10/16/17

New York City: Day Two

We packed a lot into a day yesterday. We had a plan and an agenda, but it was still hard not to think we'd sort of bumped into our destinations by accident. Here's what we did.

Our first stop was to be Central Park. We were to take PATH to the New York side, then walk to another subway station where we would board the C train to Columbus Circle. That was all well and good, but it was here we discovered a weakness in Google Maps. For some reason, it had us walking to a different station when we could have boarded the C train from the same location we'd left the PATH. None of this is really important to the story, but it describes the day. We'd look at the directions on Google Maps and then ask ourselves, well, do we *really* have to walk a half mile, or can we do that right from here? Or, do we *really* have to take the 4 train? Or will the 5 train get us to the same place? And don't even get me started on the Express trains. Well...we did make our way to Central Park via the C train, but only after exiting the station, going above ground, checking the directions and then going right back to where we'd disembarked from PATH. When we got off the C train, we were here:


From there, we looked around for some indication of where we should go next, and then asked a hot dog vendor..."Which way to Central Park?" He smiled and indicated...it was just across the street. Duh. And sure enough. We crossed the street, and then I looked back and up. It was just as I imagined it...a green oasis right in the middle of this city of skyscrapers.


Right away, we met up with the residents of the park, gathering nuts at a furious pace.


We ambled along, looking this way and that way. There were thousands of pink-shirted people, there for a march against breast cancer. One of their t-shirts said, "We Love Boobs." Here are some other things we saw.


This next one is going into my sketchbook.


My word for this One Word Wonder: "Romantic." And romantic or no, these rides were very expensive. It was something I wanted to do, but even the cheapest of the tours was north of $40 per person. I noticed one driver with a tag that said $4 per minute. I really hate being gouged as a tourist, and so we decided against the ride out of protest, if nothing else. Still, I was glad to have seen them. No charge for looking.


Several of you recommended we find the John Lennon Strawberry Fields memorial. There it was.


A sign nearby designated it at "quiet area" and specifically stated there was to be no amplified sound nor street musicians. Apparently the street musicians didn't care because there was someone there playing John Lennon music. We didn't mind the music, but the sign amused us.

A little farther on, we took a seat on a bench and looked out over this small lake. There were folks in row boats. You can see one just under the bridge.


From there, we decided no visit to New York City could be complete without purchasing a hot dog from one of the many carts at the street corners. A friend advised us to find one that served hot onions and sauerkraut. We found one on the 4th try. It was a hot dog like any other hot dot, and it was good.


After that, we decided to move on to our next destination, The New York Highline.

Have you ever wondered what a subway station looks like? Wonder no more. Here's a picture of the one where we waited for our next train. It's the 72nd Street station.


Most are dirty, crowded, extremely noisy, and they smell like....well, let's just say there are no public restrooms anywhere in the system. On the other hand, there are lots of good musicians and art such as these mosaics.



When we came up above ground again, we had about a half mile walk. One can get on the Highline at quite a few places. I'm not sure where we got on, but it looked like this from a distance.


Up quite a few stairs...


and we were there. Cool. If you've never heard of the Highline (and we hadn't, until we started reading up on sight-seeing in New York City), you can find a good article about it right here on Wikipedia. It's a former railway turned public walkway and green space, and it was very interesting. Here's how it looks to walk on it.


Off to the side, you can see the former rail line.


If I'm remembering right, this is the "Chelsea" neighborhood. To our right were structures like this one:


When I turned directly around 180 degrees, I saw this:


Also, blooming things growing right next to the rail lines.



We followed the line for some distance, eventually coming upon some informational signs.


Just above the right side sign was this image.


At this point, we'd reached the Hudson Yards.



Walking on just a little ways, we could see the Hudson River.


We sat there for a bit watching the river traffic.


From there, we went back down to street level, found a restaurant where we could get a brick oven pizza, drank some refreshing beverages, used the restrooms (which was the whole reason for going in the first place), and rested our aching feet. Our next and final stop was to be Grand Central Station. We plugged the location into Google Maps, and then took yet another subway train to the designated station. When we came up above ground, Holy Sh*t! We were in Times Square!





This was where we really felt the hustle bustle of the crowded New York City streets. Check out this next sign.


Keep Moving...and yet, I stopped there to take a picture of the sign. Always the rebel. And the city seems to draw your eyes upward at the incredible structures, both old and new.


We had about another half mile walk to reach the station. We just followed the folks dragging suitcases behind them, and there we were. We'd intended to come back up top and cross the street to get a better image of the front of the building, but then we forgot, and so this is the only one I have.


Going inside...what a treat. It seemed to house every train in the world. All kinds of trains going this way and that and to all sorts of destinations. Passing through this tunnel


Up some stairs to go back down some more stairs, we made our way into the Main Concourse. Even though we'd never been here before, it all looked very familiar. We've seen it in hundreds of movies and television shows.


The ceiling is painted dark sky blue with the constellations painted (tiled?) in glowing gold.




We spent some time looking up, gazing in awe at the splendor of this old place. From there, we boarded our final train back to the PATH station and for home. We arrived back at the RV at around 3:30 and sat for a while resting our aching feet. Our Fitbits tell us that in the past two days, we've walked nearly 14 miles.

After icing my knee and my feet, I took on the important task of adding the states of Connecticut and New Jersey to the side of the RV.


That pretty well takes care of the New England states.


We had plans to see Times Square on a night tour bus, but after yesterday's visit, we're kind of done visiting the city. Today, weather permitting, we're planning to walk to Ellis Island...a distance of about 2 miles one way. There's also a nice park on the New Jersey side, Liberty State Park, which appears to be lovely. The weather has been overcast, but quite warm because of the humidity. It's supposed to be a little cooler today. It occurred to us just this morning, that we can actually drive to Ellis Island if we're tired of walking. It doesn't require going into the city, and so we may do just that. When today is finished, our visit to New York City will also be finished. I'll say more about our next destination in my next post.

10/15/17

New York City: Day One

We gulped hard and then set out on foot to explore New York City yesterday morning. Our agenda for the day was the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and then to take the Staten Island Ferry out to see the Statue of Liberty. A former colleague and native New Yorker recommended the Staten Island Ferry as the best way to see the Statue of Liberty, and we took his advice.

We walked a few blocks through a residential neighborhood in Jersey City on our way to the subway. These homes look just like the ones you see on your favorite night time cop show:


We probably walked a little farther than we needed to on our way to the PATH station. It didn't matter because there we found machines to purchase a Metro pass.


With our pass, we could ride both the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson subway system) from New Jersey into New York City and the New York Subway operated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Along the way, we could see One World Trade Center off in the distance. The top was shrouded in fog in the morning, but the clouds burned off as the day wore on.


We managed to get around New York City on our first day with aplomb, even if we do say so ourselves. And we do. The most difficult parts of the journey were the parts we traveled on foot. In those sections, we sometimes headed in the wrong direction. Before I go on, however, we want to compliment the people of New York for their friendliness and their enthusiastic helpfulness. Anytime we furrowed our brow in confusion, someone with a smiling face asked us if they could assist. It was very impressive and uplifting in a city this size with a reputation for being less than friendly. New Yorkers, we salute you!

Also, we were using Google Maps, and that has proven to be a valuable traveling companion. There is a very informative blog post on the Wheeling It blog that goes into great detail about how to use Google Maps in the city. You can read it right here if you're interested. We appreciated the post so much that we donated to their "beer fund" as a thank you.

So let's just back up to the beginning, shall we? After purchasing our pass, we took a long escalator down into the bowels of the subway system.


The first train was the red train to the World Trade Center. We got on and rode one stop, coming up at an incredibly beautiful station on the New York side of the Hudson River. In addition to being a subway station, it was also a shopping mall. And it was vast.


Overhead was a huge skylight extending the full length of the building.


When we came up to ground level again, we took off on foot in the wrong direction, but soon realized our error and headed back to where we were supposed to be. Our first stop at the memorial was the reflecting pools. There is one in the place of each of the twin towers that fell on that terrible day.


The pools were both moving and sobering. So many names. Of course, it's always better to see moving water in a video, and so I've given you one. If you can't see the video, then click right here.


So many names. So many sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. So many people lost.


Some victims had pictures, flowers, flags, and short notes posted next to their name.


Also, some were listed according to the role they had in rescue efforts.


After visiting the reflecting pools, we went into the museum. For this, we'd purchased tickets ahead of time and were allowed to skip that long line at the museum. Inside, was a very moving tribute with many displays of fragments of the original towers. I'll post the ones I photographed along with the signs telling you about them. It was quiet inside, despite a huge crowd.










We spent a couple of hours exploring the museum, and then went back outside where the clouds had burned off to see the new tower known as One World Trade Center. It stands triumphant.


Th image above is going into my sketchbook. My one word for this One Word Wonder: "Phoenix."

From there, we headed toward the Staten Island Ferry. This part of the journey was completely on foot. Along the way, we passed the Wall Street charging bull. There were so many people crowded around it (why?) that we didn't venture any closer than this.


Near the ferry, we passed Battery Park. This is how it looks today.


Here's how it looked in 1851.


Battery Park has an interesting history, and you can read more about it right here.

Just around the corner from Battery Park is the Staten Island Ferry landing. It is free to ride the ferry, and it runs every half hour.


We waited about 15 minutes for the next one. It is for people only...no cars...and hundreds boarded along with us.


So, here we go...on our way to Staten Island.


But this is who we really came to see. For all that the 9/11 Memorial emotionally sobering, Lady Liberty was emotionally thrilling.


From the ferry, we could see a couple of lighthouses off in the distance.


This one is on a little rock of an island in the middle of the Hudson River.


The best views of the Statue of Liberty were on our way back from Staten Island.


The one above will go into my sketchbook. My one word for this One Word Wonder: "Beacon."


We were accompanied by these gentlemen of the Coast Guard. New York goes to great lengths to keep its assets safe these days. The guy on the front is manning a 50 caliber machine gun.


On the way back, I took this shot of the opposing sides of the river...New Jersey on the left, Manhattan on the right. You can see the World Trade Center there. It dominates the Manhattan skyline.


I took this image because the tallest building there on the right is the one just above the RV park where we are staying.


You can get a better look at the Manhattan skyline in the image below.


In this next image, you can see the Empire State Building right in the middle.


This one is an interesting juxtaposition of glass and steel over a lowly brick church. You can see the little church in the lower right-hand corner of the image below.


Also in the river...lots of boats. this one is a tour boat. We chuckled a little because there was no wind, but we watched as they raised the sail. These folks paid for a sail, and a sail they shall get.


After our journey to Staten Island, we were ready to go back to the trailer, and so we found our way using the New York Subway to take us back to the PATH, where we hopped on a train that took us back to Jersey City. Oh...there's our train now!


The trick to riding the subway is knowing which direction to walk when you come up to ground level again. We determined yesterday that if we walked in the direction of the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Factory, we were going in the right direction.


That's a landmark I can remember.

For those of you keeping up with the refrigerator magnet tally, you can rest easy knowing that I picked one up at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Usually, I'm put off by souvenirs that are sold in places that honor the dead. The museum store had its share of junky trinkets that seem disrespectful to me. Nevertheless, I liked this magnet, and so I purchased it.


And you know it's been a good day when I can also find a shot glass. This one was at the ferry landing on Staten Island.


Last night we went outside to see the Manhattan skyline at night. This image was taken at the marina near the RV park. You can see the World Trade Center close to the middle of the image and off to the right. It's the brightest thing in the sky. There are boats in the marina in the foreground.


This one was taken from the ferry landing across from the RV park.


That one is going into my sketchbook as well. My one word for this One Word Wonder: "Glittery."

The kitties did well for a long day alone yesterday. They always stretch when we return as if they've slept the day away...and they probably have. Despite his long day of napping, Smitty snuggled up on the Stars and Stripes quilt, falling asleep and snoring loudly, which caused Sadie no end of consternation. She had to get up on the chair to make sure he was okay.


And that was our first day in the Big Apple.

Today we'll head out for a longer subway ride (close to an hour) over to Central Park. The weather has been overcast, but quite warm. We dressed for cooler weather yesterday and quickly shed our jackets. Today, we'll dress more appropriately. After Central Park, we're considering making our way to see Grand Central Station. From there, we'll probably head back to the RV, but one never knows. It's an adventure, and we're feeling adventurous.