New York State of Mind

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The fourth in the series of my weekend in New Jersey.  This is not about the wedding but about the half a day we spent in New York City.  OK, I know that half a day is nowhere near enough time to spend in New York City.  There is a part of me that wouldn’t mind going back to see some other things.  But the bigger part of me says that it really isn’t a destination for me.

This is not going to be a rant against the city.  I know there lots to see and do and there would be lots of fun places to just walk around and soak in the sights (and sounds).  And the food choices are basically endless.  I can see why some people would absolutely love it there.  I’m just not one of those people.

There is a certain energy about the place.  You can’t deny that.  But there are just way too many people.  I don’t know how you would shut that out if you lived there.  It is loud and that coupled with the crowds is just an assault on the senses.  Its actually hard to do a lot of looking around because it seems like everyone is in a hurry and needs to get somewhere and there are just so many people around.  It feels like if you tried to stop, the crowd would just sweep you up and carry you along without a second thought.

We were lucky enough to be traveling with a friend of the WD who is a pro at navigating the subways and getting to the right places.  I really don’t know how long it would take to figure out the system and to get to the right train and to purchase the right fare.  It didn’t really feel like you could be standing in front of the machines trying to figure it out because everyone had somewhere to go and you’d be holding the line up.

So lets get to some specifics of the short trip.  We caught the train in from Jersey and it let off at Penn Station which is just a maze of tunnels with assorted shops and restaurants on the various levels.  There are signs and arrows and numbers and it is a bit dark and it was a little warm when we got there (remember that the outside temps were in the 80’s).  How we got from the Jersey train let off to the NYC subway is a bit of a blur.  We just followed the guy who knew where he was going just hoping he wouldn’t lose us in the crowd.

As mentioned, he dealt with the subway and bought some kind of fare card and just ran us all through.  Then it was another maze of tunnels and steps to get to the subway platform which was incredibly hot and uncomfortable.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like last week when the outside temps were in the 90’s.

So we took the subway down to the One World Trade Center and then walked around the 9/11 memorial.  I think they hit the right tone with the reflecting pools and the names around the pools.  Anything that is designed to commemorate something somber should be a place where you can just sit and reflect and I think this accomplished that.  We didn’t go to the museum but I think that would have been a little overwhelming.

We had planned to go up to the top of the One World but we met up with the babysitter and her daughter who, if you remember day 2, had gone to city earlier in the day and had been there for quite some time.  Well, it was late in the afternoon and they wanted some food so we delayed our trip to go to the oculus which look either like the upside down hull of a boat or the rib cage of a very large animal.  Those were my first two impressions.  There was an Italian market/eatery somewhere in there and that was the chosen destination.  Lots of narrow aisles, too many people and not enough places to sit.

Then, we did the journey to the One World Observatory at the top of the building.  There was no line when we arrived (before dinner the line had been 45 minutes) so we walked in, bought tickets, and got right in.  The elevator ride up was pretty cool because the walls of the elevator were basically monitors and they showed you the history of the New York skyline on the ride up.

I didn’t like what they did after.  First, you had to watch a little movie with some history.  Don’t know if that is just a form of crowd control or a way to concentrate the audience so you enter in chunks.  Anyway, at the end, they lower the screen to reveal your first view of the outside.  Then, you are ready to go but, no, they herd you in front of photographers to take pictures that you can purchase later.   I really hate it when places do that.  Then, you still aren’t quite free because the last thing is that you can rent a tablet that identifies various landmarks and allows you to zoom in to learn more.  We did decide to do that.

Then, we were finally free to explore.  We had a clear day so visibility was good.  The sun was starting to set so the views to the west weren’t as great.  But we saw all the major landmarks that we could – the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and so on.  We have a tiny downtown with a few high rises and so the scale here was amazing.

The WD wanted to get back early which was fair since she was getting married the next day.  We had the option of going back with them or staying in the city and coming back later.  But, to be honest, the crowds were a bit much and I really didn’t feel like staying so we headed back.  The original plan was to try the Staten Island Ferry (which we saw from the tower) and that would have been fun.  But, with the delays getting into the city, that just wasn’t an option.

Walking around looking at the buildings, I guess I’m more old school.  I kind of prefer the ones made out of stone where they have opportunities to add decorative elements.  Glass and steel buildings have a certain look but they don’t have the character that the other buildings do.  Seen one, you’ve basically seen them all.

The subway ride back was interesting.  We got on a mostly empty train so we had seats.  But it was a sardine can after a few stops.  Fortunately, I had a map I could look at so I knew when we were getting close to Penn Station because you couldn’t really hear the announcements. (Seriously, can’t they get better microphone technology).  And we couldn’t see the WD and our tour guide even though they were just sitting across the car from us.

Sitting in that car, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like in really hot weather.  Or in the case of rain or snow if everyone came in wet.  Or in the dead of winter when everyone has one multiple layers – that would probably eat up all the available space.  I couldn’t imagine doing that every day.  When we got to Penn Station, you kind of have to move yourself through the crowd to get out.  There were these two young ladies getting out behind us and I felt one of them put her hand on my shoulder just until we left the car.  Was that to indicate she was leaving as well and allowing me to blaze the trail?

Got back to Penn Station and had time to kill before catching the train back to Jersey so we navigated the maze again and found a place to get something to eat/drink and actually managed to find a place to sit down for a bit before getting loaded on the train.

So that’s my first visit to New York.  And, more than likely, my last visit.  Nothing against the city.  Its got a lot going for it.  But it just isn’t my style.

I may have to tell you about our Uber adventures the day of the wedding.  But I also have some dance news to get back to as well.  We’ll see what strikes me.

Oh, and a parenthetical note because it seems there is at least one person in the Famous Franchise world who is again reading this.  Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough but I knew I wasn’t ready to do anything at the last open house and I would have turned down an opportunity if it had been offered.  The point was that watching people do stuff convinced me that it was time to get back in the game.  (This is all a little “inside baseball” stuff but I think it might mean something to someone so I’ll leave it at that)

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