Ending anything is horrible. Be it donuts, a burger or a trip, the end is always painful. I deal with endings in most awkward ways (Just for reference, I cannot bring myself to say bye to people, I just vanish… I know that is the shit thing to do… am still working on that). It is only recently I have figured out how to manage them properly. So on the last day of my DC Adnanventure, I refused to be awkward about it, instead I gave myself a challenge, to enjoy and not plan a single second till I got home.
So having moved to Extended Stay America for the last day in Virginia, I had to wake up really early to get back to town. Why did I have to wake up early? Because I do not have a car and I rely on public transport. So I wake up and wait for the bus, then wait for another bus and then eventually catch the Metro in to town. This whole effort normally ends up taking about an hour and a half. Normally I am cranky making such an effort but as this was last day in town and given that my bus was at 9 PM, I had nothing better to do or at least that is what I thought.
By the time I got to Union Station, I had a voice message from my one time senior and good friend Moeed Yousuf. Moeed is not just a senior, he is also sort of a mentor to me given the severe lack of political scientists in Pakistan (By that I mean people who ACTUALLY HAVE QUALIFICATIONS LIKE A PhD and not people who have opinions on everything). Called him back and set up a time for the afternoon to see him (He is at USIP these days). Having sorted that, I still had nearly 12 hours to kill. So I started working on my paper for comparative law class that I had been delaying.
I hate saying this but there is something beautiful about working in middle of a busy place like Union Station. It is a special kind of calm where you are just typing away and the world passes you by, makes me think I am in one of those commercials… world on the move, dude on bench typing something up. Long story short ended up writing most of my paper that I had not been able to do so in months. So thank you Union Station for being an awesome place to… write a whole paper.
That leads me to a discussion on why I am totally in love with Union Station. For me trains and train stations are fascinating. They are just these massive buildings that have so much history enclosed in four walls. Millions upon millions of memories were made in these massive citadels of transportation. People come and go… some will return some will never see this place again. It has a certain amount of finality about it. Having lived in London, train stations were one my favorite places to sit and work. Waterloo is magnificent and has everything while St. Pancras station gives you the feeling that you are sitting in Paris while being in the heart of London. So when I walked in to the Union Station, I did not know I would be walking in to a building that made me feel like I was back in London. They even had a Pret A Manger!!! Plus the food court downstairs is great too. Had lunch there at this family run place where the old man was the cook and his wife was on the till. I was lugging around my back pack and suitcase while talking on the phone. The moment I ended my phone call, the old man from behind the counter advised me that I should charge my phone and that he would be happy to plug it in his shop while I ate. Without thinking twice, I gave my phone and charger and sat down to eat. It was only while I was eating I realized that this is the first meal of the day I am having and that too at 2 PM. So I took my time and enjoyed my food. Thanked the old guy for charging my phone to which he said the nicest things… “I saw that you were rushing, did not want you to rush through food so I took your phone, hope you enjoyed”… It is moments like this that I travel. The pure goodness of people still astounds me. I wanted to hug him for being this nice to me but there was a giant stove blocking my way.
After thanking the guy, asked him if I could store my luggage somewhere for a few hours. He pointed me to a luggage service within the Union Station that you can store your luggage at for a price (Most stations have such a services, especially big ones like Union Station in DC). The cost was a bit steep but well it was either that or me lugging around a bag all over town. Stored my bag and proceeded to the USIP to see Moeed.
By the time I got done from there I still had before I got to my bus. So got back to the station, started fine tuning my paper and ended up sending it just before I boarded my bus.
Now for those of you who do not know this, the bus I was taking was DC to Durham, NC. And then from Durham, NC to Atlanta, GA. … sounds simple enough? Wait for the fun bit… The total route was something like this:
- DC to Richmond, VA to Raleigh, NC to Durham, NC
It is pertinent to mention here that the bus got me to Durham, NC at 2 in the AM. Here is the thing about Durham, NC… it is tiny and at 2 AM, even their bus station is bolted shut. So by the time I got there, it was raining, below freezing and the station was shut. I, along with another idiot had to wait outside the station for the next 5 hours so we could get on the second bus. The station did not open till 6 AM… so for 4 hours we were waiting outside the bus terminal along with 3 homeless people. Being afraid to get my stuff stolen, I was up and constantly walking as if I was guarding the area. Finally station opened up and the bus arrived. The moment I got on to the bus, I took sleeping pills and knocked out just to reduce the realization the next bus was going to take like 12 hours to get back to Atlanta.
- Durham, NC to Charlotte, NC to Columbia, SC to Athens, GA to Atlanta, GA
I was knocked out for most part, only woke up when we got to Athens, GA. Kind of enjoyed seeing small town Georgia. And now I secretly want to move to a small town in a few years.
Finally after 20 hours, I got to Atlanta. The moment I got off the bus I realized that Atlanta, GA is home now. I actually missed this city that I initially hated with all my heart. I compared everything to ATL throughout my journey. In a way this trip took me up the east coast and left me at a place that is home now. It is amazing how small things like this have a deep impact on you as a person.
Next up, I am planning Adnanventure – Summer… still taking ideas on the locations I need to visit.
Lessons from Adnanventure
- There is a difference between vacations and adventures. Vacations are a break from life. I like to think my life is one big adventure and so I have these mini adventures just to mix things up a bit more. This specific Adnanventure was to be done on a budget but I was unable to do that because I stayed an extra day. Had I not done that I would have done all this in under $300. Including the extra night this whole Adnanventure cost me about $350
- I said it earlier, I will say it again. Please have a fuck up fund when you travel. This is the money that you will lose because of your geniusness. I do not care how seasoned of a traveler you are, you will make stupid mistakes that cost money so please keep a cushion for them.
- It is good to make mistakes. Adventures like this are a beautiful fun way of challenging yourself. It is under pressure when we make mistakes. Make these mistakes; do not beat yourself up for making them. Just laugh, learn and move along. When I extended my stay I booked the bus tickets again. I later realized I did not even have to book them again I could have delayed them by paying a small fee had I not been an idiot and simply had called the bus company. Secondly as I was booking my revised tickets, I was in such a hurry for no reason whatsoever that I booked my return ticket to Athens, GA instead of Atlanta, GA (-_____- YES I know!!!). I realized my mistake only an hour before I was boarding the bus, so had to extend my ticket. I made these mistakes and I feel like an idiot for making them and admitting to them. But as a result I have learned a crucial lesson that I will not forget for rest of my life… the lesson is CHILL THE FUCK OUT and double check reservations
- Always use Hotwire or Priceline to book hotels. I know you do not get the name but thing is if you are really interested and you are willing to do a bit of work, just get the location and look up similar options on Tripadvisor. You can normally match up the hotel and get more info on it before you pay.
- Lastly… MegaBus, Extended Stay America & Best Western should seriously think about sponsoring my next Adnanventure. No seriously please… in fact any hospitality firm should back me up on my next Adnanventure because well I am graduate student… we are always broke.
And thank you for reading my ramblings. It means a lot 🙂