Stay on the bus

Train, plane, automobile and Vespa—I’ve used them all to get around Europe. The plane is quickest, the train is more scenic, and the bus is by far the cheapest. As for Vespas, I wouldn’t recommend them unless you have a trustworthy driver without a death wish (and you know he won’t drive up on sidewalks).

Inside view of bus

Inside the bus going to Torreilles.

In Perpignan the bus is the way to go. For about two euro I’ve been able to travel within and outside of the city in the cleanest, most comfortable buses I’ve ever traveled in. High-back chairs, padded seats…and they smell clean. I’m in heaven.

Whenever I step onto a public bus here I feel like I accidentally boarded a chartered coach with a tour guide about to shout things at me in German. But no, it’s just a civil service employee taking me to the beautiful beach of Torreilles where I can relax and have a cocktail on the beach.

I love these buses. The drivers are friendly and don’t get frustrated when I have no idea how much a ticket cost. Once you find the right bus stop it’s usually on time and there is even a helpful screen attached to the ceiling telling you which stop you’re at and how many until the final destination. And I’ve never been packed into one like a sardine.

On the last bus I rode back home in San Francisco I was wedged between a homeless man who sat in the middle of the floor yelling at people because they stepped on his “scrunchie” and someone who smelled as if he hadn’t showered in about two weeks. When I tried to get off the bus I got caught in a stampede and almost fell off the steps onto the sidewalk.

As long as I’m in Europe, I will stick with the bus. I get to where I want to go in a short amount of time, I have enough faith that the bus driver won’t run over pedestrians, and I can get out of town in the same amount of time it takes me to travel 2 miles in San Francisco. Vive l’autobus!