Sunday, February 17, 2013

Taking the luxury bus from Rio to Ouro Preto

Our plan was to spend Carnaval with our friends in Ouro Preto. They used to live in Belo Horizontes but now that they both have federal jobs at the university in Ouro Preto/Mariana, they have moved there. Actually, Dü was born and raised in OP, so he and Carlos (his partner of 10 years) have lived there off and on over the years.

Largely because OP is a college town, it has direct bus service to Rio de Janeiro. Good for us.  Some people sing the praises of cheaper air fare these days and fly from Rio to Belo Horizontes, but getting to OP adds a significant layer of complications and travel time. The BH airport is rather far (really far) from the center of the city so it is necessary to take a bus from the airport to the main bus terminal in BH and then transfer to another bus for the final leg to OP. Cheap airfares tend to match the bus fare from Rio to BH but do not solve the problem (or include the cost of) the need to take two additional buses to get to your final destination in the mountains.

For us, it is a quick bus from right in front of our apartment to the Rio bus terminal (or a R$55 cab fare, which we never do), then we get on a swanky, comfortable sleeper bus in  Rio going directly to Ouro Preto (one stop). It takes about 6 hours but we get on the bus at midnight, then sleep all the way to OP. Very convenient and comfortable.

There are two types of sleeper seats – “leito” and “cama.” Most of the sleeper buses provide the “leito” style seating that reclines nearly all the way back and has a leg rest that supports your legs for more comfort.  

Some busses provide limited “cama” seating with the rest of the bus equipped with “leito “ seating.
The “cama” (literally translates to “bed”) seats are wonderful.  They are super wide so you can curl up on your side to sleep.  There are only three such seats per row, two on one side and one on the other. They recline completely and in addition to all the extra space, they have the leg rest as well, completing the bed.

People who have only taken long distance buses in the United States have no frame of reference for Brazilian bus travel. It is night and day.

Next time you set off from Rio for Belo Horizontes or Ouro Preto, be sure to check into the Util busline.

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