Did anyone go on the Magic Bus coach trips in the 1970’s?

Leigh Mitchell… No – but I’d go on one now at those prices

Rebecca Roach… What a memory – delighted to find this – I went on the Magic Bus to Athens from Kings Cross station in 1972/3 (?) stayed at The Funny Trumpet hostal in Athens – that was an experience!

R Stene… Yes. London to Athens in 1978. I was the oldest person on the ride (36) and best dressed it turned out. No head rests for three days and a memorable toilet stop for two girls on the side of the road in Yugoslavia in the snow. Lots of interesong smoking going on in the back seats.

Mike Curtis… No. Cos it was “too much”

John Wilde… Yes twice to Amsterdam.

Vicki Campbell… Yes, Athens to Amsterdam 1975. Yugoslavia we broke down near Skopje.  Pretty rough travel but the price was right! I remember how happy everyone was to cross into Austria! The fresh produce in Yugoslavia was the best anywhere.

Heather Sidery… Yes.. France and back. We we’re stopped in UK, and searched by police. Nothing found…..

Julie Findlay-jones… My uncle used to drive for them in the 70s.

David Hamblett… Went to Athens 1979, it cost £28,Should have been 3 days but took 4 as Yugoslavia police stopped the bus and took away the driver, Fantastic

Amanda Darling… David, I was on that bus too! My son was conceived on the roadside in Yugoslavia when the bus driver was taken off by the police!

Joan Hicks… I (a Kiwi) traveled Athens to London 1976. Alan was the lone driver. He had his kids Claire and Roger with him. Alan had a kidney stone attack in the Alps, so the whole busload baby sat until he came back. Also got stuck at the Yugoslavian border, the border guards demanding $200 US for a Visa I already had. Also got an unplanned day in Amsterdam. Brilliant trip. Made some good friends and still keep in touch with a couple of them. Traveled on with Alan down to Cornwall and stayed with him and his wife Flora for a few days. Happy days!

Meryl Gay… Yes, I took the 3day trip in 1975 from London via France, Italy over the ferry at Brindisi to Greece down to Athens. What a adventure. We had a puncture in France! Had many happy memories.

Peter Ellingworth… I didn’t myself but my youngest cousin Moira, sadly no longer with us having succumbed to cancer, and over from Australia at the time (1975-8) on their traditional overseas rite of passage, did so with her Canadian flat mate she lodged with in Shepherds Bush…..and ended up in Athens marrying a Greek. Did the bus go from the old coach station half way up Pentonville Rd., (now an upmarket restaurant) or from outside King’s Cross Rail station itself, most likely in York Way ?

Scuzz Monster… Yes, Athens to London in 1981. £35 one way. Two drivers who were involved in all sorts. Smuggling, drunken/dangerous driving, counterfeit currency, drugs, you name it – it was great Set me up nicely for four trans-Canada Greyhound bus trips later that decade but the first big one is always the most memorable.

John Calvert… Yes, Athens to Amsterdam, 1976. Bought my ticket at the Funny Trumpets.

Dave… I travelled on the magic bus on December 30th 1978, from London to Athens 1978 with my best friend ( Hugh Glancy now deceased ) on route to our final destination (Israel). I can remember it was freezing cold travelling on through Europe, especially due to the drivers front windscreen being fully broken !! When we arrived in Athens, we stayed in Pete’s Pub for a few weeks and met a few interesting travellers whilst there. Thanks for the amazing memories magic bus !!

Fiona McGarry… Did Amsterdam to Athens for £35 single journey in 1979. Bus driver sped thru countries like a mad man as he had white goods for sale in the trunk. Yugoslavia was interesting not. Big party when got over the border w Greece. Ouzo reigned supreme and we arrived near the Parthenon after midnight and slept in the ancient ruins. Five fun weeks island hopping and then back via Athens. Single tix back to London only £28! Took a bit longer as while traversing France the drivers had a long lunch and after a while a few of us realised they were heading us south to Marseille as they were so pissed! Chez La vie – mad fun times

Graham Sherrington… To Amsterdam and back many times whilst working there via Harwich and Rotterdam. Ow those ferries in the winter.

Jeremy Williams… I remember it well. London to Athens (3 days, 2 nights with hardly a stop) in August 1977. The two drivers took it in turns (one sleeping on the back seat). They were given cash for each country to buy fuel but, to cream off some for themselves, they refused to turn on the air-con the whole way. When they stopped for a toilet break, they would shout “20 minutes!” and everyone piled out to join the queue. Exactly 20 minutes later the bus would drive off, sometimes without some of the passengers. The drivers amused themselves by parking just out of sight and watching the poor beggars running down the road in a panic. The main road through Yugoslavia was scary (wrecked lorries and cars lining the route) and, yes, the local fuzz pulled us over for some concocted infringement but they let us go after an on-the-spot “fine” had been paid. There was a longer stop in Venice (2 hours?) which allowed some minimal sight-seeing. In Athens, I slept on the roof of a very cheap hotel (name forgotten) and awoke with a fabulous view of the Acropolis. Walked over to see the Parthenon and caught a local bus to Piraeus whence my ship sailed for Haifa. After a few weeks on a kibbutz and touring The Holy Land, did the return journey. Total cost of tickets less than £100 I remember.

Jill Williams… Went to Athens via Yugoslavia. Actually took my Mum who was 60 at the time with me. We had to change buses and all our luggage was just thrown out of the bus in the dead of night and we were left stranded till another one turned up. There was an elderly Greek lady sitting in front of us and she keep smacking the guy in front of her on the head because he was playing music too loud on this gigantic ghetto blaster. The bus stank of weed and we definitely felt the effects of it, my mum thought it was brilliant. We found a flat to rent in Athens and the owner brought us grapes everyday from his vineyard, he had the hots for Ma. Went to Piraeus, nearly got kidnapped but that’s another story lol. Fantastic time.

Martin Rowe… Yes, Athens to London in summer of 1982; me aged 16, brother aged 13. Yugoslavia went on forever. The right hand side suspension of the K-Sentra bus went on Day 1 and the next 3 days we drove with a tilt. Bus helper/monitor English fellow named Dominic, did his best but clueless. Caribinieri in Italy took sadistic pleasure in turning everyone out of the bus and tearing into passengers possessions at the side of the road.

Patrick D… Yes, Athens to New Delhi Fall of 1977. A crew of 7 people from Manchester put the bus together for the trip. I turned 20 in Kabul. Lots of great memories! Wonderful people, places, food, hash etc… Best way to see the world. Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India

Roger Henderson… Joan, Hi I’m Roger the kid on the bus. Hello guys. So my dad Alan and my uncle John both involved with Magic Bus and drove many trips across Europe and beyond. Myself and my brother and sisters went along on many trips and remember the trip Joan Hicks mentioned when my dad had a kidney stone. I’ve even been considering starting doing some trips myself. I guess buses are in my blood. Great hearing about everyone’s stories and adventures.

Tim Hyett… Yes, I went on a magic bus from Charring Cross to Delhi in August 1977. The Bus was driven by George Oughton who knew the way to do things and all the good places to stop. The magic started when we all had to get off the bus to bump start it off the ferry at Ostende. Though a bunch of us got of at Kabul to sample the delights of the region. I understand that the old cream and blue Duple bus made it to Amritsa before giving up. There were several breakdowns along the way. It is only now that I realise what a hero he was and how he made the voyage so special.

Dave Trodd & Rosie Watling… We did the Amsterdam trip in the early 1980s. There were other people we knew on the bus who may remember us. On the way there, when we got to the border, the bus was boarded by police who handcuffed and arrested the guy sitting next to us. They then dragged him off the bus … no more was said … and we went on our way! In Amsterdam, we stayed at a small, family run hotel, which we thought uncannily like Fawlty Towers, right down to the proprietor who was just like Basil! When we looked in the guest book – we saw that other guests had made similar comments. We had a great time in Amsterdam and still have very fond memories of that time.

Laurie Kenney (Bolt)… Rebecca Roach, Were you by chance traveling with, or met on the bus, a guy named Dennis from Ireland? I traveled from Amsterdam to Athens in 1973, then continued through the Greek Islands with 6 Irish guys and a girl named Rebecca (from Texas). We got detained in Yugoslavia (maybe the bus broke down – can’t remember) and went drinking in a town square with guards holding their rifles at their sides. Rather intimidating and they didn’t speak a word of English. If only they knew what we were saying! LOL

Scott Shandler… Yes, I went from Amsterdam to Athens with a bus driver named Diego and the on another Magic bus from Athens to Delhi( via Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan). I wrote a book about it which is on Amazon called “Along the way to Utopia” for those of you that made this trip, it’s a real short paperback then you’ll be able to relate to.

Don… Hi Scott, I got on a bus in Athens in March of 1975 and got off in Srinagar 6 or 7 weeks later. On entering the Kyber pass the signs in about a dozen languages with the words in English, “DO NOT PASS HERE AT NIGHT” really shook me. Also having to get off the bus on the way up to Srinigar because the road was partially washed out and driver had to move very carefully to avoid tumbling bus and all into the abyss. Still etched in my memories all these years later. I will get a copy of your book. Regards, Don

Michael Zomer… Hi Scott, I’m doing research for a documentary about the Magic Bus drivers. Would be great to get in touch, would be great if we can include Diego. Do you might sending send an email at contact@michaelzomer.com

Watson Garty… Hi Tim, I went on a magic bus from London to Delhi in 1977, my memory is vague but I’m writing a memoir and can’t remember much about it but I would love to. I don’t even know if I was on the same bus,? my name is Watson yes that’s my first name I was from the Northeast of England , Was only 21 I had long blonde curly hair, some people said I resembled Robert Plant (led Zeppelin) if you can recall anyone fitting my description  I would love to hear from you to discuss this trip.  Please contact Watson direct if you can helpwatzinsamsara@gmail.com

Watson Garty… I boarded in London, we picked up more passengers in Amsterdam, and Austria. I did have a few photos but there were destroyed in a house flood many years ago. The only 2 photo’s I have left  are one with a Buddhist monk in Dharamsala and one in a cheap hotel (See above).  I remember a outspoken Dutchman on the bus called Joseph. and we stopped in Athens for a couple of days and a group of us climbed Mt Olympus, our magic bus  was I think the last bus to go through Afghanistan, I recall in Kabul lots of the street kids wanting to sell us huge blocks of black hashish. On the bus there was a very odd straight Conservative looking  dude,who had a wooden leg  that he proudly used to roll up his trousers to expose many Rolex copies of Watches he was smuggling to India.

David Miller… Not too much at all.

Sue Thompson… We travelled from Camden to Athens back in 1976 or 1977. Two drivers shared the driving. One very posh guy held us up a bit as he got drunk and they wouldn’t allow him to get back on the bus. We waited ages until his friend cajoled him and the drivers to calm down. I think there was only one road then. One stretch was along the coast with steep drop on one side. I slept like a baby but my partner /later husband /later divorced was white knuckles all the way. On the way back the police boarded the bus in Yugoslavia and took off a Libyan guy. Always wondered why and what happened to him. Did anyone stay in Johns Place – a hostel in Athens.

Mike Wright… Went to Amsterdam. Coach developed a fault and mech tried to fix it, had the coach floor up, still doing 50/60 on motorway.

Rebecca… I went, when it was reaching the end. I was 15 years old. (1981) I went from London to Athens. When we got to the Greek border everyone asked me to carry their extra bags – I didn’t realise I was smuggling .. then caught a ferry to Crete, but first I had to have an argument in the shipping office because they said my voucher wasn’t valid, I sat down on the floor and refused to move. The bus took a different route on the way back. Going to Otranto and up through Italy. I didn’t have any money on the way back so I used to eat the left overs… Can’t believe I did all that now!

Ron Son… I went from Athens to Amsterdam in 1977, 3 days . In Yugoslavia the driver bribed the guards with bottles of vodka for a swift pass . Crossing into Germany, a German guy beside me was arrested for dodging military service . The driver also stopped in a remote area to allow us to pee etc .The rush to relief was some sight, total abandonment. The driver was falling asleep at the wheel so the rep asked an old Greek man to sit beside him to keep him awake . A lively trip to say the least .

Melanie… (in reply to Vicki Campbell) I went in 1982 I think. No bathrooms and we were told that if the bus was stopped in any Eastern block country most of us, and certainly the Americans, would be held. The route was illegal. We were of course already in Yugoslavia when they announced this. When we finally got to Austria a bunch of broke and rude British teen boys in the back suddenly had both food and money after our first stop – they must have somehow raided the cash register at the cafe…I would not trade the experience lol

Peter Stacey… Yes I took the bus to travel to Paris to see Elton John

Advert September 1976

 

 

29 thoughts on “Did anyone go on the Magic Bus coach trips in the 1970’s?”

  1. What a memory – delighted to find this – I went on the Magic Bus to Athens from Kings Cross station in 1972/3 (?) stayed at The Funny Trumpet hostal in Athens – that was an experience!

    Reply
    • Were you by chance traveling with, or met on the bus, a guy named Dennis from Ireland? I traveled from Amsterdam to Athens in 1973, then continued through the Greek Islands with 6 Irish guys and a girl named Rebecca (from Texas.)
      We got detained in Yugoslavia (maybe the bus broke down – can’t remember) and went drinking in a town square with guards holding their rifles at their sides. Rather intimidating and they didn’t speak a word of English. If only they knew what we were saying! LOL

      Reply
  2. Yes. London to Athens in 1978. I was the oldest person on the ride (36) and best dressed it turned out. No head rests for three days and a memorable toilet stop for two girls on the side of the road in Yugoslavia in the snow. Lits if interesong smoking going on in the back seats.

    Reply
  3. Yes, Athens to Amsterdam 1975
    Yugoslavia we broke down near Skopje.
    Pretty rough travel, but the price was right!
    I remember how happy everyone was to cross into Austria!
    The fresh produce in Yugoslavia was the best anywhere.

    Reply
    • I went in 1982 I think. No bathrooms and we were told that if the bus was stopped in any Eastern block country most of us, and certainly the Americans, would be held. The route was illegal. We were of course already in Yugoslavia when they announced this. When we finally got to Austria a bunch of broke and rude British teen boys in the back suddenly had both food and money after our first stop – they must have somehow raided the cash register at the cafe…I would not trade the experience lol

      Reply
  4. Went to Athens 1979, it cost £28,Should have been 3 days but took 4 as Yugoslave police stopped the bus and took away the driver,Fantastic

    Reply
    • I was on that bus too! My son was conceived on the roadside in Yugoslavia when the bus driver was taken off by the police!

      Reply
  5. I (a Kiwi) traveled Athens to London 1976. Alan was the lone driver. He had his kids Claire and Roger with him. Alan had a kidney stone attack in the Alps, so the whole busload baby sat until he came back. Also got stuck at the Yugoslavian border, the border guards demanding $200 US for a Visa I already had. 🙁 Also got an unplanned day in Amsterdam.
    Brilliant trip. Made some good friends and still keep in touch with a couple of them. Traveled on with Alan down to Cornwall and stayed with him and his wife Flora for a few days. Happy days!

    Reply
  6. Yes, I took the 3day trip in 1975 from London via France, Italy over the ferry at Brindisi to Greece down to Athens. What a adventure. We had a puncture in France! Had many happy memories.

    Reply
  7. I didn’t myself but my youngest cousin Moira, sadly no longer with us having succumbed to cancer, and over from Australia at the time (1975-8) on their traditional overseas rite of passage, did so with her Canadian flat mate she lodged with in Shepherds Bush…..and ended up in Athens marrying a Greek.
    Did the bus go from the old coach station half way up Pentonville Rd., (now an upmarket resturant) or from outside King’s Cross Rail station itself, most likely in York Way ?

    Reply
  8. Yes, Athens to London in 1981. £35 one way. Two drivers who were involved in all sorts. Smuggling, drunken/dangerous driving, counterfeit currency, drugs, you name it – it was great Set me up nicely for four trans-Canada Greyhound bus trips later that decade but the first big one is always the most memorable.

    Reply
  9. I travelled on the magic bus December 30th 1978 from London to Athens 1978 with my best friend ( Hugh Glancy now deceased )on route to our final destination ( Israel) I can remember it was freezing cold travelling on thro Europe , especially due to the drivers front windscreen being fully broken !!
    When we arrived in Athens we stayed in Pete’s Pub for a few weeks and met a few interesting travellers whilst there .
    Thanks for the amazing memories magic bus !!

    Reply
  10. Did Amsterdam to Athens for £35 single journey in 1979. Bus driver sped thru countries like a mad man as he had white goods for sale in the trunk. Yugoslavia was interesting not. Big party when got over the border w Greece. Ouzo reigned supreme and we arrived near the Parthenon after midnight and slept in the ancient ruins. Five fun weeks island hopping and then back via Athens. Single tix back to London only £28! Took a bit longer as while traversing France the drivers had a long lunch and after a while a few of us realised they were heading us south to Marseille as they were so pissed! Chez La vie – mad fun times

    Reply
  11. I remember it well. London to Athens (3 days, 2 nights with hardly a stop) in August 1977. The two drivers took it in turns (one sleeping on the back seat). They were given cash for each country to buy fuel but, to cream off some for themselves, they refused to turn on the air-con the whole way. When they stopped for a toilet break, they would shout “20 minutes!” and everyone piled out to join the queue. Exactly 20 minutes later the bus would drive off, sometimes without some of the passengers. The drivers amused themselves by parking just out of sight and watching the poor beggars running down the road in a panic. The main road through Yugoslavia was scary (wrecked lorries and cars lining the route) and, yes, the local fuzz pulled us over for some concocted infringement but they let us go after an on-the-spot “fine” had been paid. There was a longer stop in Venice (2 hours?) which allowed some minimal sight-seeing. In Athens, I slept on the roof of a very cheap hotel (name forgotten) and awoke with a fabulous view of the Acropolis. Walked over to see the Parthenon and caught a local bus to Piraeus whence my ship sailed for Haifa. After a few weeks on a kibbutz and touring The Holy Land, did the return journey. Total cost of tickets less than £100 I remember.

    Reply
  12. Went to Athens via Yugoslavia. Actually took my Mum who was 60 at the time with me. We had to change buses and all our luggage was just thrown out of the bus in the dead of night and we were left stranded till another one turned up. There was an elderly Greek lady sitting in front of us and she keep smacking the guy in front of her on the head because he was playing music too loud on this gigantic ghetto blaster. The bus stank of weed and we definitely felt the effects of it, my mum thought it was brilliant. We found a flat to rent in Athens and the owner brought us grapes everyday from his vineyard, he had the hots for Ma. Went to Piraeus, nearly got kidnapped but that’s another story lol. Fantastic time.

    Reply
  13. Yes, Athens to London in summer of 1982; me aged 16, brother aged 13. Yugoslavia went on forever. The right hand side suspension of the K-Sentra bus went on Day 1 and the next 3 days we drove with a tilt. Bus helper/monitor English fellow named Dominic, did his best but clueless. Caribinieri in Italy took sadistic pleasure in turning everyone out of the bus and tearing into passengers possessions at the side of the road.

    Reply
  14. Yes, Athens to New Delhi Fall of 1977. A crew of 7 people from Manchester put the bus together for the trip. I tuned 20 in Kabul. Lots of great memories! Wonderful people, places, food, hash etc…
    Best way to see the world. Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India

    Reply
  15. Hello guys. So my dad Alan and my uncle John both involved with Magic Bus and drove many trips across Europe and beyond. Myself and my brother and sisters went along on many trips and remember the trip Joan Hicks mentioned when my dad had a kidney stone. I’ve even been considering starting doing some trips myself. I guess buses are in my blood. Great hearing about everyone’s stories and adventures.

    Reply
  16. Yes, I went on a magic bus from Charring Cross to Delhi in August 1977. The Bus was driven by George Oughton who knew the way to do things and all the good places to stop. The magic started when we all had to get off the bus to bump start it off the ferry at Ostende. Though a bunch of us got of at Kabul to sample the delights of the region. I understand that the old cream and blue Duple bus made it to Amritsa before giving up. There were several breakdowns along the way. It is only now that I realise what a hero he was and how he made the voyage so special.

    Reply
    • Hi Tim,
      I went on a magic bus from London to Delhi in 1977, my memory is vague but I’m writing a memoir and can’t remember much about it but I would love to. I don’t even know if I was on the same bus,? my name is Watson yes that’s my first name I was from the Northeast of England , Was only 21 I had long blonde curly hair, some people said I resembled Robert plant (led Zeppelin) if you can recall anyone fitting my description I would love to hear from you to discuss this trip
      Cheers Watson Gartry

      Reply
  17. We did the Amsterdam trip in the early 1980s. There were other people we knew on the bus who may remember us. On the way there, when we got to the border, the bus was boarded by police who handcuffed and arrested the guy sitting next to us. They then dragged him off the bus … no more was said … and we went on our way! In Amsterdam, we stayed at a small, family run hotel, which we thought uncannily like Fawlty Towers, right down to the proprietor who was just like Basil! When we looked in the guest book – we saw that other guests had made similar comments. We had a great time in Amsterdam and still have very fond memories of that time.

    Reply
  18. Yes, I went from Amsterdam to Athens with a bus driver named Diego and the on amother Magic bus from Athens to Delhi( via Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan)
    I wrote a book about it which is on Amazon called “Along the way to Utopia” for those of you that made this trip, it’s a real short paperback then you’ll be able to relate to.

    Reply
    • Hi Scott, I got on a bus in Athens in March of 1975 and got off in Srinagar 6 or 7 weeks later. On entering the Kyber pass the signs in about a dozen languages with the words in English, “DO NOT PASS HERE AT NIGHT” really shook me. Also having to get off the bus on the way up to Srinigar because the road was partially washed out and driver had to move very carefully to avoid tumbling bus and all into the abyss. Still etched in my memories all these years later. I will get a copy of your book. Regards, Don

      Reply
  19. We travelled from Camden to Athens back in 1976 or 1977. Two drivers shared the driving. One very posh guy held us up a bit as he got drunk and they wouldn’t allow him to get back on the bus. We waited ages until his friend cajoled him and the drivers to calm down. I think there was only one road then. One stretch was along the coast with steep drop on one side. I slept like a baby but my partner /later husband /later divorced was white knuckles all the way. On the way back the police boarded the bus in Yugoslavia and took off a Libyan guy. Always wondered why and what happened to him. Did anyone stay in Johns Place – a hostel in Athens.

    Reply
  20. I went, when it was reaching the end. I was 15 years old. (1981) I went from London to Athens. When we got to the Greek border everyone asked me to carry their extra bags – I didn’t realise I was smuggling .. then caught a ferry to Crete, but first I had to have an argument in the shipping office because they said my voucher wasn’t valid, I sat down on the floor and refused to move. The bus took a different route on the way back. Going to Otranto and up through Italy. I didn’t have any money on the way back so I used to eat the left overs… Can’t believe I did all that now!

    Reply
  21. I went from Athens to Amsterdam in 1977 3 days . In Yugoslavia the driver bribed the guards with bottles of vodka for a swift pass . Crossing into Germany a German guy beside me was arrested for dodgeing military service . The driver also stopped in a remote area to allow us to pee etc .The rush to relief was some sight total abandoment .The driver was falling asleep at the wheel so the rep asked an old Greek man to sit beside him to keep him awake . A lively trip to say the least .

    Reply

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