A Bus Trip Goes Awry
I recently spent two weeks in Spain with my husband and our travel friends, the Lambs. For the first week we rented a car and rambled through Madrid and Mallorca. While seeing the sights of this ancient area was an amazing experience, it’s the story of a trip to Seville that begs to be told.
On week two we traveled to the island of Malaga. Here we planned to park the car and leave the driving to someone else. In other words – we’d signed up for several bus tours. Most of these were scheduled through our hotel, but the trip to Seville – home of the famous barber – we’d booked on our own.
According to the guidebooks Seville was all about whitewashed villas smothered with bougainvillea, pristine beaches, and exquisite vistas along the river. Excited to see this legendary place, we met our bus at 6:00 A.M. We’d been told the driver would be stopping a few times to pick up people from other hotels, but we were O.K. with that. We hopped on and settled down for the 2 ½ hour drive.
As the bus stopped for the tenth time to pick up yet another group, we began to wonder what we’d gotten ourselves into. Especially when, at one of the stops the driver got off the bus and relieved himself in the bushes. (While I don’t claim to be an expert on bus driver etiquette this struck me as highly odd).
After two hours of playing pickup we finally entered the freeway and began to make some progress. But alas, twenty minutes later it was time for a coffee break and we pulled into a mega bus stop designed to tempt tourists into spending lots of money. Sigh. When we finally reached Seville, it was four hours since we’d started.
Seville was everything the guidebooks promised. We strolled through old town, visited the astounding Spanish Square, were humbled by the enormous cathedral LaGiralda, and enjoyed a relaxing cruise along the river. But alas, too soon it was time to get back on the bus as we clearly had a long drive ahead of us.
The stars were coming out as we arrived in Malaga and began the morning’s meandering pick-up process in reverse. By now we were exhausted, and this situation had become so awful it was funny. People began to make bets on what time we might actually arrive home. My husband threw out the ridiculous time of 10:00 o’clock!
Finally, we were down to eight passengers. As we approached the freeway on-ramp and nosed into traffic the bus made an odd clanking sound. The lights clicked off, the air conditioner died, and we sat in stunned silence. No way! The driver tried to restart the engine but to no avail. I could feel my friend’s eyes boring into my head. I met her gaze and we clapped our hands over our mouths to smother hysterical laughter.
At this point, drivers who were stuck behind the bus began honking and making impolite gestures as they drove onto the grass to get around us. Our exasperated driver flung himself off the bus and banged around for a few minutes before tossing several emergency flares on the ground. He got back in, stabbed at his cell phone and began making angry phone calls in staccato Spanish.
In the meantime, we the lucky few, alternated between praying we wouldn’t be side-swiped by a semi truck, and wondering what else could possibly go wrong. Eventually the driver decided it was safer to remove us to an island in the middle of an intersection. There we waited until several knights on white horses (think taxi cab drivers) came to our rescue. Yeah! We arrived home at 10:30 p.m. after a 16 ½ hour tour.
In closing, I would highly recommend visiting Seville, it’s amazing and inspiring, but take my advice and take yourself. If you do choose the bus, best of luck. Just make sure your last stop isn’t on the freeway.
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For fellow travel aficionados I’ve included a link to a great travel site – GoNOMAD . Here you’ll find plenty of ideas for your next vacation. I’ve also included their submission guidelines for travel writers. Check it out.