All posts by mikesgreatjob

Traveling is the new orientation

I am a traveler through and through. I am German, was in exchange in Paris, spent half a year working in South Africa, strolled through Buenos Aires, hitchhiked from Munich to Istanbul, studied in Switzerland and now live in New York. Being in another country is pure energy for me. All my sensations double in intensity, I am incredibly aware of my surroundings, everything is exciting. In short – it is a huge, super long flash.

I always knew that I would take a gap year after graduation. Actually, it was my second one as I had already taken time out after finishing highschool. After all: When would I again have time in my life to do only what I want for extended periods of time? It is simply great to have more than a couple of days to explore another country. It gives you the opportunity to experience the small
things that differ, but also to see the little habits, dreams, wishes that people share around the world regardless of background and nationality.

But what about your career you might ask? What about an employer that interprets traveling around as laziness and lack of ambition? Well, McKinsey (the European equivalent to Deloitte) didn’t seem to mind when I interviewed with them. Actually, I even heavily draw on the experiences I made while traveling. After all – what better way to showcase an international mindset, cultural awareness and the ability to adapt to a broad variety of different circumstances? But my biggest learnings were on a very personal level. Because yes – there are the odd stories about the really creepy Turkish truck driver, walking around in the maze-like alleyways of Zanzibar by night during a power cut or waking up in a broken down public bus in the middle of a highway somewhere between Punta del Este and Montevideo because you were curing your hangover and didn’t hear all the other passengers deboarding. Those things are not only great stories – well, at least looking back… – but also teach you to fully appreciate having good friends at your side that have your back. Life comes to you with adventures you wouldn’t even have dreamed of if you just let it happen. During my time at McKinsey I had coffee with someone who by chance connected me with the people I ended up working for in South Africa. Being in Johannesburg, I met a bunch of people I am now I touch with in New York.

You might say – well, she is from Germany, people take gap year over there. But so can you! If other friends don’t, be the first. But actually I am pretty sure that as soon as you start being more aware about who actually is traveling, you will discover tons of people that rave about the adventures they had or those they are planning. Believe me, you would be surprised.

I would be lying if I said that I always have the confidence or trust that things will work out. I had big dips worrying about how my life might look like in the future, whether that was after high school, graduation, you name it. But if you stay alert and do what you love, then, in my experience, there is only so much that can happen to you. And traveling, well traveling gives you the opportunity like nothing else in the world to learn exactly that: Have faith in life and enjoy the moment.

Viola currently lives and works for Bus2alps in New York City. She took 2 gap years, one through Europe and another in Johannesburg. Taking a gap year enhanced her life and her future. If you want to join Viola, you can send her an e-mail to pick her brain at, or check out these great post-grad trips

Bus2alps’ Amalfi Coast named Europe’s #1 Tour of 2012

Bus2alps is still the king of student travel! Earlier today TourRadar named Bus2alps’ Amalfi Coast trip the Most Amazing Tour in Europe 2012. We couldn’t have done it without our trusted partners, the hardworking Bus2alps staff and of course you, our valued guests, who make this trip an unbelievable experience every time.

Check out the reviews that helped us maintain the title of Europe’s premiere student travel company.

group on boat in positano bus2alps. positano

The Bus2alps Getaway Giveaway – Win up to 1000 euro towards a Bus2alps trip

Picture yourself tanning on a black sand beach in the isles of Greece; the breeze is warm and the water is a cool aquamarine, and the piña colada you hold in your hand tastes like heaven. How about feeling the chill in the air as you shred down the Alps on a perfect Pow day with Swiss beer for the après  ski?  Last time we checked, goggle tans were a sign of pride. Now, stop day dreaming and make this a reality. It is that easy to win up to 1000 Euro in Bus2alps cash to put towards the experience of your youth, and maybe even your lifetime.

Wednesday, September 12th kicks off the Bus2alps Great Trip Giveaway Sweepstakes. Three times a week, for the next three weeks, we will be giving away up to 1000 Euro towards any of Bus2alp’s amazing experiences. All you need to do is connect with Bus2alps on Facebook (which you should do anyway so we can all share our travel stories), and you are automatically entered to win! 1000 Euro and being Facebook buddies with us? Now that sounds like an experience.Contest Rules:

  • One entry per person
  • Once entered, you are eligible to win all prizes
  • Entry is made by “Liking” the Bus2alps page through our Sweepstakes application
  • Prizes will be awarded on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • The Sweepstakes starts on Wednesday September 12th, with the first prize giveaway on Friday September 14th
  • Prize values will range from 50 Euro to 1000 Euro
  • Prizes can be applied to all Bus2alps weekend trips, European Spring Break trips, Fall Break trips, and Summer Break trips
  • Prize can only be claimed by the winner and is non-transferable or redeemable for cash
  • Share with your friends, get them involved, and win more prizes together

Enter and win now!

Time to be Spanish

By: Tom DeFeo

Your officially in Spain, it’s time to start acting like a Spaniard. Stop being such a noob and learn everything you need to know about tapas.

You’ve heard of them before in Spanish class. You see the word written on all the signs outside all the city’s unassuming cafes, but what are they? where do they come from? What’s the deal with tapas? The origins of tapas has long been contested, ranging from those of legend, having said to be the miracle cure for an ailing king, to practicality, said to have originally been a defense mechanism used to keep fruit flies out of glasses of sweet sherry but looking past its long and indistinct past one thing is certain,
tapas are delicious.

Tapas are usually consumed in bars between the end of the work day and the beginning of dinner, anywhere from 9 to 11 at night in Spain or around noon on weekends before lunch. They can range anywhere from pieces of cured chorizo on a stick to plates of traditional cheeses served with transparent fruit jelly. In Barcelona one must remember to take advantage of its coastal location and try the amazing assortment of tapas incorporating fresh seafood such as the razor clams and seafood salad at Tossa to the salmon with truffled honey and tuna dotted with fresh caviar and balsamic syrup at Quimet I Quimet.

One thing foreigners fail to comprehend are the small portions of these culinary jewels. When considering tapas it is important to realize that the food itself is only a part of a multi faceted tradition. Tapas are traditionally served in small portions similar to traditional appetizers, the reasoning behind these small serving sizes are to feed into the social aspect of the meal. The tapas themselves serve as a tool to draw a lot of people into one place to have a drink and socialize, an important aspect of any culture especially those of Mediterranean origin. The small serving sizes correlate to more time allotted to drinking and talking, providing Spaniards with their daily fix of human interaction, something that seems to be in severe jeopardy in places like the United States where the advent of social media sites like facebook has created a somewhat socially challenged generation of “indoor kids.” So get out and eat tapas, they may save your life.

Bus2alps has been nominated for the World’s Most Amazing Tour

We’ve shared some incredible experiences with all of our travel buddies who have been on a Bus2alps trip since 2003; jumped off cliffs in Amalfi, cruised the Mediterranean, scared the hell out of ourselves in Interlaken, and made our presence known on the Northern Loop.

The time has come for us to tell the world that we are the best travelers out there and that we went on the #1 tour worldwide. We are entering Tour Radar’s Most Amazing Tour Competition. This is our opportunity as Bus2alps travelers to prove that we travel the best, see the best, and do the best. For us to successfully stake our claim as #1, we will need the help of all of our travel companions.

To get started, we need to go to the Bus2alps Facebook Page and click on the Tour Reviews tab. Tour Radar will be monitoring all clicks, comments, and likes over the course of the next month to determine what tour and what travel company does it best. Pass this along to your friends who traveled with us while abroad.

Voting takes a few minutes. Bragging rights last forever.


Help us win the most amazing tour!
Leave your review or Search for your next trip
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Where should I study abroad? Florence vs. Rome

By: Anthony Manzi

Anthony studied abroad in both Florence and Rome. Below is his take and what set each city apart as a cool place to study. We would love to hear your comments and reasons for one city over the other. 

Where should I study abroad? This question has been popping into the minds of college students more frequently as the years move on. As more students are wanting, able, or even have to study abroad, there are more questions about the international world, most notably Italy. I studied abroad for two semesters in Italy, once in Rome during the spring 2010 semester and another in the Florence during the spring 2011 semester. Whenever I have a conversation about study abroad, the most common question I am asked is, “which city is better, Florence or Rome?” My usual answer is naturally that they are incomparable, these two cities have so much to offer and they are so different from each other contrary to what people may think.

City Type & Size

When I studied abroad in Rome, it was my third time out of the country and second time to Europe, but I was young when I traveled before so it was just like traveling for my first time. Rome is a big city – traveling by bus everywhere, lots of hustle & bustle, lots of locals and of course its famous sights and scenery in the city center. When it comes to Florence, it’s a smaller city – everything is in walking distance, lots of artsy fashion forward people, lots of American students, and of course like Rome, its famous sights and scenery.

City Vibe & Culture

Each city has its own vibe and culture. Florence had more of a “medieval chic” vibe and the culture was a mixture of Italian and American. Rome had a more “European modern city with ancient Roman architecture thrown in the mix” vibe and the culture is more like that of a true International city with people hailing from all ends of the earth.

One reason I picked up these vibes from each city was just from my experiences of each city, like walking around, people watching, and schooling. Rome, which boasts a huge international hub for traveling and business, is a business forward city – lots of vehicles, a subway, and while walking on one of the busiest roads in Rome you could look to the right and boom, there’s a 2,000 year old Coliseum. Florence on the other hand feels like you’re walking through a city and the year is 1499 – Medieval castles, people hanging out in the piazzas and leather, everywhere. At the same time each city has its fair share of street vendors, luxury fashion giants like (Gucci, Prada, etc.), and their own types of cuisine.


Of course these feelings of vibes and culture I picked up from each city were also mostly due to the nightlife scenes. Just along Via dei Benci, straight across from a church no less, Florence has one of the greatest bar scenes around, playing all your favorite Top40 with the occasional European hits. At some times, Florence can feel like one giant college party when everyone is in town bar hopping like it’s their jobs.

Hidden throughout the small alleys and even inside a train station, Rome has a hard hitting club scene with nothing shy of great electronic dance music with a lot of beautiful women – Italian style. Rome also has Campo dei Fiori, which is a favorite among students of all backgrounds. Rome’s clubs are very high-end and you should dress to impress if you expect to get in, unless you’re a famous soccer player, which I’m sure you will see a couple while partying it up.


When we talk about the cuisine of Italy, it’s usually some the type of food and then where it came from, for example pasta Milanese and chicken Marsala. Pasta Milanese is pasta made the way people from Milan make it and the same for chicken Marsala. In the case of Florence, they are famous for Bistecca alla Fiorentina, or Florentine steak (bet you didn’t know Florence had one of the world’s best steaks). Florence is also famous for it’s wines (thanks in part to being located in Tuscan). In Rome they are famous for Spaghetti Carbonara, which is Spaghetti with eggs, cheese, and bacon. I highly recommend both dishes! Although the food in Italy is pretty great all around, due to the sheer size of each city it was difficult for us to find great restaurants in Rome which resulted in us cooking ourselves, whereas Florence had many local favorites. In Florence and Rome there are your typical tourist- trap restaurants, serving up some of the worst “Italian” food. Of course these restaurants are near the tourist attractions such as the Duomo in Florence and la Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain). On the other hand, like most of anything of quality in Italy, you’ll have to travel off the beaten path into the tiny alley ways in order to find the best restaurants and gelato.

We encourage you to leave your comments and reasons for one city over the other. 

Bus2alps Featured in Elite Daily

Bus2alps Founder, Simon O’Keefe was featured today for his interview with the online publication, Elite Daily. In the interview, Simon was asked how he was able to grow Bus2alps from a small idea to one of the largest student travel services in Europe, and to share his advice to future entrepreneurs.

Elite Daily is toted as the voice of Generation – Y, and provides insight into a range of topics like Lifestyle, Culture, and Travel. Though Simon may be the most popular, other notable moguls recently interviewed by Elite Daily included Richard Branson and the mind behind the WWE, Vince McMahon.

Check out the story here.