We visited Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania over eight days, meaning that we only had one or two days in each place. This was enough to see the highlights, but it also meant lots of travelling around.
It’s tricky to find information about buses online, but TripAdvisor forums had the best information.
Bus tickets can’t be booked in advance online, but we had no problem getting them on the day. Distances are short, but trips often take longer than expected because of the hilly terrain. Drivers can be mavericks – overtaking dangerously on a turn is commonplace.
Taxis are also available and not super expensive, although we didn’t use them.
Everything was significantly cheaper than in the UK – even in popular places you never pay more than 10€ for a meal including drinks.
Kosovo uses the Euro, Macedonia has the Denar and Albania uses the Lek. Lek and Denars can only be exchanged in the country, but we had no issues with that.
We did some research in advance, but it was easy enough to find veggie options and ask for vegan versions by removing some ingredients. Most people speak English enough to understand simple instructions like ‘no cheese’.
Yummy salads are available everywhere, as are pizzas. Portions are always generous. Fruit and veg are usually very fresh and delicious – as is the local wine.
Drinks aren’t always listed on the menu, but most places will serve the usual drinks (including plenty of coffee options).
I’m sure some people love wandering around duty free shops while they wait for their flights. I’m not one of them. And because I always get to the airport very early, I tend to wait around a lot.
Here’s what you can do to make it better:
Play a game: take a deck of cards or some other game with you and those extra hours will fly by. But remember: keep it small (as you’ll have to carry it around) and keep it simple (no one wants to focus really hard when they’re jet-lagged and half-asleep). Bananagrams, anyone?
Make travel plans: this is the ideal time to finalise your itinerary. Open up that travel guide and get planning! And if you’re returning for a trip, you’re probably already missing your holiday, so check out the departure boards for unusual destinations and start dreaming of your next trip!
Eat and drink: this one is a bit tricky, as some airports don’t really have that much to offer on that department. But when a good bar/restaurant is available, you should definitely check it out while you wait. It’s definitely better than waiting for stale airplane food.
Sometimes it’s nice to go somewhere for a reason. I’m massively into art, so I’m always happy to travel to see a great exhibition. Here are my tips on travelling to see art:
Where to go:
If you’re not sure where to go, a good starting point is focusing on the big European capitals. This way you’re almost guaranteed to find a great museum or exhibition to visit. And of course you will also get to enjoy everything else the city has to offer!
London, Paris and Rome are all perfect for a cultural break!
Another easy choice is to visit famous museums. Of course the Louvre has a crowd of tourists around the Monalisa, but just across the hall you can see four other Leonardos side-by-side (by the way, this is the only place in the world you get to see this) and there will be much less people around there. Last year I went to Amsterdam to visit the newly-renovated Rijksmuseum and it was absolutely amazing!
Major museums are perfect to see masterpieces by famous artists: wandering around room after room of great art can be a lesson in art history in itself!
Another great thing to do is finding specific exhibitions to visit. The Venice Biennale is completely mind-blowing, or you can check out what’s happening in the world at Time Out and take your pick.
But make sure to book in advance: popular exhibitions may sell out. Virtually all museums and galleries have easy options for booking online, and often you don’t have to wait in a queue if you already have your ticket!
A couple of years ago, my boyfriend and I decided we wanted to visit every European country. The plan was to go somewhere every month until we’ve seen it all.
Two years later and we’ve had some amazing times: we saw the northern lights in Iceland, discovered Ljubljana is really nice, had a fabulous time in Prague, and much more!
So far I’ve been to 24 European countries (there are around 50 depending on how you count it, but we use this list here). But we also spend a lot of time going back to places we love, or travelling further afield, outside of Europe.
I read a lot about travelling, and inevitably I add more and more places to my wishlist. I also change my mind about where I want to go: somehow I’m really keen on going to Japan at the moment, but the country didn’t really interest me before!
But mostly I’m always happy to hop on a plane (or a train!) and go somewhere for the weekend. I’m in no rush to tick every country off my list – I’m in it for the journey!