Sandisiwe Mbhele
Lifestyle Journalist
4 minute read
5 Feb 2021
5:08 pm

My long distance relationship with Greyhound

Sandisiwe Mbhele

Long trip destinations to the coast will forever be different as we say goodbye to another iconic South African brand, Greyhound.

Greyhound busses seen at the Greyhound/Citiliner depot in Amalgam, 4 February 2021 . Picture: Neil McCartney

It seems there is an ending of the era for many millennials in 2021 that hold so much nostalgia and childhood memories.

It wasn’t enough that Clicks decided to shut Musica’s door in January.

I purchased my first CD at Musica, a birthday gift for myself – no judgement, it was a Jonas Brothers CD and a classic Mariah Carey album. I truly only did that because I was a fan and I wanted to know that feeling of owning a CD.

Now, long trip destinations to the coast will forever be different, as we say goodbye to another iconic South African brand, Greyhound, on Valentine’s Day.

I don’t know about you, but Greyhound was the Uber X of busses; the closest thing to any type of luxury in public transport. It wasn’t for their seats, or ‘high end’ toilets or any type of fancy tech, but rather for its reputation for reliability, safety, consistency and generational ticket buying.

My first time on a Greyhound was on a semi-private trip was to Port Elizabeth (PE) when I was just 17. A group of friends of mine, just the four of us, decided in Matric that we would tour our country every December.

We decided instead of a rage that is traditionally taken, why not use that holiday period to take a trip to each province every year. To experience our country like a tourist.

That first province was the Eastern Cape. My family was adamant I had to take Greyhound or Citiliner and no other option.

With student pockets I obviously couldn’t afford to purchase airline tickets as I hoped – costs adding up to include accommodation, clothes, and extra money for other activities – buying a plane ticket was a pipe dream.

ALSO READ: Taking a bus? Here are some alternatives to Greyhound

My family members told me, or in their words or “advised” that it’s the “best”, “safest” and this one came up quite frequently, “at least know you will arrive safely.” And scrolling through my options, even with Greyhound being the pricier option, my complaints fell on deaf ears and I had choose it.

If my memory serves me correctly, a return ticket cost around R800.

The anxiety of going away for the first time by myself was overwhelming. It also didn’t help that my friends chose the cheaper alternatives. So I was taking a 14-hour long trip alone.

We arrived early in the morning, around 7am. As we said our goodbyes at Johannesburg Park Station, tears welled up in my eyes at the thought of what could have been, four best friends chatting away on a bus.

We left in different buses and modes of transport, and I regretted my decision for the first hour – nothing against Greyhound, it’s just that I couldn’t take it anymore.

Being seated in a confined space, no space to stretch your legs, the movies on offer I had already seen, the books I brought along weren’t captivating, so I was slowly losing my mind.

Don’t even get me started on the air conditioning wars! Understandably in summer, the heat can become unbearable, but on this particular day it did not warrant a temperature of below 18°C, so I was freezing.

However, the service on board is what I expected. You were always checked on and even accommodated for food and beverages, and the bus driver greeted all passengers as they walked in.

The positive I took on the journey was the discovery of the many hidden gems even though you barely get to experience them.

The views are breathtaking, I made sure to pick the window seat! From passing country towns you’ve never heard of and old architecture to the stunning peak of the ocean breaking away from the mundane highways, it’s was a refreshing break from the buzz of Joburg.

I will forever relish the stops for refreshments, stretching your legs, bathroom breaks as you take in the fresh crisp air, the sunshine and the locals.

It always amazed me how friendly we are as South Africans; our kindness for people is truly unmatched.

By the time I arrived late in the afternoon, my feet were swollen, an obvious snag of sitting in one position for a long time.

Walking out of the bus, I was taken aback by the views of Kings Beach – that was the only moment where I thought, it was worth it.

I laugh now because at that time I vouched to never to do it again… But did I not take a 16 hour trip with Citiliner to Cape Town the following year!

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