Archive | December, 2011

Happy Holidays from Busbud!

23 Dec

Holiday Bus in Tokyo, Japan!

Although we launched Busbud only a month ago, we’ve been really amazed by your reception. Thank you for sending in your feedback and support— your kind words fuel us every day as we work on making Busbud the best bus travel information source on the web.

Our goal since the beginning has been to make bus travel easier because we believe it’s one of the best ways to experience travel abroad. Traveling in itself is a rich and rewarding experience because you’re immersed in the culture of locals. Traveling by bus brings you closer to the action and puts you front and center into the daily lives of locals. The bus also gets you to some pretty awesome places. In the words of Andrew Evans, digital nomad for National Geographic, “hopping on a bus to a place whose name you can’t even pronounce is one of the greatest adventures out there”.

We’ve got great stuff coming up for the new year, so stay tuned. We look forward to an exciting new year of adventure with you in 2012.

Best wishes from all of us here at Busbud,

The Busbud team

Photo: e_chaya

Holiday Travel: Don’t Miss The Magic of German Christmas Markets!

22 Dec

German Christmas Market. Photo by: gravitat~on

The days are getting colder and all is slowly turning white. If you’re traveling (hopefully by bus!) between now and early January, Germany has the perfect way to keep you warm and merry during the holiday season: the “Christkindlmarkt”.

The country’s bustling outdoor Christmas markets have been around since the Middle Ages and are an absolute must-see when in Germany! Every city’s square becomes a maze of stalls stocked with hand-crafted ornaments, unique gifts and local delicacies. Sweet perfumes of gingerbread and hearty aromas of roasting sausages entice your appetite, while the mulled wine is sure to keep you jolly through the night!

A Christmas Treat: Aachener Printens, Christmas Market, Germany. Photo by: Kim Gradek

More than six dozen markets spruce up around the country every year. To make your life easier we’ve selected a few based on history, charm and yummy treats. Even better, all are accessible by bus!

Nuremburg

As tradition has had it since 1628, a “Christkind” (a young woman dressed up as an angel) opens the Christmas bazaar on the first Advent at the end of November. With its 180 candy-cane striped wooden stalls, Nuremburg’s Christmas Market is famous for its delicious gingerbread cookies and fruit loaves, as well as beautiful Christmas tree ornaments, candles and prune-people! Visit the official website for details.

Nuremburg Christmas Market’s Famous Prune People. Photo by: Charley

Stuttgart

Attracting millions of visitors each year, Stuttgart’s winter wonderland is also not to be missed! The Christmas market is one of the largest and loveliest in Europe with over 200 stalls decorated down to the tee, a tradition that has been emphasized for the last 300 years. Unique specialties include Spätzle, a thick hand made noodles served with cheese sauce and Schupfnudeln, a delicious hash-brown served with apple sauce. Visit the official website for details.

Little houses to decorate for the village under your Christmas tree, one of many Christmas gift ideas available at Stuttgart’s Christmas Market, in Germany. Photo by: David Blackwell

Monschau

Just a few kilometres over the Belgian border and surrounded by the Eiffel Hills is one of Europe’s best kept secrets. Monschau’s Christmas market is quite small, but that shouldn’t stop you from strolling through the stone-paved streets, completely falling under the charm of its wooden buildings, tasting their exquisite mustard, and indulging in their chocolate treats in cafés around the village. Visit the official website for details.

Kim looking like Rod Stewart at Monschau’s Christmas Market in 2010

Visit Busbud to learn more about FlixBus’ schedules and tickets

Photos by gravitat~on, charley1965 and David Blackwell. on Flickr.

Bus Around The World: Phuket, Thailand

20 Dec

A VIP treatment in the 12 hour-long bus ride from Bangkok to Phuket, Thailand

Photo by: Harsha K R 

If you have a cool bus photo you’d like to submit, please contact us!

Navigate Yourself to your Next Bus with our City and Country Pages

19 Dec

The spectacular Iguazu Falls on the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay

Not sure where to go next? That’s OK, there are many possible options to travel around a country. Busbud can help you plan the next step in your travels by viewing popular connecting bus routes at a glance.

For example, earlier this year I traveled to Brazil to see the world famous Rio Carnival. Once the festivities we’re over, I wanted to travel around Brazil for a few more weeks, but wasn’t sure which direction I should head in. Should I follow the coast south to Sao Paolo, Florianopolis and Porto Alegre, or should I head north towards Salvador and Fortaleza? Or perhaps take a different route altogether and head inland to visit the beautiful Iguazu Falls in Foz de Iguazu? In any case, how much would these options cost? Were frequent bus departures available to each destination? How long would the trip be?

Our country page for Brazil shows you an alphabetical index to the more than 1,000 cities in Brazil we serve bus information for. We’ve been busy making a few improvements to our country pages based on your feedback over the last weeks in order to make them even more useful for you. Now you can see the top cities for each country ranked by departure frequency.

Country page for Brazil

On our city page for Rio de Janeiro, you can find route connections for follow-on travel. You’ll see popular tourist cities like Sao Paolo (6.5 hours away) and Paraty (4.5 hours away), but also frequently-running closer cities, like Cabo Frio and Araruama (2-2.5 hours away). You can also toggle between inbound and outbound connections using the To/From links above the table. Once you find a destination that makes sense for you, you can then click on to the Route page to see the bus operators offering service on this route.

City page for Rio de Janeiro

Of course, we’ve made links to these pages very present around the site. For example, you can go directly to a City or Country page by clicking the links in a page title.

Route page title for Rio from Janeiro to Sao Paolo

In my case, I ended up heading inland towards the awe-inspiring Iguazu Falls, even though it was relatively far from Rio!

We will keep working to make these pages even more useful for you, both for pre-trip planning and for on-the-ground use during your trip. If you have any suggestions, please let us know at info@busbud.com or via the Feedback tab on the bottom of every page of the site.

Photo by: Bruno Ideriha

Q&A With Michael Hodson: Circling the Globe Without Flying

15 Dec
Michael Hodson at the archaelogical city of Petra, in Jordan

Michael Hodson at the archaelogical city of Petra, in Jordan

As part of our goal to make life easier for bus travelers, we contact travelers who’ve had firsthand experiences around the world. Last week, we featured Andrew Evans from National Geographic. Today, we’re happy to share an interview with Michael Hodson from GoSeeWrite, a lawyer turned world traveler who reached out to us with his incredible bus adventures after reading our feature on his good friend Ayngelina.

Michael Hodson is a former attorney from Arkansas who took off in December of 2008 to circle the planet without flying. As you can imagine, he’s had his fair share of bus rides by choosing land transportation for his travel. We’re happy to feature him today as part of our Q&A series with travel bloggers.

1) Where are you now, and where are you headed next in your travels?

I am in Bangkok, Thailand. I am actually headed to my folks’ home in California in about a week for the holidays. After missing out on that for three years in a row, my family basically put their foot down last year, so I try to make it back home for a few weeks at the end of the year now.

2) I know Cape Town, South Africa, is one of your favorite cities. One of our friends, WanderingEarl, is actually in South Africa at the moment with some fellow travel bloggers like @TravelBlggr. What piece of advice would you give them or anyone else planning a visit to South Africa?

I wish I could give more general South Africa advice, but I loved Cape Town so much, that is where I basically concentrated for the two or so weeks I was there in 2009. A couple things in Cape Town and the area though: (1) climb Lion’s Head. The view from up there of Table Mountain, the city bowl and the beaches is far better from Cape Town itself; (2) hit the wine country nearby — no need to elaborate too much on that, but some of the best, cheaper wines in the world; (3) if you are up for adventure, try the Great White shark cage diving that is centered in the small towns about two hours from Cape Town, easily accessible by tour group from town.

Michael on a sand dune in Namibia, Africa

3) Last week during #TNI, travelers talked a lot about architecture. What’s the most unique building or monument you’ve encountered during your travels, and why?

It is hard to beat Machu Picchu for not only being a set of amazing buildings, but also just “what the heck were they thinking building this up here??!!” If you go, make sure you get to the gates before they open and then walk straight through to the other side, so you can get one of the few daily tickets to climb nearby Wannapicchu, which has some amazing views back from way over the top of Manchupicchu.

Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu

4) You’ve also traveled extensively by bus. Do you have an interesting bus story to tell us?

I just wrote recently about one of my constant bus stories — what’s up with the Air Con??. It never ceases to amaze me when I get on a bus in a country where it is hotter than Hades and the Air Con is set so high that you can almost see your breath. Or…. its broken and you fry.

5) In 2009-2010, you circled the world without flying. What was idea behind this, and what did you find rewarding about using ground transportation as opposed to flying?

The idea was partly just a good challenge, partly just something that people don’t normally do, and partly to get good fodder for a book, which I am writing next year. I fell in love with ground travel as a result. Personally, I think it is not only much, much better for the environment than flying, but you get a much greater sense of a place and of how just plain huge our planet is when you travel by ground transport. I am a strong advocate of staying on the ground as much as you can afford time-wise.

6) Finally, what makes you want to keep traveling? How to do you keep it fresh?

Well at this point I’ve been abroad for 36 months and visited 65 countries of pretty straight full-time travel and I keep it fresh because I love it. The internet is a great equalizer these days for travel, not only for research and inspiration, but also as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, so as to avoid the lonely times. Fortunately, I am doing what I love — seeing the world. I work a heck of a lot while I am on the road, trying to make enough money to keep traveling, but when my office is in Cape Town or Istanbul or Zanzibar or Siem Reap or Medellin…. who am I to complain?

Thanks Michael!

You can follow Michael’s travels on his blog, GoSeeWrite, as well as on Twitter and Facebook. If you have suggestions for bus travelers you’d like us to interview, please contact us.

All photos by Michael Hodson.

Bus Around The World: Lyon, France

14 Dec

Riding along the Rhône in Lyon, France

Photo by: Kim Gradek

If you have cool bus photos you’d like to submit, please contact us!

Find Cool Things to Do in Cities with our New Explore Section

11 Dec

The colourful neighborhood of La Boca in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Today we are introducing our Explore section, which will allow you to easily discover interesting content from the travel blogger community as you plan your bus travel. The Explore section can be found on Busbud’s city pages and will present a selection of links to blog articles relevant to that city.

Planning a trip to Buenos Aires? Or are you currently there? Now you can check our Buenos Aires city page to find useful information for your travels. You’ll find the usual list of inbound and outbound routes to popular follow-on destinations like Rosario, Mar del Plata and Cordoba, which can help you plan your next steps by bus travel. You’ll also now find the Explore section, with links to help you find free and must-do attractions in Buenos Aires, as well as local food suggestions, bicycle rental reviews and even a graffiti art tour. We also present links to the author’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, should you want to continue the conversation.

The Explore section for the Buenos Aires city page

Independent travel is all about exploring new places. Through our conversations with nomads over the past few weeks, we’ve really seen that there is a wealth of great content available to help travelers explore places, find things to do and learn more about cities. Blog posts give detailed first-hand accounts chock full of helpful hints and tips, and often focus on lesser known off-the-beaten path attractions. Busbud is a community built by travelers for travelers, so we are happy to feature and link to the best posts we can find for cities around the world.

Happy reading!

If you are a travel blogger and would like to have your blog posts featured in the Explore section, please contact us directly at community@busbud.com. Please send us the following:

About you:

  • Author Name
  • Blog Title
  • Blog URL
  • Twitter Feed URL (optional)
  • Facebook Feed URL (optional)

For each article:

  • City
  • Country
  • Article Title
  • Article URL
  • Article Date

Photo by: Tim Snell

Weekly Recap: All About Architecture on Travelers’ Night In

9 Dec

There’s an awesome traveler community on Twitter and each week we’ll be highlighting an interesting conversation stream that happened on the platform. This week, we followed the conversation on Travelers’ Night In.

Architecture Around The World

This week’s Travelers Night In (#TNI) conversation centered around architecture:

  1. Favorite historic building/monument in the world?
  2. Best venue to see live entertainment in the world?
  3. Ugliest building/architectural design you have seen in your travels?
  4. Which city’s architecture makes you want to move there?
  5. Most beautiful place of worship you’ve been to?
  6. Favorite awe-inspiring architecture you’ve seen?
  7. Most unique building/monument you’ve seen in your travels?
  8. Ancient structure that seems unfathomable?
  9. Dream big…architectural feature you’d add to your own home?
  10. Most over-rated architectural attraction?

I enjoyed many answers, especially those to Question #3! If you missed this week’s tweetup, check out the whole conversation here.

Q1. What are you MOST grateful for when you return home from a trip?

A1. The Sagrada Familia, with its anticipated completion date of 2026— the centennial of Gaudí’s death.

I last visited Barcelona in the summer of 2006, and was dumbfounded by the sight of the Sagrada Familia, the unfinished masterpiece by Spanish Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi which spanned 90m in length and stood tall at 170m at its peak.

La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain

Q3. Ugliest building/architectural design you have seen in your travels?

A3. Ugliest building I’ve seen… I’ll have to go with big box stores in the United States. Sure, they’re functional, but what happened to inspiration?

And what about human creativity and artistry? Throughout my travels, I haven’t encountered anything as uninspiring as the cookie-cutter shopping mall. Even reading the Wikipedia excerpt makes them sound boring, “Large, free-standing, rectangular, generally single-floor structure built on a concrete slab”. I’ll refrain from including a picture for this one!

Q6. Favorite awe-inspiring architecture you’ve seen?

A6. This is a classic, but I have to say it: Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel. The artwork in real life is astounding. Almost hurt my neck staring at the ceiling.

I misunderstood the question and answered with artwork rather than architecture, but Michaelangelo’s frescoes go hand in hand with the architecture of the Sistine Chapel, so it just made sense for me to talk about it. It’s still one of my all-time favorite travel inspirations.

Michaelangelo's frescoes at the Sistine Chapel

I had a great time learning about architecture around the world.

Thanks everyone, and until next week. Safe travels!

Travelers’ Night In is a great way to chat with other travelers on Twitter. It happens every Thursday from 3:30-5pm ET. If you’d like to connect with me on Twitter, follow @Busbud.

Photos by daomna111 and goforchris on Flickr.

Inspiring Travel Videos: “Where the Hell is Matt?” by Matt Harding

8 Dec

Each week, we feature inspiring travel videos from around the world. Last week’s video was Move by Rick Mereki.

Today’s video is inspiring for its dancing in various locations around the world: Where the Hell is Matt? (2008 edition). Matt can totally rouse people to travel and spread joy around the globe by leading onlookers into moments of spontaneous dance happiness.

This video makes me smile each time I watch it, and I hope you enjoy it too. Busbud co-founder LP actually saw Matt in person in 2008 when Matt was dancing his way across Silicon Valley and might even have busted out a few dance moves in the process!

Where the Hell is Matt is part of a series of videos, including Dancing 2005 and 2006, which you can watch on Matt’s website. You can also follow Matt on Twitter or encourage his worldwide dancing adventures by buying his book!

Q&A with Andrew Evans from National Geographic: An Epic Bus Ride from Washington to Antarctica

7 Dec

Andrew Evans from National Geographic (@WheresAndrew)

As part of our goal to make life easier for bus travelers, we contact travelers who’ve had firsthand experiences around the world. Today we’re happy to feature an interview with Andrew Evans,  digital nomad and correspondent for National Geographic. Andrew is speaking this Wednesday about his adventures at the National Geographic headquarters. For event details, check out: Digital Nomad: Bus to Antarctica and Beyond

In 2010, Andrew embarked on an epic bus journey from the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. to Antarctica. In total, he traveled 10,000 miles on 40 buses through 9 states and 17 countries. We’re grateful that he took the time for this interview and we’re happy to share his answers with you today.

1) What were your goals, expectations and fears when setting out on this adventure?

My goal was to get to Antarctica traveling as much as possible by bus. I expected that it would take a long time and that I would need to be flexible, but I also expected that I could make it, as long as I kept traveling South. My biggest fear is that I would get to the end of one road and find my way ahead closed, forcing me to backtrack. Luckily, that didn’t happen.

Bus in a salt flat in Bolivia
Photo by Andrew Evans for National Geographic

2) How did taking the bus change your perspective on the countries you visited? (as compared to taking the plane for example?)

Traveling overland by bus shows you the heart of a country and the breadth of its physical landscapes. Winding up and down the mountains of Guatemala and crossing the vast deserts of Peru offered me much more vivid experience of their unique geographies than even a small plane flying overhead. I now appreciate the size of each of these countries so much more. For example, Colombia is a huge country while Argentina is simply endless.

Passing by wonderful swirled sandstone hills in Argentina
Photo by Andrew Evans (@Bus2Antarctica)

3) Bus travel across of South and Central America can be very different from country to country. How would you contrast the different types of bus experiences you had across the 40+ buses you took in 17 countries?

I think I had the best of the best and the very worst, too. I rode “chicken buses” where I literally had chicken sitting on my feet. Then I rode first class buses where I had my own flat screen TV to watch whatever movies I wanted. Greyhound in America fell somewhere between those two extremes. Across my travels, some buses were too hot, some were far too cold, some were very bumpy and some allowed me to sleep all through the night. Honestly, I liked the diversity of it all. Each time I boarded a new bus, I new I was embarking on a totally new adventure.

Photos by Andrew Evans (@Bus2Antarctica)

4) Finally, what’s the most rewarding thing you experienced from your travels? And if you have one piece of advice for people considering traveling by bus rather than the train or plane, what would it be?

Traveling by bus drops you into the arms of the locals–the people I met on the bus made my journey so much richer. You can meet people on a plane, too, but it’s not the same as traveling with someone for 30 hours where you form a bond of trust and help one another out along the way. My advice is TAKE THE BUS! No other form of transportation offers such an intimate view of the destination you’re visiting. Find out which buses and routes the locals take, and follow suit. But don’t be afraid to be spontaneous–hopping on a bus to a place whose name you can’t even pronounce is one of the greatest adventures out there.

Thanks Andrew!

You can follow Andrew Evans’s travels on his blog, National Geographic’s Digital Nomad, as well as on Twitter and Facebook. If you have suggestions for bus travelers you’d like us to interview, please contact us.

Finally, check out this Bus2Antarctica video: Riding Guatemala’s Colorful Buses

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