Albert: The Legendary London to Calcutta Bus Journey

Albert: The Legendary London to Calcutta Bus Journey
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The bus service from London, England to Calcutta, India (now Kolkata) holds a place of honor as the longest bus route in the world. Operating from 1957 until 1976, this iconic service, known as the Hippie Route, provided intrepid travelers with a once-in-a-lifetime adventure spanning over 10,000 miles. At the heart of this extraordinary journey was a double-decker bus named Albert, which became synonymous with the spirit of exploration and wanderlust.

The Hippie Route and Albert's Inaugural Trip

The Hippie Route, initiated in 1957 by Albert Travel, captivated the imaginations of travelers worldwide. Albert, the iconic double-decker bus, commenced its maiden voyage from London on April 15, 1957, and reached Kolkata, India on June 5 after an epic 50-day journey. The meticulously planned route took passengers through Belgium, West Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and North Western India. Along the way, the bus made stops in enchanting cities like New Delhi, Agra, Allahabad, and Banaras.

Amenities and Comforts of Albert

Albert was no ordinary bus; it was a self-contained traveling paradise. Passengers enjoyed a host of amenities to ensure their comfort during the arduous journey. The bus boasted separate sleeping bunks, reading facilities, and fan-operated heaters. A fully equipped kitchen catered to the culinary needs of travelers, while an upper deck observation lounge offered breathtaking views of the diverse landscapes along the route. The bus even had a radio and music system to keep passengers entertained during parties and social gatherings.

Unforgettable Experiences on the Hippie Route

The London to Calcutta bus journey was more than just transportation; it was an immersive tour of fascinating destinations. Passengers had the opportunity to explore historic sites such as Banaras and the magnificent Taj Mahal in Agra. The route also included shopping stops in Tehran, Salzburg, Kabul, Istanbul, and Vienna, where travelers could immerse themselves in local cultures and purchase unique souvenirs. The Hippie Route truly offered a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience.

The Transformation of Albert

After serving for several years, Albert met with an unfortunate accident that rendered it inoperable. However, a British traveler named Andy Stewart stepped in and purchased the bus, embarking on a remarkable journey of its own. The double-decker bus was transformed into a mobile home, and its new chapter began with a trip from Sydney to London via India on October 8, 1968. This leg of the journey, operated by Albert Tours, took approximately 132 days to complete and captivated the imagination of travelers once again.

The Legacy of Albert

Albert Tours, a company based in England and Australia, continued to operate the London to Calcutta and London to Sydney routes, offering adventurers an unforgettable travel experience. However, the service was ultimately discontinued in 1976 due to challenges arising from issues in Iran and escalating tensions between Pakistan and India. Despite its end, Albert and the Hippie Route left an indelible mark on transportation history, embodying the spirit of adventure and wanderlust that captivated travelers during that era.

The bus journey remains a legendary chapter in travel history. This extraordinary expedition, spanning over 10,000 miles and encompassing diverse cultures and breathtaking landscapes, provided travelers with an unparalleled adventure. Although the service may no longer be available, Albert's legacy lives on, reminding us of the indomitable human spirit and the pursuit of exploration that continues to inspire us today.