folks and have a chance to let down her hair with Gen Z, or whatever the kids call themselves.


Bosnian-Serbian border crossing was lengthy but uneventful… and I saw a stork!

Even though traveling a couple of hundred miles would take a few hours on an American interstate, on Balkan roads that wind through mountains and village after village with low speed limits and no faster route, it literally took several hours to get to Pepeljevac where – sans communication from their phoneless traveling friends – our hosts were holding dinner and starting to worry.

Our GPS stuffed us one final time in the end, directing us down a country road so narrow and choked with bushes that I almost panicked and got us trapped as branches scraped down both sides of the sedan. In the rearview mirror I glimpsed A’s eyes but we were both too shocked and dismayed to laugh. V prayed out loud.

B laughed hysterically when he saw the direction we came from, saying it was a farm animal route and that people didn’t even take tractors on that road. Well, OK?! No one told us and we aren’t from here?!


Reunited

Such a Balkan village thing – your mother having to chase a neighbor’s wayward pig from your yard

A wonderful evening of visiting, outdoor dining, and conversation, followed by an early morning of V meeting B and his family for breakfast at 6am before they drove down to Macedonia on summer holiday themselves

A stayed behind with the girls for an evening out, and V and I said goodbye and headed to the hotel where we had two room reservations. I lost my temper a little bit and snapped at an attendant when arriving; the parking situation was not making sense – a recurring theme – and no one was doing what they were supposed to be doing, but that was no excuse for me to handle it the way I did. My nerves had really worn out due to a combination of lack of alone time, too many patronizing men taking liberties with me, and too many infantilizing, ambiguous situations, I suppose.

I apologized and tried to redeem myself by being industrious, arranging A’s room with water and snacks so when she stumbled in during the wee hours, she would feel more taken care of and comfortable. I WhatsApped her the location of her room key and then I got some sleep while V went to the hotel bar himself to be social, and in the morning I felt like a new person. V yet awoke earlier than I did and went out to breakfast with his friends; he was back and they were on the road abroad before I had even risen to shower.



After a leisurely morning, we dragged ourselves out for the last 170 miles back to V’s mother’s house in Skopje, starting first by driving around the city of Kruševac. I’d never seen it before, but wished we could have stayed longer. V pointed out the military barracks where he had served his compulsory military service at the age of 18 in Yugoslav times, almost exactly 35 years beforehand.


It was so cool to see these barracks, a place V had been telling me about for 15 years and which lived vividly in my imagination, along with many of the characters with whom he served

A1 Freeway south through Vladičin Han/Tegovište, Serbia

About a quarter past one o’clock in the afternoon, after our final gas and bathroom pit stop, we made it to the Serbia-Macedonia border. It was a little chaotic, but nothing we aren’t accustomed to from our former life on the U.S.-Mexico border when we were posted to the consulate in Ciudad Juárez.

We pulled up at V’s mom’s house and promptly took her out to lunch in the neighborhood. She browsed phone photos from our trip and was surprised at the distance we’d traveled, and delighted to see new pictures of her littlest grandsons in Kragujevac.

A few hours later, we were excited when V’s brother V2 also arrived in Skopje to spend a little extra time with us, plus visit with two of his teenage children who were in from Germany, and who I hadn’t seen since 2011 when they had been very small. V2’s oldest daughter who lived upstairs from her grandmother had also returned from her holiday to Greece, so it was a pretty full house.


V and his mom in Skopje

With only a day and a half left in our Balkan holiday, we held onto the rental car; we would use it the following day to visit my Peace Corps homestay family 90 minutes south in Demir Kapija, and then take it with us to the airport when we departed for our flight early the morning after.


Back in Skopje with our road warrior six-speed manual transmission Toyota Corolla, after driving approximately 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) around the former Yugoslavia 🇲🇰 🇷🇸 🇧🇦 🇭🇷

  2 comments for “Balkan Summer 2022 Trip, Part VII: Sarajevo to Skopje via Kruševac

  1. January 11, 2023 at 03:57

    Great, Quality Content for The Ultimate Tour Guide, A lot of thanks for sharing, kindly keep with continue !!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

The Dark Passport

A record of worldwide travel

Train to TBD

American expat life in Switzerland

Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

What's Up With Tianna?

A Millennial's Musings of the World.

Life in a State of Wanderlust

"Not all those who wander are lost..." --J.R.R. Tolkien

COLORFUL SISTERS

Traveling Fashion Designers 🌼

Adventures With Aia:

A senior project travel blog

hello stranger

stories on adventure, and travel, and real life

Kumanovo-ish

Stories from a mid-west girl in Macedonia

Nina Boe in the Balkans

This blog does not represent the US government, Peace Corps, or people of North Macedonia.

DISFRÚTELA

Live well & Enjoy.

Den's Blog

This is what life is like when you don't do things the easy way.

Audrey is (a)Broad

A Humorous and Factual Repository.

Audrey is (a)Broad

A Humorous and Factual Repository.

Emma & Nathan's Travels

Our worldwide travels beginning in the year 2017

Latitude with Attitude

Exploring the World Diplomatically

try imagining a place

some stories from a life in the foreign service

Teach Travel Budget

Personal Finance for English Teachers Abroad

The Next Dinner Party

So raise your glass

Bag Full of Rocks

My rocks are the memories from different adventures. I thought I would just leave this bag here.

Carpe Diem Creative

A soulful explorer living an inspired life

thebretimes

Time for adventure

Trailing Spouse Tales

My Life As An Expat Abroad

silverymoonlight

My thoughts.

Wright Outta Nowhere

Tales from a Serial Expat

from the back of beyond

Detroit --> Angola --> Chile --> Cambodia--> India

anchored . . . for the moment

the doings of the familia Calderón

I Think I'm Going to Like it Here

A little drama every day. ~Dramababyabroad

J.M.I.

Wanderings & Wonderings

The Multicultural Marketer

Inclusion Isn't Optional

LIVIN' THE HIGHLIFE

two humans, one cat, and our lives together in West Africa

travelin' the globe

my travels, my way. currently exploring eswatini and the rest of southern africa as a peace corps volunteer

Collecting Postcards

Foreign Service Officer and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

a rambling collective

Short Fiction by Nicola Humphreys

Enchanted Forests

This Blog is about discovering the magic of forests in every aspect of life from a small plant in a metropolis to the forests themselves

diplomonkey

Chimping around the world!

The Unlikely Diplomat

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls. – Anais Nin

Countdown To Freedom

A blog about health, the keto diet, weight loss, family, relationships, travel & love!

Let's Go Somewhere

A life well-lived around the world.

Cu Placere

Joyce Hooley

Ben East Books

citizenship | literature

%d bloggers like this: