Those pesky buses.

Spain has an amazing public transport system. Hay un sistema de transporte público genial en España.

Okay, I started out with the positive. Most of where you want to go to, you can get to via train or bus. The time tables sometimes aren’t the best, but in generally there are connections at least once a day between the beautiful villages and the closer cities. Vale, he empezado con lo bueno. Hay un autobús o tren a la mayoría de sitios donde quieres ir. A veces el horario puede ser mejor, pero hablando en general, suele ser una conexión al menos una vez al día entre los pueblos preciosos y las ciudades más próximas. 

However, sometimes the buses can be quite the adventure. I’ve never had one break down on me, but on my first bus arriving to Linares from Jaén Capital in 2008, taking me to the town where I would live during 8 months, I thought the bus wasn’t going to make it. It was the typical Andalusian Hot Day, and there was no air conditioning. The bus heaved its way around those back roads. Sin emabargo, viajar por autobús puede ser una aventura. Nunca he tenido un problema grave, pero el primer autobús que cogí desde Jaén Capital hasta Linares, el pueblo donde viví durante 8 meses, el viaje fue una aventura. No había nada de aire acondicionado para el día andaluz tan caloroso, y al autobús le cuesta hacer las curvas de las carreteras. 

That first year in Spain, they were still working on the new, safer highway to replace the one that went up and down beautiful mountains between Castilla La Mancha and Andalucía. One time, returning from a weekend in Madrid, there was a pretty long traffic jam due to trucks not being able to make it up those mountains in the snow. Durante mi primer año en España, todavía estaban trabajando en la autopista nueva porque el antiguo pasaba por unos montes peligrosos pero bonitos entre Castilla La Mancha y Andalucía. Una vez, cuando estaba volviendo de un fin de semana en Madrid, había un atasco grande dado a los camiones que no pudieron subir los montes en la nieve. 

I have to say that thankfully, most of my complaints have been a lack of promised wifi (how does bus wifi work anyway?) or the bus arriving a few minutes late. A few times I’ve found a person in my seat (I always buy window). Alsa, Spain’s main bus company, has a problem with having their online seats correspond with the actual bus seats, though it has gotten a bit better. I will mention that in my three years of living in Bilbao, I never once had a bus on the Cantabric Line arrive on time! Within 10 minutes, but it never left punctual. Alsa, in general, is pretty reliable. Pero estoy agradecido que la mayoría de mis quejas son una falta de wifi que la compañía promete (no entiendo como el wifi de autobús funciona) o el autobús llega un poco tarde. Unas cuantas veces he encontrado alguién en mi asiento. (Siempre compro ventanilla.) Alsa, la compañía de autobuses más grande en España, a veces tiene un problema con los asientos que se compra por internet corresponde con los asientos actuales. Está mejorando poco a poco. También quiero decir que durante mis tres años de vivir en Bilbao, nunca tenía un autobús de la Línea Cantábrico llegar a tiempo. Dentro de 10 minutos, sí, pero nunca salió puntual. 

I’ve done the night bus thing a few times between Valencia and Bilbao or Madrid and Barcelona. I used to not be able to sleep, but that’s changed a bit as I’ve gotten older. It does make the trip go faster. However, on my recent trip from Valencia to Bilbao to pick up my remaining things, I was sitting next to a woman who felt chatting on the phone at 2 in the morning was a fantastic life choice. Not so much! He tenido que coger el autobús de la noche unas cuants veces entre Valencia y Bilbao o Madrid y Barcelona. Antes no podía dormir, pero ha cambiado durante los años. El viaje va volando si puedes dormir. Pero en el viaje reciente de Valencia a Bilbao para recoger mis cosas, estaba sentado a lado de una mujer que pensaba que hablar por móvil en voz alta era una buena opción. NO. 

As I am on the introverted side, I haven’t really ever met anyone interesting on the bus. Most bus rides, my seatmate is as quiet as I am. I always daydream about meeting the guy of my dreams on the bus, but it hasn’t happened yet. Sé que soy introvertido, y por eso nunca he conocido a alguien interesante. Usualmente mi compañero de viaje es tan callado como yo. Siempre sueño que voy a conocer el chico de mis ojos en el autobús, pero todavía no me ha pasado. 

I prefer train, but the are just more buses in Spain that go where I want to go. Prefiero viajar por tren, pero hay más autobuses en España que van donde quiero ir. 

What about you? Have you had any travel-related bus stories?  ¿Y vosotros? ¿Habéis tenido una historia interesante de viajar por autobus?


6 thoughts on “Those pesky buses.

  1. Trains rule for me, too. One of the only times I’ve chosen the bus over the train was when in Prague and I wanted to go on a day trip to Cesky Krumlov. I got to the bus station on time, but didn’t realise you need to reserve a seat in advance. Bus was full so I stayed in Prague – no biggie!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I must say, I’m very impressed by the fact that you have never experienced a bus breakdown in all your years of travel in Spain. Here in Canada (or the USA for that matter), if you’re a frequent Greyhound traveller and you have no first-hand experience with buses breaking down, then there are three possibilities: (a) you are incredibly lucky and should be buying lottery tickets, (b) you aren’t really travelling Greyhound, or (c) you are living in a parallel universe.

    As time goes by, I’m finding these trips a bit less enjoyable. I’ve had some interesting conversations with seatmates over the years, but sometimes, there’s little or no conversation at all. (Perhaps I’m becoming a bit more introverted as I get older. Or maybe just less willing to consistently make the effort at conversation with strangers. I don’t know.) I can sort of sleep on the bus, but it’s not great. After my recent Greyhound trip from Toronto, when I arrived in the Sault after 3:00 am, I was really delighted to get back into my own bed, even if it was 3:45!

    Still, there are great advantages to travelling by bus. Aside from the fact that it’s the most affordable means of mass travel, and that it’s probably the least environmentally harmful (short of car-pooling in a hybrid or doing cross-country bicycling treks), I have found the following: (a) one really can meet interesting people on the bus, and hear interesting life stories and perspectives, and (b) best of all, I think, is that you get to see a great deal of the country at ground level. The latter was definitely the greatest bonus when I have travelled anywhere west of Calgary (i.e., everything from entering the Rockies, to the Fraser Valley, to the Vancouver area, to the wonders of Vancouver Island all the way to the Pacific).



    Liked by 1 person

    • I know your bus woes all too well. The Spanish really don’t speak to their bus mates too much though. I guess bus travel is more common in Europe so they keep the buses in better shape!


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