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  • Arash

The nightbus

So it’s 5 in the morning, the entourage, 8 strong, that you left campus with, has now dwindled to a measly 3. Your head’s spinning, the canals begin to look like a pretty decent place to swim, and what’s left of your group is about to start a fight with a bouncer because they pestered the DJ to play ‘House every weekend’ for a good 23 and a half minutes.

You have a few options. Either you did the smart thing and went by bike, or you get ripped off by a seedy taxi driver asking for three times the value of the actual fare, or you walk, or you just go sleep opposite burger king at Leidseplein ‘til sunrise bathes you in that much needed vitamin D.

I know what you’re thinking, “damn all of those sound pretty terrible- When does burger king open?”

It opens at 9, every day.

However, you’re broke and you’re going to need that last 5 euro note, crumpled in your pocket.

Welcome to the extraordinary realm of the GVB Nachtbus my fellow wanderers of the night. The first thing you want to do is find a bus stop, typically they’re near to where the tram lines run through. For example, for the nightbus stand in Leidseplein, you have to leave Leidseplein and actually go to the stands which are opposite the Marriott. But you’ll acquaint yourself better with the logistics of the situation considering I have no idea who you are, nor where you’re going to live, nor where you’re even partying.

In the distance you see a bright orange 3 digit number, and you feel as if you might as well have died and gone to heaven, purely for the sake of the fact that you’re not going to be sharing the streets of Amsterdam with the many, many creatures of the night; human or otherwise.

This bus is now in front of you and the doors have just parted ways almost as if they are greeting a foreign diplomat on a peacekeeping mission. Your duties call you. You pull this little bundle of what once upon a time was a perfect sheet of paper, commonly used a 5 euro note and you let your jaws slide towards the ground because the gravity is stronger than your willpower to maintain a human’s facial expression at the moment, the only noise that exits is some kind of incomprehensible slur which resembles ‘1 tikuht pleez’.

Reluctantly, the driver takes your weird excuse for an origami project and accepts it as payment. They hand you a single paper ticket, the golden ticket, and a 50 cent coin telling you to ‘check in’.

“Beep beep”, the two sounds all too familiar to a person who lives in the Netherlands. The words ‘check in and check out’ are going to be forever imprinted into your tongue from the moment you arrive in this country. Your heart starts to beat faster as you try to work out the social hierarchical structure of the passengers in this giant metal vessel of safety and tranquillity. Should you sit next to the guy whose scarf is so big that you begin to even doubt whether it’s alive and sentient, or would you rather sit alone in the back of the bus with your less than functional earphones, blasting overhyped club music straight into your ear drums?

Yeah, I’d go with the latter as well. You place yourself onto this chair and instantly melt into it. You become one with the upholstery, you’re now in the hands of the captain. “Take me away!”

“You just missed your stop didn’t you? You’re supposed to push the button, the stop button, during the journey between yours and the last stop. Then only will this carriage stop to let you off.

You don’t even bother to check out, seeing as the nightbus ticket is valid only for 90 minutes and you don’t have to take any connections.

It’s just a little walk I guess, Amsterdam’s not that big, and besides, you’ve only overshot by 400 metres. You stumble home following the footpaths, you’ve just realised that you’ve abandoned your friends from earlier. You’ll find out whether they’re alive or not in the morning. It’s not too big a deal. You’ve made it to your building, you drag your lame, inebriated self into this elevator and proceed to push all the buttons. It takes an extra 4 minutes to get to your floor because of your total foolishness.

Your bed calls to you, still riddled with dorito packets and crumbs from the breakfast you had 4 days ago.

Your eyes shut.

Sleep well, trooper.

*PS, the night-buses don’t accept cash anymore. Preload your card*

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