I had one job.
Ok, I had more than one job, but I had one important job and I screwed it up. I am worthless.
When Steve invited me to go on this trip, he basically left it up to me to figure out what we were going to do when we went to New York City. I'm not good at that sort of thing, because I am always worried I'll pick things to do that he won't enjoy, but I was determined to do it this time to prove I was at least capable of it and so that we could have a fun day. I got some advice from a friend who'd beenhere before, and although I didn't schedule everything down to the minute (that kind of thing isn't any fun) I did have a list of what we'd do when we got there. I also asked Steve to pick one thing he'd like to do, and he managed to get us tickets to see Phantom if the Opera at the Majestic Theater on Broadway, so all we had to do was work around our 2:00 curtain time for whatever else we did. Easy peasy!
As I've said, where we are staying isn't a big city or even a big town. It's a bit of an extended suburb with businesses and homes, but not much else that I could find. The one thing that seemed to be perfect (and I mentioned it earlier) was that it had a train station with a direct train that would go straight into the city. It was less than a 10 minute drive away from our hotel and should make getting to where we needed to go simple. That was the cornerstone of my plan and we set off with the expectation that we'd be getting into NYC by 9:45 am.
After a tiny GPS hiccup, we found the station nestled in the middle of a neighborhood full of houses. It was a lovely, clean, landscaped place and set me to ease at once about the NJ transit system. However, we figured out pretty darn quick that the town of Short Hills, NJ (or whatever this place calls itself) didn't want us, or seemingly anyone who didn't live there, riding on their train. There was no place for us to park. Every single parking lot we found was only for residents. You had to have a sticker to park there. On the street the parking was only for an hour or two hours, and although we parked illegally for a few minutes to look at our phones to figure out what to do, we couldn't find clue of what a visitor was supposed to do or where to go. To be fair, and I'm determined to be fair, maybe we missed something obvious, but from where we sat, it was pretty clear we weren't going to be able to get on that train. Had we known this situation before hand, we could have called a cab, or an Uber to have brought us out there, but we didn't and time was by now slipping past quickly. We just sat there trying to figure out what to do. I felt terrible and wanted to cry because I hadn't made a contingency plan. I'd screwed up! The day hadn't even started, and I had already put us in a bad spot. Sigh.
Steve saved the day by finding that we could take a ferry into the city, but we had to drive through New Jersey to get to the port. Granted, there might have been an easier way, but for two people as unaware of public transportation and such as we are, we couldn't find it. So we set off. We figured if the muppets can take Manhattan, so could we! ONWARD!!!!
Driving through New Jersey is a little like driving in Atlanta, if Atlanta were full of angry vikings that have a grudge against you, all driving SUV's like they are in a demolition derby, and if Atlanta was on fire and located in an unused corner of hell. WTF, people? I've been in traffic before, bad traffic even, but this was a different animal all together. Lanes would merge without warning, people just edge in front of you at ridiculous speeds, and sometimes they'd ride next to you in a single lane just to get in front of you. All I can say is that the people up here drive like assholes. A middle finger to them all! Also, WTF are toll lanes supposed to be?! You go through the gate, and there are no lines past that, so everyone is just in one FUBAR knot of vehicles trying to weave into lines that barely exist! Seriously, W. T. F? That is NOT an efficient way to do things! Steve was the real hero that day. I'm honestly surprised that he didn't get fed up with me twitching and squeaking in abject fear the whole time and just kick me out of the car and into moving traffic, but thankfully he didn't and after what seemed to be an eternity in some gothic netherworld of punishment for past traffic violations, we made it to Port Imperial. Whew.
I like riding on boats. :)
We finally made it into the midtown area on the ferry and started walking. It was hot, but not terrible, and we figured out where we were and where we were going pretty quickly. There was so much to see, and so many people. It was a constant stream of sensory input coming from very side. I'm not sure where we started out, but we made our way through the streets and headed to Times Square. I'd never seen anything like it! There was so much going on, and unfortunately, although I try hard not to, I apparently stand out very clearly as a tourist. I mean, it isn't like I'm waving a selfie stick around and I'm not wearing a t-shirt that says where I'm from. I assume it's because of my wide eyed, mouth open stare as I looked around me. Steve doesn't have this problem. Steve looks mean and intimidating. Me? I look like a sucker, I guess. Sigh. We were approached many times by people who wanted to "give" us things...for a donation. We lied and said we weren't carrying cash, and those people snatched back their things and disappeared, thank goodness. I didn't want their CDs anyway. There were a lot of "characters" on Times Square that you can take your pictures with if you want to pay. Two topless girls wearing body paint, a kind-of Mickey Mouse, a kind-of Elmo and the like. No thank you, please! I just want to be left alone to stare at things with my mouth open, if you don't mind! At some point we apparently offended a local guy who was trying to talk to us. I was called rude by a New Yorker! I'm not sure if I should be ashamed or proud! Haha.
We walked across Broadway and we made our way to Rockefeller Center! I got to see the weird gold guy (Prometheus, apparently) in person! I also learned that Steve doesn't like to take selfie pictures with me because it is "too hard'" so...well, ok, then. Nice. We went into the Comcast Building and looked around for a bit. We got tickets to Top of the Rock, another recommendation by someone in the know. It's easier to get tickets to that than the Empire State Building and the view is just as good! We didn't actually have to wait that long to go up, thank goodness, and it was totally worth it! I usually don't like heights, even in buildings, but I was fascinated at the view! There was so much to see and I took lots of pictures. A nice man offered to take some pictures of me since he saw me struggling to take a selfie with the buildings in the background. I also managed to get in a couple of pictures with Steve, so maybe years from now people won't assume I was in New York by myself. Screw not wanting to take pictures with me! I'd climb on his back and shanghai his damn phone if I had to. >:( We stood up there for some time and I was duly impressed! New York is pretty freaking neato.
When we descended from the top, we decided get something to eat, and I'm pretty sure that saved us from being in a very bad place later on. I wasn't that hungry, and had it been up to me we would have just grabbed something quick so we could go back outside, but Steve was determined we should eat in a sit down place instead of just grabbing a snack. We found a burger place in the basement of the Comcast Building and had lunch. When we were done, We stopped and took some pictures of the Atlas statue and St. Peter's Cathedral, and started to notice a lot of sirens and emergency vehicles going by. At that point, we were walking towards the theater where we had tickets to see the show. We knew we would be a little early, but didn't want to run the risk of missing anything. However, when we were trying to walk towards 7th avenue we kept getting blocked by police. No explanation, just that we couldn't walk that way. We wound up at an intersection where a crowd of people were standing and a veritable tangle of emergency vehicles, black SUVs and police were gathered, but we couldn't tell what was going on. We we were just told we couldn't go any further. Time was getting close for us to be at the theater, but we were told that the entire street was closed. We practically ran down every street and kept getting blocked, but I was determined to get Steve to the theater to do the one thing that he'd shown interest in! We finally found a place to cross over, which was several blocks from where we needed to be, but we made it just in the nick of time to pick up our tickets. It wasn't until we were waiting in line to get into the theater that we found out about the terrible accident that had happened in Times Square. It was then that I realized that had we not stopped to eat, there was a very good chance we would have been where that guy plowed through the pedestrians. I'm not saying we would have been hurt, but we probably would gave seen it happen, so thank goodness for Steve being hungry! I feel terrible about those people who got hurt, and the girl who was killed. I hope none of the people who were hit were the people trying to give us stuff this morning. I'm also glad, as much as you can say glad in a situation like this, that the guy wasn't a terrorist. We realized that might have been why the FBI (Steve recognized the black SUVs) had been called in, because cars running into crowds of pedestrians has been the MO of a lot of terrorist situations around the world. Ugh. So far I managed to screw up the transportation and almost made us witness, if not an actual part, to a horrible accident. Maybe I'm not the greatest travel director in the world.
We had very nice seats in the theater and the play was really amazing. I'd seen Phantom performed in Nashville by a touring company years ago, but seeing it again in a much more intimate setting was great! I'm very familiar with the story, but I have to say that this was the first time that the Phantom really creeped me out. I have also realized that now I am more fascinated with the props, costumes and stage "magic" than I am with the acting (although it was great, but my eye for technical and practical effects was much more keen.) It was late afternoon when we got out, and we were going to take a Circle Line Tour, but we'd just missed the last boat before the night cruises began, and since we were exhausted, filthy (seriously, that city is very dirty), and still had to drive back to Short Hills, we ended up leaving. I would love to go back sometime when we didn't have anything planned and just wander the city. Find some good hole in the wall places to eat and see the museums, but you have to have a whole lot more time to do it than one day! It was a fun adventure of a day, except for the drunk driver situation. I do like New York, but I'll need to get to know it better before I know if I heart it!