Going West: Greyhound, Albuquerque and other idées fixes ;)

Lots of people asked me why I planned to take just the greyhound bus for touring through North America and advised me to consider the Amtrak train instead. The Amtrak were more comfortable and faster and moreover travelling by greyhound were just foolish, unusual and a real torture.

So let me explain a bit about my reasons for my decision: I’ve been travelling on my own for over 30 years, mostly by train; I got to know more or less whole Europe. Here it’s quite common to take the train, and I’ve always loved the train though it’s nothing new for me. I had all sorts of trains and all adventures in trains you can encounter in Europe. I don’t think a North American train will offer new perspectives. Of course, when I’m going finally to India next year I’ll take the train and I’m looking forward to all new experiences there.

For us Europeans „Greyhound“ bears a fascinating magical sense – it’s exactly what I want to discover: This experience of a very special road movie. And although I’ve been a bit in a turmoil what to do I’m now convinced I’m doing the right thing. Even if it’s less comfortable we will be more flexible on greyhound, we will get and breath the American air at stop-overs, even on a high-way it’s more sensual than just seeing the landscape passing by through a train window like a movie which doesn’t affect you. Sometimes the effort and the uneasiness is just the way to appreciate things…

Albuquerque. For many many years it has been an idée fixe of me to see Albuquerque. Not New York nor Los Angeles nor Chicago nor San Francisco nor Miami nor New Orleans – – but Albuquerque. I guess it’s the fascination for nearly deserted countysides, the emptiness, the vast land. But also for its population and the native culture. The region around Albuquerque never meant U.S. to me but was associated with an exotic and very amazing place. Perhaps also scary for it’s vastness and solitude, a town midst endless void landscape: just „awesome“ in both senses, a bit frightening and also wonderful. That type of place attracts me; I searched it in the Sahara, and also in the white endless snowfields of Lower Austria 😉 I even made a film about it, which is to be continued 😉

Our travel plans have got a clearer shape since my last blog. We (= my daughter and me) will stay first some days in New York City with my husband’s school friend Joanna, then at the very begin of July we will take the greyhound line to Montreal, stay there one days or two, my daughter will love it, as her best French friend is of Montreal’ish origin. Moreover my daughter doesn’t speak English but quite good French 😉 From they’re to Toronto and the Niagara Falls. After that we plan some relaxing days in Michigan, Mount Pleasant, with Dave and his wife Agnes who invited us to stay with them and show us around (we are looking forward to hiking across the dunes).

After that Chicago, staying with my auntie Anni (my mum’s sis), this will we around the 9th, hoping to stay there also the 11th of July which is my birthday – and of course also my redhead twin sis’ birthday, hoping to meet her there ☺ My twin sis is great, she helped me a lot preparing my trip and taking off my nervousness 😉 we are not biologically related though it seems we have a lot in common – Wahlverwandschaft: a relative you choose. The next stop will be a small place near Champaign to stay with my (biological) cousin Grazia; she was born in Austria and only 6 months old when my aunt emigrated to the states – taking the Andrea Doria in 1955 – whereas my cousins Silvia and John were born in the States.

I guess about the 15th we will start our second greyhound tour – this time the really great and exhausting one 😉 From Chicago or St. Louis to Salt Lake City, from there I would like to go to San Francisco, perhaps L.A. meeting Bee, though if we feel it may be too tiring so we’ll skip the west coast and stay just in the „wild west“ ☺without crossing the Rocky Mountains, go from there south to my mentioned dream: Albuquerque. Then towards New Orleans, again a bit French 😉 and farther to the east coast. I don’t know yet if we will go to Florida, it depends of friends of friends are there at the moment and if we have some time left. At the End of July we will arrive in Savannah, Georgia, where Liz and Abdel invited us to stay with them ☺ Abdel is Moroccan what is great as my daughter and I visited this amazing country last year – and again a French speaking person 😉
That’s more or less the end of our trip – we have our flight back on 11th of August from NYC and will spend some days before our return again in this famous city.

I want to thank all my friends in the States inviting and encouraging me! Since I decided to visit the States I encountered such warmth, which overwhelmed me – I’m really looking forward to meet you all personally 😉
I’ll post my travel diary on multiply by e-mail as often as possible; you are also invited to follow me on twitter for daily updates in form of a kind of mini blog.

9 thoughts on “Going West: Greyhound, Albuquerque and other idées fixes ;)

  1. J’ai fait comme toi Dag, il y a une trentaine d’années. Je suis partie de Montréal et je suis allée vers les grands lacs américains, chutes du Niagara, puis vers l’Ouest. Le tout en Greyhound. Ensuite je suis remontée sur Québec et le Nord-Est canadien. J’avais pris un forfait qui me permettait d’aller où je voulais. C’était formidable! Ils sont très confortables ces bus. J’ai pu ainsi voir de nombreuses régions en un minimum de temps. Tu viens de me rappeler de très bons souvenirs… Merci ma chère amie.

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  2. Wow! That sounds like a marvelous trip. You are absolutely right, the Greyhound will put you in touch with a bit more culture than train travel (but be prepared for the Greyhound syndrome–after spending long hours on the bus, wanting to wash your face and hands becomes a compulsion). Back in the 70’s when I found myself highway stranded, I took the Greyhound from St. Louis to New Orleans and I saw some not so nice things, things I’ll tell you about when you arrive. Albuquerque is a great place to visit. I have a close relationship with a family who used to visit there often–more future information for you. You might also consider Taos (not far from Albuquerque), a cultural city known for its art and unique atmosphere. Look forward to your arrival. I can’t think of a better gift to your daughter than a mother/daughter huge adventure!
    Take care,
    dave

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  3. Ah…the Greyhound. It’s cheaper than Amtrak too. LOL!

    Enjoy – you’re headed to my part of the world – Chicago and then Champaign (my sister is there for the summer). Cool. Ride the “L” and the buses in Chicago – cross-town – that’ll be another experience. You can tell the change in ethnic neighborhoods even just from the type of people that board the buses (and that can happen every few blocks!).

    Anyway, I’m not totally understanding why you’re loving Albuquerque so much, but my close friend used to live there and loved it.

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  4. I read some of your Twitter. 😉 Your description of Chambana (Champaign-Urbana) is correct in terms of scenery. When you are in the area for school (like I was for several years) it’s a different scene – somewhat. You get a lot of variety in the students, who come from everywhere it seems (international, Chicago and other cities, small towns, etc.). Ah, but you’ve visited during the summer. Sorry, it’s like a ghost town really with the majority of the 60,000+ students and faculty gone.

    You are (or were) in southern Illinois. That’s a conservative area of the state. People keep to themselves for the most part and they surely don’t like to be questioned. Radical ideas are not encouraged.

    I went to visit my brother in Danville over the holiday weekend, so we were in the same area (southern IL) at the same time. LOL! It was quiet and it was different. It was pretty relaxing, actually good to not hear city sounds every second. But there are disadvantages for living in a small southern IL town. You reach for any bit of scenery change (and appreciate it more). You do have to travel long distances to get anywhere modernized and when you get there, it’s really lackluster. My brother and his wife shop for groceries (in Champaign, ha ha!) once a month because in Danville the shopping situation is even worse.

    A little history though – some towns like Danville – were booming epi-centers at one time. Manufacturing used to be the industry in the U.S. As a result, towns like Danville were created and brought in lots of people. Yet, the U.S. economic structure has changed. The big guns closed shop and the people have moved away. Manufacturing strength has given way to a “service” economy. Some of what you see is the result of leaving a community high and dry. Some of what you see is just plain ‘ol rural living.

    But one thing I should say, people in these areas may have tough shells to crack. You will get resistance. That’s the way of things. Yet sometimes the effort to really get to know the people is worth it.

    Anyway, it will be a drastically different experience in Chicago. I guess you’re going from one extreme to another. LOL!

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