Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New York, NY - Last Day

We never ended up making it to Macy's, so we couldn't use our Macy's card, but such is the life of a non-shopper. We thought the Statue of Liberty would be nice, but wondered how crazy that would be on a holiday weekend. Finally, we settled on taking the Staten Island Ferry and then having lunch in the city before heading back to Vermont.

The ferry is one of those things, like the Statue and Empire State Building, that jaded New Yorkers never do, but are fun things to check out. AND, the ferry is free, if you can believe that. They must lose a fortune in running that thing, but that's why New Yorkers pay so much in taxes. Democracy in action. Because the ferry is free, you can imagine the crowds that must go there. It also affords you the best view of the Statue of Liberty, so we knew we were in for some serious brushes with humanity.

We took the subway to South Ferry, where it was a short walk (I'm talking 100 feet) to the terminal. Sure enough, there were hundreds of people waiting, most of them tourists. I'm guessing commuters don't take the boat on the weekends. The ferry was delayed, so things were a little testy, though not too bad. R had the foresight to tell us to stay on the right side of the boat, which afforded us a fabulous view of Lady Liberty. The kids were having a blast, though it was cold.

After getting a good view, we headed indoors and enjoyed the rest of the ride. When we got to Staten Island, we did what any person with any common sense would do - we got right back on the boat and headed back to Manhattan. One thing that was a pain was they made everyone get off the boat and then turn around and get back on, the same boat, no less. I'm guessing they don't want people to camp out and simply ride it back and forth. That would be too easy.

We rode back to the mainland, and then headed back uptown for lunch, wary of the time. The hotel let us keep our car in the lot after checkout, but only until 5:00. I figured no problem, but things never work out as you plan. Another problem was that the PATH trains are going through improvements, so they were delayed with waits as long as half an hour. Ouch! Another reason not to stay in Jersey.

We ate lunch on Houston street at one of my favorite places, Bereket. It actually scored a 21 on the Zagat's guide, which is phenomenal considering the place is a complete dive. They serve Turkish food and are open 24/7. Amazing kabobs and falafels, not to mention killer soups. In fact, they were rated #1 by Zagats for cheap eats. They also have my favorite baklava in the city, though I've heard my Arabic friends complain that it's too soggy. Oh well, you can't win them all.

After lunch, we wrestled with the idea of going to the park, but that 5:00 deadline weighed heavily on our shoulders, so we decided it was for another time and headed to the subway. One thing interesting is that they opened a Whole Foods on the Lower East Side, and the place was packed. New Yorker seem to love the illusion that they are being "green" by shopping there, though it's all a bit of a farce, if you ask me. Either way, it's clear what is trendy these days.

At some point on our way to the PATH train, we got a little sick, and had to stop to attend to our malaise. One stop turned into two, which turned into three, and at some point, I'd pretty much given up on getting back to Jersey by 5:00. Oh well, what's another $20?

We finally felt well enough to risk getting on a subway, and took it to the PATH station, and got lucky in that the next train was only minutes away. We landed in the Jersey PATH station at 4:50, then walked to the hotel and just squeaked by. I was amazed.

We made one last trip the bathroom, got in the car, and headed home. It was a long, brutal drive, somehow longer than I'd remembered. We got home close to midnight, though I have to confess, I tend to get a lot of sleep when we're on vacation, so I felt fine. On any given day at home, I tend to function on about five hours of sleep, which means that I feel like a corpse all day. The kids (and R) tease me about being tired all the time and longing to take a nap, and I think I need to get more sleep, but how else am I going to maintain this glorious blog?

Either way, the drive down to Princeton was brutal because I was functioning on very little sleep and we hit the road late in the afternoon, which meant driving at my peak level of fatigue. Driving home from New Jersey, however, I was in much better shape, and didn't even have any coffee during the day.

We got home, the house was freezing and the cats were wired from being pent up in the house for three days. They were clearly pining for all those birds and voles and mice that had gotten away. We tucked everyone in bed and hit the sack.

It was a great trip, the kids got to see and experience a lot, but in retrospect, I think a longer stay, in Manhattan, would be better. Next time we'll prepare a little better, because there are cool hotels that are affordable in the city, you just need to plan properly.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

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