A Perfect Bus Ride From Toronto To New York City
Friday, July 2, 2010
Not even the coffee shops were open as the streetcar stopped outside of Toronto’s Greyhound Bus Terminal on Bay Street. It was 6 a.m. and the streets were deserted — not just from the blockades for the G20, but mostly because Torontonians are not usually drifting the streets that early in the morning. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, it was still a hauntingly unfamiliar sight.
The bus was scheduled to leave at 6:30 a.m., so I hopped on board and was relieved to find it half full. As an optimist, I figured that this would mean a more comfortable journey, legs stretched into the aisle, head resting on my rolled-up coat as a pillow against the window. I remember taking this route two years ago, but that trip was overnight and I had arrived in Midtown Manhattan at 11 a.m., exhausted, grumpy, and unable to feel any excitement at being in New York City. On this particular morning, seeing the potential of a spacious set-up was encouraging. This is going to be perfect, I thought.
After an hour-and-a-half later we were approaching the Canada-U.S. border, the city of Buffalo rising in the horizon. Things were going smoothly: we were arriving on schedule and the bus was quiet, the riders slumbering under the sway of the bus. It was so peaceful that it bordered on serene — for a bus ride. No one made a sound as we drove through Fort Eerie.
Good fortune is fleeting — in this case an hour-and-a-half drive between Toronto and the border. Within moments of thinking about the sheer perfection of the trip, we stopped in the quarter-mile long queue to cross. After an hour in line, we finally disembarked to go through customs. There were so few of us that customs was quick and painless. Nevertheless, when re-boarding the bus, it was no longer half empty but rather half full.
Running behind schedule would not be a big deal except for the fact that we would not be making any pit-stops. I had not stocked up on treats based on the “fact” that this journey had road stops a couple of years ago. So it was that refueling on fast-food and other interstate luxuries was not going to be an option. That left bus terminal snacks as the only source of nutrition for the next 11 hours. I had foreseen this dilemma in Buffalo where I had grabbed a small bag of trail mix, a bottle of water and an apple with the unmistakable essence of post-smoked cigarettes. The perception of perfection had already shifted.
As if we were not already behind schedule, while in Syracuse we were informed that we would be making a stop in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Despite being a little annoyed at the extension of the journey, I was pleased to ride by lusciously green hills, and a large, white sign in calligraphy script that read: “Smoketown.” Watching it roll away, the theme song of “The Office” struck up in my head.
Two hours behind schedule and I could see the Manhattan skyline creeping up. The extensive and exhausting bus ride morphed into a distant memory. I pulled myself away from the window and decided to call the hostel, informing them that I was going to be late. The conversation was quick and the girl seemed laid-back about it. I thought to myself, this hostel sounds perfect.
Arriving in Port Authority, I jumped on the subway, intuitively making a transfer onto the L-train to Brooklyn. Emerging from the Morgan Avenue station I was entranced by Bushwick’s (the neighborhood in Brooklyn where the hostel was located) charm: old factory buildings, independent coffee shops and a tight sense of community. That was just the beginning to my perfect trip.
To be continued . . .
By Brit Weaver
About the Author
Toronto born and based, Brit is an avid leisure cyclist, coffee drinker and under-a-tree park-ist. She often finds herself meandering foreign cities looking for street eats to nibble, trees to climb, a patch of grass to sit on, or a small bookstore to sift through. You can find her musing life on her personal blog, TheBubblesAreDead.wordpress.com.