How I ended up on (and survived a) 12 hour Greyhound ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles instead of hitting the beach in Mexico.
After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I embarked on a monthlong trip to Vancouver, California and NYC with my friends Katha and Astrid. Between coasts, we decided to squeeze in some days at the beach in Mexico. When we turned up at SFO late at night, we were surprised to see that the check-in counter of Mexicana, which was supposed to bring us to our dream destination, was deserted. We soon found out that the airline went bankrupt literally two days before!!!
We were really sad that visibly we were not going to Mexico, but also didn’t know what else to do and everything at SFO was starting to shut down. So we stayed up all night trying to figure out a plan B. Considering we had already booked our hostel in NYC and also didn’t have a lot of money left, we decided to stay in California for a few more days. Well, it seems like the only hostel in the entire state of California that was accessible via public transport and was not fully booked this weekend was a shabby surfer spot in LA. Next obstacle: Once that was booked, we had to figure out how to get there. Flying was too expensive, so we booked ourselves onto the notorious Greyhound bus. Departure: 7am this morning. Duration: 12 hours.
We had taken a Greyhound before, going from LA to San Diego, and didn’t understand what all the fuss was about: The bus had AC, free Wifi, a movie was streaming and the bus was packed with backpackers like us. Well, this was not the case for the SF-LA track: We were packed in this old, shabby bus among mostly men who looked as if they had spent most of their lives befind bars, trashy women who though it was a good idea to change their babies’ diapers in the bus, instead of using the bathroom at the bus stop (we were on a 20 minute break then!!!), other people who travelled with big trash-bags filled with beach sandals, boxes and boxes full of grapes and clementines and so on. We stopped in what felt like every hillbilly town in the middle of nowhere and it was there that I realised that there is so much more to California than Hollywood Hills and Golden Gate Bridge.
Back then, we didn’t really have a good time. We were exhausted from a night spent at the airport and really had to squeeze together, as we picked up more and more spooky passengers on this seemingly endless ride. But in the end, it’s one of our favourite anecdotes of this trip and five years later, this story still makes us laugh.