Perhaps you recall my botched train trip between Boston and New York a month and a half ago, when I moved here for the summer--getting stuck in Rhode Island, finally rolling in to Penn Station at about midnight, the evening before my first day of work at DISCOVER. Well, you'd think that'd be just about enough, but then I decided to leave the city on the 4th of July weekend. Yeah.
If you don't live up here, you are perhaps not aware that Boston, NYC, Philly and many of the other cities in the area are connected by relatively inexpensive buses that leave at all hours of the day. Many of these depart from their city's respective Chinatown and have something less than a sterling reputation for reliability. Still, I had a good experience my first time -- in early May, when I came down from Boston to inspect the apartment I now inhabit. Of course, it had not occurred to me that my first trip occurred on weekdays, and not only was this on a weekend, it was Independence Day weekend. Yeah. Well, Rob, Raphaele and I trekked down to NYC's ugly, foul-smelling Chinatown to attempt to board our bus, and... that's about as far as it got. Because of all the traffic leaving the city, and because the bus organizations are poorly run and possibly corrupt, they were impossibly behind. The already-narrow sidewalks were packed shoulder-to-shoulder with college students and the otherwise impoverished trying to get the hell out. Bus after bus came through, and I shoved with and back at the swell of humanity trying to force its way on, only to find out that bus was nonstop to DC. After about three similarly unsuccessful attempts, we gave up. The fucking tickets were only $10 anyway.
Before going back to Brooklyn and staying for the weekend, I induced my two cotravelers to head to Penn Station with me, just on the off chance that one of the other bus companies that runs from there would have a few empty seats. They did, as they were already packed. Finally we reached the Grand Street station to board the D for 34th St...and somebody pulls the emergency brake. So for 10 more minutes we sit, sweating, wondering if the universe would like to keep us and Philadelphia apart.
Not so. We made it Penn Station, only to find out we had no idea where the bus companies were, as they had no offices in the actual train station. We asked one of New York's finest, who had a Caribbean accent and spoke no English. After muttering something, perhaps that he had no idea what we were talking about, he points and says there's a bus around the corner. Sure enough, there was the Megabus loading station. The last bus to Philly had a handful of empty seats; the owner brought out a credit card machine, and we swiped. Two hours and forty minutes, $12 each, and several headaches and sore muscles from hauling luggage, we were actually going to Philadelphia.
The trip itself was actually much less eventful, which was kind of nice. We watched "Anchorman" and "The West Wing" and drank far too many beers. We walked historic old town and John told us all the ghost legends. As I had earlier promised, I delivered a rousing rendition of President Bill Pullman's speech from "Independence Day." Really, you should've been there for that.