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getting places

May 13, 2010

I just traveled by bus to and from Weehawken, just through the Lincoln Tunnel in NJ. While I got there just fine, it took some doing, as there were no useful signs or brochures about NJ Transit in the Port Authority terminal. Although I had fairly useful directions from the person I was meeting, they were not as detailed as I needed. You have to buy your ticket before you board, and there are many lines that I could have taken. There are also zones and different prices depending on how many zones you were crossing. My ticket was “interstate” instead of local. Basically, I had to find the ticket booths with actual people in them. Then I discovered that although the tickets have a specific line printed on them, the drivers really don’t care as long as you hand them a piece of paper.

The whole experience reminded me of my trip to Amalfi a few years ago. I was visiting Italy for a summer program, and I decided to stop in Rome for a few days before the program started. Then I took a train to the next town over, and a bus to the hotel. It was going swimmingly until I got on the bus. I didn’t speak Italian, and the people there didn’t speak English. All I knew was the name of the hotel. A nice man saw me with my ridiculously large suitcase, and somehow we communicated enough so that he could help me. He ended up pulling the cord for me so the bus stopped at the right place, which happened to be right across the street from the hotel. It was an adventure in travel that summer. When I think back to that trip, I am amazed at myself for wandering Rome alone and figuring out how to navigate the Italian train system with only a handful of Italian phrases in my vocabulary.

Every time I go somewhere new, I have the same anxiety. What if I miss my stop? What if I get on the wrong bus or train? How long will it take? What if I’m late? What if I have the wrong ticket? What if I need cash and all I have is credit? Somehow it always works out just fine. I get where I need to be, and nothing has ever gone so tragically wrong as to prevent me from setting out again on my next adventure. It seems that when I am truly lost and confused, there tends to be at least one kind soul who stops and sees me and helps. What’s the worst that could happen? I end up spending some time and money that I didn’t intend to, and I get a good story out of it.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Brooke permalink
    May 13, 2010 7:18 pm

    I also did a round trip by bus through the Lincoln Tunnel today. I chuckled to myself a little when I heard the announcement in Port Authority, “We are undergoing changes and construction for your continued enjoyment of the Port Authority Bus Terminal.” So that’s what was going on while we were dashing between ticket counters and crowds and gates . . . we were enjoying ourselves!

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