Last Sunday morning, Teresa and I went to New York City to catch a Broadway musical. I had been looking forward to someday spending time in the city, which I had never done before. I had always driven through NYC but never got the time to be a tourist. We took Amtrak from Selma's Union Station, right down the street. The train trip up wasn't so bad. I got to read and listen to the iPod.
We got into Penn Station that evening and eventually found our hotel. We knew nothing about the geography of Manhattan. On the internet, it said that the hotel was about a half mile from Penn Station. What a load of crap. We hiked quite a ways to get to the hotel. What sucked was that I hurt my back Sunday morning and had to hobble around with a cane and carry a 50 pound bag slung over my shoulder.
Monday morning, we had a list of places to visit. We did the breakfast thing at the hotel and then took a cab to The Empire State Building. Hey, every tourist has to see The Empire State Building. I studied that building in college in regards to its construction, fire resistance, and the B-25 bomber that crashed into it in 1945. We went to the 86th floor observatory. The cool thing was that the tourist areas for the observatory were under renovation, so I got to see the interior walls laid bare, which is something most don't get to see. The observatory was full and there were a ton of people there. Obviously, this is one of the cliche places to go, and I am fine with that. While on top of The Empire State Building, I heard German, French, Italian, Hindi, Swedish, some African dialects, Arabic, and some other languages that I could not distinguish. There were tourists from around the world.
Here are a few shots from the 86th floor observatory of The Empire State Building.
New York City pigeons are fearless. There were two of them on the observatory wall. They just sat there, inviting people to feed them or take their pictures.
And some interior shots
After that, we went to take The Staten Island Ferry and see The Statue of Liberty.
We also went to eat an early dinner in Little Italy on Monday. Great Italian food. We ate at the Lunella cafe on Mulberry Street. Awesome.
From there, we went up to Times Square and looked around the Theater District.
Eventually, we hiked back to our hotel and rested that night. The next day, we got up and went to Rockefeller Plaza. We intended to look around in that area, since there were several art museums as well as the Museum of Radio and Television. Unfortunately, the museums were either closed on Tuesdays, didn't open until noon, or an hour or so after we got there, so we didn't get to see any museums. Instead, we decided to take a Grey Line Tour bus around the downtown loop of Manhattan. It was well worth the money.
The tour took us through Times Square, around Greenwich Village, Soho, China Town, Town Hall, The World Trade Center, Madison Avenue, the United Nations, Turtle Bay, Central Park, Broadway, and most of the major sights.
We have a ton more pictures. We ended up going all over Times Square, then finally back to our hotel room to change clothes and go to a Broadway musical. We saw The Fantasticks, which holds the world's record for being the longest running musical in history.
Teresa got to meet (again) Anthony Federov, who was starring in the play. Anthony is best remembered from season 4 of American Idol, where he made it to 4th place that year.
After the play, we hung out some in Times Square. We checked out the Hershey's store and M&M World. Cool. Fun.
Wednesday, we rode the subway for quite a while then went and caught the Gray Line tour bus at the south end of their tour. We bought a 48 hour pass, figuring that if time allowed, we could take another loop through another borough. That didn't happen, but it did allow us to hop their bus anywhere we wanted. We got off at The United Nations complex. We bought tour tickets at Grey Line (you will save a couple of dollars by doing so compared to purchasing at the U.N.)
From there, we hopped Grey Line back to Times Square, where all tours begin and end. We had dinner in Times Square. Then, since we couldn't get any available cabs, we hiked it all the way back to our hotel on West 38th Street in Hell's Kitchen near the convention center.
We were at the train station at 5:45 AM on Thursday for the trek back to Selma. I scared the crap out of one old Black lady who took an interest in me when I sat across from her and prayed a blessing on our breakfast while awaiting our train. She started talking about God and religious stuff. She eventually literally ran away as if in terror because she was very religious, was ingrained into the institutional church, and had a lot of false teachings I addressed during the course of our discussion.
The trip back would not have been so bad except that the bathrooms stunk up the whole car and the staff did nothing about it, though they had complaints. They had the typical government employee attitude of laziness and did not care about the great discomfort that all passengers were experiencing.
The train trip up wasn't so bad. I got to read and listen to the iPod. What totally amazes me is that for a ticket price of over $100 each person for each leg of the trip, Amtrak loses money each and every year. You and I are paying the U.S. government for Amtrak to operate at a loss. One would think that if nothing else, the rip off prices of second rate food served in the cafe car would make up for any losses of operation. If you like paying $15 for a couple of sodas and two prepackaged sandwiches that you can find in convenience stores, then Amtrak is for you. If airlines and bus companies can operate at a profit, why can't Amtrak make a profit? Perhaps it is time to sell off that asset and let private industry take over.
This Thursday, I will have a LaPlante's Rants column in The Selma News about some of my observations.
Anyway, it is getting late. Time to think about sleep.