I have been called strange many times in my 20 years, usually for different reasons, however since moving to Rome I have found that the number one reason now is that I like riding the buses. When I have to go somewhere I go early enough so that I can still make it to my destination if I have to ride two or more buses; and while all of my friends loathe taking the bus, I will take one even if they decide they want to use the metro or a taxi. There are many reasons that I prefer the buses over the other forms of transportation here in Rome, and today I’m going to list them for you. Maybe you too will become a bus lover.
Reason #1- I like seeing the city.
Yes, you can always just take a tour bus around and see all the cool tourist places, like the Vatican and the Colosseum. That’s not what I’m referring to though. I love being able to hop on an ordinary public transport bus and let it show me streets and places I didn’t know were there. For example, I found that if I take a certain bus near my house and ride it for about twenty minutes, there is a little dress shop that is hidden away in a tangle of ivy, that I only noticed as the bus passed by it. I pass by churches and make mental notes to come back and go in them, because I love seeing old churches.
Reason #2- It helps my mental map.
One thing I miss about driving a car around my old hometown is how easy it was for me to remember where everything was and how to get there. Now that I can’t drive (I mean I can, but I won’t on these crazy roman streets!) So riding the bus has replaced that. Once I’ve ridden the bus three or four times both ways I can usually tell where I am, and more importantly, I know how to find my way home, or to a friend’s house. This is especially important if you are lost at 2:00 in the morning in the middle of Rome and your phone is dying. If that happens to me I know the entire route, stop-to-stop so I can find my way home. It also helps me avoid the sketchy parts of town because I can remember where they were on the bus route and take a different route home (using another bus route).
Reason #3- It gives me time to myself.
I know it’s a bit ironic, going somewhere full of people to get away from people, however for me, it’s a bit similar to sitting down and reading a book in a secluded place. Yes, there are people all around me, but I ignore them to the point where I sometimes forget they are there because I’m so focused on the story in my head, or what I will be writing for my next article. My music up loud, I sit there and I don’t even think about the people around me, I’m too lost in my own thoughts. I still get texts, but I don’t have to answer them right away. I can wait until I’m ready to come down from my world, and I’m ready to face reality again.
Reason #4- I can practice Italian, and see the real culture.
Some of the time, I like to take off my headphones and listen to the conversations around me. It allows me to hear the language as it is meant to sound, natural. The people on the bus have no idea that I don’t speak Italian, and they aren’t going to pay me any mind; the small woman looking out the window, leaning her head on the glass. I’ve also had the privilege to see the people of Rome up close and personal after witnessing two different fights on the bus, one between a bus driver who wasn’t going to take crap from some dude yelling in the back, another between a pregnant lady, her husband, and some guy on the phone. Only one of them ended in a fist fight though, but man… did that pregnant lady know how to swing.
Now I know that many of you will still dislike the bus for various reasons, like how they never seem to come on time, how they take forever to get anywhere, how you can never get a seat, how close everyone is to you. I get it, and I can understand all those things because they frustrate me too at times. But every experience has pros and cons, and in my humble opinion, the pros of the bus outweigh the cons by more than just a few points. Do you like the bus, or have I missed another con? Please leave a comment, I would love to hear from you!