I arrived in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain last week a few hours ahead of my folks. Rather than take a 30 Euro cab in to the city, I took a 6 Euro bus (gotta save the cash monies where you can), and I was dropped off at the Plaça de Catalunya, what I would eventually discover to be one of the main city squares (and certainly the main tourist hub).
The next morning, my father and I in tow, my Mom made a bee-line for the line of highly-recognizable buses which were lined up on the same square where I had been dropped off the day before. Usually red, always double-decker, and always open-aired on top, the Hop On/Hop Off buses run a thriving trade in every major European and several major American cities that I’ve been to.
There are certain advantages to availing yourselves of these services. Especially if your time is short in a city, you can see pretty much everything the city has to offer . . . at least from the outside. And they aren’t kidding, you really can get on and off again at any stop and then just catch the next one which will be along in a few minutes. The problem of course is that if you’re not careful, it can feel like you’ve seen all of the places that you’ve been taken to.
And you really haven’t. Just today I found myself walking down a street which we had driven down on the tour and I recognized it. On foot, I had the opportunity to really look around better and I realized that this amazing sight was on my left:
Trust me that this photo does no justice to the beauty of these ruins whatsoever. They were beautiful and just suddenly there. So of course I stopped and I stared like some sort of dumbstruck fool. And then I sat down and did some work at their base. Because who doesn’t want to have their emails answered by some guy drinking a hot chocolate in the shadow of literal history.
I’ve lost my point here. The point is that the Hop On/Hop Off tours can be great, truly. They give you a wonderful overview of any city and if you do it right they can give you a list of places to come back to when you have some extra time (I have a list myself!), but don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you’ve sat through a couple of hours on top of a bus that you’ve seen a city.
You’ll miss everything that makes it special!
Also your pictures will be shite.