Saturday, July 22, 2017

NYC - Day 6

Tuesday was our last full day in New York City. As I wrote earlier, the hotel was just 2 blocks from the bus and subway. The subway is quicker and there's often an interesting event taking place but I really like taking the bus. From the bus, you can see where you are going and take in the sites en route. Every day as we walked from our hotel in Queens to the bus stop for the short ride into Manhattan, we would see this...

One of the companies for the street vendors was just across the street and they would pull out every day as we were stepping out. This was our bus stop, right past the fruit stand. You can see the subway enclosure in front of the tall building.

After MoMA, Scott wasn't quite sure he wanted to take in another art museum but I convinced him that he would be glad he did... and he was. I think we could enjoy the museums much more if we weren't worn out with walking, and standing (which is worse). The pictures don't even begin to display how massive the Metropolitan Museum of Arts is. The Met (main location)is located on the 5th Avenue side of Central Park.

When I was at the museum in October, I didn't have much time and told my Mummy that I could skip the Egyptian section. I had no idea how good it was. Scott headed straight there and took dozens of pictures in the Egyptian gallery. Here are some highlights:

While on the trip, I completed Ron Chernow's exceptional biography titled, Washington: A Life, so I was particularly interested in portraits of the Father of our County. There were many more than this.

 Ben and me.

 This was my favorite from the Arms and Armor gallery:

 I could not find this one again last month but
I was drawn to this one in October. If you 
know me, you know why! Hint: color.

Most museums run special exhibitions throughout the year so a good museum never gets old!  This song book was from an exhibition in October: Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven.

Did you feel safe riding the subway? We've been asked this a few times. My answer is always, "Yes", and has been since I took my first subway ride in Washington DC, as a teenager. Since then, I've journeyed on the transit systems in 10 cities. It's better than 6 Flags! Even when strange people get on a car, it still felt safe. Once, a young couple entered, introduced themselves to the entire car and he turned up a small amplifier and played guitar while she sang. He emphasized over and over how he just wanted to brighten our day but that bit of goodwill didn't stop them from collecting tips:) Three different times, persons boarded the train and in a loud robotic voice, introduced themselves and told their hard luck story. They made sure we knew they just wanted any granola bars, sandwiches, etc. that someone might have but, they too were happy to take money. Interestingly enough, their scrips were all the same with just a few details changed - I thought it had to be some kind of organized racket. 

Below is one of the Times Square entrances (yes, we were back there again!). This station is the busiest in the United States with more than 60 million passengers passing through in 2016. The picture in this article shows the entrance we used the most. I guess that makes us a statistic.

You can also see a Duane Reade store in this picture. DR was bought out by Walgreen's in 2010. One of the two is around every corner! There are over 300 of the 2 stores in NY with over 150 in Manhattan alone. Find the one you need by checking out the website map link.

Need to park your car? Here's a solution. We passed by several of these from the bus and didn't get a good picture so I had to ask Google for a picture:

We finally got to take our boat ride. 

I actually enjoyed the view of the Statue of Liberty from the boat as much as being up close. Unless you are wanting to see Ellis Island (coming up in the next post), spend your money on a boat ride - this too is better than 6 Flags.


From the October trip:

It's time for Ray's.

My parents love to visit NYC (and I understand why). They stay with someone very close to Times Square and have taken in a few Broadway plays through the years. The "day of" ticket booth is right at 7th Avenue and 47th Street. There, you will find same day tickets anywhere from 20-50% off and availability can change at any time. Following my dad's EXACT instructions, I went to the last booth looking for the black lady, about my age. When I walked up, she asked her routine question, "what are you wanting to see." I said, "Well, my dad sent me to your booth." The look said it all - I was crazy. Then, using his words, I said, "He's the fat man from Arkansas." She immediately lit up and said, "That's your daddy!" Scott showed her a picture of him and we immediately became friends as she stuck her hand through the tiny payment cutout and grabbed mine. We visited like long lost friends. She recommended we see Bandstand and set us up on the 11th row with aisle seats. He told me she'd take care of us! So, since we can't afford "The Room Where it Happens" (that would be Hamilton)...

We very much enjoyed the 1940's music and dancing in this play about musicians who had just returned from WW2 and were trying to start a new band. The story line wasn't exceptional. It basically provided a good backdrop for some excellent music and choreography. Although it was a pleasant PG-like for the adult content, it did contain some unnecessary language. 

Currently only 4 theatres are actually on the street, Broadway. But it's not the street name that designates whether a show is a Broadway show or an off-Broadway show of off-off-Broadway. Off-off Broadway theatres hold fewer than 100 seats. Off-Broadway has 100-499 and Broadway theatres, like this one, hold 500 plus. I guess not everyone can have The Muny with it's 10,000 seats!


And when the shows let out, it a madhouse - the fun kind - you know, better than 6 Flags. Along with a few hundred other people, we stopped at Juniors Diner after the show.
It did not take long to decide we weren't staying in line half the night to get a table but we did get in the bakery line for some Junior's Cheesecake. Some say it's the best in New York. I think they might be right. Scott was excited to see that they had a sugar free version. I opted for the devil's food cheesecake. We didn't munch until we got back to the hotel but it was well worth the wait!

Scott finally got a Nathan's hot dog in NYC. 

PSA: Notice the mesh drawstring pack he's sporting (it's Cardinals, in case you can't tell, but that's not the point). We found this to be an excellent way to carry a few things (water, water, and more water) around for the day. It's light weight and if we needed anything else, it keeps expanding. Many people carry full backpacks and they look so uncomfortable - especially when they are in front. This is the recommendation from many travel websites. It's too easy for the bad guys to open the zippers from the back. Not so with our little drawstring option.

It was our last night crossing over the street from the subway station. I had to stop, look, and take pictures. It's hard to tell but there's a train straight ahead and others in the station on the right. Standing there, I really thought I'd miss it all - I was right. I wonder if I could have pitched a cot and stayed the night there? Maybe not.

 Crossing the bridge with cheesecake in hand.

Friday, July 21, 2017

NYC - Day 5

Before getting to the pictures, I'll elaborate a bit on the Big Bus. As I'm sure you would imagine, tour buses are all over New York. In October, Mom and I toured some on The Grey Line. We were somewhat disappointed. It probably did not help that it rained, a lot, on our second day of the 2-day pass. Scott and I had used Big Bus on other trips, so I looked into it. Of the various options, once again, it seemed to be the best. We were somewhat disappointed but it was most because of our own approach. Most of these buses, including Big Bus and Grey Line, are hop on and hop off. They have predetermined stops at tourist spots and you can leave one bus and in theory, another will be there every 20-30 minutes, depending on the stop. In October, as Mom and I waited for Grey Line, we would see 2 or 3 Big Buses come through and comment that maybe we should have done that. More than once, Scott and I waited for what seemed to be forever. He finally commented, "Maybe we should have used Grey Line, I've seen several of them come through." I could only laugh. Here's the general rule - no matter what bus you choose, more of everything else will pass you by. I'm sure there's a parable in here somewhere.

What do I wish we would have done? Glad you asked. Big Bus had 5 routes (including the night tour) ranging anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours. We had the 3 day pass which included the night tour and a short boat ride (so did Grey Line and I did like their boat ride better). Both tours included passes to a museum too. I think we would have been better off to have done complete routes without getting off and back on. They give good historical, cultural, and fun information on the bus. We could have completed the tours and still had plenty of time to explore more by walking and using our subway/city bus passes. Plus, the night tour and the boat tours are well worth the entire passage.

While in our UBER car on the way to the hotel (Day 1), we quickly learned that the mother/daughter riding with us were from Kansas City and we shared some common views in life. The mom had been to NYC before and they only had a couple of days this time. She had bought a private, 3.5 hour van tour combined with a 2.5 hour boat trip that completely circumvented Manhattan. That sounded very appealing to me - maybe next time! However, I do think the upper levels of the bus give a vantage point that a van wouldn't have. Pun intended.

Enough about buses! You're hear for pictures.

 According to the signage,
Our 18th president, General Ulysses S. Grant
is indeed buried in Grant's Tomb.
But don't go on Monday (or Tuesday)
- the Visitor's Center is closed.
We neglected to click the "plan your trip"
tab on the website!

 The Riverside Church is across from
Grant's Tomb
Another church that we knew nothing
about but felt it was picture worthy.

 This is the 125th Street Subway
which we ascended into Harlem
to walk down to Grant's Tomb.
This (click here) is the article about
this station 2 weeks later.
I first saw it on the nightly news.
Live dangerously, my friends:)

The famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem

This just reminded me of so many NYC scenes
that I've seen on TV on shows such as
Blue Bloods and Law and Order.

We didn't get to get out and spend time in Harlem.
I would have liked to explore more - for instance,
this bazaar on 116th Street. Harlem received quite
a reputation in the 20th century but has seen a
recovery of late. In 2001, former President
Bill Clinton established his office on 125th street.

This is from the Museum of the City of New York.
Alexander Hamilton looks over Central Park from
the front of the building. Our Big Bus tickets included
free admission. I'm not sure it was worth the free
admission but, Scott did enjoy some of
the WW1 posters throughout the museum. 

At the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park

A walk through the park.

Another statue in Central Park. This one was
interesting because it was commerorating
the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers.

Did I mention that all roads lead to Times Square?
This McDonald's runs the length of a city block.
 It's not very wide as you might be able to see
in the next picture.

The only place in NYC that you can get something to drink for a buck!
The photo of Scott gives you get a bit of an idea of the length.
This is a good time to let you know about NY bathrooms! 
Public bathrooms are few and far between. As I like to say, 
8 million peopleand only 8 bathrooms. Several places put a
code on your receipt so you can punch in and take care of business. 
Just making sure you getthis... you can buy a drink at McD's or Starbucks
so you can go... of course, that drink puts you looking for the next place to get a code.
Interesting dilemma.
 Remember the Disney characters from an earlier post?
They solve this problem by having someone with them walk up 
to people in McD'sand ask for their receipts. Just warning you!

I really wanted to see Madison Square Garden so we found it. Next 
time, I want to attend an event there.  One of the things that I found
interesting was that right across the street, there was a K-Mart.
Who'da thunk it? I was glad to see that K-Mart because I could barely
walk at this point. Scott wasn't sure I'd make it back to the hotel.
My knee had started hurting on the 2nd day and was getting 
progressively worse. Then, while in Central Park earlier in the day,
I had moved aside for someone only to step into a small gully - that
was the final blow. Our plan to take Monday a bit
slower became a forced reality!
From here on out, you will see my K-Mart purchase
in many of the pictures - a cane. It helped tremendously and I also
learned that K-Mart on 34th Street at One Penn Plaza
 (I see there's another on Broadway) had souvenirs
at a much better price than anywhere we had seen.

We walked on down 34th Street towards the Empire State Building
passing by Macy's - but no parade.

Below is inside the Empire State Building where the lines are
VERY long to go to the 86th floor. I did this in October
but, as you saw in an earlier post, we opted for 66 floors of
Top of the Rock this time. So, which one would I recommend?
That depends. Top of Rock is a much shorter wait - not
just from our experience but from looking at the reports
of others as well. The ESB takes you much higher but can have
waits up to 2 hours. My wait in October was an hour and a half and I was
told that Sunday evening was one of the best times to go.
No matter which one you do, try to time it so that you go up
about 30 minutes before sunset. You can get a day and a
night view. I love the city at night and have included a
picture from the 86th floor of the ESB.

While waiting on the bus around the corner
from the ESB, we saw a couple of helicopters
hovering around it. Never did hear what was going
on. We thought it might be tours but not sure.
Then, this week, while watching a Cardinal's
game against the Mets, they showed aerial shots
going around the ESB. I'm guessing every station
that goes to NYC does something like that so maybe
we were seeing something similar. Or, maybe not.
And, while waiting, I got asked for directions from
other tourist. That happened several times. Maybe
it's the thick NY accent:) 

 Just thought I'd show you one more pile of trash.
This is on the street to the hotel. It's how
we closed down the city every night.