I’m better at being places than I am at getting places. With that said, I don’t mind being in airports and on planes for a few reasons. Checking a bag and being left with just my backpack makes it all easier. Flights usually indicate either the start of an adventure I’ve been so excited for or that I’ll get to see my puppy within a few hours (or a day if I’m starting off in Asia). Having the opportunity to be completely unreachable in the skies for a few hours (or 17) means I get to catch up on my NY Mag crossword puzzles and all the recent movies I didn’t want to pay $15 + cheesy pretzels to watch.
What I’m not so great at is when I am in the middle of an adventure and have to stop said adventure to head to my next destination. I don’t like figuring out different schedules. I don’t like lugging all of my stuff to a train station and having to drag it around as I determine where the right track is. I *especially* don’t like pulling my luggage onto a train, bumping into people as I walk down the aisle trying to figure out where I’m allowed to sit – whether it’s reserved or the wrong class or if I’m on the wrong side of a train that is going to split in half at the next stop – or finding a spot for my luggage.
Which is why I was BEYOND excited – way more than anyone should be about something like this – when I discovered that instead of taking a train from Budapest to Bratislava, I could take a RegioJet bus, for just €10.50 plus €0.50 for my luggage. Though I was having trouble with the train schedules and wasn’t positive there even was a train that day, some websites I found said a train ticket would have cost double that. I loved RegioJet so much, I stopped looking up train tickets to compare the rest of my routes. I took it from Bratislava to Vienna, Cesky Krumlov to Prague, Prague to Dresden, and Dresden to Berlin.
Why am I writing a love note to a bus company? Because it truly made my life that month so much easier. Gone were my luggage woes – I could take my luggage to my hotel lobby, have a cab driver put it in his trunk, ride to the bus station, have the driver put it under the bus, and hop into my assigned seat in a flash. A few of the bus stops were less than a 10-minute walk from my hotels so I could save money by walking. I didn’t bump into anyone with my luggage as I struggled to remember the word for “sorry” in whatever language I needed it. Gone was my stress – I didn’t sweat through my winter coat and layers of Eddie Bauer pullovers rushing through a train station trying to find the right track. I wasn’t ejected from my seat for sitting in the wrong car, class, or seat. I could sleep on the bus and not have to pay attention to every stop because there was usually only one or two stops and they made sure you got off. It was also nice to watch the countryside roll by from the window seat, though you’d get that on a train as well.
Not one of my rides was longer than a few hours, but I could have stayed on for longer if I’d needed to. All the buses were clean and had reclining seats, plugs to charge your devices, and screens in front of every seat (though I didn’t watch anything, thinking everything would be in Czech). I didn’t use any, but there was a bathroom available on each bus, in case you had more than one of the free cappuccinos they were passing around. There was food available for sale, but I usually bought a croissant before hopping on.
I didn’t pay more than $15 US for any of my rides so I ended up saving a lot of money which allowed me to treat myself to ice cream almost every day. The only route I wanted that I couldn’t get without transferring was Vienna to Cesky Krumlov. For that, I used CK Shuttle, a shared van. This cost about $40 US, about four times what a bus would have been, but it did take me door-to-door from both hotels so there was no additional cost for taxis. The driver was awesome and in a band, we stopped at a McDonald’s along the way, and I had enough legroom as I sat in the row behind the driver.
Because RegioJet didn’t have buses out of Cologne, I took a different bus company, FlixBus, to Paris. They were fine, but I definitely enjoyed my experiences with RegioJet more. This may have to do with me waiting at the wrong bus station in the morning, taking a €50 taxi to the correct bus station where my driver and I saw my bus pull out, and frantically booking another trip where I’d have to transfer in Brussels and that left out of yet another bus station, which cost another €50 to get to via taxi. It was a challenging day.
The next time I’m planning a big European adventure, I’m going to look at the routes of RegioJet before I book anything. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to help me around Ireland in July, but luckily I’ll have a chauffeur for that. And by chauffeur, I mean, my dad and a rental car.