I don’t recall how Holly and I heard about it, but one way or another we ended up on the Megabus’ website shopping for tickets earlier this year (I believe it was March or April). We had heard that you can get tickets… round trip tickets… for as low as 1 dollar to Washington, DC. No joke, you read that correctly. We pulled out the calendar and just picked some random weekends in September and sure enough, after some messing around with the dates, we were able to get both our tickets for $6. Not $6 per person… but $6 total, round trip. We bought them up thinking that if something came up, we’d just be out the $6, so why not!? This past weekend we made the trek, and I’ll give you the short of it, we had a GREAT time.
Now, I’ll be honest, we were both a little leery of the whole thing. I don’t know about you, but when I think bus station… I think the Greyhound Bus Station in the Old City, which is not the type of place I would hang out. Let me assure you though, the new bus station downtown is not THAT bus station. It was very nice, and the Megabus picks you up right out front. There were no weird people (that we know of) on our bus. We never woke up with the guy sitting next to us staring at us or anything like that (these are the things my wife thinks up). It was just a bus ride, with ordinary people… lots of whom are commuters. Now, the nice thing about it, for us anyway, is that the bus leaves Knoxville at 10:30PM (they have other times as well)… which is totally cool because you can let the bus be your hotel for two nights of your trip; when you wake up, you’re there!
So I’ll admit that it wasn’t all totally peaches and cream, and I know what you’re thinking… oh here comes the part where he talks about the psychos… nope, I promise, no psychos in this story. Me being a taller guy, I was a little cramped and the seats weren’t the most comfortable seats ever… HOWEVER, after some fidgeting around with my backpack, I was able to find a comfortable sleeping position and ended up sleeping away almost all of the trip. Also, the bus is a little cold (okay, a LOT cold on the way home), so bring a jacket and I’d recommend long pants unless you find yourself to be hot more often then not no matter where you go. Last, the parking lot where you get dropped off at in DC is about 7 blocks from the closest Metro station (Union Station). I had heard from several people that they have a shuttle service that runs from the parking lot to Union Station, but it wasn’t running the days we were there so we walked the 15 or so minutes… in the rain on our first day there… both times. The night we left we just hung out in Union Station until about an hour before departure time and then headed that direction. I’m not at all familiar with that part of town, but it did feel a little sketchy that late at night… but then, almost anywhere in DC feels sketchy late at night. We passed hardly no one on the way there and never at all felt threatened; I think it was just the unknown that had us on edge more than anything.
Here’s the totally awesome part. We were able to find a nice hotel (Hyatt Arlington) online for just $85 that was about two blocks away from the Roslyn metro station, so traveling was easy once you made it to the metro station that first day. We bought all day train passes for two days ($9 per person, per day) which let you get on and off the trains as many times as you want. All the Smithsonian Museums as well as all the memorials and monuments are FREE to visit (including the National Zoo, which was a lot of fun). So we had two VERY full days and three nights for something like $260; that’s all meals, overnight stays, all transportation, and souvenirs. Not too shabby! We didn’t go crazy with the meals, and probably could have shaved some money off had we tried… but the trip wasn’t about going as cheap as possible… we literally did everything we wanted to do, and that’s all it cost. I can be a little uncomfortable on a bus for that!
I’m not sure, but I think that the Megabus could be Knoxville’s best kept secret.