Last weekend I went to visit a good friend of mine who lives in Germany, Darmstadt. I want to share my experience of this trip and the means of transportation. I’ve visited her before by car, but this time I wanted to take public transport. As train prices from Utrecht to Frankfurt where almost just as expensive as plane tickets, I decided to check out possibilities for a bus drive. As I didn’t mind about a few hours of traveling longer (6 hours by bus or 4 hours by train, it’s quite a long trip anyway), I decided to book bus tickets with Flixbus, which were very reasonably priced!
The outward trip
The booking process of the trip went really smooth, I find the website very userfriendly and the prices are cheap! You have to print the tickets yourself (or show a QR-code on your phone) and you get bagage labels for your suitcase that will go in the bottom storage of the bus. I had to be at the bus stop 15 minutes before (after receiving a reminder e-mail of my travel), I managed to be there in time but after waiting for 15 minutes I received a text message that the bus was delayed for 30 minutes. I found it very nice to be informed, unfortunately a bit too late, as I was already at the bus stop, waiting in the cold. I decided to still wait outside, afraid the bus might be earlier if I would have went inside for some tea. However after waiting all that time I got another text saying the bus was another 20 minutes late. This was really awful as in the end, I was waiting there for an hour. So I like the thought of informing customers, but some real-time information on the website would be better in my opinion. Luckily when the bus arrived, everything went fine, there was good Wi-Fi on board and Flixbus has a nice app with music, series and films you can watch or listen to! Also, I had electricity, this was especially nice as my phone battery was empty. Great service, if you ask me! Also the chairs where comfortable and had enough leg space. A negative remark I have is that Flixbus states it’s a direct line from Utrecht – Frankfurt, however, we made quite some stops (1 was mentioned on my ticket) I found this quite misleading, cause going into some city centers etc to stop took quite some time and was quite frustrating. It wouldn’t bother me so much if it was mentioned that they would make stop, instead of stating it’s a direct bus. All in all, the journey was quite ok, but took me 6 hours excl 1 hour of waiting, I underestimated this quite much, so I don’t know if I’ll go by bus again..
I had a great stay at my friend with another friend, the three of us met during our masters in Groningen and have been very close ever since! When I meet up with them, I just know I will have a very relaxing and fun time with lots of laughing! Last time we visited Germany we already went sightseeing and shopping in Frankfurt, so this time we decided to just stay in Darmstadt (not a particularly interesting city). It was a lot of fun, friday we went to the Christmas market, enjoyed some curry würst, glühwein and crêpes. There, we met my friends colleagues and went for some drinks in the city. We went to the pub ‘The Hobbit’ (a name that I really liked as a LOTR fan;)) and tried a Darmstädter Laternchen, a funny drink: A half a liter or a whole liter glass of apple cider with a wine glass inside of it with cherry liqueur! The next day we decided to have a very chill day, created some dips, cooked dinner, baked cookies (yes a lot of food!;)) and watched the movie ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’. The next day we left in the morning.
The return trip
The return trip went smoother than the outward trip, mainly because we didn’t have any traffic jam (I can recommend you not to take the flixbus during peak times). Unfortunately, I didn’t have electricity this time, so you cannot really count on this service. During the trip a nice Russian guy sat next to me, whom I chatted with for quite some while. This made the time go by a bit faster ;) I arrived in Utrecht again at the time that was stated.
All in all, it was a great weekend with my friends and the busride was fine! I can only recommend you to take Flixbus if you’re short on money (cheap fares) but are flexible in time (long fares). I think it’s quite a good alternative for the longer journeys (especially if you don’t have to change busses), but for the shorter journeys in the Netherlands I would not use it. Especially because of the unpredictability of the fare time due to traffic jams.