Tuesday, January 15, 2013

German Bus Tours

Germans are legendary at creating a bus tour for just about any destination, and in some cases...inventing a destination out of thin air that most folks haven't heard about.

Naturally, these bus tours all run for 199 Euro, 299 Euro, or 399 Euro. Don't ask why, but typically....it's done like this.

What should you expect?  Well....you do get picked up in your community...but it's typically by a 8-passenger van that picks you up and runs you forty kilometers over to a major community, where the bus is sitting.  These buses are typically filled to the max....they never run with half a bus-load.

As you get going.....you don't usually stop except for fuel.  So the bathroom on the bus is a frequently used place.  You then discover that folks can actually make a bus toilet smaller than a airplane toilet....shockingly enough.  And once you unload a big one in that bus toilet, there's no real ventilation   So for hours and hours....ladies come out of the bus toilet complaining about the terrible smell left by men.

So you finally get to the destination and Henz the bus driver just opens the door and tells you to file into the hotel to get keys.  The hotel?  Well...half the time....it might be a small decent place worth the money. The other half?  A two-star hotel that you'd rather not stay in.

The rest of the tour?  Mostly....the bus driver drives up to some point, and dumps everyone off for two hours....telling you to come back exactly at that time.  If you come five minutes late....he's gone, and you are screwed.

After an entire weekend, it's always debatable if the trip was worth 199 Euro or 299 Euro.

The best bus trip I ever had via the German system....we stayed at some Swiss mountain village....in a fairly decent family hotel, and had a 3-star meal.

The worst bus trip I ever had via the German system....I was carried off to East Berlin (where the Soviets used to hang out), staying on the 10th floor of a hotel that the elevator only went to the 8th floor, and there was this massive crack down the side of my wall. Outside the hotel were a bunch of Ho Chi Men village guys from Vietnam....selling tax-free smokes and booze.  Nothing on the trip ever worked according to plan.

So I advise you do always do some research and find people who have done the trip before....asking questions.  Don't have high expectations.  And don't think you are getting a four-star deal out of a two-star package.

Just some humble advice from an American who has done the bus deals.

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