Dancing the Megatropolis


Chapter 2: Washington to Philadelphia



While aboard the VRE train, I was double-checking my schedule’s next legs and realized that I effed up. The prior night, I awoke in the middle of the night with a start, realizing that I would be commencing my travel on Juneteenth. (It wasn’t as much on my radar because it’s the newest federal holiday, and also because I don’t normally get holidays at work due to our 24/7 schedule - I get a bunch of floating PTO days to compensate.) I grabbed my phone and checked to make sure that VRE, MARC, and Cecil County Transit were operating. They were!


However! Due to the holiday, MARC was operating on a Sunday schedule and still running service…but not as far as Perryville, MD, the northeasternmost end of their Penn Line. From there, the original plan was to take two Cecil Transit buses, one from Perryville to Elkton, MD, and then another from Elkton to Newark, DE, where I could catch the SEPTA commuter train to Philadelphia. 


So: what to do now? I could think of a few options:

--take a bus from DC to NYC and go all the way home, abandoning that day’s plan completely; or.

--go into DC, have an early lunch at Rappahannock Oyster Bar in Washington, take a bus to Philly, and continue via SEPTA; or

--take MARC to Baltimore, get from downtown Baltimore to the bus station which is annoyingly tricky to get to, take a bus to Philly, and continue as before. I was live-tweeting my journey and asked my followers to help me decide: bag the plan for the day?, do as much as I still could? Or a middle path involving seafood?


The people spoke, and voted for the middle path. So I got off the VRE a stop early, alighting at the L’Enfant station. I walked down 7th Street, admiring a Depression Deco building which had started life as a warehouse and then was converted to offices, and an impressively handsome Brutalist building (which when I looked it up, discovered it was the Robert C. Weaver Federal Building, serving as HUD HQ and designed by Marcel Breuer.) I arrived at the Wharf district, which I hadn’t visited before and which felt a little focus-grouped and designed to appeal to yuppies. I was going to go for a coffee at District Doughnut, but they oddly weren’t serving any. I bided my time and waited for Rappahannock Oyster Bar to open, spotting planes arriving on the River Visual approach to runway 19 at DCA, and watching the shuckers and steamers at Jessie Taylor Seafood on the pier. 


My delicious lunch at the oyster bar (three Rapps, my favorite oysters anywhere, followed by a Caesar salad with fried oysters added on) under my belt, I continued on, walking the two and a half miles from the Wharf to the DC bus station in the Union Station parking garage. It was a hot, sticky day and there wasn’t much shade, so I took frequent stops to guzzle water, but I was still wilting by the time I got to the station.


Megabus Service M31

Washington, DC to Philadelphia, PA

Fare: $37.73 (which included an $8 seat reservation so I could sit right up front on the top deck.)

Cumulative fare: $50.48


The air conditioning on my Megabus to Philly was welcome indeed, though they apparently no longer offer Wi-Fi on board. (I’d rather have A/C.) 


Incidentally, I’d actually attempted this journey before. In September 2016, I did the Spotsylvania-to-NYC leg but something had come up the next day and I couldn’t do the rest. I did make the VRE to MARC connection at DC’s Union Station, rode the MARC from Washington through Baltimore all the way to the end of the line at Perryville, caught the Cecil Transit buses (had a minor scare when it was late and I thought I was going to miss my connecting bus, but the driver kindly radioed ahead and arranged my transfer), and continued on through Newark to Philly, Trenton, and NYC.

Back in 2023, it was an uneventful bus trip up I-95. We left seven minutes late, stopped at White Marsh Mall north of Baltimore, and continued on to Philly (I only had slight pangs of regret while looking over to the railroad bridge across the Susquehanna from my adjacent highway bridge.) We got to the stop, a curb near 30th Street Station, a few minutes early.