Homer's Travels: New England Vacation: Days 1, 2, And 3

Thursday, July 02, 2015

New England Vacation: Days 1, 2, And 3

Of all our vacations, I think this was the most unplanned.  Yes we had a list of places to visit.  Most of these were the Wife's because, after I went through the AAA books and stuff, I had difficulty coming up with a list of places I wanted to visit.  In the end we ended up with a combination of literary visits primarily for the Wife, several non-literary places for both of us, and one state park that I was interested in along with a few nice drives I wanted to do between stops.

Day one was a travel day.  It started with a later start than usual flying out at 5pm direct to Newark.  The hotel shuttle was late picking us up but the Wife still managed to catch the utter defeat of the Cavaliers.  The hotel restaurant provided surprisingly good food to top off our travel day.

Day two started with us sleeping in a bit before heading down for a hotel Belgium waffle, biscocho, and orange juice.  We took the free hotel shuttle to Newark Penn station (it's confusing that it has the same name as the NY Penn station) and took a train to NY Penn station before hopping on the PATH train to the world trade center.

Freedom Tower (with two window washing platforms)
We walked from the station to a store associated with the museum to get directions.  There is still a lot of construction in the area and the way to the memorial/museum entrance was not that clear.  With directions in hand we head in the right direction, stopping at a burger king for a quick lunch - first BK I've been to where you could have your order taken at your table and they would serve it to you like a 'real' restaurant.  I ate more here than the Wife.

Our tour time was approaching (our museum tour tickets were time based) so we wandered around the memorial pools quickly before we went to the museum entrance.

We had tickets for a guided tour so we took the fast lane into the 911 museum.  The museum is mostly underground situated on the bedrock under where the towers once stood. The tour was well done as was the memorial/museum.  The tour hit the highlights and introduced you to what the museum offered.  After the 1 hour tour we were on our own to explore the details of the memorial.

We went through the exhibits quickly as we are not really museum people.  I usually only read a smattering of the plaques and information.  You could spend all day there reading everything and watching all the videos.

The wife and I had different reactions to the museum.  She felt it was still a bit to close.  It made something so real to us into a museum exhibit.  I, on the other hand, am over it.  It was interesting and well done but I just want it behind us so we can move on.  America is having a hard time moving on.

One of the two pools.
After the museum we went outside to see the pools that now occupy the footprints of the original towers.  It was quiet and contemplative.  The water pouring in was relaxing.  The two pools were lined with plaques engraved with the names of the 911 victims.  We sat in the plaza and rested our feet and watched people.  I think I heard more 'foreign' languages than English this day - I like that about New York City.  Also the city felt more crowded than the last time I was there.  I don't remember it feeling so crowded when we visited back in 2005.  I wonder if it's because we've moved from California (crowded) to Nebraska (not crowded) since that visit.  Or maybe it has to do with getting older.

A rose to remember.
Back into a line to go to the observatory on the top of Freedom tower.  Lots of lines involved.  There was some confusion with our tickets but New Yorkers are nice and it was cleared up with only a little discomfort.

The elevator ride up to the 102 floor is fascinating.  The three walls are floor to ceiling video screens.  As you climb you see the growth of the skyline.  Here is a YouTube video on the way up.  On the way down you virtually fly around the tower.  Made some people dizzy.  Now every elevator ride I've taken seems boring.

We would be crossing this bridge soon.  Seen from Freedom Tower Observatory.
The weather this day was gorgeous and this gave us great views from the three story observatory.

Another line and a quick fly down the elevator and we were back on the ground.  We crossed under a street in a very cool tunnel to a ritzy mall so we could get some food for the wife. I had a gourmet cupcake.   We both neglected ourselves this day food and water wise.

The Freedom Tower from the Brooklyn Bridge.
We left the food court and started walking to and over the Brooklyn Bridge.  We were meeting an old friend of the wife who she'd known since before she met me.  We were worn out by the time we got to the rendezvous point in Brooklyn.  The Wife was battling turf toe (from her Football 101 earlier in June) and other foot problems she's been having lately.

We met the Wife's friend, LA, and we enjoyed our first real meal in Brooklyn Heights as we chatted.  We continued chatting as we walked along the river and saw the lit skyline.

The skyline (click for larger version)
The wife's friend helped us get a taxi back to our hotel.  This was a bit of an ordeal.  The driver didn't know where our hotel was and - shame on us - we didn't have the address of our hotel.  The Wife tried to negotiate a fair fare but I didn't help much.  I was tired and just wanted to get to the hotel though she did get the price down a bit.  The cab got us to the right vicinity and we saw the hotel and pointed it out to the driver.  Unfortunately we'd passed the turn.  The cabbie then proceeded to back up on the highway.  It wasn't very far but it felt like a long way when cars are whizzing by.  We made it to the hotel in one piece and several dollars lighter.  We celebrated our survival with a really yummy piece of chocolate cake (do you see a trend forming ...?).

In our room the Wife took off her shoes and discovered a couple nasty blisters from all the walking today.  The shoes she wore which were good for her turf toe were not good for blisters.  I didn't have what I needed to treat them properly.  We cushioned them the best we could with what we had.

Day 3

Free hotel shuttle to commuter train to Amtrak to Boston - the morning was filled with relaxing train travel.  We even sat in the quiet car on Amtrak.  Did some reading and typed blog notes.  It's nice to have WiFi on the train.  We found a lot of free WiFi everywhere in New York.  It turns out there would be plenty of free WiFi available on this vacation which makes making plans on the fly much easier.

We arrived in Boston and walked to our hotel.  The walk was very short - shorter than I expected - a couple blocks.  They let us check in early which was convenient.

We left the hotel and walked towards Boston Common.  On the way we stopped at a tavern and had lunch.  I can't say I always ate good on this trip but I will admit that I looked forward to eating at different restaurants every day.  I don't think I had a bad meal at any of them.  It was all the junk in between meals that was so bad.

Statue of the Massachusetts 54th.
At Boston Common we took a walking tour of the Freedom Trail.  The tour was led by a guy in costume.  The tour was ninety minutes long.  Despite the wonderful weather and easy terrain the Wife and I were exhausted by the end of the tour.  We bought something to drink before eating some homemade cookie ice cream sandwiches - awesome stuff.

We headed back towards the hotel.  Along the way we stopped a few times to rest including once in a nice shaded park with a pond.  We bought some drinks and snacks for our room and stopped to see the finish line for the Boston Marathon before calling it a day.

In our hotel room we collapsed in bed.  This was the second time in two days that we totally wore ourselves out.  The Wife's blister got bigger so I used a pair of clippers to cut holes to drain the blisters.  That did the trick along with the Wife changing into different shoes for the rest of the trip.  Dinner this night was essentially junk food.  We were too pooped to go out to eat.

Pictures can be found in my 2015-06 New York, Boston, New England Google Photos album.

To Be Continued ...

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