As part of our goal to make life easier for bus travelers, we keep in touch with travelers who have had firsthand experiences exploring the world. Today, we’re happy to feature Ali Inay, a Montreal-based photographer, focusing on travel, lifestyle, interiors and food, and also very passionate about coffee!
We caught up with Ali after his 2-week trip through Spain and Portugal with his partner, which took them from Lisbon to Barcelona, passing by Lagos, Seville, Granada and Madrid.
What was the highlight of your trip?
It’s very hard to pick one highlight! But it was my first time in both of the countries, and as there’s only one first time, the experience is always unique. Your senses are fresh and you absorb anything and everything very different. You notice all the little details: from signs of the stores to the menu designs and how people walk around the streets. Overall, being there for the first time was without a doubt the highlight of the trip.
What were your top 3 must-see in Portugal and/or Spain?
Let’s start from Lisbon. When you arrive to Lisbon, trams are probably one of the first things that catch your eye on the street with their bright yellow colours. On our last day we took tram 28. It’s takes over an hour and goes through all the beautiful streets and hills of Lisbon. It provides a great opportunity for photos and to discover the city in an efficient but yet enjoyable way. The next one would be Sagrada Familia. I had seen tons of photos of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona before I visited it. They were mostly photos of its exterior and the (in)famous construction cradles around it. What I didn’t know was that its extraordinary exterior was hiding an amazing interior that is full of history. It’s probably the most beautiful building (not just church or basilica) I have ever seen. Book your tickets in advance. We got them 4 months before our trip to make sure you can enjoy it to the fullest. Alhambra in Granada is another unique place where you have to reserve your tickets in advance. It is a breathtaking place not just because of its history and its significance for the Andalusian culture, but also because of the diversity of architecture that it encapsulates and the span of history it covers. It is a UNESCO world heritage site, thus the number of people that can be in certain areas -including the royal houses- are limited. Be prepared to enjoy every second of it as much as possible when you visit!
What are the best advices you can give to travellers/backpackers when travelling in the region by bus?
For this trip, I decided to only bring a backpack. (Osprey Farpoint 40 for the bag nerds out there!) It was one of the best decisions I probably made pre-trip for two reasons: it’s much easier to go around with only one bag, plus your hands are free to use your camera even when going from A to B with your bag. As some bus rides takes 3+ hours I highly recommend to bring your full water bottle with you. When the bus stops mid-way, check out what they’re offering at the restaurant or the counter. I really enjoyed the espresso and pastel de nata in Portugal for instance! -A good way to stretch your legs and keep yourself happy. 🙂
Name one item that was indispensable to this trip.
My camera! Even though mobile phones produce amazing results these days, I still prefer to bring my camera to capture as much as I can. It also gives me more room to edit them after and to print a few of my favourites to have tangible souvenirs from the trip. For this trip I brought even a compact Olympus film camera to take some portraits! (Still waiting to develop it, hopefully I can share them soon).
What routes did you purchase on Busbud?
What did you enjoy about booking on Busbud?
First and foremost, with Busbud there’s no need to translate the websites to understand if you’re buying the right ticket or not. Secondly. I loved that all the tickets are in one app! No need to search your email or shuffle through printouts before you board the bus. -everything is just there!
Are there some things you’d recommend us/our team to work on that would have facilitated your travels?
I would be great to have tips about the bus stations (this could be anything from what the best way to reach there or from the station to the city centre, to whether you can buy some snacks at the stops etc) and insider tips about the bus ride (whether the bus stops anywhere, was it super cold during the ride etc. You could ask these at the end of the ride with a simple in-app pop-up and just crowdsource the info).
In addition, I would love to have recommended seats for the best experience: sun/no sun depending on the time of the ride and seats with the best view. For instance while going from Lagos to Seville, I wish I was sitting on the right side, next to the window, because the best views were on that side. 🙂
Please make student discounts available on Busbud, too. My girlfriend discovered that one of the companies was actually offering it on their website but it wasn’t available through Busbud.
Please rate 1-5 your experience using Busbud (1 being the worst, 5 being the highest score).
5, easy to use.
There’s definitely room for improvement. I can see Busbud becoming an essential component of the travel experience rather than just a place that I check and buy the tickets. Providing crucial tips about the travel experience and making it even more seamless is definitely key.
All photos courtesy of Ali Inay.