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Originally published Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 7:01 PM

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From Berlin to Tahiti, readers share bus stories

Count on well-traveled Seattle Times readers to come up with some good tales about seeing the world from the window of a bus. Recalling some of my...

Seattle Times travel writer

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My bus story...... we were on the notorious Bus #64 in Rome which takes you and a... MORE

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Count on well-traveled Seattle Times readers to come up with some good tales about seeing the world from the window of a bus.

Recalling some of my experiences riding buses everywhere from Mexico to Turkey, Albania and China, I asked readers to share their stories.

Laurie Reeve, of Port Angeles, recalled climbing aboard a city bus in Berlin shortly after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.

"I wondered how I was going to get to Checkpoint Charlie," she wrote in an email. (Checkpoint Charlie was a well-known crossing point between the former East and West Berlin).

"I spoke no German and wasn't even sure if this bus went that way. I decided to just announce what I wanted and hope for the best. As soon as I spoke the words 'Checkpoint Charlie?' people's faces lit up, and two of them attempted to explain to me, in German, where to get off.

"When they realized I didn't understand, they signaled me to wait. As we approached Potsdamer Platz, people began to smile and indicate that this is where I should get off. I did, but then looked around, a bit lost as to where to go from there. I looked back at the bus as it drove off, and everyone on board was clustered at the windows pointing the way for me.

"As I approached the now-unmanned checkpoint I could hear rhythmic pounding sounds, and as I got closer I could see all kinds of people with hammers knocking down the wall."

Riding 'Le Truck'

Thomas Piasecki, of Edmonds, remembered riding a local bus called "Le Truck" around Papeete, Tahiti.

"Le Truck took me all over the island for just a few French francs. They were trucks; flatbeds with a canvas cover and wooden bench seats running the length of the bed. You sat facing your fellow passengers," he recalled.

"I hopped on and tried (saying) ' Iaorana' (greetings), and was met with smiles and curiosity as to my destination. Back came advice on better places to see and eat. What fun! You just can't beat local buses for local color."

Job offer

A 12-hour bus ride in Australia last month netted a new job for Ken Pietraniec, of Olympia.

"I sat next to a woman living in Sydney who was planning to retire soon and return to France, where she was born," he recalled. "As I explained that I was traveling around Australia painting houses in exchange for room and board, she told me that the house she was returning to in France would need to be painted."

"I now have a house painting job outside of Paris next year."

Roadside snack

When Earl Davis, of Sequim, peels an orange, he recalls a 1997 bus trip on the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece.

"After doing some business in Nafplion, we were told by some local colleagues we should spend the weekend in Monemvasia on the southern tip of the peninsula. It sounded like a good idea, so after spending (the day) in Sparta, we took the bus (there) the next day.

"The route went along narrow country roads that ran through orange groves ripe with fruit. Along the way, the driver stopped next to an orange tree, opened his window and picked three oranges for himself. He proceeded to drive on while peeling and eating an orange. I can still smell the sweet aroma of that fresh orange as it wafted back through the bus. "

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About Travel Wise

Travel Wise is aimed at helping people travel smart, especially independent travelers seeking good value. Drawing on her own experiences and readers', Carol Pucci covers everything from the best resources to how to tap into the local culture. Her column runs each Sunday in the Travel section.

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