In Dutch we say: “Waarom moeilijk doen als het makkelijk kan?” Translated in English it goes something like this: “Why choose the hard way when you can do it the easy way?”
Well, sometimes I have my reasons to choose the less easy way. Recently I decided to travel a bit differently. A plane isn’t the only way of crossing countries. It’s easy and often cheap when I fly to the Netherlands – mostly a return ticket is around € 120,- with hand luggage and the journey itself only takes 2,5 hours — but planes are also polluting and harmful to the environment.
One of the most prominent factors that affect our influence on the environment is the way we travel.
Polluting travel habits
Here are some interesting figures that show how much CO2 emissions are released in the atmosphere by the way we choose to travel.
I looked for less polluting alternatives: train and bus. Bus is by far the “greenest” option. To travel from the Netherlands to Barcelona by train is the fastest way and I would love to see the French and Spanish landscapes rushing by from my window. A one way ticket was pricey though, the cheapest one way ticket was at least € 150,-. It seems that not only the less polluting, but also cheapest way of travelling, is by bus.
Google brought me to the German company of Flixbus . It’s cheap and “green” as the website promises. It would take me 24 hours from Amsterdam to Barcelona station. From Barcelona I would take the ferry (which is very cheap as I got 75 percent discount as a resident of the Balearic Islands) and after 8 hours I would arrive the Ibizan shores. I would bring a good book on the journey and I could even bring more luggage and there’s no hassle with liquids etcetera, so a few weeks ago I bought a return ticket. And “slow travelling” is what I did!
I only travelled by bus and ferry the return journey, from Amsterdam to Ibiza, just to try if this could work for the future. At 6pm on a Tuesday the journey began from Amsterdam airport and I arrived in Ibiza harbour that following Thursday morning at 6am. Although the bus stopped in the big cities to let people hopping off and on the bus and to bring in a new chauffeur, time passed by quickly.
All passengers were wearing headphones and in their own world, also the passenger next to my seat, so there weren’t any lively conversations going on. I wasn’t really in the mood for talking to by-passers anyway and read my book or slept a bit. There was wifi in the bus and a toilet which on the way to Brussels – where I needed to make a transfer — smelled horribly of urine. It was clear the toilet hadn’t been emptied.
Somewhere passed Paris a new driver came on board, who appeared to be a military bitch. She only spoke French and by hearing her unfriendly tone of voice and some French words which I could understand, she was rude and inpatient to one of the passengers who stepped in too late after we had an early morning break at a French gas station. But the girl wasn’t too late and she was calmly explaining that to the chauffeur, who — just a short while before — already had started driving, but stopped after a guy on the bus loudly said a girl was missing. This girl got an earful. And there was another small incident where the chauffeur unnecessarily raised her voice.
Nevertheless the army bitch brought us safely to Barcelona station where we arrived the next day around 7 pm. This whole bus trip had been super eco-friendly (most seats were taken), but was it human-friendly too? Mwah, that could have been better, starting with army bitch.
I already saw the pillars of the Sagrada Familia church proudly rising in the evening sky a few miles away. My overall experience of Flixbus wasn’t excellent, but surely not bad. Yes, I would go a second time. The seats were more spacious than in an airplane and it felt good to experience the true distance and to see some beautiful views on the way (especially the pyrenees). Moreover, to be a conscious, slow traveller.
Wandering the Barcelona streets
My ferry went that same evening at 10pm. I walked into the city streets and everywhere I looked I saw people in conversations and drinking wine on terraces.
I’m real bad at finding my way and I even manage to get off track with Google maps showing me the way on my mobile. So I went a bit of track — just a bit— but still had plenty of time to get to the harbour of Barcelona. The air felt so soft and although I couldn’t wait to go home, I wished I could have stayed a bit longer in this beautiful city which breathes the spirit of Gaudí.
It seemed I was lucky for not wandering through the streets of Barcelona too long as apparently I had to take a bus to the ferry. I didn’t know until the lady of Balearia, the ferry company, explained it to me. The Spanish are so bad at putting clear signs and explanations. The harbour is bigger than expected and it took a while before I arrived at the ferry to Ibiza. Sharply 10pm we cast off the lines and the Barcelona lights were slowly vanishing.
Early morning I arrived to a dark, cloudy, gloomy and rainy Ibiza. Easter days were mystical with the low fog over the hills and the drizzle rain. Dorus lit the rocket stove and the day after we didn’t have any electricity as a result of a not so ecological fridge and on top of that an electrical water boiler which I used three times too much. On days there’s no single sun beam those are the things you shouldn’t do and use. Yes, I’m learning..