Meganuts (n.) – two adults stupid enough to take the Megabus roundtrip from Philly to New York.
Yes, it was the least expensive option (short of thumbing for a ride) for my sister-in-law and I to get from Philadelphia to New York. As seems to be an emerging pattern with my travel, the trip to my destination was fine. The bus was on time and at the appointed location. It was a double-decker bus, air-conditioned, with luggage storage for those who needed it. We ensconced ourselves on the upper deck and settled in with our breakfast – mini-croissants I had lavishly smeared with cream cheese and topped with smoked salmon. Not bad for a bus ride snack. Dunkin Donuts coffee and water, plus an assortment of Pepperidge Farm cookies, and we were on our way. Being sleep deprived after having catered an alumni event for 65 people the day before, I looked upon the bus ride as an opportunity to catch up on some well-needed rest. The New Jersey Turnpike is not a tour de force of breathtaking scenery, so the nap option was optimal.
I woke up just in time to see planes landing and taking off from Newark Airport. We breezed in to NYC and were dropped off in midtown. So far, so good. After a splendid day at the Neue Galerie and The Metropolitan Museum of Art we headed to my uncle’s restaurant in Greenwich Village. There’s nothing better than take-out from New York, via bus, to Philly. So, after wrangling a cab during rush hour we made our way to 8th Avenue and 31st Street to catch the bus home. This is where the fun kicked in.
As we waited with the masses for “the bus to Philly” we were interwoven with the masses for “the bus to Albany” and “the bus to Washington, D.C.” Overhearing several conversations, we came to understand that the 5:40 p.m. bus to Philly was late. It was 6:15 p.m., and we were scheduled to be on the 6:30 p.m. bus to Philly. I started to get that dark pit in my stomach, the one which says “we’re not getting home any time near when we expected to arrive.” As luck (luck being a relative term in these situations) would have it, we were squeezed on the 5:40 p.m. bus. Squeezed is an understatement – no lovely two seat option, but five sorry souls spread out along the back of the bus. To the far left was a young woman with the cutest Chihuahua peeking out of her purse. His name was Chewy. He was the bright spot in an otherwise hellacious ride. Next to her was a young man, then my sister-in-law, then me, then a man watching a Nicholas Cage movie on his laptop. I had not been sitting for ten minutes when I realized that my circulation was going to be compromised and that deep vein thrombosis and possible death from blood clots would ensue. As we inched our way out of the city the only option was to assume the “fake sleep” mode, since opening a magazine would have meant compromising the space of those to the right and left of me.
At one point we were told the bus had to stop to pick up our “original” driver, who was left off (somewhere near Newark) because he had driven too long and “needed a rest.” My mind was racing – if this chap was so tired, why did they think that a 30 minute rest period was going to perk him up? My reserves were spent, so my only hope was that he could handle the straight drive south on the New Jersey Turnpike. As we entered South Jersey we stopped one more time to change drivers. This, however, was unsuccessful. The new driver never made it out to the bus, so our now severely exhausted driver had to haul us to our destination in Philly. At this point I’ll sum it up as follows: legs numb, body stiff, ass sore, need to pee, and just want to get home.
Yes, we made it home. Next time, Amtrak. Worth every penny.
A word of advice – Megabus – need to be young and not know any better. Helps tremendously. But hey, what did we expect for $22 round trip?