The first half of 2018 is almost over and it has been a period of change and upheaval for me – so what else is new! My battle with depression continues, and although I have made significant progress on several levels, I remain fragile for the most part. Each day is an uphill struggle, and there are days that I crawl into bed and wonder what possible reason do I have get up the next morning.
Going to work has established a much-needed structure in my life, the three cats who have become my extended family offer me the affection and calm that I seek both at the beginning end of the day, and recently I have discovered the joy of travelling by long-distance bus again. I haven’t done this since my high school days, and was truly skeptical about it in the beginning, but seeing that my daughter actually enjoys the long ride from Florence to Berlin (17 hours) each time she comes to visit, I thought I might as well give it a try. I love travelling by train in general, but the prices of the Deutsche Bahn make it difficult to be footloose and fancy-free, not to mention that the unreliability of the schedules and connections can be frustrating. The bus, on the other hand. offers direct connections for stretches that are otherwise a pain to do by train, and the prices are unbeatable. For example, a round trip by train Berlin – Bremen will cost EUR 190 (without a discount card or saver’s price) and there is no direct train (well, a single one in the middle of the night, when you need it the least). The bus, on the other hand, is only EUR 47, a direct trip with a 30 minute pit stop, and takes roughly an hour longer than the train.
The catch with the bus is that they don’t allow pets onboard, so Champagne has to stay home. Now that she has two other housemates it doesn’t matter that much anymore, but I do miss having her as a travel companion and will probably find little trips to take along with me. The other two ladies are not the travelling type as far as I know, and they would have to be trained gradually first, just like I trained Champagne.
What’s not to like about the bus? There is wi-fi, the seats are comfortable enough, you can charge your accessories, there is a toilet and you can purchase drinks onboard. Unless of course the bus runs out of fresh water during the first half of the trip and the toilet is locked for the next two hours until the next stop, or the person next to you is blocking the access to the plug, or better yet, the passenger behind you has been snoring non-stop from Hamburg to Berlin… or as the case was during one of my daughter’s trips – the toilet was blocked from Berlin to Munich (an eight-hour trip) because a previous passenger stole the tap! I don’t see these as shortcomings, but rather travel perks that make long-distance bus travel interesting.
Unlike the train, however, I find it impossible to work on a laptop on the bus, unless you sit at one of the tables for four, and I don’t like those seats. I want my peace and quiet, prefer to sit alone and look out the window without having to put up with three others. OK, and you definitely can’t photograph from the bus. On the way back from Hamburg this weekend, for example, there was a fantastic super moon along the way but there was no way I could have taken a shot. Moments like these I miss traveling by car.
Bottom line, bus travel with FlixBus is not bad – it is far from perfect, and if you don’t pay close attention to the ever-changing announcements regarding where your bus is actually parked you might not even have a bus to ride. I am certainly beginning to understand why many senior citizens prefer this mode of transportation.