A Bus Schedule Update

Between San Cristóbal de las Casas and Palenque, México
November 2016

I’ve got a bone to pick with Lonely Planet about the bus information in its Mexico guide. Most of the 15 five-hour bus trips it lists as traveling from San Cristóbal de las Casas to Palenque actually take closer to eight hours. The route goes via Tuxtla Gutierrez and Villahermosa. Oddly, the bus I took never stopped in Villahermosa.

It was a grueling ride on a road strewn with potholes. At one point in a suburb of Villahermosa, the bus went several blocks out of its way to avoid a broad sinkhole that stretched across the main highway.

On the upside, I finally did see Rocky Balboa — Sylvester Stallone is a much better actor when dubbed in Spanish — and a Hungarian movie, Fehér Isten (White God), about a girl and her missing dog, which turns out terribly bloody.

Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

Planes

Once you have a basic plan, everything else is about logistics — plane tickets, transport, places to stay. Flying is the one thing you must book in advance. My view on flying is similar to my view on accommodations: The less money I spend on airfare, the more I have to spend on the ground.

The online sites are useful for booking flights and hotels, although it can take some work. My plan is to shop for flights about one month ahead. Booking flights too far in advance actually can be more expensive, and it locks you into a time frame that might not work out. I compare the weekend fares with the weekday rates, which usually are less expensive, but not always. I prefer to leave and return on a weekend because I can tack three weekends onto my two weeks off, or allow myself a buffer day after the trip before I go back to work. But if the airfare is substantially more expensive on the weekend, I’ll fly on the weekday.

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Bad Things Happen: Missed Connections

Boston
August 2015

Nothing can sour the memory of an otherwise pleasant trip than a bad journey home.

When international flights are late, everything falls like dominos. I am writing this from Logan International Airport in Boston on the day after I was due to return home. Yesterday was a mess. At check-in in Copenhagen, at 4 a.m., I received a text that the Amsterdam–Boston leg had been delayed by two hours. Suddenly, the three-hour changeover in Boston was down to less than an hour.

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Bad Things Happen: Flights

September 2014

I awaken to a pair of texts from Air France: Flights to Paris and Casablanca canceled. The trip is over before it’s begun. A hurried call to Delta, through whom I had booked the flights. Rick the agent reroutes me on an evening flight, with a late night arrival in Casablanca tomorrow. The last leg is on Air France, though, so I hope I’m not stranded in Paris.

Hurry up and wait in Orlando.Hurry up and wait in Orlando. I arrive way too early, then after two hours the flight is delayed half an hour by a thunderstorm. Once we board, it is delayed another half hour by electrical problems. The power is out. It’s hot. When at last the flight is ready to go, the push vehicle breaks down. An interminable delay on the tarmac; a backlog of delayed planes.

Finally, when it’s our turn, the young, nervous Brazilian woman in the next seat asks me to hold her hand during takeoff.