Thursday, 12 September 2013

Night buses.

My first year in the UK, I was really excited to travel and see new places (ok... I still am!), so when a couple months after being in England, and a school holiday came up, I was most definitely looking forward to a trip.

I decided that I didn't want to spend much, and neither did the friend that I was travelling with, so we looked around and found out that you could take a night bus to Scotland for under 10 pounds. Great! We thought we found a deal and booked tickets to go there and back on the night bus. We figured it would save us time (since we could sleep on the bus and not waste a day travelling) and money.

We arrived at the coach station all ready for our trip. Excited and pleased that we had found such a good deal. Little did we know that the bus would be crowded and the seats so close together that you felt like a pretzel trying to sit comfortably. It was also hot. The heat was up and the bus was sweltering. Despite this, we did our best to settle in and to fall asleep.

Pretty soon, however, it was clear that sleep was not happening. The constant kicking of our seats from the guys behind us, and the warm, cramped conditions made sleep impossible. I tried my best to just close my eyes and rest, in the hope that it would make the trip less painful. Half way to Edinburgh, my friend let out a cry. "Gum!" she groaned. I looked over and she was covered in sticky peppermint gum. Someone had left it near the wall on her side and with the heat of the bus, it had melted all over her. Strands of the gum hung as she desperately tried to get it off. The smell was not pleasant.

After that we swore to never take a night bus after that trip.

Fast forward a bit and we were planning a trip to Amsterdam and then Paris. After a week or two of research, we came to the unfortunate conclusion that taking a night bus to the two cities was the only feasible option. We splurged a bit on a nicer bus company and told ourselves that it would mean nicer seats, more leg room and a better trip overall.

The trip to Amsterdam (using the ferry to France) was fairly uneventful, other than some very rude young men mocking my laugh (hmph) and many loud school children on the ferry, but the trip from Amsterdam to Paris really made me question our choice to take another night bus. It started off with the bus driver yelling at a man at the station before we left... threatening to not allow him on the bus (I can't remember what it was over, but I do recall the man not deserving it). Soon, we got on the bus and headed off... across the continent towards France. After being on the bus for a while, the driver decided to put a Spanish horror film on the tv. Now, I'm all for people watching what they want, but there were several reasons why this was annoying and alarming to us.

1. The film was in Spanish with no subtitles. This was a trip from the Netherlands to France. No one on the trip spoke Spanish.
2. This was in the middle of the night and the film was very loud. Most people were trying to sleep but having the film on so loud ensured that no one slept.
3. It was a horror flick. Lots of blood, knives and screaming. Again... in the middle of the night.

We started wondering if the driver was either trying to freak us all out, or was trying to prepare us for our own murderous ends. It was not a peaceful night.

Gladly, we made it to Paris alive and I think both of us were pretty happy that we were taking the train back to London and not another night bus.

I've not had to take another night bus since that trip, and while I appreciate the low price of the night bus, I don't think I will every be in a rush to take one again.

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