Megabus is often first point of call for students who travel thanks to cheap ticket prices. The compromise in luxury is worthwhile for the reduced cost, but how about a longer 8 hour journey?
In 2012 Megabus, a low cost branch of Stagecoach, started offering travel into Europe. A pretty spontaneous decision, inspired by adverts for £1 travel and the need for a break fuelled by looming exams, resulted in a group of us booking a holiday for the approaching summer.
The booking process wasn’t quite as straightforward as just pressing ‘book’, since the bus journey needed to coincide with accommodation. The cheapest tickets were only available at select times and, similarly, hotels varied in price dependent on date. We managed to settle on a hotel advertised on ‘booking.com’ whilst getting the Megabus for £4 per person in each direction (not forgetting, of course, the 50p booking fee). The bus only travelled from London, so we had to get the train up to the capital and check in before our bus departed at 09:00.
July came quickly and we began the first leg of the journey. Pre-empting the cramped conditions, we made use of the space available on the train to walk about. Handily it’s not far between Victoria train station and the coach park, and our passports were checked with minimum faff before we began the voyage to Paris.
Upon boarding, I was pleasantly surprised to find that, even at 6’1″, my knees missed the seat in front (just). We had brought books and gadgets to entertain us, but not wanting to feel queasy we were content just to talk. The bus leg was broken up by the ferry crossing. At this point I did start to feel sea sick, but this would be no different on any other coach. Getting back on the cramped bus however, whilst feeling sick, did make a difference. The seats seemed closer and the air conditioning merely created noise.
Distracted by the scenery outside the remainder of the journey was shortened and we counted down the kilometres to Paris, soon circling Place Charles de Gaulle to the coach station. This didn’t signal the end of our journey but we stepped out, breathed in the French air and went to deal with the Metro ticket machines. Still in the mood for saving money, we grabbed 10 tickets each for about €12; enough for our travel for the remainder of the holiday.
After checking into our hotel, we still had time to grab a crepe before concluding the first day. Over the next three days we managed to do all the regular sightseeing: the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph, Notre Dame, Louvre and many other historically important buildings, most of which were free to European citizens under 25! By coincidence, the third day was Bastille Day which meant parades and a fireworks display!
The return journey was a similar affair although the countryside was less interesting second time round; but we had some sleep to catch up on anyway. There were noisier children in this direction, and the useless air-conditioning was made worse when it started dripping water. In all though, the trip was fantastic, and at £8.13 I fully recommend Megabus for cheap European travel.