Day Eighteen - Wednesday 12th April, 2006
Today we had to pick up our friend Glen from JFK Airport. Easy you say!!!! We left the hotel at 9:30am, giving us over 3 hours to drive the 21 miles to the airport.
Never again will Gary complain about traffic in Perth. The recommended route shown on the GPS and Mapquest had us going through the Lincoln tunnel across the middle of New York City and then a couple of freeways and easy as pie we would be there.
Our troubles started as soon as we got to the end of the Lincoln tunnel. The directions said to go straight ahead onto Dyer Street but there was no straight ahead and so Gaz chose a left turn as that indicated the 495 which we wanted on the other side of NYC. Big mistake!!!! We should have gone right. Actually.. the big mistake was driving to JFK in the first place, Gary's instincts told him to take the public transport option but no he decided to drive. Cheaper and quicker!!!!! His second instinct was to take the long way around down below NYC and Staten Island and Brooklyn but again he went with the direct route and paid the penalty.
So we struggled on and twice the GPS told us to turn into 34th Street and twice there was Police Officers standing there waving us to go straight on. This was gridlock NYC traffic. We got well and truly lost and things were looking seriously bad. Traffic was horrendous, stress levels were high, there was much honking of horns (just like in the movies), cars cutting us off, trucks cutting us off, getting stuck behind a hot dog vendor pushing his cart in traffic along the road. This was not fun. Rayls reset the GPS 5 times but it kept telling us to go back to 9th Ave which was behind us on a one way street. Gary seriously thought we would never be heard from again.
Then a miracle (not on 34th street!). Whilst stuck in traffic on who knows what street a bus pulled along side. This was a red double decker (London Style) sightseeing bus. The driver looked down on us with Rayls and her lap covered with maps and a computer. He opened his window. Rayls opened hers and the driver gave us the advice we needed. Turn left at 36th Street and keep going to the midtown tunnel you cant miss it. Rayls couldnt thank this guy enough and soon I turned into 36th. The traffic cleared and within a few minutes we came across the tunnel we were looking for.
It was still tough going but we eventually made it to JFK airport. I have to say the set up here is very good and the correct terminal and parking was easy to find.
One think we wonder about!!!!! When traffic is gridlocked, intersections are chocked, and there is nowhere to go, why do people honk their horn??????? Rayls actually saw a sign that said there was a penalty of $320 for honking your horn. Enforce that law and the authorities would be very rich.
There are no rules in NYC traffic just get there, doesn't matter from which lane you turn just do what you have to do. Amazing. Gaz was am tempted to leave the car at JFK and forget about it. However, our luggage was in the back and then there was Glen's luggage as well.
For interest sake it was $6 a car to enter the Lincoln tunnel, the midtown tunnel was $4.50. Parking at JFK is $3 for the first 30 minutes and $6 per hour after that. More tolls as we head back to the hotel.
After Glen came through Immigration/Customs we took the long way back to the hotel. Down below Brooklyn, across Staten Island and then into New Jersey. We turned right onto JFK Boulevard and seemed to be driving on it for a long time before we got close to the hotel and stumbled our way to the front door.
We checked back in, Glen went to his room and organized himself and then around 4:30pm we took the hotel shuttle bus into New York City another struggle with the traffic, especially getting into the Lincoln Tunnel, what a disaster that is. Big difference this time, Gary wasnt driving. Gaz knows it wont take him long to start complaining about traffic in Perth after he gets back but it is a breeze compared to NYC. He admires the bus drivers here, how they keep to a schedule is beyond him.
After the bus dropped us off we walked too the Empire State Building. A 15 minute line to get tickets and about 30 minutes for the elevator and up we went. 80 floors on the first elevator, then another 6 on a second elevator. The outside observation desk was very windy but the views are just amazing. Apparently you can see 25 miles, it was a little overcast but interesting to see the sights from so high p.
We spent only about 30 minutes at the top of the building too windy and crowded to stay longer.
Next was a bite to eat at a Burger King (where we seemed to be the only white people) and then onto Macys so Rayls could check out the kitchenware department and do some comparison with Myer.
By the time we got to Time Square it was dark. This is an amazing place. People everywhere and we wondered around for a couple of hours.
Finally it was back to the Port Authority Bus Terminal for the 15 minute bus drive back to the hotel.
Day Nineteen - Thursday 13th April, 2006This day we had three projects and we achieved them all.
Around 8:30am we caught the shuttle bus into NYC that darn tunnel again. Then it was the subway that took some figuring out, especially buying a ticket. We caught the subway down to the World Trade Centre station and spent about an hour and a half walking around the site. Hard to explain how we felt at this site.
Then the subway back to 42nd Street and down to Pier 83 where we caught the Circle Ferry on a three hour tour around Manhattan Island. We saw the sites and got very close to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The tour was probably a bit long but for the most part very
After the cruise we headed back to the hotel. We had a couple of hours to relax and freshen up before we headed back into NYC and through Time Square to the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway where we sat front row centre for Mamma Mia. We all really enjoyed it. Great
Bus back to hotel and that was our day.
Day Twenty - Friday 14th April, 2006Today we had a busy morning and then bombed out in the evening. It is Good Friday but unlike Australia, nothing changes and everything is open.
We started out by going to the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn. That was interesting, especially the Subway stuff.
Then we took the long walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and back to Manhattan. Gary actually asked the guy at the Museum for directions to the Bridge - He told him he wanted to walk back to New York and he firmly told Gaz that he was in New York and he actually wanted to get back to Manhattan....... OK. We think NYC is made up of 5 Boroughs, there is Manhattan, Brooklyn,Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island.
So we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge - that was kind of cool. Another bridge to add to the list of memorable bridge walks. Tower Bridge in London, The Golden Gate Bridge, Sydney Harbour Bridge and then of course there is the Narrows and the Causeway in Perth.
We should have ended our day there and gone back to the hotel as we were tired and it was mid afternoon and spitting with rain. However...... we caught the Subway to 72st Street, where we found it was more than spitting. We walked to Central Park, across Central Park and near Fifth Ave checked out (again) Strawberry Fields. This is right across the road from the Dakota Building where John Lennon was shot back in 1980. Strawberry Fields is a tribute to John Lennon and a lot of fans were there.
Then it was the subway and bus back to North Bergen where we did some shopping before we flaked out. There had been a lot of walking and we were all tired.
Day Twenty One - Saturday 15th April, 2006Today we checked out of the hotel and hit the road by 7:15am. We wanted to go onto Long Island and Gaz wanted to avoid the traffic.
We went to the TWA800 memorial - not sure why, just something we wanted to do. Then we went to Huntington, also on Long Island. Jim and Bette took us there in 2001 and it seemed so easy but it was tough today, lots of turns but we eventually got to the cemetery to once again pay our respects to one of our very favourite singers, Harry Chapin.
When we left Harry's grave we started the trip home. We took the chance and started out on the Long Island Expressway and eventually ended up on an interstate highway through The Bronx, back into New Jersey and onto I80. If we stayed on I80 for a few days we would end up in San Francisco!
We drove thrpugh the afternoon and got to Stroudburg in Pennsylvania. Nice hotel here with a laundry which is very much needed. Nice to have the clothes all clean again. We might just make it to Amy in Utah now, without the need for another laundry - touch and go.