Archive for the ‘New York’ Category

ManhattaNomad

Empire State Building

One of the perks of being on the East Coast so often is the opportunities the locale provides. So far I’ve made many trips to Washington DC, and at least one trip out to the ocean. However, there has been one city that I have wanted to visit for a long time, and now I have finally taken that opportunity and jumped at it. To someone like me who has grown up in smaller towns, New York City epitomized the big city atmosphere that I have rarely experienced.

Also, I realized that New York City is a pretty good mid-way point between my location in Maryland and Cambridge, MA, where my friends (whom I had dinner with during my first trip to Boston) resided. As such, we set up plans to meet in Manhattan for dinner. I originally was going to drive the four hours up to New York because I felt that it would be more convenient. I was fortunate that my friend advised against that route and encouraged me to take a bus.

VanGogh Self Portait

I’ve never really been on busses much. The most exposure I’ve had is using charter busses and some local transportation, but never for a 4 hour trip anywhere. With all things considered (how much gas costs, parking in Manhattan costs, toll road costs (which are sometimes up to $8!), stress involved, etc.), it ended up being cheaper taking the bus. However, since I don’t have a printer hooked up to my laptop while I’m at the hotel, I had to resort to will call at the bus station. This is where my adventure started.

Will call requires that I show up an hour before my bus would leave the station, and that I can understand. However, since my bus left the station (which was located in downtown Baltimore) at 6:30am, I had a very early morning ahead of me. When I arrived at the station at 5:30am, the ticket counter had a sign on it that said that the person running the counter would return at 6:05am, a mere 25 minutes before my bus would leave. Great. Fortunately, the sign was off by about 20 minutes, because the employee came back at 5:45am and I was able to get my ticket.

Sitting in the bus station was definitely outside of my normal comfort zone. There is somewhat of a stereotypical person who rides busses (just like there’s a stereotypical person who shops at Wal-Mart), and it was pretty obvious that I was sitting with some of these stereotypes. At any rate, I got on my bus to New York and the driver started out our trip by making the standard safety message over the PA system. He then concluded by saying, “So, relax and kick off your shoes, unless you’ve got funky feet, in which case keep them on. This Friday morning we also have a free movie for your viewing pleasure. It’s called “Whatever’s out the window”, so sit back and enjoy.” It was definitely a good way to start a bus ride.

Rodin's "The Thinker"

And relax I did. I managed to get quite a bit of reading done and take a nap before arriving in New York, both of which I would not have been able to do if I were driving myself. When I came out of the Port Authority, it took me a second to get oriented. I was glad that I knew I could use the sun to determine which direction I needed to go to get to my first destination: The Empire State Building.

I’m certainly glad that I did this attraction first, because it took a large chunk out of my time in the city just from waiting in line. Actually, I wonder if I wasn’t pressured into the “Skyride” tickets if it would have been any faster to just go and wait in line directly, instead of going on a simulated helicopter tour of New York (voiced by Kevin Bacon) that made me more nauseous than I have been in many, many years. After about an hour of waiting in line for both the elevator to the 80th floor and the elevator to the 86th floor, I made it out to the roof of the Empire State Building. It was definitely an impressive view of the city, and my only chance to see the Statue of Liberty while I was in town. Still, with the amount of time I spent up there compared to the time I spent in line, I felt that the ticket cost was highly overinflated. At any rate, I made my way back to the ground and started my running tour of 5th Avenue.

Egyptian Hieroglyphics

Most people have heard of walking tours of big cities, which are usually a nice, casual walk to some of the important sights of the city. Since my time in the city was at a premium, I ran. Therefore: running tour. After the Empire State Building, my next location was the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 82nd Street. This was probably 2 to 3 miles away, so I had a long way to go. I could have taken a taxi up there, but I think I may have missed out on some of the other sights if I had done so. Because I ran to the MET, I got to see 30 Rockefeller Center, Trump Tower, and at least a little bit of the Central Park Zoo.

Central Park

Eventually, I would like to come back to New York and actually spend a few days exploring the city, instead of the 10 hours that I had to spend that day. One of the reasons I’d like to come back is the MET. I walked with a brisk pace throughout most of the museum, and saw many famous works of art, but I feel that I did not get to appreciate them as much as I would have liked. Some of the high points that I did enjoy were the ones that my dad suggested I see. These were the impressionist section of the museum, the hall that had a bunch of Rodin sculptures, and the wing with the Egyptian temple. There were also a lot of location specific galleries that I would have liked to have spent more time in. In fact, when I first got to the MET, I made a left turn and entered in the Greek and Roman art section. Due to my training in the wordplay arts, the first thing that popped into my head when I got into the exhibit was: What’s a Grecian Urn? Answer: minimum wage.

Anyways, with one museum down, I had one more to go before dinner with my friends: The Museum of Modern Art. This required me to go back down 5th Avenue, but I decided that I wanted to see some more of Central Park, so I ventured into the “little green patch in middle of island”. Unfortunately, none of the roads or trails in Central Park are straight, so I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out where I was going. My one piece of navigational advice, the sun, was directly overhead so I just kept walking until I came out of Central Park. One thing that I do enjoy about large cities is that most all of their streets are numbered. That way all it takes is going one block in the wrong direction to realize that you need to turn around. When I had come out of Central Park, it turned out that I had made my way from the east end, where the MET is located, to the west end. I really wanted to go from the north end to the south end, but such is life.

Dali's "Persistence of Memory"

Now that I was reoriented thanks to the street numbers, I briskly made my way toward MoMA. On the way I saw some more landmarks like the LOVE sculpture, and Radio City music hall. When I arrived at MoMA, I had given myself plenty of time to absorb the art. As many normal people can understand, modern art is sometimes difficult to grasp (and often an excuse to display nudity in public), so I wanted to make sure that I had enough time to be confused. One of the pieces that I found most confusing was when I was in a room, wandering around looking at the pieces on the walls and a guard informed me that I should watch out, otherwise I was going to step on some art. As far as I could tell, it just looked like a spill of some white paint on the floor, so I guess the real art is the guard telling visitors to not step in the paint.

Starry Night

MoMA is also home to some famous pieces of art, such as VanGogh’s “Starry Night”, and Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory”, and I definitely had enough time to enjoy them. In fact, I’m not sure if I would go back to MoMA, because I feel that I saw all that it had to offer. The real kicker was when I came outside and made my way to dinner. It turns out that Target makes admission to MoMA on Friday nights free, which would have saved me some money. However, looking at the line that was there and the fact that I had little time to spare made me glad that I got in earlier, even if I had to pay for it.

Times Square

My route to the restaurant went right through Times Square, so I got to enjoy that sight on my way to meet my friends. Actually, one of the first things I noticed when I got into town was that the bus station was right behind Times Square because I could see the New Year’s Eve ball on one of the nearby buildings. As such, my entire day made one big loop around the city and I got to see what I wanted to. Dinner was an enjoyable event, not only for the company, but also because I had only eaten once that day, and it was at 5am and was a pretty minimal meal. Similarly, I had not stopped moving since I had gotten to Manhattan. I kind of felt like a shark, which has to keep moving, lest it die or explode or whatever happens to sharks when they stop moving.

After dinner, I made my way back to the bus station and my friends went on their way to go see “Avenue Q”, so the day was productive for all of us, considering the 4 hour transit time from our respective locations. The bus ride back to Baltimore gave me a chance to catch up on some sleep and to rest from a 10 hour adventure that were I to repeat, I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

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