By Leva levitra
Thursday May 23, 2013 | May 2013 Issue
The holiday season is rapidly approaching, yet again, and many of us are on the prowl for the hottest gifts, best deals, and of course the most enjoyable cocktail parties of the year. Although DC offers its fair share of holiday shopping cheer and entertainment many of us seek bigger and better things in New York City. Maybe you want to get away to the Big Apple to visit friends or family for the holidays, or perhaps to attend the November 17th Caps v. Rangers game, a great sale at Bergdorf Goodman or a secret soirée with a nighttime talk show host. Regardless of your motivation, the trek to Manhattan may not be as difficult as you think.
As most Washingtonians have experienced, the 235-mile travel distance between D.C. and New York City has become a point of complete frustration. Not only is it time consuming, but pricey as well. However, a previously rather “un-cool” option that has been around for decades has recently gotten a “facelift” as an industry and become one of the most convenient and affordable choices for college kids, weekend travelers, shopaholics, and business professionals alike.
I’m talking about the bus. That’s right, the bus. Do your best to ignore the horror stories you have heard about the “Chinatown Bus” of years ago and forget your childhood traumas to bear with me, I too had to be convinced at first. Recently, at the last minute, we received a “can’t miss” invitation to New York City from a couple of friends. We did a quick search of our options and found that we only had two options for less than $250 each roundtrip, drive or take the bus. Having driven before, we were aware that the traffic, tolls, and parking make driving not convenient or enjoyable, and hardly cost-effective at a little over $100 roundtrip. Since we had heard good bus experiences from some of our friends, and considering that each roundtrip ticket came in at only $35-60, depending on how luxuriously we wanted to travel, we figured we would throw caution to the wind and give it a shot.
We purchased online tickets on Friday night for a 9:00AM Saturday departure and paid about $75 total for two roundtrip tickets. We found our bus waiting at the Grand Hyatt downtown the next morning and boarded the bus painlessly with no security lines or luggage restrictions. We simply tossed our bag in the bottom of the bus and climbed on board where we were greeted by a friendly driver, a clean bus and, much to my surprise, other normal-looking people. The bus had a lively atmosphere as people were settling in for the ride, plugging in laptops and iPods, and taking advantage of the free WIFI on board. Upon our on-time departure the bus was about ¾ full and comfortable. I thought to myself, “So far so good…now if they just had a bar!”
The ride up to New York City was uneventful and we had arrived before I knew it. With the ability to be constantly connected, unlike an airplane, I was able to forget about the ride by sending a couple of emails and catching up on two weeks of Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives on my laptop. We did get lucky in that the only traffic we encountered was the usual mess just outside of Manhattan at the Lincoln Tunnel, but we were delighted when our driver was able to avoid the entire back-up by applying his knowledge of the local roads and taking an exit that put us right at the toll plaza. This was the point when I decided I may never drive to New York City again.
We pulled up to NYC Penn Station about five minutes behind schedule, which was no delay when compared to my previous experiences on the plane, train, or even my own driving. In addition, we were not as tired or irritated as other times we had come to New York, and we were in Manhattan well before cocktail hour, relaxed and ready to hit the city! After an eventful 26 hours in Manhattan, our 3:00PM return trip was equally as pleasant, even on a completely packed bus.
Taking the bus provides many tangible benefits. One of the greatest advantages of the bus over the plane or train is that the fares remain affordable 3 weeks or 3 minutes before you plan to travel. The bus also provides varying pick-up and drop-off locations in both DC and New York City. Washingtonians can easily board busses in Chinatown, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Union Station and even Rosslyn, Bethesda and other suburbs of Washington, DC. Simply stated, the ease and affordability of the bus make getting to Manhattan almost painless, like the good old days of the affordable and hassle free DC to NYC air-shuttle. For additional East Coast travel for shopping, shows, or weekend get-a-ways you can also find comparable busses heading to Philadelphia and Boston.
For the best experience I recommend researching the bus that is right for you. Different busses offer different amenities with options such as free WIFI, bottled water, individual power outlets, or more luxurious seats with extra legroom. There is not necessarily a direct correlation between price and quality so be sure to choose wisely. Some of the busses recommended by my friends and colleagues include BoltBus, Tripper Bus, and Vamoose Gold.
Next time you wake up on a Saturday and find yourself with nothing to do, hop on the bus and you could be having a beer at Tavern on the Green by lunchtime!
Michael is an associate at Arth Capitol Consulting in Old Town Alexandria.
|< Prev||Next >|