NEW YORK-PHILADELPHIA-AMISH-WASHINGTON DC-NEW YORK BUS TOUR
Hello Family! Was thinking of starting my travel journeys here and sharing facts and fun elements of different places that I travelled till date. But arranging all the facts and then writing and proof reading and then arranging related pics scared me and as I do all these things myself so being a Lazy Me , it took me quite some time I guess.
Today I have a little story to share about my most favourite bus ride crossing cities. I thought of starting with this one tour as it would be easier this way. In the year 2017, I went to USA with my son and husband to meet my cousins and to explore the country too for a span of 2 months. I am a person who loves bus, car and train rides as it gives some quality time to love the journey. So we were in New York and we booked a 2 days bus tour starting from New Jersey – Princeton University – Pennsylvania – Philadelphia – Amish Village – Maryland – Washington DC – New Jersey. Yes a lot of cities to cover that too just in 2 days, and yes I was pretty much in doubt too about the bus tour but surprisingly it turned out to be the most memorable one that promised to top the list of best journeys in my life.
We booked with Tours4Fun tour company referred by our friends staying there in USA and it was one of a kind and a great experience indeed. It costed us 76 USD per head and we were 2 adults and 1 child aged 9years. The 3rd ticket we got free, the food accommodation was on sharing basis for the kid and we were not charged anything extra. This package included all sight seeing and meals required as per itinerary everywhere. Yes there were things to be done too which were to be paid extra. They gave us a Chinese Guide as the service provider was a Chinese Company, but the service we got was top notch indeed. If possible I would definitely go for more tours booking through them. They cater tours for Yellowstone, Yesomite, Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Canada, Law Vegas, Low Angeles and cover many more places. There are several tours arranged depending on the number of days and nights needed to cover particular places and the charges are fixed on that. Attaching the link of the Website so that it could come handy. Click Here
So early morning we went to bus stop from where the journey was supposed to begin. We got our bus number along with the seats and after loading the luggage, our bus started moving. Many other bus members were picked up from few other locations. Surprisingly there were another Indian Family in the bus thankfully and we bonded really well. My son and the kid from the other Indian Family were of same age so they became best of friends within hours and in fact they became inseparable. They got an extra seat for their little daughter. They were so kind hearted that they offered my son that seat so that the kids can sit together and enjoy their ride. Practically we got the last seat at the back of the bus as that was the only one with three seats and as we were 3 people so we were given that and I wasn’t really disappointed at all as I love that. The bus ride was really smooth and honestly I didn’t feel whether I was in a bus or something else. There was a washroom inside the bus for emergencies but no one used it as the bus did stop many times on the road giving ample chances for everyone to use washrooms at petrol stations and restaurants.
I was enjoying the view while the bus set it’s course towards their first destination. When the bus was meandering through the countryside, the scenery around was that of luscious greenery and most importantly, the outskirts and country sides are devoid of any high rises. I was in love with the little hut type of cottages with little green garden surrounding it with a slide to play or a pool to swim or just green carpet of grass with a barbeque grill covered with a black cover and sitting planks beside the cottages. From outside at least the feeling of simple living really mesmerized me.
Our first stop was Princeton University, an institution of heritage and pride. We had a Chinese Guide as the bus tour was of a Chinese Company. Her name was Zen. She used both the languages – English and Chinese – to interact as there were Chinese members too in the bus. Other than two Indian Family, there were families from Bangladesh, China, Germany, Spain and Middle East too. So it was a mixed batch. Anyway, Zen discussed about Princeton University and asked us to roam about as we have an hour in hand. After roaming, we went to the nearby Starbucks and that was my first experience of drinking Starbucks Coffee. It was fun standing in a queue to wait for my turn to grab a Frappuccino.
After that we left for our next destination, which was Philadelphia. It was a beautiful city with so much greenery all around. All the houses were well architected and there was an old world charm to the city. The city housed the famous Liberty Bell. Zen added her two cents about the place, the ancient stories and all. We saw the original Bell which used to hang above the monument but now preserved downstairs as it needed proper maintenance. I love history and to hear the stories of so many wars and treaties that place held, well it was quite an experience. We had our lunch there only at our own expense as that was not included in our itinerary.
After an hour we left the city for the next stop —- Amish Village. Amish Village will always maintain a very sacred place in my heart forever. While reaching the place, the scenery outside the bus totally changed. It was not only green but acres of fields that were farmed started popping up one after another. So basically, we landed in a village, which is not only rich in culture but leads a very different life than all of us. Thankfully due to Amish Village we got to experience why people go gaga about cherry blossoms. Beside roads or in front of a house, from small to huge cherry blossom trees blossoming in their full glory. While we were moving slowly on the roads amidst Amish Village, my earphones kept me grounded with beautiful melody which justified the beauty outside.
Our bus came to a stop finally. We all went down to a house that the organisation kept to show “The Life of an Amish Villager”. Well Surprise Surprise —- they don’t use electricity in the Amish Village. They live an organic life. They don’t use luxurious things to live a life. They wear old type of dresses from kids to adults to old people. They are allowed to marry in between Amish Families. This village started with 8 families which now thrived to more than a population of 30000 in total. In the house tour, we saw how they cook, how they sew their dresses, that dresses of a girl and a woman differs, the coffin, the various ways they live a grounded life without fan or aircondition or television or phone. Then we went to a shop near to the place where we collected souvenirs. This place catered freshly homebaked bagels, cookies, doughnuts, cakes, pretzels and jams and root beer and what not. I never tasted such an amazingly tasty pie cookie. It was melting in mouth and also rich with fresh cream and the smell was to die for indeed.
We had our dinner, well I can say a too much early dinner at 5.30pm there only. When I heard about having dinner at 5.30pm, I was shell shocked honestly as we used to dine at around 10pm. But due to the lifestyle in the village in Amish, they used to have early dinner at 5.30pm. The food when I tasted was excellent and it felt light on the tummy too in spite of being pretty much whole. There were fried chicken and baked fish with buttered vegetables, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, homemade bread and homemade butter and Apple jam along with freshly made lemonade. It’s almost a year now but I can still remember the taste on my tongue like it was yesterday only. And surprisingly I was pretty much full the whole night after that.
I was feeling complete and enjoying energised and fresh when we were leaving the place for our night halt at Hotel Sheraton at Maryland which is just outside Washington DC. The tour back to the Hotel at Maryland was very much peaceful. Looking outside at the road and passing cars and lush countryside, I didn’t realise when I dozed off. My husband woke me up when we reached the Hotel. We got our room keys and our luggage was given and our guide gave us instructions that we are now free to do anything we want and she will see us in the Hotel lobby the next day at 7am sharp with our breakfast boxes.
Going to our room, I jumped on my side of the bed amidst a set of pillows. Of course my son became hungry at around 9pm and we thought to explore the nearby place for some food. The good hotel manager guided us to go and buy burgers from Burger King which was opposite the Hotel instead of buying peanuts and dry fruits from the hotel lobby. By the way, we realised, to reach the opposite of the hotel, we had to walk a lot actually. Son was at the Hotel room. Honestly, at just 9pm, the area became so silent with hardly anyone on the street, that I got a bit scared. Anyway we bought the set of burgers and went back making the kid happy with some toys. Meanwhile the other Indian Family was in the other room on the same floor so my baby went there and had some fun time with the kids.
After a peaceful sleep at night, we left for Washington DC at around 7 in the morning. There was a rally going on then against President Trump in front of the Capitol Hill. When we reached DC, our first location was White House. Well it was a different experience as we didn’t see what we expected. We are used to watching the white dome shaped building as the White House in movies but here we saw nothing like that and a white building with many huge windows and a balcony and our guide said that to be White House and it was shown from afar a spot. Anyway we of course took pictures and also posed with some rally people there.
From there we walked past many gardens and then reached Lincoln Memorial. It was a huge monument with Lincoln sitting on a huge chair and just in front of it in a straight line lies the George Washington Tower and behind that was the Capitol Hill. After taking pictures and absorbing so much of history, we crossed the gardens and statues of several soldiers who sacrificed their lives in world wars and moved towards The Capitol Hill. Actually in that area, there were many buildings to explore. There were two museums, The Capitol Hill and the Aeronautical Space Museum. As the gates opened, we entered the Museum and it was huge and fun for kids especially. There were huge models of aircrafts from ancient times when the Wright Brothers first invented them till today’s modern aircrafts. Then there were rockets which went to the space and landed on moon. There were science labs and rooms full of artefacts of ancient era which were related to science. We completed most of the rooms. I had a special type of icecream, Dipping Dots, which was fun to eat as they were mini spheres of icecream which melted in mouth once put inside.
Then came The Capitol Hill, the white dome shaped Building spread across acres of green gardens and fountains and huge trees. We were indeed very much excited with it. Of course took many pictures. The whole area was full of energy and completely pumped up due to the rally. There were reporters, journalists with cameramen, various kinds of people dressed in different attire representing their thoughts for the rally, huge balloons, men women kids adults all participating in their own ways with placards in their hands. The energy was infectious there. And all the people were so so lively and courteous and friendly. We didn’t have much time left to explore the inside of Capitol Hill and moreover due to the rally, the entry inside was stopped for a while too. So we went back to our bus to go to our next stop. Our next stop was the Potomac River Cruise. We boarded a big vessel/launch and cruised over the Potomac River. It was such an exhilarating experience altogether. We saw aeroplanes taking off from the runway which was beside the river and it was quite a site. And there at the very end on the other side of the river, was Pentagon. After this experience we went back to our bus and headed towards the Seafood Buffet Joint to have our lunch. And it was quite a spread indeed with what nots in the table to try from. And as I love buffets, I just like a little kid, hopped around from one joint to another with a plate trying out sushi, lobster, sausages, salmon, tilapia, squid, clams and the list goes on and on. There were many desserts too but alas the time was too short to eat so much.
After that we freshened up in the washrooms and boarded back our bus to finish the last leg of the journey,i.e., going back to New Jersey from where it started. I interacted with many in the bus, I laughed, smiled, slept, screamed at awe and enjoyed the 2 day trip to the T. The experience was very much fresh and exhilarating with such amazing guidance. Every arrangements was spot on.
I didn’t sleep while returning as I knew I won’t get to relive that moment again. I wanted to absorb as much as possible. I didn’t blink my eyes as I didn’t want to miss out any of the parts of such beauty outside which was then looked like twinkling stars at nightfall. While returning the bus went through the city of Old New York, crossing Central Park, Chinese Market, Brooklyn Bridge and finally Manhattan where we dropped off to take our cab for our hotel. I would definitely recommend this tour company to those who wish to travel all the places in USA in a budget. Actually this tour company caters all types of tours for all classes, whether it’s a budget one or a luxurious high end one. To all those Girl Gangs, try them as this will be full of fun that too with proper safety. To everyone with kids, it’s an ideal tour company to try out. I would rate 4.5/5 to them.
The whole experience was something very different than what I have always experienced in India from childhood in bus tours. The greenery and the little cottages, the paddy fields and the organic food, the luxury and the earthy lifestyles and the smooth roads along with great company and occasional cherry blossoms —– all these made we wish to go there again to relive the memories that are brandished in my heart and soul for eternities!!!
Will be back soon with more interesting Travel & Food Diaries!!! Stay tuned!!