Though I swore that I wouldn’t take a bus long distances again (Munich to Berlin via bus was a bit torturous!!) it was quite a bit cheaper to go by bus from Amsterdam to Paris, and supposedly only about 7 hours. So I caved in and went via bus. I’m “lucky” I even made the bus trip to begin with! Not because I was late getting to the bus stop, but because there were apparently multiple signs in the train station to the bus stop. The one pointing downstairs (the only one I noticed) was only for local busses while the one just outside the entrance to the train station was for long distances. This post isn’t about the departure however, (I’m just throwing that info out for other travelers in case it comes in handy) it’s really about the trip there…
All was going just fine. We got to Brussels with no issue and on time and our bus drivers traded out (we started with a quiet yet nice man and ended with an unpleasant woman who acted like she couldn’t be bothered with anything from anyone). From Brussels we headed on and were actually making really good time! I was just thinking to myself how nice it would be to make it to Paris on schedule- I’d be there by 3 and would be able to take advantage of several hours of daylight before turning in for the night.
I really shouldn’t have thought so soon… About an hour after stopping to take a snack break, the driver announced we had to pull over for gas. We pulled over for gas and there we sat for a few minutes waiting for the tank to fill.
Suddenly two men in uniform come onto the bus. They spoke in French and once translated in English they said they were there to conduct a search of the bus. Now, I don’t know if it was standard protocol to search buses coming into France from Amsterdam or whether we were just that “lucky” but yes, we were apparently chosen by the French police or rather the French DEA basically to be searched for drugs. The two officers started making their way questioning every single passenger about where they had come from, where they were going, how long they would be in Paris, what hotel they were staying in, what their business in Paris was, etc, etc.
Normally I never plan in advance where I’m staying, how long I will be there, etc, etc but on this particular occasion I actually did! I had all my answers and passport ready for the drill and when it came to my turn, the officer took my passport, checked it out for validity, said “thanks” and moved on to the woman sitting next to me and her the rundown on questions, lol!!
While the officers were going over each passenger, other officers had opened the luggage compartments below the bus and were taking out each piece of luggage and lay them on the ground. In addition, a drug sniffing dog was dispatched on the bus running up and down the center aisle back and forth. Then out onto the luggage sniffing each one for issues.
About a half hour passed and it seemed there was particular concern over one of the trash cans of the buses. The officers kept fussing over it and even removed the trash bag to take outside for inspection. They then asked 4 young guys sitting just across from the “suspect trash can” to exit the bus. They stood outside while everyone on the bus watched them get a pat down. They were searched from head to toe, shoes off, outer clothing off; this wasn’t an airport pat down (which I’m very familiar with since I always opt out of the Wave cancer scanner thing) this was a serious “we are going to put our hands on every square inch of your body” pat down. They asked for each of the boys bags and went through every single item. I’m saying that if they had a can of hairspray it was uncapped and a bit sprayed out to ensure it was what the label said it was. It was VERY in-depth.
And it got a little MORE in-depth… While they let 3 of the boys back in, two officers were escorting the 4th into the little mini-mart of the gas station… You could just hear the sound of latex gloves snapping against the officers wrists!! Needless to say, about 20 minutes later the guy who had been escorted into the mini-mart did NOT look happy!! While he was inside however the other officers were still busy with the bus and they had even plucked yet another man (who was sitting in front of me) off the bus for a pat down.
About two hours later all the bags were back on the bus and all the passengers were back on the bus except the one unfortunate younger guy who had been taken inside for a thorough search. He stayed behind with his things and the cops. His friends were total punks and I wonder if he was just the “fall guy” because they kept laughing at him from the bus and taking his picture with the cops no doubt to post them on the web.
Once we were back on the road the driver did her best to catch up on time lost but the 7 hour trip once again turned into an almost 10 hour trip, lol!
I love trains!!!! 🙂