Jumping in Front of a Bus

A Year Ago Today

Well, it’s been a year since we started our last adventure, so we figured it was time to start blogging about it, and also try to figure out where the heck a year went!

While we were traveling we didn’t have much time to blog and frequently didn’t have consistent internet access. So, we’re now back home, well rested from our adventure and have decided to blog by looking back a year. For us, it’s a great way to remember the wonderful time we had so it doesn’t fade from our memories so quickly.

We hope you’ll enjoy following along as we visit some amazing places.

But, yes, this trip started with us jumping in front of a bus – a Greyhound bus to be exact.

Early Morning Start

On July 21, 2014, a year ago today, very, very early in the morning (it was about 5:30am and still dark), we began our adventure.

Although the place that we had to wait to catch our bus was not a long walk from our home, we had more luggage than we cared to carry that far. The solution: we drove to the designated spot, dropped our luggage and I stayed with it while Geoff took the car back home, prepared it for being left for a few months and then walked back to where I was waiting.

But, we still haven’t gotten to the reason we would have to jump in front of a bus yet.

You see, we live in a very small town in Northern Ontario. Our town, at that time, was not a regular stop on Greyhound’s schedule – you need to wave down the bus. Seems easy enough – right?

Well, at 6:00am, while it was still dark, the idea of a bus driver seeing us frantically waving our arms at the side of the road seemed less than certain.

Trying to be as Certain as Possible

We had, of course, called the nearest Greyhound station a few days before to be sure they left a message for the driver that there would be passengers (us) waiting. However, we also knew that the only thing that station could do was leave a note for the driver as there would be no official actually at the station when the driver made his designated stop there around 4:00am. We had to trust that the people we spoke with would remember to leave the note and that the driver would remember to pick it up.

Now, this might seem like a lot worrying. Couldn’t we just get the next bus if we missed this one?

Well, no. If we missed this bus then the entire trip was in jeopardy. While this bus got us to Thunder Bay way ahead of our flight time, the next bus, which was more than 12 hours later, would mean that we would miss our flight.

As we like to do, everything was pre-planned and pre-booked months in advance for various reasons but mostly to get the best prices so the trip wouldn’t be too expensive. Near the end of our journey we faced another very tight schedule that could have been a disaster if we missed connections, but that’s in another post.

We were pleased to see another couple was also waiting for the bus this early in the morning. They said they had also asked Greyhound to make sure the driver knew they’d be waiting.

Let the Worrying Begin!

The estimated time for our bus to arrive, according to Greyhound’s website, was 6:15am. Well, 6:15 came and went, as did 6:20, 6:25 and 6:30. Naturally, we were all speculating what might have happened; an accident on the highway, bus breakdown, etc. We were consoling ourselves with the fact that we had been there so early that we couldn’t possibly have missed the bus. Right?

Just as we were about to call Greyhound, hoping that someone would be available, some very large headlights appeared in the distance. Now, we’d already seen many transport trucks go by, mistaking many of them for the bus, but this time we were almost certain.

Time to Jump in Front of the Bus

Greyhound Bus When We Arrived in Thunder Bay
Greyhound Bus When We Arrived in Thunder Bay

Geoff ran to the edge of the highway and began to wave his arms, hoping that he didn’t have to actually jump directly in front of a moving bus. As luck would have it, the driver saw him, using his turn signals to indicate that and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. The bus may have been a bit late, but we still had lots of time to get to the Thunder Bay airport.

Once we arrived at the Thunder Bay Greyhound bus station, we immediately grabbed a taxi and headed directly to the airport.

The taxi fare was a little more than expected – about $30 Canadian. I guess we didn’t realize just how far the airport was from the bus station.

Long Journey to Iceland Begins

We settled in at the airport to wait for our first of three flights that we would be taking today. Once again, all of these flights had to leave on time (or close to) for everything to work out. The one advantage was that we had booked all of these flights directly with IcelandAir, so if we missed any of them because of delays, cancelations, etc., they would have to reschedule us

Here’s the schedule of what needed to happen today (We’ll talk about the schedules we had to hit tomorrow – tomorrow).

  • 6:15am – Bus to Thunder Bay
  • 1:35pm – Flight from Thunder Bay to Toronto Island (Billy Bishop) Airport (2 hour flight)
  • 5:00pm – Flight from Toronto Airport to Newark, New Jersey International Airport (1-1/2 hour flight)
  • 8:45pm – Flight from New Jersey to Reykjavík-Keflavík Airport, Iceland (5-1/2 hour flight – arriving the next morning at 6:15am Iceland time)

Why So Many Flights?

You may be asking yourself at this point, “Why so many flights? Surely there’s a direct flight from Toronto to Reykjavik.” Well, yes, there is. However, we’re always looking for the cheapest most economical way to travel because, well, we’re cheap frugal. 😉

Anyway, we missed out, by a day or two, on the least expensive fare involving only two flights. That left us with the three flight option, at a significant savings, so that’s what we booked.

Yes, it made for a long day that was a little stressful, but, as long as it all came together as anticipated, we decided it wouldn’t be that bad.

It All Comes Together

As it happens, with some tiny glitches, everything came together and we were on our way to Iceland!

We Did It!

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Nov 23 ~ Day #197
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$19700
$15.00
$17041.71
$86.51
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
16084.6
12056.7
7662
196
35999.3

We Did It!

When we began this adventure we set ourselves a challenge. To complete this trip on an average of $100/day or less.

As you can see from the recap of our final totals, we not only met that challenge, we exceeded it.

We traveled for a total of 197 days on an average of $86.51/day. Not bad!

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

First we’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to all the friends and family we stayed with along the way. We could not have achieved our goal without your generous hospitality.

We have mentioned all of you in each appropriate blog post but we would like to thank you all once again. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Putting Things in Perspective

When we mention the mileage, the number of days, places visited, etc. sometimes things just become a blur and the true magnitude is not particularly clear. So, here we’re going to recap things and try to bring some perspective.

Mileage

The total miles traveled, including road, train, sea and air, was 35,999.3. Too bad we couldn’t have added just 0.7 of a mile more. That would have pushed us to an even 36,000 miles.

But, to put this mileage in perspective, the circumference of the earth, at the equator, is 24,901.55 miles.

That means we could have traveled around the globe almost one and a half times. Wow!

Days Traveled

I don’t think we actually calculated the number of days we were going to be traveling when we started this adventure.

Oh sure, we knew the day we were going to start. We also knew the day we were going to fly back home. Both were booked before we set out. But we didn’t actually take the time to calculate just how long the time in between those dates was.

Total number of days traveled = 197.

If you apply an average of 30 days to a month, then we traveled for a total of 6.6 months, more than half a year. Again – wow!

Cruises and More Included in the Trip

It seems amazing even to us what we were able to pack into this trip. Here’s a quick recap.

Cruises

Our trip included three cruises:

  • a two week Alaska cruise
  • a six day Greek Islands cruise
  • a two week TransAtlantic cruise

That’s a total of 34 days – more than a month – spent on cruise ships.

Narrowboats in the UK

We were able to spend an entire week on a narrowboat on the Trent/Mersey canal system in the UK.

Orlando and Disney

We spent two weeks in Orlando at two different timeshare resorts and spent time at more than one Disney theme park.

Landmarks Visited

Along the way we were fortunate to visit many landmarks both in North America and Europe.

Here’s a few:
United States

  • Carlsbad Caverns
  • Monument Valley
  • Grand Canyon

Canada

  • Victoria, British Columbia (a must-see)
  • Hell’s Gate, British Columbia
  • Columbia Ice Fields, Alberta
  • Banff and Jasper, Alberta
  • Lake Louise, Alberta
  • Terry Fox Monument, Thunder Bay, Ontario
  • Reversing Falls, New Brunswick
  • St. Andrews-By-The-Sea, New Brunswick
  • Confederation Bridge, between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island
  • Birthplace of Canadian Confederation, Charlottetown, PEI
  • Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

England

  • Buckingham Palace
  • Tower Bridge
  • Tower of London
  • British Parliament Buildings
  • Big Ben
  • British Museum
  • Stratford-Upon-Avon, birthplace of Shakespeare

Spain

  • La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
  • Dénia Castle, Dénia

Portugal

  • Madeira, the home of Madeira wine

Greece

  • Santorini

Croatia

  • the old walled city of Dubrovnik

Italy

  • St. Mark’s Square, Venice
  • the ruins of Pompeii
  • the ruins of Paestum
  • the Amalfi Coast

And, I’m sure there are things we are forgetting. It’s time for us to go back and re-read all the posts we have made along the way and to review all the photos and videos we have as well.

This was the trip of a lifetime for us. We will continue to travel, of course, but it is unlikely that we will ever again take such an extensive trip. It was a great adventure but a very long time to be away from home.

We will continue to have, we hope, many, many more adventures. But, perhaps shorter ones this time. 🙂

Thank you to everyone who has followed along with us and to those who have made comments as well. It was a pleasure to share this adventure with you.