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Friday, April 1, 2016

CLASSIC TRIP - New York, New York 2000 - Part 1

Those of you who have followed our adventures over the years know that we love New York.  I'd have to say that, pound for pound, it's the most exciting city in America.  Here is a recap of the second trip we took to the city back over a long Martin Luther King Day weekend in 2000...

Our 2-day New York adventure last fall whetted our appetite for more. We had so much fun that we decided to return in the late winter/spring to explore it a little deeper.

This time, by carefully tracking hotel room rates, we were able to find a hotel in Manhattan. I hate to say it was inexpensive because at $120 a night it would be up there almost anywhere else. In Manhattan, that’s a bargain. We stayed at the Hotel Pennsylvania, across the street from Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.

The flight was on American Airlines into Islip on Long Island with a change of planes in Boston. From here, we took Colonial Shuttle from the airport to Ronkonkoma station on the Long Island Railroad. The train then took us to Penn Station, directly across from our hotel.

One final note before we begin, all subway stations mentioned in this article have elevators for accessibility.

Day One, Friday, was spent traveling. The only thing worth noting is that when we arrived at the hotel, they didn’t have two standard rooms available...we had reserved two and confirmed them with the provision that one had to be wheelchair accessible. Just when it was starting to look bad, the manager upgraded us to the Presidential Suite at no extra cost.

While the bathrooms were not as accessible in the regular sense, the chair fit in it and Tim was able to use whatever bars and counters there were to hold himself up and transfer.

The suite itself was immense. 3 big bedrooms, one big bathroom and two smaller ones, a living room, walk-in closets, dining room and kitchen. We had views in three directions looking east to the Empire State Building (the picture at the top was taken from our room), South to the World Trade Center (RIP), and west to a room in the other wing.

Day Two, Saturday. We woke up to rain and 40° temperatures. The weather forecast on Yahoo had predicted this so we were ready with our wet weather clothes. After breakfast in the lobby at Lindy’s...overpriced with an attitude...our expedition begins.

We walk over to Grand Central Station. Transit could have got us there faster and easier, but we were in the mood for walking that morning and were rewarded with a glorious, if wet, stroll up Park Avenue into America’s most beautiful train station. While drinking in the views of the marvelous zodiac ceiling, we pick up our transit passes for the day and make our way over to the subway station downstairs (access via elevator next to the center 42nd Street entrance).

The wooden walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge

 We get off at the Brooklyn Bridge stop, make a lap across this American icon and back, and head back to Grand Central on the subway. We had a member of our group who, for reasons only known to him, had dreamed of going to the Bronx someday. We board a northbound Metro North train to Fordham Station in the Bronx. From there, the #9 bus takes us over to the entrance to the Bronx Zoo.

While it would have preferable to see the zoo on a clear day, there are still enough indoor exhibits to make a trip in the rain worthwhile. In with the gift shop was a great display of elephants and tapirs. Nearby was the monkey house with dozens of playful primates, probably the most enjoyable of all the exhibits. After that was a display of waterbirds and birds of prey including an enormous Andean condor.
Times Square
 To finish off this incredibly hectic day, we toured Times Square with its blinding advertising displays and dined at a wonderful little Italian place called Sam’s on West 47th Street.

The theaters of Broadway are just off Times Square

Our plans were to finish off by downing some cold brews at Times Square Brewery, but it was just way too crowded.

Day Three, Sunday. Despite a few little remaining sprinkles, the rain appears to be gone and the sun is making a valiant effort to break through. The temperatures remain mired in the 40's but today we shall be dry. We start by having a breakfast buffet at Sbarro’s across the street from the hotel. The price is much less than Lindy’s...$4.99 for all you can eat compared to $11.55 for two eggs and toast...but the staff’s attitude was downright rude. At least in New York, Sbarro’s will not be on the itinerary anymore.
Lady Liberty
We start by taking a downtown train, the #3, to the World Trade Center from Penn Station. From here, we walk along the Hudson to Battery Park...about 8 blocks. The crowds are fairly sparse here today, so we take a gamble and buy tickets for the Statue of Liberty ferry. Once you have your tickets, wheelers get to cut in the front of the line eliminating any wait (a Jamaican fellow selling knock-off sunglasses was kind enough to tell us this when we head for the back of the line).

This is as close as you get in a wheelchair

After a quick ride, you’re on Liberty Island looking up at the statue. Again, wheelers cut to the front of the line but you’re limited to visiting the pedestal and can’t actually go in the statue itself - it takes being able to climb 354 steps to get to the top. Overall, I think you get a better view of the statue from the free Staten Island Ferry than you do on the island itself.

Back on the ferry to Battery Park - we skipped the stop at Ellis Island - where we caught the #6 bus back to Herald Square. Here we dined on some delicious New York pizza though I couldn’t see a name on the place. Then it was a two block walk back to the hotel where we rested up for the evening activities.

Later, another #6 bus took us down Broadway headed for 19th Street. It broke down at 24th Street so we walked the rest of the way. We had dinner at Friend of a Farmer on Irving Place between 18th & 19th Streets. Good food, not spectacular, but decent.

Stay tuned for part two and our encounter with "Dangerous Dan"...

Copyright 2000 - Darryl Musick


  1. I know this is ages and ages after the fact -- but I'm writing a story with a character who's in a wheelchair on the Brooklyn Bridge, and I wanted to know if the wooden walkway presented a rougher ride. I've been to New York but didn't get to the Bridge, but from the photos I see, it looks as if it might be a bit jolty, but doable. Thanks!

    1. Not at all. My son got over it with ease, easier than me with my fear of bridges. He has a much harder time on the wooden piers we have at the beaches here in Southern California or the cobblestones on some of those old streets on the East Coast.

    2. That's great to hear! Thank you so much -- that helps a lot.

      Best of luck in your travels to all of you!