New York – Manhattan Part Two

As forecast, Sunday morning dawned cool and fresh, but we packed up in Paterson, said our goodbyes to Elizabeth Summers and made our way back up to the bus station to head back into Manhattan for our final stint. We arrived in at the Port Terminal Station – I think it’s noted as the busiest bus station in the US if not the world with 8000 buses a day coming and going and over 160 million passengers a year – big numbers (not as big as Penn Station in Manhattan – that train and bus station is recorded as the busiest train station in the world with over 600,000 passengers transiting through the station each day). We got through the station and headed up to the hotel to check in and drop our bags off. From there we went off and brought tickets for one of the local Hop On Hop Off buses. Despite the cool weather we headed out and completed the Uptown and Harlem tour which took us our pass Central Park, a couple of the large Art Museums, and back through Time Square – the loop taking us around 2 hours. We were freezing cold having ridden in the open top bus so we headed back to the room to have a cuppa to warm up before heading out again, this time to complete the Downtown tour. It was getting dark before this loop was completed and despite it being Sunday, the downtown traffic was crazy busy – we spent an age just crawling along. This loop took us down to the southern tip of Manhattan, through the Wall Street area and along the 911 Memorial area, before winding its way back into the middle of Manhattan. We no sooner finished that loop and we headed around the corner to hop straight onto the Manhattan Night Time loop, which took us down through SoHo, Little Italy, China Town and then over the Hudson River into lower Brooklyn before looping back over and back up into the heart of Manhattan.

Bused out for one day we headed back to get a bite to eat before heading back to collapse into bed back at the hotel. On Monday morning we got up and enjoyed the hotel breakfast before heading out to get the early bus to complete the Bronx tour. The day was wet and cold, but the bus we boarded had a covered roof so we were good to go. This bus again took us up and around Central Park and the Harlem area before heading across the river into the Bronx where the centre piece is Yankee Stadium. The bus then winds back across the river and up into the heart of the city again. Once we got off the bus we headed back onto a downtown bus and rode it down to the Battery Park area at the southern tip of Manhattan Island. Despite the rain we wandered up through the Wall St area, getting pics with the bronze bull before heading over to the 911 area where there is an amazing piece of architecture called the Oculus which is a shopping mall within a very cool structure. The Oculus is part of the wider 911 complex which includes the memorials – two large sunken water features with names of those that were victims of this event. Then you have the striking One World Trade Centre – the tallest building in New York (and maybe the US). We wandered around taking in all that this area has to offer – it’s all very nicely done. We then made our way over to where the complimentary ferry departs from. We boarded the 3pm ferry that proceeded to take us out past Ellis Island and then the Stature of Liberty. Despite the grey mucky day, we got up close to the island and got great views of the stature. To see it on a sunny day would provide a different perspective again, but we were very grateful for the views we had today.

To my surprise we then set sail around the corner of Manhattan and on up into the Hudson River. We crossed under the Brooklyn and then Manhattan Island bridges before heading well up the Hudson – giving us great views of Brooklyn and also the southern side of Manhattan. We felt the cruise was great – we had good commentary and covered a lot of ground, well water, but it was really good. We were away for 1.5 hours and then docked back at the terminal. From there with the evening closing in on us and rain steady, we wandered up the road to connect with a Hop On bus to get us back into the heart of the city. Again traffic was heavy, but the bus was covered so we were happy to ride. We made it back into town and then headed off to get some dinner and settle in for the evening. Tuesday represented our last day in the US and it again started off grey and damp. We stocked up with the hotel breakfast before packing our bags one last time. We stored our bags with the hotel before heading out for one last Hop On bus loop. We took the Uptown tour so we could get off at the art museums – Carol opting for the Guggenheim, whilst I went to the Smithsonian Museum of Design which resides in the Carnegie home – a very impressive building – the inside detailing and woodworking was something else. Going our separate ways, we each had varying art experiences – both of which were a little curtailed with exhibits closed off at both locations. That said, we enjoyed our time checking out a couple of unique and valued NYC sights. Leaving the museums we then popped in to have a brief look at the Metropolitan Museum of Art – this would have been on the to do list but we were running out of time and had a decent walk ahead of us back to the hotel.

We soaked up what we could at the Met and then headed off on foot something like 50 blocks to get back downtown to the hotel. Rain in downtown Manhattan presents a new hazard – the umbrella. It was amazing our oblivious some people were with their umbrellas – not bothering to lift them up but leaving you to duck around them to avoid – should have been the other way round I think. We made it back long enough to get a cuppa at the hotel and no sooner sat down with that and our arranged airport shuttle turned up (early) to collect us for the trek out to JFK Airport. The shuttle had to complete a number of pick ups and they took us the best part of 40 mins before we finally started headed out to the airport proper – a distance of only around 15 miles, and yet it took us an hour and a half with the heavy traffic to finally get out to the airport and get unloaded. We pulled into JFK International Airport – the second largest in the world we were told and to back that up it has 8 main terminals to boot – we had to get off at Terminal 8. We’d banked some time and had ourselves to the airport in plenty of time. As tends to be the case when you have time, things weren’t crazy busy and we flowed through customs and screening with no issue. We parked up in the lounge area and sat back to reflect some on our time here in New York, but also the US. I think I will summarise our time in the US in a separate entry, so for now, it’s goodbye USA – hello Doha and then Perth as we start our trek homeward bound.

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