Vacation Recap, PA/NY, Part IV

We took a week to visit famous places in Pennsylvania and New York (specifically Philadelphia and Manhattan).

Day 5

Had some breakfast in the hotel room. Cereal and milk, because of the fridge. Plus some other items that didn’t need to be heated.

First stop of the day – the subway station. It was located two blocks away. An uneventful walk there, and then we were down in the station. First order of business was to buy MTA cards for the family. However, subway stations are not setup to be the starting point of a family journey. The MTA agent in her tollbooth-like enclosure said she could help me if I had a problem with my card, but to buy a card I had to use the self-serve kiosk. The self-serve kiosk lets you buy one card at a time, and requires a number of menu selections.

I waited until there was no one in line, then I started. Bought a card, bought another card, then it wouldn’t let me buy a third card. I switched credit cards – my guess was the credit-card fraud department figured more than two swipes of a credit card at a self-serve kiosk means that someone’s card was stolen and the thief is looking to quickly convert it to different currency. So I switched credit cards and slogged through two more transactions.

At this point, I felt sorry for the people who had lined up to use the kiosk, so I stepped aside to let them use the thing. Then I returned with a third credit card for the last two MTA cards. I handed them to Alpha and Beta, who liked the feeling of responsibility and freedom with an MTA card, but I kept Gamma’s and Delta’s cards because I had a feeling they wouldn’t hold on to them very well.

So Some Wife and Alpha and Beta swiped themselves through to the platform. I lined up Delta and Gamma in front of the turnstile. Swipe one card: “Go”, swipe the next card: “Go”, swipe the third card and walk my self through.

It would be a lot easier if they’d let you combine riders on one ticket. On the plus side though, some of our stops were short enough that they were considered legs of one trip and so we weren’t charged for them.

Our hotel was up by the Lincoln Tunnel, and our first stop was the World Trade Center. It was early enough in the morning that there were a bunch of people on the subway trains. The boys enjoyed the whole process, especially getting to stand and hang onto things in a moving vehicle.

photo of people on the NYC subway

We got off the subway at the World Trade Center. There was some construction around it, so we had to walk a circuitous route around a bunch of fencing. Eventually we arrived at the memorial and pools.

photo of the World Trade Center memorial pools

The older two kids had learned about 9/11 in school, so they understood what this was all about. We gave a quick overview to the younger two, who were mostly interested in playing in the water at the pools.

We made sure to get close to the new WTC building, informing the boys that it’s the tallest building in the US.

photo of the World Trade Center

Then we wandered over to Trinity church and the Wall St. area.

photo of NYC's Trinity Church

We didn’t really go down Wall St, but we did poke our heads into Trinity and wander around its graveyard for a bit.

Then back on the subway with the destination of the Staten Island Ferry. The plan was to save money by riding the free ferry past the Statue of Liberty, rather than pay to go on the island. So that’s what we did.

We got on the Staten Island Ferry:

photo of NYC's Staten Island Ferry

Tip: the ferry doesn’t turn around – it’s like a train with engines on each end. So the same side of the boat faces the Statue of Liberty all the time, regardless of which direction you’re travelling. This also means that you unload at the opposite end of the boat from where you loaded.

We didn’t know those things before, so we missed the statue on the way to Staten Island. But we had a nice pizza lunch at the ferry terminal on Staten Island. Maybe not nice – more like rushed and crowded. But the Dairy Queen treats we got afterward were nice. And then we got back in line to head back to Manhattan. I liked the Staten Island terminal better than the Manhattan terminal, and I think the kids did too, because it has a huge fish tank in the waiting area.

Here are some photos from the return trip:

photo of the Statue of Liberty

photo of the Statue of Liberty

photo of the NYC skyline

Then we walked up a couple of blocks to see the bull statue near Wall St. Unlike all the photos (and the previous time I had been there), the bull statue was very popular. Couldn’t get near it through the crowd there. So we walked by and I told the kids to look as we walked past.

Next stop: the Empire State Building. We took the subway there, or at least close enough, then we walked around the block to get to the entrance. I will note at this point that it is mid afternoon and the family has been out and about all day and the weather is very hot.

photo of the Empire State Building

It was a little expensive, but I wanted the family to have the experience of being above NYC. The wait was loooooong, and it just so happened that the air conditioning wasn’t working that day. So the family was not exactly on board with the idea of waiting in a hot stuffy room packed wall to wall with other tourists. I think I’d recommend going early in the day, rather than mid afternoon.

We finally got to the top, even choosing to climb 5 flights of stairs rather than wait in line for the final elevator. I don’t know if it was completely worth the wait and hassle, but the view was nice and the weather was cooler up there on the 86th floor.

photo from the top of the Empire State Building

That was it really for that day. We made our way back to the hotel, debated what to eat for dinner and ended up with leftovers. Then we went to the penthouse pool (it was either the 8th or 10th floor, not too fancy, but Gamma still wonders why the pool was on the top floor instead on the ground floor). Then more HGTV and then bed.

Day 6

Had some breakfast in the hotel room. Cereal and milk, because of the fridge. Plus some other items that didn’t need to be heated.

My original plan was to go to Central Park and Rockefeller Center, grabbing lunch somewhere along the way and leaving in the afternoon.

However, because of the valet parking garage, I couldn’t pack up the van upon checkout and then come back to it when we were done sightseeing. So any sightseeing had to be done before the noon checkout time.

That left only enough time for Central Park, so that’s where we went. A couple of blocks to the subway, out of Columbus Circle, then across the bottom of Central Park (passing by the zoo but not going in (except for the gift shop because the boys wanted stuffed animals)), then back on the subway.

Here is what I think was the boys’ favorite part of Central Park – the water playground and the large rocks:

photo of the boys playing in Central Park

photo of the boys playing in Central Park

There was some sort of amusement park also tucked into Central Park.

photo of the boys playing in Central Park

Check out from the hotel was rather uneventful, other than having to resume driving. There was a bit of gridlock on the street, so I had to be a little aggressive in leaving the parking deck. The Lincoln Tunnel posed no delays this time – apparently there are not many people who care to leave Manhattan around lunch time on Saturday.

We drove for about 3 hours to get us back to the Country Cupboard. There is a hotel associated with the restaurant, so we stayed there. That got us out of the city and within a decent day’s drive from home for the next day.

I forget what we did for lunch. I think it was snacky stuff in the van on the way to the hotel. The plan was not to eat too much for lunch so that the kids would eat their money’s worth at the buffet.

It was nice to get out of the city. Not just NYC, but also Philly and the parts of NJ that we drove through. It felt more free being where there was some open countryside and mature trees.

We got to the hotel and checked in. The kids were ready to eat, so we headed over to the buffet. Well, restaurant really. It’s not a buffet until after 4:00, which it wasn’t yet. We had to kill about 20 minutes, which is easy to do because they have a large store attached to the restaurant.

Promptly at 4:00, we checked back in with the restaurant hostess and we made our way to the buffet. The food was still good, but it seemed like the selection was a little smaller, plus the drink refills were not free anymore. They’ve made some adjustments to the business in the two years since we had been there. Still recommended though.

Walk back over to the hotel after dinner. The hotel was nice – an indoor and an outdoor pool. We tried the outdoor pool, then we switched to the indoor pool for the rest of the time. It was warmer, it was emptier, and it had the hot tub and sauna. We were the only people in that pool/hot tub/sauna area the whole time.

Then the usual bedtime routine.

Day 7

Had a nice breakfast in the hotel breakfast area. Got the van packed up, and we headed home. Standard interstates on the way home, and the drive was unremarkable.

The End.

How is the land in which they live, is it good or bad? And how are the cities in which they live, are they like open camps or with fortifications?

Numbers 13:19

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This little article thingy was written by Some Guy sometime around 12:51 pm and has been carefully placed in the Travel category.

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