Against many leisure travelers' advice, my wife and I will attempt an ambitious 7-day Balkans blitz from Sofia, Bulgaria to Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina. We will fly into Sofia on Saturday November 23 and fly out of Sarajevo on Saturday November 30. We plan to travel between the two on public buses via Ohrid, Macedonia, Tirana, Albania, Kotor, Montenegro, and Dubrovnik, Croatia.
I've used www.balkanviator.com to plan the intricate schedule of 5 bus trips, which I've pasted below, for those who are detail-oriented.
My questions center around the availability of bus seats and cheap lodging at this time of year.
Is there generally a need to buy bus tickets in advance this time of year? If so, should I try that online or by phone, connecting to each bus station (or bus company), where available?
If not, does it make sense to try to buy them the night before at each bus station, when I can get there (and when there's actually a bus station)?
Is there generally even a need to buy tickets more than an hour ahead?
I've booked lodging at Sofia, Ohrid, Tirana, Kotor, Dubrovnik, and Sarajevo, which I could cancel without penalty about 3 days before arrival, in most cases through http://www.booking.com/. But if we were to miss a bus at the last minute, we'd have to scramble to get caught up--perhaps by taking a less desirable later bus, if any--or lose the cost of that night's reserved lodging.
Is there a general answer to how reliable the balkanviator schedules will turn out to be?
Should I cancel most of the lodging reservations now and hope to restore them ad hoc on a daily basis during the trip?
Thank you very much!
Feel free to ignore the details below.
Sunday November 24 – Sofia, Bulgaria to Ohrid, Macedonia
Depart Sofia main bus station for Ohrid at 13:30 on bus route 19940, arriving at 22:50.
Monday November 25 – Ohrid, Macedonia to Tirana, Albania
Take a bus or minibus leaving every 15 minutes from the main Ohrid bus station (or several places it circulates to around Ohrid) to Struga. For example, take the Galeb Bus Company's route 18254, departing the main bus station at 13:30, arriving in Struga at 13:55.
Then catch the 14:40 Baškim Turs bus (route 19860) from Struga to Tirana, arriving at 20:00.
Tuesday November 26 – Tirana, Albania to Kotor, Montenegro
(Is the correct bus stop to get to Montenegro on Rruga Karl Gega a bit north of Ruga Reshit Petrela?)
Catch the 14:00 route 11622 bus from Tirana to Ulcinj, Montenegro, arriving at 17:30.
Then take 19:30 route 28083 bus from Ulcinj to Kotor, arriving at 21:59.
Wednesday November 27 – Kotor, Montenegro to Dubrovnik, Croatia
Depart Kotor main bus station at 15:10 on route 11321 bus to Dubrovnik, arriving at 17:15.
Friday November 29 – Dubrovnik, Croatia to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Depart Dubrovnik main bus station at 08:00 on the route 16330 bus to Sarajevo, arriving at 14:45.