It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours

You've probably seen them around any big cities that have a large tourist base, those big red "Hop On Hop Off" tourist buses.  If you've been in London, you've almost certainly been approached by someone trying to sell you a ticket to go on one.  Those ticket sellers are persistent little blighters, but the best thing one ever said to me, as I was crossing Park Lane, was "Hey Gorgeous, you want a toy boy?".  Laugh?  I nearly stopped breathing I was laughing so much.  Talk about laughter brightening up your day!  And the double bonus was that he didn't even try to sell me a ticket - result.

Anyway, I'm a big fan of these types of tours.  You can usually buy a ticket for 24, 48 or 72 hours, and you can literally hop on or hop off at lots of different stops, all based close to interesting touristy things.  There are often two colours of route and you can buy the ticket for one route, or both, with the cost varying slightly.

We've done these tours in London, NYC, Barcelona, Stockholm and Athens (and I'm sure I've forgotten some other places).  My friend Meg did the Glasgow one and came out with lots of interesting facts that my Glaswegian hubby didn't even know!  I always bolt for the top deck front seats and get started with the audio tour on my little red earphones (included in the ticket price).

They're a great way to get the layout of a new town and find out some valuable information as well.  If you're anything like me, and your sense of direction is totally non-existent, these tours are absolutely fantastic.  I have a bad habit of coming out of the hotel in the morning and turning left instead of right, and the whole day goes downhill from there.  My built-in compass is 100% blonde.

They're also fabulous if you're jet lagged or feeling a bit sick, but don't have much time in a place, and don't want to spend it in bed in your hotel room.  I was feeling a bit below average in Barcelona, but we were only there for two days and I really didn't want to waste time, so I nipped down and bought a bus ticket, snagged my front seat and did the entire tour without getting off - about 3 hours.  I ended up seeing lots of Barcelona that I certainly wouldn't have seen on foot, and getting loads of info from the audio guide.  And by the time the bus pulled up back at my original stop, I was feeling much better and ready to go and explore some of the things we'd driven past.  The tours are also great if you're travelling alone and don't feel quite ready to tackle a new city by yourself.

So, get yourself aboard one of the big red (they're usually red) buses and have a good look at the place you're visiting.  Oh, and some of them offer discount books of vouchers for reduced entry to tourist attractions, and a discount on your next tour if you hang on to your ticket (which I always remember to do, but then discover that I've put it in another handbag when I need to use it - sigh).

And remember that it's colder on top of a moving bus than it is on the ground so take a coat, your hat will probably blow off, the wrapper from your Snickers bar will blow over the side (or maybe that's just me ...) and you'll need sun screen if you're going to be sitting up there for a while.

Big red bus or big red Doofus?  I'd go with Doofus.  People, wear sun screen on the bus.
I don't know who he is, but I really hope he's wearing pants ...


  1. I like these things too--I do them sometimes if I'm on a business trip and have just a few hours between leaving the customer and heading to the airport. I think I've only been on one where I've actually hopped on/off!

    1. A girl after my own heart! I think they're a great idea.


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