As most of you know by now, I live in Vermont. Ah, Vermont. A land of wonders. Yet as wonderful as Vermont is, sometimes an Urchin needs to get away. The irony is not lost that most people “get away” to a picturesque, quiet place Vermont, but an Urchin’s sensitive artistic nature is well-adapted to city life. While an Urchin can survive outside a city for short periods of time, it is always necessary for an Urchin to visit its natural habitat on a regular basis.
For this reason, I recently ventured the 3 hours south to New York City for an invigorating foray into civilisation. The day began with a 7am Megabus from Hell’s loo, Albany, NY. For those of you not yet familiar, Megabus is the best travel invention since the donkey. If you book far enough in advance, you can often get tickets for $1 each way. The most you will ever pay is $24 each way, which compared to driving, flying, or taking the train, is almost always the cheapest option. Plus Megabuses are always double decker, and if you can get the front seats on the top, you have a floor to ceiling window in front of you, and free wifi! But above all, the Urchins love Megabus for its nostalgic value, since we rode it frequently whilst living abroad. The first time I rode Megabus in the States, the driver told me to mind the gap as I boarded. I cried.
So after 3 relaxing hours aboard Megabus (read: napping), we had arrived! It was time for breakfast. There seems to be a widespread misconception that England has bad food. This is vastly inaccurate, as a wide variety of delicious ethnic and regional cuisine can be found throughout the country. The same is not true, however, for Vermont. So though an important tenet of Urchinism is thrift, a trip to the city necessitates some fine (read: non-Vermont) dining.
To atone for the money about to be spent, we walked the 5 miles from the Megabus stop to The Organic Grill, where it was a treat to enjoy an organic, vegan breakfast of Tofu Rancheros. The restaurant was adorable, and the tiny, stuffy, non-air conditioned room and warm water without ice immediately reminded me of London. Then, our server was British.
After breakfast and a six or so mile stroll Uptown, stopping in parks and ogling puppies along way, we bopped into a pub for the World Cup game! Nothing like some cider and chips with vinegar watching football to make a girl feel at home.
By the time the game’s extra inning (or whatever) had ended, it was time to make our way back to the Megabus stop for our 6:20pm bus home. We walked in silence, like prisoners to the gallows. It was 6pm and still 80 degrees. The city beckoned.
We stood in the Megabus line. We got out our tickets. And then we walked across the street, sat on the stairs of the Post Office, and watched our bus drive away.
We had done it! We had looked routine in the face and laughed! We were free! We were…stuck in New York City until the next bus at 7am the next day with nowhere to stay. Oops.
But that was something to worry about later. We frolicked happily up to Central Park, basking in the warm, dirty city air, breathing in the refreshing smells of steaming horse poo and baked rubbish. Ah, summer in the city! The night was young, we were young! The possibilities were endless. And by possibilities I mean choices of vegan restaurants, which I had diligently researched before the trip. For dinner, it was Blossom Cafe, whose motto is “First And Foremost Animal Caring.”
Then it was 11pm. Some of you may remember the following tidbit from our You Know You’re an Urchin When… series: You know you’re an Urchin when you’ve spent the night in an airport/train station/women’s loo to avoid paying for a room at a hostel… or you just don’t sleep. We’ve all done it. And I was about to do it again. At 6pm, 7am had seemed very close and totally doable. At 11pm, 7am the next day may as well have been 7am July 27, 2012.
Luckily, New York really is the city that never sleeps, and the streets were consistently bustling all throughout the night. Despite indescribably sore feet, a bum knee, and an overwhelming urge to shower, the night was actually quite fun: I won my first ever thumb war tournament, made up at least an album’s worth of new songs, and was mistaken for a Brit by a Canadian!
At 7am, we boarded a nearly empty Megabus back to Albany and slept like people who had pulled an all nighter (oh, wait…) the whole way. The weekend was topped off with a leisurely Sunday watching England play their last World Cup game and napping on and off for ten consecutive hours, waking up for snacks, water, and bouts of football.
All told, we walked 15 miles, stayed awake 26 hours, ate 2 vegan meals, made 1 new friend, and had a night I will remember forever. Viva Urchinism!