using my inside voice

Day 8 - In San Fran in One Piece

North American Travel | June 8, 2009

The Portland Greyhound Station actually looked quite respectable - not a bad place to begin our 17-hour hellride. That is, if we would have the opportunity to begin it at all...

After a 3-block walk from the local Portland bus to the Greyhound Station I was pleasantly surprised to see only one person in the ticket line ahead of us. And, at 5.50pm we still had 50 minutes to spare before our bus would leave.


Alas, it would seem I'd whooped with exultation a little too soon. As we approached the lone representative manning the ticket desk I noticed a hand-written sign in blue sharpie (nikko for the Aussies). It said:

"The 6.40pm bus south is sold out. Sorry 4 inconvenience"

Tears almost immediately sprang forth. Being the ultra-organised person that I am I knew the next schedule south was not for at least another 5 hours, and we'd already waited the entire day to catch this bus.

"Next please."

We approached the desk and I tried to keep the quiver out of my voice as I told the ticket lady we wanted to go to San Francisco. "The southbound bus is sold out." And, as I suspected, she also informed us that the next bus wasn't until almost midnight. On top of that, it didn't get in to San Fran until 6pm the next night - almost 24 hours away. I could get home to Australia in that time!

As Luke and I tried to come to terms with the idea of spending 5 extra hours in the Greyhound Station, and the words, "well, I guess we have no choice," started to pass my lips, the Greyhound lady seemed to detect our desperation and took sympathy towards our plight.

To my complete astonishment she said, "I shouldn't be doing this, but let me take a look." And the next thing I knew, she was handing us tickets for the very last two seats on the bus, that they normally reserve for passengers at upcoming stops.

I'll tell you, I've met and spoken on the phone to some incredibly disgruntled Greyhound employees in my time, so this act of kindness truly took me by surprise. I felt like pole vaulting the ticket counter and ensnaring the woman in a bear bug, but I'm pretty sure that would have gotten me thrown out of the station altogether. So, I settled with some profuse thank-yous. She truly changed our fortunes that evening.

And now the pressing question - how was the bus trip itself? Well, it was moderately horrendous. I had the unfortunate circumstance of having to use the on-board facilities, and let me just say that there should be a 'sit down' rule regardless of gender.

There was also a yokel that kept going into the toilet to smoke - totally against any Greyhound policy. This caused the entire cabin to fill with the stench of cigarettes and to top it off, set off the smoke alarm twice. Add to this the ultra-budget air conditioning system installed in all Greyhound buses, that recycles air over, and over, and over again, and you have a pretty deadly combination. The bus driver most definitely knew what was going on, but for some reason chose to do nothing about it, which was quite frustrating. All I can think is that since the bus driver also smoked he just didn't care, so we all had to suffer.

I did, however, manage about 5 hours of uncomfortable sleep, with my scarf wrapped around my head to keep the light out, and my earphones in to block the noise.

We miraculously arrived 10 minutes early into Sacramento, CA, which meant we were able to transfer to the 7am bus to San Francisco rather than the 9.30am. Any time we don't have to wait in a Greyhound Station is a bonus.

So, at 9.45am we pulled into downtown San Francisco, donned our heavy loads, and walked the 15 minutes to the hostel. Our room wasn't ready yet (which we expected as we'd arrived so early) so we spent about 4 hours wandering the streets. I wrote this blog post in my note pad while having a coffee in the Italian District, and am now re-typing it in my hostel room. It sure is small, but it's clean, cosy, and has a bed, which is more than I can say for the Greyhound!

I think it's time for a nap now.

More soon...


1. Mick on June 11, 2009

Say hi to the sea lions on pier 9 for me.

Sounds like you needn't visit any cities, this greyhound experience will be an adventure in itself.

Any Comments?

About Bay Oliver

Bay's career has been many and varied due to a penchant for traveling the world. After completing a double degree in Business Management and Journalism at the University of Queensland in 2002 she was lucky enough to land herself a job at Brisbane's Quest Community Newspapers. A year of roving reporting brought the epiphany that journalism and Bay didn't jive.
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How to be creative...

Creating an economically viable entity where lack of original thought is handsomely rewarded creates a rich, fertile environment for parasites to breed. And thatʼs exactly whatʼs been happening. So now we have millions upon millions of human tapeworms thriving in the Western World, making love to their Powerpoint presentations, feasting on the creativity of others.

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Categories of Published Work

Le Gite B & B on the Plateau in Montreal

Published: September 18, 2008

Le Gite Bed and Breakfast is a quaint, comfortable and thoroughly enjoyable place to stay in the heart of the plateau in Montreal.

The Edgewater Hotel in Seattle Barely Rates Four Stars

Published: November 5, 2008

The Edgewater Hotel, Seattle's only waterfront hotel, may not be quite the standard 4-star experience.