When I got onto the bus I relaxed. Everything was going well, everything was on time. I spent most of the trip in and out of sleep, cursing myself a little bit for not bringing much to entertain me for the four hour journey. I was half-napping when we stopped at a rest stop, three hours into the journey. As people started to clamber off the bus, I decided a stretch of the legs wouldn't be a bad idea. I contemplated bringing my bag, but it was a chunky, heavy carry on, so I decided for the few minutes I was off the bus it would be fine. I followed my fellow bus travelers to the rest stop, went to the bathroom, and headed back out into the car park. The bus was gone. I hadn't been longer than three or four minutes, but the bus was nowhere to be seen. I ran around to the other side of the rest stop. Nothing. I'd been left. Had the lady next to me not noticed that I hadn't returned to my seat before the bus set off? Had the bus driver not done a head count? Was an empty seat not obvious on a once-full bus? My head whirred with questions, the most important being, how am I going to get to Boston?
My stomach churned as I ran back inside the rest stop, telling the first person I saw what had happened. The attendant led me to a phone, but I blurted out in panic that I didn't have the number for the bus. I didn't have anything. My bag was still on the bus. All I had to my name was a cardigan. A truck driver who had been making a mandatory rest overheard my story, and set about looking for a number I could call on his phone. After about 10 minutes, he found a number for megabus. After what felt like a decade of phone options, we finally got an operator. On telling her what had happened, her response was simple "oh." She passed me on to customer services. After 20 minutes on hold, the hope of the bus turning around and coming back for me began to fade. It had been over half an hour. If he was to turn back now the bus would be an hour late into Boston. I sat on the phone crying , I'd never felt so desperate. A middle-aged couple came over to ask me what was wrong, and when I told them my problem, they said they could have taken me, but they had a dresses in their back seat. I assured them I would be okay, and waited on the phone. When I finally spoke to somebody, she told me the next bus would be coming by at 1.30pm, and the driver would know to come and get me. I felt better. I just had to wait.
About an hour later, a gentleman walked up to me as I was staring into the distance praying for a bus, and told me he was a relation of the couple who I had spoken to earlier, and he had come to pick me up. I thanked him profusely, but told him I'd been assured I'd be on the next bus. 1.30pm came along and still no bus. Twin, the truck driver, was still around and letting me use his phone, so I called to ask about the situation. I was told 2.30pm. I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting and talking to Twin, and calling megabus every half an hour or so. We talked about our lives and our experiences, and he made me feel much less alone and much less scared. He helped me get through and helped me believe I would be okay. When 2.30pm came around and I was told 3.30pm, I broke down. My trip was ruined. By the time I got to Boston everything would be starting to close. I'd wasted my time and my money, I had none of my things, and I was stuck in the middle of nowhere in Connecticut. I was scared and I was sad and I lost. I cried and cried and cried, but I knew it was no use. But I had Twin, and he was going to look after me. I asked him to buy me an ice cream from one of the vending machines inside (he'd offered to get me anything I wanted), and after a few rejected dollars, we got one. As hopeless as the situation felt, sitting there with a new friend and an ice cream made everything feel a lot better. When there was still no sign of the bus at 4pm, I called again. This time, there were people in the rest stop, and they overheard my conversation. I was told a bus had just gone past my area already. It had not stopped for me. As I came off the phone, a couple explained they had heard my conversation, and told me they were going to Boston and could give me a ride. That couple saved me.
After a final call to Megabus to confirm that my bag was in Boston, I said goodbye to Twin, taking his address to send him a thank you letter, and $20 that he insisted I take in case I couldn't get my bag. I promised to write and send him English chocolate when I got home, as a thanks for looking after me and keeping me sane. Martin and Nancy understood my hesitation- I was a 22 year old girl, on my own, lost with no money, phone, ID or anything, but assured me they were good people and I could trust them, and told me they had their son with them too. I decided murderers probably don't bring their kids along.
And that was how I got to Boston. Martin let me sit in the front and Nancy and I chatted on the way there. They gave me two little cans of soda and a bagel and drove me all the way to the station. They even waited in the car for me while I went to get my bag. There are a lot of bad things in the world, and a lot of bad people, but there is a lot of good in the world too. I would never have made it to Boston without the kindness of strangers. And I can never thank them enough.
Day One (what was left of it!)
I called my frantic parents when I left the station (they knew something was wrong when I hadn't replied to their texts!), and found my way across town to my hostel. With the sun beginning to set, the city was bathed in golden hour light, and the sadness I had felt over arriving seven hours late was replaced by an overwhelming happiness and relief at just being there. I had finally, finally made it. And the city was even more beautiful than I had expected. I found my way to my hostel, which was gorgeous and modern and full of young people, checked in, and set off into the city. My goal was to walk around, find my way around and to try some of Boston's famous seafood. Consulting my Boston travel guide at times along the way, I walked and walked across the city. For the first half an hour or so, I didn't care when I was going. I was just soaking up the city, the moment and the relief. I walked down to the harbour taking photographs along the way.
I woke up at 7, and got ready in the dark as no-one else in my room was awake. I headed down for breakfast, and after seeing the array of spreads, made my first ever PB&J. Wow, now I know what the big deal is! After a good breakfast, I set off to follow my plan. First was a walk through Boston's public gardens (and a stop-off at Starbucks along the way). This was another beautiful moment. Okay, I had a huge bulky travel bag with me, but walking through the gardens at 8am with an ice cold frappucino was just heavenly.
I absolutely loved the freedom trail tour. Like I said, I love guided tours. I also love history. With a degree in American Studies, it was perfect for me. I absolutely love visiting places that are so historic. It's crazy to think that these things actually happened at the spot where I am standing. I won't go through the whole tour with you (because you should do it yourself one day!), but I will show you some of the sights.