8 Reasons not to take a night bus (even if it’s your only option)

We didn’t take this exact bus but something similar!

My brother Byron and I said are farewell to Salamanca and new friend Louise, who we met through Couchsurfing early Monday morning. This is my brother’s 2nd time traveling to Europe and first time meeting people through Couchsurfing and staying in a hostel. I’ve been super stoked about his visit and to have this opportunity to share this type of travel style with him.

Buses run from Salamanca to Porto, Portugal at 11:45 Tuesday- Saturday, Sunday there is no bus and Monday there is only a 1:30am bus. Though we enjoyed the small university town of Salamanca and we were sad to say our farewell to our new friend but we knew it was time to hit the road. 

Night buses aren’t my favorite but I became used to them living in Roquetas and having limited options of getting to Madrid by bus or train. So when the night bus was are only option, unless we wanted to stay 2 more days in Salamanca, I didn’t think twice. Throwing my brother right in!

We bought our bus ticket in the afternoon and were back at the station in the black night of morning.

  1. Sleeping upright isn’t comfortable, even if the seats recline. It’s even more difficult when the bus driver drives hecticthat you feel you keep waking up from being jostled
  1. The bus driver decides to drop everyone off at the ticket agent “Internorth” instead of at the proper bus station as it’s stated on your ticket. The directions we have for our hostel are useless and we can’t find where we are on our guidebook map. (It’s too early for any information booth to be open and hardly anyone on the street at 6am).
  1. You decide to take a taxi who quotes a decent price (6 euros but we realize later it’s only 3 minutes away, picks up other travelers who are walking yet don’t wave down a taxi and then when he arrives at your stop, he charges you 2 euros more than what the meter ssys and 1 Euro less than what he quoted you. (Normally, you’d argue or question but you’re too tired, you don’t speak Portuguese and you just want a bed)
  1. All you want to do is sleep in a cozy bed but it’s 6am.  Check in time is noon. You think it’s 7am but that’s Spanish time, Portugal is an hour earlier than Spain. You arrive at your hostel and the woman at reception seems to have just been awoken by ringing the doorbell. She doesn’t offer us to crash in the common area and suggests we return at 11am or noon. Oh God. Help  us. 
  1. You chill at a café and try to read a guidebook and or look at a map to get your bearings of this new city. For a moment, you question why you’re traveling, what you’re doing with yourself  and why you though traveling was a great idea in the first place. You order overpriced café and snacks because it’s the only café open this early and you’re grateful since it’s raining outside.
  1. Weird people seem to be the only ones roaming around the street and one approaches asking if you speak English and then mumbles how he’s a piano player who lost his job 3 years ago. He’ll bug everyone on the street and then forget he’s already asked you, and ask again. Your brother questions why we came to Portugal and thinks Spain  is much better.
  1. You take a nap for a few hours when you can finally can check-in and feel you’ve wasted part of your day. You venture out but you feel out of it. And then you curse the city of Porto, built on steep hills for having to hike when you legs fill like someone has inflated them with air, your back aches and head feels fuzzy
  1. While aimlessly roaming the city to get a feel for the place and just  see what happens, my brother gets shit on by a pigeon and wonders if this is a sign for us to get the heck out of town. I can’t remember if this is good or bad luck,” he says.” We laugh till we cry and go in search of coffee to try to kick our delirious state.
Have you taken night buses? How have your experiences been? Do you feel like you lose a day when you arrive from being tired and delirious?

15 thoughts on “8 Reasons not to take a night bus (even if it’s your only option)

  1. I guess Europe is a bit different. Most of the places in Asia, you can drop off your bags if you get in before check in or hangout in the common area.
    I take over night flights and trains all the time, because they get me to my destination and also save me the cost of the hostel bed or room.

    Seems like something you will remember all your life, you will look back and laugh about this.

    • Guri, definitely will remember this trip with my brother and the more difficult moments, those are always the most memorable and laughable when time has passed : )
      Yeah, most places we’ve been to allow bag drop off, which is super helpful! Thanks for reading.

  2. I’ve taken a night bus once or twice – but I’ve decided never again! My sister and I took the overnight bus from Edinburgh back to London and we were absolutely (for lack of a better word) knackered! And we couldn’t go to our room as it was too early (just like you said) and we were too tired to do anything for the whole day, so we just ended up sleeping in Hyde Park for most of the day. The irony is that we took the overnight bus to save money on the room – but we actually wasted an entire day which ended up costing us more in terms of value for money and time.

  3. Pingback: Gloomy skies and Port wine in Porto, Portugal « Roamingtheworld

  4. Sounds like an ordeal!!! I hope that one you recovered you enjoyed Oporto, I loved it when I was there. Also Lisbon and Carvoeiro (a small town on the Algarve) are worth checking out 🙂

    • hi Sarah,
      We did enjoy Porto. We’re headed to Lisbon soon. thanks for the tip in the Algarve. We’re hoping to spend some time checking out the beaches on the West coast of the Algarve.

  5. Pingback: Visit to Salamanca in Spring « Vado a Spain

    • Yes, Michel I agree buses are best for day travel but sometimes travel forces you to do different things. Makes for good memories and stories!

  6. Wow, that was quite the ride. Funny how you forget the details years later, u do remember that it sucked though. My worse ride was on a train across Sweden. They put us in a cafeteria car. Trying to sleep was impossible as the only place was under the bench seats and tables. A minor detail that was left out!

    Sorry, to hear Bryon got s%!tted on.
    Early morning arrivals and departures happen as we know, the best advise is to call everyone the hotel the bus line just to confirm that what you think is going to happen does happen. Never seems to amaze me how those little details peck you in the butt.

    At least you know you’ve had the adventure!

  7. Urgh, night buses. I’ve never had an experience as terrible as this, but long bus rides are just so uncomfortable. The worst was when my 12-hour night bus from Salamanca got in at 7 a.m. after a long weekend trip. I had to leave two hours later to go to work with that fuzzy feeling you described.

  8. I have all of the same experiences with night buses in Latin America, even in Peru where they are like planes – I hate arriving tired at 5am and realizing you have no idea where you are.

  9. Hahahaha!! This is great. The same thing happened to my compañeras and me when we took the overnight bus to Madrid. We got stuck in an overheated, stinky bus with the windows glued shut for over 5 hours (one of the passengers seriously had not showered in DAYS), arrived in Madrid at 6am in December, and well… one of us was smart enough to have brought a generous water bottle full of liquor to keep us all warm until we gathered the courage to call up our couchsurfing hosts to let them know we had arrived. 🙂

    Enjoy the rest of your stay in Portugal!! I know you’ll end up loving it! David says to make sure to try some “bacalhao bras”, “pao com çhorizo”, and of course, some caldo verde (though it’s served hot). Oh and also arroz com pato – I think this last one was said in David’s Spanuguese. And when you go to Lisbon, try the cherry liquor – ginjinha! http://iheartmondegreens.com/2011/08/12/lucky-in-lisboa/

    Okay, have fun girlie! Tell your brother I say hello (and chin up!), and I hope you two enjoy the rest of your Spanish/Portuguese road trip!! 🙂

  10. I had a similar adventure in Porto, but in the opposite way…instead of paying for a night hotel, we tried to sleep in the beach (too cold, even for september), heading to Porto at 6am, everything close and seat like homeless in a central café……the only one open with overprice caffee….I have dejà vù!

  11. That night bus to Lisbon and hour time difference has defo gotten me before! We made like bandits and slept in the foyer till someone left!! Now that I have a real job, I spring for the AVE whenever available…

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