I would assume that this blog title has made some of you immediately jump to the conclusion that the below contains the story of a drunken escapade involving a Vegas showgirl, a casino and the Bellagio fountains. Sadly, this story contains no showgirls. Rather this story is about actually getting to Vegas on the ever reliable (*sarcasm*) Greyhound coaches.
Let me start out by saying that if you’re looking to roadtrip around the USA, and you’re not old enough to hire a swaggy VW Campervan yet, that Greyhound coaches are a spectacular (read: cheap as shit) way to get from city to city. However, the catch is that you have to put up with a less than brilliant service, some creepy weirdos and the potential for never getting where you want to go without first breaking down in front of the station manager (it was as embarrassing as it sounds)…
Myself and the friends I had made working at a summer camp on the Camp America programme, decided to blow our summer earnings on a west coast road trip before returning to the UK. We carefully planned the entire thing, booking hostels and travel in advance of leaving. Because we had a limited time frame we were hopping between cities every few days or so on overnight Greyhound coaches to save on hostels. That meant that we’d only planned to spend 1 night in Vegas and the 2 days either side to explore. We felt like that wasn’t a huge amount of time so we were pretty keen to arrive on time to spend our first day.
We were due to get on the Greyhound at San Diego around 9pm, stop off in LA to swap coaches and arrive in Vegas at around 6-7am. We arrived all chipper to the San Diego Greyhound station which is situated in possibly the dingiest part of San Diego you will ever have the misfortune to see. Upon arrival we heard that several coaches to LA had been delayed and there was a significant backlog of stranded people. Strike 1.
Low and behold our coach rolled up and we were promptly told that we weren’t allowed on it. We watched, mildly ticked off, as the people who had been delayed got on our coach to LA. Greyhound promised we’d be on another coach in a jiffy and that the connection to Vegas would be held for us. Ha.
Half an hour later when we finally got on a coach to LA we were feeling pretty hopeful that we’d make the connection. It had become apparent that the vast majority of the people on the coach were Vegas bound and in the same boat as us so that made us feel much better. All was fine and dandy until we arrived in LA to be told that the connection had left 10 minutes ago with 3 people on it. Not best pleased but still stupidly optimistic we proceeded to line up with everyone else to get ourselves booked onto the next coach. We queued for half an hour to reach the desk only to be told that there were no more coaches and we’d have to wait to get on one leaving at 8am. Strike 2.
In the tired delirium we remembered that we should probably ask whether they would put us up in a hotel or give us any reimbursement for the screw up. Of course because we’d only paid about $20 for our tickets in the first place the answer was ‘you’ll have to sleep here’. Strike 2.5.
It would take up too much time to recount my rant immediately post this revelation but lets just say I was surprisingly energetic in my anger for someone who hadn’t slept in 15 hours. Our anger quickly deflated when we realised that several families would also be having to stay in the bus station for the night, we were, at least, reasonably used to roughing it having spent several nights bunking on overnight buses by this point. The same sadly couldn’t be said for the small children who cried for 5 hours straight.
We settled down on the floor of the bus station. I have a vague memory of using my hard cover suitcase as a pillow; needless to say I didn’t really sleep. I’d just about drifted off when I was rudely awakened by a mop to the face. I opened my eyes to the bus station cleaner ramming the mop at me to get me to move from the floor and shouting ‘It’s 6, get off the floor.’ No amount of ‘we wouldn’t be on the bloody floor if the buses weren’t shit!’ would get him to stop so we grudgingly moved. Strike 3.
Eventually 8am rolled around. Bleary eyed, cranky, aching and pissed off at a cleaner we joined the queue for the bus. Unfortunately so did the world and his mother and being Brits we didn’t get our elbows out and missed out on seats. Cue the breakdown as the coach pulled away. Strike 10000.
We were all so tired at this point and upset that we were missing time in Vegas that we asked to speak to the manager. We had all but been promised a seat on the coach that had just left so there were definitely some tears, a lot of begging and an embarrassing amount of snot as we explained our situation to the manager. The manager, to his credit, was a lovely bloke and personally made sure we were on the next coach. He also gave us a $100 Greyhound voucher each to use for future travel.
Needless to say I never used the $100 voucher after that.
PS: Rather alarmingly we went from sleeping on that bus station floor to staying in a suite in the Venetian the following night. Talk about a step up!
PPS: Although I had a couple of other minor issues with Greyhound on my travels across America, for the most part getting those night coaches is worth it to save money on hostels and because they themselves are such a cheap way to get about!