After traveling 7,000 miles by bus through the Americas, Andrew Evans found the gold standard of buses in Argentina.
Had I started my journey on an Argentine bus, I would have been spoiled rotten right from the beginning. Every bus that followed would have turned out to be a disappointment. Instead, I got to experience the first-class bus experience during my very last week of bus travel–a welcome respite from all the adventurous mishaps and minor discomforts I’ve had along the way.
It makes sense that Argentina’s buses are so nice. When you take the population (40 million) and figure in all the huge distances in the country–the need for comfortable, long-haul transportation is evident.
Dozens of upscale, private bus companies operate long-distance routes across Argentina. The buses themselves tend to be double-deckers that seat up to 60 passengers. The first floor is often “first-class” with plush leather seats that lean nearly all the way back. Upstairs is often just as comfortable with cama (“bed”) and semi-cama seats that allow you to sleep through the night. Flat-screen TVs, heat and air conditioning and regularly-served meals puts Argentine bus travel on par with international business-class air travel, except it cost me only $65 for every thousand miles that I traveled. I was very impressed.
The bus stations are equally impressive–equipped with a whole range of restaurants, free Wi-Fi Internet, full-size grocery stores, high security, hot showers, clean bathrooms and short-term hotels. They even have a “concierge” from the local tourist board who sits at a desk, welcomes every bus that comes in and will help you find a hotel, taxi, or interesting destination to visit during your stay. Argentina bus stations resemble modern airports in the United States except they are much nicer and had much better food.
It’s hard not to compare the two countries and frankly, all of this high-class travel in Argentina made me wonder, why don’t we have any of this back home in the U.S.? We have similarly a great interstate network and plenty of people who travel long distances, so why not? For now, we Americans settle for Greyhound when necessary, but if there was a county fair category for bus travel and I was the judge? I’d be giving the blue ribbon to Argentina.
Andrew Evans has reached Antarctica, and is tweeting about his travels aboard the National Geographic Explorer at @Bus2Antarctica. Want more? Follow the map of his journey, bookmark all of his blog posts, watch videos, and get the full story on the project here. Photos by Andrew Evans.