Summer Bus Trip 2011: Toronto To Washington, DC And Luray, Virginia (Part 2)

(Read bus trip from Toronto part 1…..)

We went around the Museum of Natural History and saw the famous Rexy, the dinosaur skeleton and so is the huge African elephant which were featured in the movie, Night at the Museum. Unfortunately, there is not enough time to visit the other museums and although dissappointed, we still enjoyed the Museum of Natural History.

This is also where we had lunch and our last stop at Washington DC. From there, our bus will pick us up for our next destination – Luray, Virginia.

Remember I mentioned about the really cheap bargains from the bus trip to Washington DC post? It was at a mall in Virginia where the prices are crazily so low I couldn’t believe that they are mall prices! The name of the mall is Manassas Mall and is just a short drive from Washington DC. We were supposed to be there for only half-hour but overstayed for more than an hour because many of us bought more goods at this mall. Manassas Mall is located in Manassas, Virginia.

Imagine an Aeropostale shirt for $5? Victoria Secret perfumes for $2.50? It’s a good thing we were only there for an hour. Otherwise, my wife and daughter could’ve bought stuff that could tax us to the neck by Canada Customs! They bought two backpack-full of goods and they’re still complaining!

After the shopping spree, we drove straight to our next overnight hotel – Days Inn at Luray, Virginia. For over an hour all we experienced are winding roads over farms, a couple of small towns, RV camp sites and seemingly endless forests on the valleys and mountains of Shenandoah.

bugs present at days inn luray virginia
Visitor bugs
welcome board days inn luray virginia
Days Inn billboard

Days Inn billboard

When we got to Days Inn in Luray, Virginia after the short drive, the first thing that we noticed is that the smell is different. The scent of animal manure is distinguishable and although we know that the air is clean, you just don’t get used to it easily. It was early evening and there’s nothing much to do at the area because this is cottage country, so the kids just went for a swim at the outdoor pool until closing.

road sign days inn location luray virginia
Road sign
days inn whispering hill virginia shot
Days Inn Luray
swimming pool at days inn luray virginia
Swimming pool
days inn luray virginia parking lot
Parking lot
room at days inn luray virginia
Inside the room
beds at days inn luray virginia
Beds

entrance to rooms at days inn luray virginia
Room entrance
tv in rooms days inn luray virginia
Television and microwave
inside washroom days inn luray virginia
Washroom

Next day, it rained very early in the morning in Luray and probably because of the rain, the smell that we experienced the night before was gone.

After breakfast at the hotel on July 3rd, we all got ready for our visit to Luray Caverns, which is just 20 minutes away from our hotel. We got there very early, that the entrance to the cavern is still closed so, what we did was just went around and took souvenir photos. We also had several group photos taken.

office table days inn luray virginia
Office table in rooms
main receiving office days inn luray
Days Inn main office
breakfast room days inn luray virginia
Free breakfast
visitor bugs days inn luray
Visitor moth
getting ready for luray caverns
Waiting bus to caverns
main receiving area at days inn luray virginia
Days Inn receiving area

As soon as the gates opened for viewing, our group was the first to enter the cave. Luray Caverns, at first sight is awesome, at least to me. It’s my first time to be inside a cave like this and just looking at the stalactite formation is unbelievable. Learning about how water dripping inside the cave for thousands of years created this natural phenomenon is mind boggling. Imagining how powerful nature is to form gigantic pillars of rock that seem to look sometimes like a kind of giant pole that supports the cave from collapsing really awed me. I felt so small and helpless while observing this wonderful creation of nature.

gropu photo at luray caverns virginia
Group photo
entrance to luray caverns
Entrance to caverns
entrance to luray caves
Entrance to cave
inside the cave at luray caverns
Inside Luray Cave
inside
Inside Luray Cave
inside the cave at luray caverns
Inside Luray Cave
inside the cave at luray caverns
Inside Luray Cave
inside the cave at luray caverns
Inside Luray Cave
inside the cave at luray caverns
Inside Luray Cave

I was not listening to our guide because I’ve been busy snapping pictures all the time we’re inside the cave, so I did not learn much other than what was mentioned, so just enjoy the photos included here.

In perspective, this bus trip from Toronto is a mix of learning, relaxation, shopping and sightseeing. I love the Luray Cavern experience but, for me, it is an experience that is only good for one or two or three time visits.

inside the cave at luray caverns
Inside Luray Cave
inside the cave at luray caverns
Inside Luray Cave
inside the cave at luray caverns
Inside Luray Cave
inside the cave at luray caverns
Inside Luray Cave
inside the cave at luray caverns
Inside Luray Cave
inside the cave at luray caverns
Inside Luray Cave
inside the cave at luray caverns
Inside Luray Cave
inside the cave at luray caverns
Inside Luray Cave
inside the cave at luray caverns
Inside Luray Cave

On the other hand, I would not hesitate to go back to Washington DC over and over and over. I think DC has more to offer a person like me who loves history and culture and museums. I was so captivated by the city that I’m planning to go back there and stay for at least 5 days so me and my daughter can enjoy the museums that surround Washington DC. I can’t wait to go back!

If you’re in Toronto and would want to join our yearly bus trips, contact us at our Toronto travel agency to get more information. Please be aware, though, that most of who are in the group are Filipinos. So, if you are not comfortable mingling with people who are of a different culture, please do not even think of joining. You will just feel irritated and will not have fun.

Below is the itinerary of the just concluded bus trip to Washington DC and Luray Caverns. The cost per adult is $298 and children below 12 is $150 (quad sharing).

(More photos of our trip at Facebook – here, here, here, here and here)

Please write your comments below. I would love to know what you think…..

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WASHINGTON DC and LURAY CAVERN VIRGINIA BUS TRIP (June 30 – July 3, 2011)

June 30
– Midnight, Bus pickup in Toronto (Pape Subway Station), drive to St. Catharines

July 1
– 1:30 AM, Leave St. Catharines to Peace Bridge, Fort Erie
*30 minutes Duty Free Stop at Peace Bridge (No Duty Free stop on return)

8 hrs, 34 min – approximate driving time from St. Catharines to Element Hotel in Maryland

July 1
11:30 AM, estimated arrival time at Element Arundell Mills in Hanover, Maryland
*Check in/Free time. Places worth visiting: Arundell Mills Mall or Downtown Baltimore (20 min. away). In Baltimore, the National Aquarium Baltimore is open 9 am-8 pm (pay admission)

45 min – approximate driving time from Element Hotel to Washington DC

July 2
– 7:00 AM, breakfast at hotel and check out (be at the bus by 7:55 am)
– 8:00 AM, leave for Washington DC
– 9:00 AM, estimated arrival time at DC. Start of city tour.
– 1:00 PM, estimated finish of city tour. Lunch and then free time to visit museums.

Tour Highlights:
The White House, Capitol Hill, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Air and Space Museum, Washington National Cathedral, Embassy Row and Basilica of National Shrine of the Immaculate Concepcion.

July 2
– 5:00 PM, leave Washington DC
– 7:00 PM, estimated arrival time in Luray, Virginia

1 hr, 53 min – approximate driving time from Washington DC to Days Inn in Luray, Virginia
*Check in/Free time.

July 3
– 7:00 AM, breakfast and check out (no rush, Luray Cavern’s very close)
– 9:00 AM, Luray Caverns Tour (Entrance fee included)
– 11:00 AM, leave Luray, Virginia for Toronto

8 hrs, 50 min – estimated driving time from Luray, Virginia to St. Catharines

– 8:30 PM estimated arrival at St. Catharines
– 10:00 PM estimated arrival in Toronto

Inclusions: 1st Class motor coach, 2 nights hotel accommodation, breakfasts, Luray Cavern entrance, tour guide fees, tips and taxes.

Please note: All arrival times are estimated only. Anticipate traffic delays specially at the border. We are not responsible for deny entry in the U.S.


Element by Westin in Hanover, Maryland
7522 Teague Road, Hanover MD 21076
Ph: (443) 577-0050
www.starwoodhotels.com/element/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=3051
($110 per room/night, 4 persons maximum)

Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Maryland
7000 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover MD 21076
Ph: (443) 755-0910
www.arundelmillsmall.com

Manassas Mall in Manassas, Virginia
8300 Sudley Road, Manassas VA 20109-3458
Ph: (703) 331-4997
www.manassasmall.com

Days Inn in Luray, Virginia
138 Whispering Hill Road, Luray VA 22835
Ph: (540) 743-4521
www.daysinn-luray.com
($110 per room/night, 4 persons maximum)

Luray Caverns in Luray, Virginia
970 U.S. Hwy. 211 West, Luray VA 22835
Ph: (540) 743-6551
www.luraycaverns.com/PlanyourVisit/TicketInformation/Prices/tabid/612/Default.aspx

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