The Paramount Building. I converted this image to grayscale using the Topaz B&W filter plug-in for Photoshop.
On Friday the 16th, we went up to New York City to attend Maker Faire (more on that to come). Neither Ben nor me has ever been to New York City. Frankly, we’re not really urbanites and tend to avoid really crowded areas, so cities don’t tend to be in the top slot on our vacation lists. We decided to suck it up and deal with the crowds so we could go to the Faire without having to drive. I wasn’t worried about driving to New York City, I didn’t want to have to deal with finding parking when we got there. I received some excellent advice from New Yorkers I know online: don’t drive. Use the subway.
We took the Amtrak train out of Union Station in Washington D.C. and arrived in New York City’s Penn Station before lunch. We ate Nathan’s hotdogs at the train station, then braved our way out into the city. It wasn’t as scary as the tourist information makes you believe. For one thing, I work in downtown Washington so I’m used to crossing streets and avoiding cabs and trucks that are trying to beat red lights. It was pretty much the same situation, so it wasn’t that stressful. We had to walk several blocks north to catch the subway train we needed to get to our hotel out in Queens.
The subway was impressive, and you could actually understand the train operator over the speaker system (as well as the person speaking on the intercom in Penn Station). On the Washington Metro you hear something like “Grnn mmm mnn Fort Totten mmph.” Maybe they need elocution lessons, but I’m afraid that would require yet another fare increase. And that’s another big difference — it cost us $2.25 per trip on the New York subway no matter where we got on or off, compared to Metro, which costs more than $4. We got out to Queens without any problems and had a three-block walk to our hotel. The room wasn’t ready, so we checked our bags, sat and rested for a few minutes, and then headed back to Manhattan for lunch and some sightseeing.
The restaurant we went to had a second-story patio, so we sat out in the sunshine and ate our lunch. I took a few pictures of the Empire State Building from the restaurant. There was one building next to the restaurant that was very tall. I found that I could not look up at it without getting vertigo. That is definitely something different for me — buildings in Washington top out at about 11 stories and the sidewalks are wider, so the city seems much more open. I tried to ignore the building and told myself to think of it as a huge tree.
After lunch we did some walking and wandered into Macy’s. There are escalators in the store that have wooden paneling, and I even rode one that had wooden treads. I wonder how old they are? It was really interesting to see the historic architecture, both inside and out. We had some coffee, but by late afternoon we were tiring. We’d been up since 4:00 a.m. and it was catching up to us. We walked up to Times Square and spent about half an hour wandering around before we decided to head back to the hotel. We just couldn’t muster any more energy for sightseeing. Maybe next trip.
The Empire State Building as seen from a second-story restaurant patio. The building on the right is Madison Square Garden. This photo was taken with a Nikon Coolpix S210.
Times Square, facing north, about seven o'clock in the evening. What would New York be without a yellow taxi?