Day 28 – Manhattan

After our exertions of yesterday we slept a bit later than usual but were moving well before 8:00 am. The hotel tarriff did not include breakfast so, rather than bother with a big breakfast in the restaurant, we had cereal we had been carrying with some milk (actually half and half) we had bought on the way home last night. There was no coffee facility in the room so we planned to get that when we went out.

Before going anywhere else we spent some time in the lobby with the WiFi to post and catch up on news. Once that was done we were ready to head out.

Majella had acquired a subway map from the hotel desk and worked out that our train would take us to a station near the site of the 9/11 memorial. She had plans to see that and to pick up cheap tickets for a Broadway show in the same general area.

First stop once we surfaced from the subway was at Starbucks for cappuccino and americano. While I was getting those Majella found out from other coffee drinkers that the 9/11 memorial required passes that could be obtained from the preview centre. The passes are timed as a way of managing crowds during construction. She also found the location of the ticket outlet and we used the WiFi in Starbucks to plot a route on her phone map for that.

From Starbucks we went to the 9/11 preview site where we were lucky enough to get passes for 12:30 pm today. We headed off to find the ticket place on the river at the end of John Street, arriving soon after they had opened at 11:00 am to find a long queue already. We joined it and got to the front where we bought tickets to see Mary Poppins tonight.

There was still time before we needed to head back for our slot at the 9/11 memorial so we walked to the nearby waterfront where Majella found some bargains at the market. From there we walked down to Wall Street and followed it back up to the area near the 9/11 memorial.

Security for access to the 9/11 memorial was similar to airport security. We had to remove belts, but not shoes, and items from pockets and pass them with cameras and other gear through X-ray machines. Passes were checked 3 times on the way in.

The memorial is surrounded by active building sites where the new towers are going up but it is still a place of quiet and reflection. The two huge square wells ringed by panels bearing the names of those who died are set in an area with grey paving, lawn, and many trees. Water flows constantly from all 4 sides of each of the wells and each of them has a smaller and deeper square in the middle into which some of the water falls. Other than the metal edges into which the names are cut the wells are made of black stone which lends solemnity. It took us a bit mor than 30 minutes to pass through security and look at the memorial.

Next on Majella’s list was Chinatown, followed by Little Italy. We headed in that direction but paused to buy lunch from a street vendor. Majella had egg and cheese roll. I had chicken gyro. We shared a strawberry and pineapple smoothy to wash those down before walking on through the edge of Chinatown and into the Italian area where we enjoyed a couple of small cannoli.

We had not decided this morning whether we would stay in town for the show or go back to the hotel to rest and change. By 2:00 pm Majella had decided that a rest would be good so we elected to go back to the hotel. We were already walking up the lower part of Broadway by that time so we found the nearest station and took the subway back to Queens.

Rested and changed we set out again around 6:00 pm, walked to the station, and caught a ride to Times Square station. We knew that our theatre, the New Amsterdam, was on 42nd Street but not where so we were pleased when we stepped out onto 42nd Street to see it just across the road.

With the theatre located our thoughts turned to dinner. It was almost 7:00 pm so we needed something close and fast if we were to get to the theatre in good time for the 8:00 pm start. The Heartland Brewery and Chophouse on 43rd Street filled the bill. Majella had stirfry chicken with ginger and mushrooms. I had buffalo spring rolls – crisp tempura cones with grilled chicken and buffalo and blue cheese sauces. I had beer but Majella stuck with water. Service was quick and we were back to the theatre soon after 7:30 pm.

New Amsterdam theatre was a spectacular setting with very elaborate decoration on the walls and ceiling. The production and performance was even more spectacular. In addition to the anticipated singing and dancing at the high standard expected for Broadway the sets were elaborate, with the house interior moving to front or rear of stage as required, the attic or rooftop dropping down, and the basement rising up. Add to that a variety of conjuring tricks to make objects appear from Mary’s carpet bag and some spectacular aerial stunts with Mary flying out over the audience and Bert dancing up and down the stage walls and across the ceiling. It really was an entertaining evening.

When that was done we walked back across the street and caught the subway back to Queens and our hotel. We covered about 40 km today. That was mostly by subway but my pedometer recorded 15000 steps so we walked a good deal of it.


A day in the city

The two main things I wanted to do in New York today were to visit the 9/11 memorial and get to see a Broadway show. We did both, plus do a lot of walking around the lower end of Manhattan. The memorial was very moving and I’m glad we saw that this morning. We got cheap tickets to see Mary Poppins tonight and we were blown away by the special effects, the sets, and the music!

Day 27 – Connecticut to New York

We were awake at 7:00 am, showered, and joined Joyce for breakfast. She had prepared scrambled eggs and Canadian bacon which we had with some fruit and nut sourdough bread that Majella had picked up at Rogers’ orchard yesterday. There was also cantaloupe and we washed it all down with warm cider spiced up with the mulling spice that Majella had found yesterday along with the cider. That was not our usual breakfast coffee but it went down well.

After a relaxed breakfast we finished packing, put the bags in the car, and said our farewells to Joyce. We had enjoyed her hospitality, the chance to see something of the local area with the benefit of local knowledge, and a break from travel before the challenge of New York City. We were on the road just after 9:00 am. It had rained overnight so the roads were wet and there was some rain as we drove off.

We made it onto the interstate and out of Connecticut without difficulty and were about an hour into the trip and a little way into New York State when we decided that we might break for a cup of coffee before tackling the city driving. We exited just north of White Plains but despite driving around for a bit failed to find anywhere that seemed to offer coffee. Eventually we headed down road that the map suggested would get us back to the Hutchinson Parkway and into the city area.

As we got back onto the parkway the rain intensified and was quite heavy for a while. The sides of the road accumulated water and cars on both sides of the highway shot out sheets of water as they passed through the deeper puddles. We could see that the stream by the side of the road was running high and eventually traffic came to a halt as we approached a section that dipped under an overhead bridge. As we got the the head of the blockage we found that the road was covered by water to the depth of car axles but that cars were pushing through one at a time on the higher side of the road. We had no real choice but to follow suit. Traffic flowed for a bit on the other side of the water but the slowed again. The rain had stopped by then but there was still a strong flow in the creek as water flowed off the hillsides. As we approached the next section with water coverage we came to an exit and noticed that some drivers were opting for that. We did likewise and when we were able to stop on the overpass just beyond the exit were pleased that we had. The next lot of water was deeper than the last and we really would not have wanted to drive through it.

Majella asked somebody on the overpass about coffee and was told to turn left for the village. We did that, parked, and walked up the street, getting a bit damp in a shower of rain, and found MAD Cafe where we had coffees with a toasted ham sandwich for Majella and bagel with cream cheese for me. That served as lunch and the 30 minutes or so that we spent there was enough for some of the traffic to settle. We drove through suburban streets to another parkway access beyond the water blockage and were on our way again. Traffic was backed up for several kilometers on the other side so we assumed that the water was still over the road and were pleased with our escape from that blockage.

Because I did not know if any toll roads or bridges would have facilities for manual payment and we had decided to avoid the Avis surcharge for using the electronic system, I had set the GPS to avoid tolls. It took us from the Hutchinson Parkway over the 3rd Avenue bridge into Manhattan, down FDR drive, and then across the bridge at 62nd Street toward Queens Boulevard. There were some missed turns and at least one road blockage that caused recalculations along the way. Still, we eventually made it to the Pan American in Queens a little before 2:00 pm. Official check in time at the hotel was 4:00 pm but we found a parking meter just in front and were able to arrange to park in the hotel yard while we waited in the lobby for check in. We had coffee and juice respectively in the hotel restaurant and the desk was the able to give us a room. We found free WiFi in the lobby but there is no WiFi in the rooms so some juggling will be required.

We dropped our luggage and headed out to see what we could see in the afternoon. Our hotel was just 4 blocks from Grand Avenue station so we walked there, bought transit cards, and followed the directions from the hotel guide to the museum district. It was near to 4:00 pm by the time we reached the Guggenheim and we decided that we would not be able to see enough by the 5:30 pm closing time to justify trying that today and would think about seeing it tomorrow or Sunday.

We walked across 5th Avenue to Central Park and walked down through the park until we came to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That was about 4:30 pm and it was open until 9:00 pm which we thought might allow time to see enough to be worthwhile. We worked our way through the Egyptian section and then into the American Wing. At about 6:00 pm we found a cafeteria and had coffee and shared a slice before finding the hour guided tour of highlights that was offered from 6:30 pm. The guide escorted a group of 20 or so to pieces in the Grecian, Roman, African, American, and European sections with informative commentary around pieces in each of those areas. She mentioned that the museum has 2 million pieces so we figured we had no chance of seeing more than a small fraction regardless of how much time we had. After that tour finished we visited the Andy Warhol retrospective that has examples of his work and related work from other artists. There were some interesting pieces among them and some that left me wondering what makes something art.

Shortly after 8:30 the staff began warning about closing time. We made our way to the doors and then down a couple of streets and across to Lexington Avenue where we hoped to find the subway station we would need to get back to our hotel. We found that at 77th street and decided to eat something for dinner before heading back to the hotel. We found Pick a Bagel at the corner and had panini sandwiches with meat, cheese and tomato.

We managed the subway ride home without difficulty though we discovered a planned interruption to service on our line over the weekend. That will require us to learn more about the subway routes. The train back to Queens was apparently running late and they announced that it was becoming express after the first station over the river. We got off and caught the next one to ensure we did not miss our station. That got us back to the hotel without further bother.

Distance today was about 190 km on my tracking software but some of that will have been on subways and walking. We were glad to have made it through the traffic and to have managed to see some of a major gallery. We may have a slow start on Saturday but I expect it will be a long day of activity in the city.