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Thursday, December 3, 2015

A New York trip on the bus*

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, being reunited with family members, as we were. And we had turkey leftovers, too---good for sandwiches and turkey soup later.

Speaking of reunions, my wife Freny just had one, the weekend after Thanksgiving, in New York, with high school friends from four decades ago, when they attended then Rosary College, now known as St. Paul College of Ilocos Sur, Philippines.

Of course, Freny wouldn't feel comfortable enjoying herself with her girlfriends like Sylvia, Wilma and Charito, without me and my daughter Tintin (who's home for Thanksgiving break, despite her hectic schedule as a graduate school student-intern in school counseling at UVA) going along. (By the way, my son Andrew, who works in DC, came home for Thanksgiving holidays but decided not to join with us, though, because he has already made plans to hang out with his Hampton Roads friends and former high school classmates before he goes back to DC that Sunday afternoon.)

How many of you have gone out of state on a long trip with a public transportation, like Amtrak or Greyhound? Did you like it? Or would you prefer to drive your own vehicle? Tintin had an experience riding a Greyhound bus when she went to Massachusetts years ago, and said she liked it.

Well, here's a revelation: In my 32 years in the United States, this was Freny's and my first time riding a bus to New York! (We usually drive our van each time we visited Freny's Aunt Emily in Queens, NY, before the latter and her husband Ted moved to Texas.) What a wonderful learning experience we had!

Friday after Thanksgiving, we drove to Hampton, left our car at the Greyhound terminal and boarded a coach for Norfolk, where we transferred to another bound for New York.

It was a little tedious but still a smooth, safe, and relaxing ride! With a number of stops along the way, the trip to New York and back to Hampton roads was well worth the money. It reminded me of my adolescent years in the Philippines, where we rode on a big bus to go to Manila from the province. Travel takes six to eight hours, depending on weather, traffic and road conditions.

About the "meetup" of former high school friends in the Big Apple, it was made possible because of Facebook and smartphones. Wilma, a New York-based pharmacist, did an outstanding job organizing the "mini-reunion."

Credit goes to her for booking our hotels for two nights at Westin in Manhattan and getting tickets for the Jersey Boys musical show.

Sylvia, the anesthesiologist from the Philippines, visiting her sister in New Jersey, was the reunion's guest of honor. She's here for a three-week vacation. And Charito, who lives in Connecticut with her family, came with her husband Boy, a fellow retired U.S. serviceman.

Wilma and her husband Artie, also a pharmacist, became our tour guides. We had a great time at Times Square, in Chelsea, in Manhattan, in the historic High Line, dining at fancy restaurants, and shopping and strolling at Bryant Park, and then seeing Jersey Boys at August Wilson Theatre.

That's pretty much Freny's mini-reunion with her former classmates (and fellow SPCIS alumni). Thankfully, we had an opportunity to attend Sunday morning Mass at Holy Cross Church, a few blocks from Westin Hotel. After church and brunch, we checked out.

Carrying our baggage, we walked to the Port Authority Bus Terminal Station at 42nd Street, where we boarded a Greyhound bus for Norfolk. We arrived in Norfolk (before midnight) 15 minutes late because of traffic. As you know, travelers were on the road again after Thanksgiving holidays.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, December 3, 2015. For more information, visit

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