“Where to in Montenegro?”, asks the lady at the counter. “Budva” I say. “Ah, BOODVA! – What time?” She turns around the screen so that we can pick the time. “At seven.” The arrival in Budva is at 6 am – means 11h of travel time from Belgrade to Budva. We pay and receive the tickets with two coins for the gate to the bus station.
It’s 6:30 pm and the bus rolls into the parking lot no. 17. We line up with the others. The guy checks the ticket and points around the bus “Boodva, other side.” So we drag our backpacks around. “2€ – baggash.” Shit, we didn’t know that we have to pay for baggage. We only had 60DIN left, which is only 60ct. James and I look at each other puzzled. The other guy came around. “You have to pay 2€ for each bag.” When we ask for an ATM nearby, he would just respond “Don’t know, but we leave at 7 pm.” Nice start to a fucking long trip. James hurries outside the bus station to withdraw another 500DIN. We pay, put our bags in the compartment and take our seats.
It’s 7 pm and the bus pulls out of its parking lot and the 11h bus ride from Belgrade to Budva starts on time. I try to read but the bounces and turns make me feel sick. I was looking forward to finishing the book that I got hooked on a few days ago, but my motion sickness crushed my plans. Maybe I can watch a downloaded episode on the Netflix app, but it wouldn’t work either. So I am sitting there, 10.5 hours to go without entertainment in a language I understand. Great.
The TV in the bus displays a very old Serbian movie probably from 1970. I close my eyes. Maybe I can sleep. Shooting wakes me up. The Serbians are fighting in the movie. I follow the story for a little bit until I fall back to sleep to the powerful and melodic voice of the Serbian singer. Suddenly, the bus stops. After 3h, we are taking a bathroom stop.
Two Serbian movies and 3 breaks later, we reach the Serbian border. A man from the border control enters the bus and collects all passports and IDs. Then he disappears in his house for around 10min. The bus drivers hop back on the bus and keep driving to the Montenegrin border. Another passport check later, we are good to go. We are finally in Montenegro. Only 5 hours more to our destination, so I try to get more sleep. It is quiet on the bus. Only bus drivers are talking and laughing. I wish I could understand them because they are the only people on the bus that seem to have fun.
I abruptly wake up by the turns of the bus that throw me from the left to the right, and from the right to the left. The popping in my ears gives instant relief. We are finally descending to Budva. The bus quickly rolls down the winding road. As the sun slowly rises, I can notice the mountains around us – dark grey rocks covered in black bushes.
The bus takes another turn and the dark blue sea presents itself in front of me. Hundreds of lights along the coast catch my eye in the dawn and make me feel awe. After 10.5h on the bus, this is the glorious reward. The sun brightens the view of the black mountains and the cities in the valleys. Curve by curve, the view becomes clearer and I realize that we are made it to our destination: Budva in Montenegro, our reward.