Monday, July 18, 2016

New York! New York!


Times Square at noon

New York is energy.  And requires energy to take it in. It has been 35 years since I was in New York City—back in the days when I was in graduate school at Rutgers in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  Back in the days when I was a bit more energetic than I am now.  And if I recall correctly, I never went to New York at the height of the summer heat.  I had the inherent good sense to go in the spring, winter and fall.  Perfect times of year to visit the Big Apple.  
Street vendors of all sorts.  

I was eager to show Manhattan to my husband.  It is like no other city in the U.S.  Grand and bombastic, loud and pushy, flashing lights and neck-craning heights, street hawkers, hot pretzels with mustard and iced drinks on the carts.  
Characters that hang out around Times Square

One does not want to drive in NYC.  Neither does one especially want to be driven between the hours of 3:00 and 7:00, when the traffic jams seem to be the worst.  Those are the hours to skip the buses and go below to the subways where traffic is moving. 
When cars don't move, pedestrians take over the streets.

Unlike the subway system in Washington D.C. which I would have to describe as bright and majestic in its’ design and care; the NYC subway is gritty and purely utilitarian.  It’s just as well lit as it needs to be—no more.  It’s reasonably clean; I didn’t see any rats.
Going down to Penn Station

Jax going to shore in Port Washington, Long Island
Our boat was on a mooring ball in Port Washington Harbor, on Long Island—a beautiful spot with hundreds of boats at anchor, mooring or at the docks.  The first 48 hours on the mooring were free!  A water taxi would pick us up from our boat and deposit us as close as possible to the start of our little trek up the hill to the Port Washington train station.  
The Bull of Wall Street

For two consecutive days, we took the 40 minute train ride by Long Island Railroad into Manhattan, to Penn Station which is below Madison Square Garden.  Our plan for the first day was to walk around, catch a bus if we felt the need and just get our bearings in Manhattan.  Noble plan, but not executed.  
Freedom Tower is 8 sided and a few stories shorter than the Twin Towers were.

Within the first couple of blocks we were hailed by numerous hawkers for the bus tour companies.  We ignored the first ones, “saving” ourselves for the one we could not refuse.  She was bubbly and cheerful and extremely persuasive.  Best decision of our day!
Roast Duck in Chinatown.

We rode the NY City tour bus the rest of the day, hopping off for lunch in Chinatown, and enjoyed the tour guides’ knowledge and wit.  Obviously we would have seen very little by comparison, if we had continued walking.  
9/11 Memorial

Atop the double-decker buses, we saw the heart of Manhattan from a higher vantage point.  I became snap-happy as I am wont to do when presented with novel subjects to shoot.  
You can never chain your bike TOO well.

I tried to catch a few shots of ordinary New Yorkers going about their day which was somewhat of a challenge in that it seemed as though 90% of the people we saw were undoubtedly tourists, like us.  It’s not too hard to tell a tourist in NY.  They have that “look” about them, somewhat like a deer in headlights, or the look of giddy children.  You can’t miss it.

The best New York City tour guide atop the double-decker bus.
Besides sharing some of our photos with the reader, I thought that the most useful thing that I could impart would be the sound advice offered to us by our last tour guide atop the double-decker tour bus.  
Front entrance of Macy's, now the world's second largest department store.

He told us, “New Yorkers don’t come to Manhattan, except to bring our mothers when they visit.  We don’t shop in Manhattan.  We go to Queens or the Bronx where things are less expensive.  Retailers in Manhattan pay exorbitant prices for their real estate and pass that cost on to you.”  
Singers in Central Park.  Great acoustics in this tunnel.

He said that he lived in Queens and could be at work here in Manhattan in 10 minutes by subway—two minutes of that was walking to the station.  He told us, “Maybe you’re staying in a hotel here on Times Square.  Why do you want to pay $400 and more for a place just to sleep? The hotels are just as nice across the East River.”  
Central Park boaters.  We chose not to ride a boat.  No surprise there.

He polled the tourists on the bus—all but one other person and myself were visiting Manhattan for the first time. He told us, “I rarely have someone on my tour who is a return visitor to Manhattan.  This is what you do on your first trip to NYC.  You will never do it again."  
Site of John Lennon's murder in Central Park, in front of his apt bldg.

He went on, "Manhattan is YOUR town.  It is filled with tourists like you.  I love NY.  I think it is the greatest city in the world, but Manhattan is not for ordinary New Yorkers.  All these people out here that you see crowding the streets—they are tourists too.  Oh, there’s a few people visiting town on business, but most of them are like you—first timers.  Sure, see Manhattan first, and then visit the rest of New York City.”   
Undoubtedly the best way to see Central Park.


Day two in Manhattan was spent in Central Park, walking, sitting, people-watching, eating and walking some more. 

Self portrait, Vincent Van Gogh
We concluded our day in Manhattan by a much too short visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the largest art museum in the U.S.  Spectacular!  I could spend the entire day within those walls!  Another time, perhaps. 

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