I think it's well-documented that I love train travel. But what has featured a whole lot less on this blog is bus travel. There is a good reason for this. It's probably my least favourite way to get around, unless it's just a twenty-minute trip to a museum or somewhere.
Let me start with the exception, though, because it's always too general to say that I hate all bus travel (or anything, for that matter). Once, when I lived in Japan, I took an overnight bus trip from Osaka to Hiroshima. I was on a really tight budget (otherwise I would have taken the very speedy and comfortable shinkansen train instead) but a colleague had assured me that this bus was actually very comfortable.
They were right. It was amazing. It was a double decker bus and it was designed for and dedicated to overnight travel - there was a large gap between each seat and most importantly, the (comfortable) seats reclined nearly fully, a bit like a lie-flat seat in an aeroplane (or so I hear), and I was actually able to sleep well for most of the trip.
Of course, 99.9% of bus trips are not like that. I can name a couple of particularly horrid bus journeys I've had over the years. One was in Tunisia, returning from Hount Souz on Djerba to the capital, Tunis. I was actually planning to take the overnight train. I'd heard that tickets didn't go on sale until a particular time and I was ready and waiting at the ticket office at exactly that moment - only to be told that all the seats had already been sold. I never managed to figure out what went wrong but I did figure out that the only way back to Tunis was on a long night bus trip. The roads weren't great, I was exhausted, the bus was crowded, and after arriving at the bus station at Tunis at around 3.30am I had to sit and wait there until 6am for any transport into the city. I remember that day as being slightly torturous.
|A ruin at Houmt Souq ... I felt like a ruin after my bus trip away from Houmt Souq|
These days, wherever possible and even if it costs more, I try to stick to trains over buses. I feel like I've "been there, done that" with bad bus trips and I don't need to repeat those experiences to remember how beautiful it is to travel in a train.