The Hipster Express: U Street to Brooklyn Bus!

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You’ve seen the Tweets and heard the Google Buzz if you live in the northeast corridor… there is a new bus line in town and they’re here to do battle with the Chinatown busses. This new line is focusing on the hipster crowds in the U Street and Park Slope neighborhoods…  Introducing the KnowIt Express – a cheap and easy way for hipsters to get their Chuck Taylor wearin’ selves to and from NYC without having to ride their fixies up I-95.

Click the image to go to their site...

Here’s the rundown so far… Services start October 22nd (or so their website says). the stops will be at the U Street/Cardoza Metro Station in Washington, and at Flatbush & 4th in Park Slope. According to their website, their busses have free wifi, plug-ins and more legroom.

– $25 One-Way
– $45 Round Trip
– $40 Student Discount
– $30 Walk-up fee (DC location only)

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DC’s Union Station Gets Artsy to Celebrate History

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The History Channel is promoting their new “epic 12-hour television event” about the history of America… they are literally taking reins of the facade of DC’s Union Station and will be using lasers and lights to project colorful images of America’s past on our historic landmark… that’s awesome!

Here’s a link to the teaser video of America: The Story of Us…

– – – –

Leading up to the premiere of America The Story of Us on April 25 at 9/8c, HISTORY will transform three historic American buildings with a public art display from April 19-25. In three cities–New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.– passersby will do a double-take as iconic landmarks morph into a log cabin, a Wild West landscape or a modern palace with glass panels. This dazzling sequence of images will be created by marrying art with state-of-the-art lighting technology.

A sample of the temporary illuminated artwork

The transformation will begin at dusk on April 19 and take place each evening through April 25. (7:30pm -11pm ET)

Visit Union Station (Google map):
50 Massachusetts Avenue Northeast
Washington, DC 20212

– – –

Not in DC? No problem! History Channel is also taking over buildings in NYC and LA, but only for one day each… so get a move on people!

Beverly Wilshire Hotel: LA

In Los Angeles, come out to the Beverly Wilshire at 7:30pm on April 19. This luxury hotel at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive has epitomized the glamour and grandeur of Beverly Hills since 1928, and now it will undergo a stunning metamorphosis.

Visit the Beverly Wilshire Hotel:
9500 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
7:30pm -10pm PT

Grand Central Terminal, NYC

One of the world’s most famous transportation hubs, Grand Central Terminal has been the gateway to midtown Manhattan for nearly 100 years. Now, beginnning April 19 at 10am, you can see the Main Concourse in an entirely different light–literally.

Visit Grand Central Terminal:
7 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017
10am – 9:00pm ET

Photo of the Day: Harpers Ferry, WV

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Harpers Ferry, WV is only 1.5 hours outside of Washington DC… you can reach it by car (preferred) or Amtrak/MARC commuter train. The town is very small and tends to shut down during the winter, but it gets very active over the summer. The B&O Canal begins here, so it’s a great start/finish point for long distance hikers and bikers doing to DC. Right in the middle of town, the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet to form some pretty sweet white water… it’s a great place to go on a rafting trip with one of the dozens of tour operators.

Downtown Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Photo of the Day: Great Falls, VA

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Only a few miles outside of Washington DC is Great Falls park… go hiking, canoeing or just check out the falls. It may not be Niagra, but it’s not half bad for the mid-Atlantic region.

Great Falls, Virginia

Pink Trees, Sunshine & Pollen: DC’s Cherry Blossom Festival

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Pink trees, sunshine, tourists and pollen: The Cherry Blossom Festival is once again taking over Washington DC. Japan’s peace offering of hundreds of cherry trees line Washington’s Tidal Basin, surrounding the Jefferson Memorial. In late March and early April, the trees go into full bloom – waving their gorgeous pink and white flowers in the sky.

snapping pictures of the Jefferson Memorial

I showed up to the Tidal Basin early Easter sunday morning and was already in the middle of the crowd. I strolled along the Tidal Basin, towards the Jefferson Memorial and back across the Reflecting Pool to the Lincoln Memorial. Despite the overpowering pollen, it was a great walk. Tourists snapped pictures, couples had picnics on the Mall and street performers played their instruments… it was nice to see such a lively Sunday morning in a usually sleepy city.

Cherry blossoms...

The history of the cherry blossoms is pretty interesting… in 1912, the first two of these trees were planted on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, given to the USA as a gift from Japan. In 1927, a group of American school children re-enacted the initial planting; the first festival was held in 1935, sponsored by civic groups in the nation’s capital. The festival continued to grow after WWII, being sponsored by many groups and the city government. As the popularity grew, so did the cherry tree collection – 3,800 more trees were given to DC in 1965. Today the National Cherry Blossom Festival is coordinated by the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Inc., an umbrella organization consisting of representatives of business, civic, and governmental organizations. More than 700,000 people visit Washington each year to admire the blossoming cherry trees that herald the beginning of spring in the nation’s capital.

Washington Monument

As one of Washington’s most popular tourist attractions, the Cherry Blossom Festival draws hundreds of thousands of people into the city. As much as I love my wonderful hometown, DC does not have the infrastructure to handle everyone. The Metro gets backed up (when it’s even running!), traffic gets jammed and the police get confused. If you’re coming down to the waterfront, just take a bike and enjoy the ride… you’ll be glad you did!

Massive crowds were already gathering at 9am...

The organization that set up and ran the festival really did put in an effort to make this year’s festival more user-friendly… but they forgot a couple important things…

– I appreciate the port-o-potties lining the festival… but remember that they smell like poo… when the wind blows, so does that awful stench. The Tidal Basin certainly smelled more like a toilet basin.
– Clean up! Renovations are great, the parks need it… but when you have having your busiest week of the year, you should clean things up first. The Jefferson Memorial is under renovation, so they simply put all the construction materials behind the monument, facing the water! Look at this beautiful photo of the waterfront… those giant cranes laying on the ground really take away from the natural beauty.

Paddle boats enjoying the weather

If you haven’t made it out to the cherry blossom festival yet, I highly recommend coming to DC next spring and witnessing the beautiful pink landscape for yourself! Bring a picnic, rent a paddle boat and RELAX 🙂

Rent a paddle boat and cruise the Tidal Basin!

Guide to Navigating the East Coast

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The east coast of the US, aka the Northeast Corridor, has some of the nation’s best cities all crammed together along the Atlantic. Here is my guide to help you cover all of your trans-corridor travel needs, as well as intercity hops.

 ———    TRAINS   ———

No doubt about it, trains are easier and faster to get from city to city on the east coast. In fact, faster than most flights when you factor in time for security and expense of getting to and from the airports. (BWI is 20mi from downtown, IAD is 45mi from DC)  Amtrak runs two lines up and down the east coast, there are also local trains running between most of the cities. There are regional rail systems which cheaply connect DC-Baltimore, Philly-NYC, NYC-New Haven, and Providence-Boston. Unfortunately, there are gaps between Philly-Baltimore, and New Haven-Providence/Boston.

1) The Northeast Regional runs from southern Virginia to Boston and back. This is the most basic train service on the east coast, basically running around the clock to some extent or another. The trains tend to run on schedule, save for any freak blizzards or rogue deer on the tracks. On board, the seats are roomy and fairly comfortable.

Sample Fare: $90 (add $45 for a business class seat) DC to Boston. 8h06min trip leaving at 8:30am on a Wednesday.

Amtrak's Northeast Regional

2) Acela Express is the only high speed train in the United States. It offers hourly service downtown to downtown during peak morning and afternoon rush hours between New York, Washington, DC and intermediate cities, as well as many convenient round-trips between New York and Boston. The train only stops in downtown stations, saving a significant amount of time. The seats are also much nicer; they each have AC plugs for your computers and fancy reclining seats. Basically, this is the first class of Amtrak trains. All the speed and comfort come at a premium – prices are usually more than double for this line.

Sample Fare: $248 (add $112 for a business class seat) DC to Boston. 6h37min trip leaving at 7am on a Wednesday.

Acela train speeding by

3) MARC Trains Penn Line is a public transit train operated by the State of Maryland that runs from DC to Baltimore on the same track as Amtrak’s Northeast Regional. It also stops at BWI Airport. Currently the line is the fastest commuter rail line in the country, with trains running at speeds of up to 125mph. Tickets from DC to Baltimore cost $7.50, but only run on weekdays!

4) SEPTA Trains are Pennsylvania’s regional rail system. With a couple of line transfers, you are able to get from Newark, Delaware to Trenton, NJ. The R2 Line starts in Newark and the R7 will drop you in Trenton. From Trenton, you can take a NJ Transit train to NYC. The trains operate on a zone system, so a trip from north to south vary around $6-10. SEPTA is best for someone going from NYC to Philly, or anywhere in NJ to Philly. Their network does not go far enough south to make it to Baltimore easily.

5) NJ Transit runs an extensive rail system from Philly, thru all of New Jersey, and into NYC. From Philly, there is a direct route east to Atlantic City. The Northeast Corridor route runs up directly into NYC. The system is very easy to use and a ticket from Philadelphia 30th St. Station to New York Penn Station costs $12.50.

6) Metro-North Railroad connects NYC to New Haven, Conn. The railroad is operated by NYC’s MTA and runs multiple lines to upstate New York and the surrounding suburbs. A ticket costs $18.50 to get to New Haven, but you can save a buck if you book line.

7) MBTA Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority commuter train Providence/Stoughton Line runs from downtown Boston’s Back Bay Station through the suburbs and into downtown Providence, Rhode Island for $7.75. You can also take MBTA northbound to Salem and Plymouth to get your history fix. This is a cheap and easy way to make the jump from Providence to Boston.

———    BUS   ———

There are literally dozens of bus companies operating routes up and down the corridor. I’ve taken plenty of them; Bolt, MegaBus, Greyhound, Peter Pan, DC2NY, Galaxy… just to name a few. The infamous “Chinatown Busses” run $5-10 trips between the cities, but beware, they SUCK. If you spend $5 for a bus at 2:30am, you will get exactly what  you pay for – especially when it breaks down on the side of the road and they just leave you. (It’s happened!)

I recommend only 2 bus companies on the east coast: Bolt Bus and MegaBus. Both companies offer book in advance or on-board tickets. I strongly urge you to book a month in advance because both companies offer ultra discounted rates before the busses fill up. Bolt offers $1 fares and I’ve managed to score a couple round trip tickets from DC to NY for less than the price of a hot dog. It pays to plan ahead.

BoltBus leaving NYC

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1) Bolt Bus – Bolt Bus is my personal favorite for oh so many reasons. They operate nonstop routes from DC-NY & NY-Boston. Bolt Bus is owned and operated by Greyhound, making them reliable, but have an independant fleet of busses which is far more luxurious than any other coach available. The seats are leather, recline farther and every passenger gets an AC plug and free wi-fi. Beat that! Fares range from $1-21 each way.

 

MegaBus double decker leaving NYC

2) MegaBus – MegaBus is a British bus company offering routes through the northeast, southern Canada and the midwest US. Their prices are basically the same as BoltBus for DC-NY & NY-Boston routes. From NY and Boston, they offer routes to upstate NY and Canada. Soon, they will offer DC-Philadelphia routes. MegaBus also has free wi-fi on their double decker busses, but don’t have AC plugs. Prices range from $1-25.

OOOOOO

All of MegaBus' routes in the northeast corridor

 

DC Travel and Adventure Expo – This Weekend – Come with me!

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The world’s largest travel and adventure show – the Travel & Adventure Show – will take place the weekend of March 6-7, 2010. The event gathers hundreds of captivating destinations from exotic India to captivating Cayman and exciting, activities: a huge scuba pool, kayak demonstrations, an aerial zip line, a rope adventure course, cultural performers and much more. The Travel & Adventure Show is THE place to kick off the winter blahs and plan that ultimate vacation.

Guest speakers include the world famous Arthur Frommer and Discovery Channel tv host Kristen Gum. Frommer will be lecturing about his trvel tips and signing his new book. There will also be presentations from dozens of different organizations, including Ethiopian Air and Israel.

Want a discount? Of course you do! Enter DCPR as your promo code when you buy your tickets.

WHEN:
Saturday and Sunday, March 6-7, 2010

Show Hours:
Saturday, March 6: 10:30am-5:30pm
Sunday, March 7: 11:00am-4:30pm

WHERE:
Washington Convention Center
801 Mount Vernon Place, NW
Washington, DC

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