Bus-ing Round the Balkans travel blog

 

 

Who needs a bridge?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Butrint is the main reason I came to Sarandë; its ancient ruins are hidden amongst forest and situated by a lagoon. All together it forms a national park. I was more interested in the ruins and history though.

The bus to Butrint leaves from the "roundabout" near my hotel. I wouldn't have realised it was a roundabout though were it not for the road sign as you approach it. There is a small tree in the centre, but only a few vehicles are following a circular route around it: most of them just seem to treat it as a triangular junction and ignore the pesky roundabout concept, driving to the left of the tree instead of around it to the right. The traffic police aren't concerned by this, so why should anyone else be?

It's a 45 minute bus ride via Ksamil, where most of the passengers - all armed ready for the beach - get off. My guidebook tells me it has nice beaches and "dreamy islands" within swimming distance. From my vantage point aboard the bus it certainly looks pleasant enough.

I spend an enjoyable couple of hours amongst the ruins and gasping at the beautiful views over the water through breaks in the trees. It feels idyllic. Not being surrounded by the kinds of crowds you find at sites in Greece and Italy sweetens it.

The bus running between Sarandë and Butrint has no air conditioning and none of the windows open. But that's not a problem; instead we drive along with all the doors wide open. I can't possibly think how that might end badly. It's not like the road drops away immediately to our right down the hillside to the lagoon below.

After stopping at Ksamil again it's standing room only, and the doors are closed. Much to my relief; I'm not overly keen on watching anybody tumble out the side of the bus. The temperature on board is now soaring, and once the conductor has finished collecting everyone's fares he signals to the driver to open the doors again. He then proceeds to hold on to either side of the door frame and uses himself as a human barrier, presumably to prevent the kind of disaster that had been playing through my mind.

Call me negative if you will, but - and as much as I applaud the fact they had clearly carried out some degree of risk assessment here - I'm not all that convinced that if one or more passengers fell against him he wouldn't simply go flying out the side of the bus with them. But what do I know?

We make it back to Sarandë without losing anybody and with enough time for me to go for that swim in the sea I didn't manage last time around. Tomorrow I'm heading away from the coast to Gjirokastër.

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