2008 Jul 13 | New York City

Monica had mentioned this to me, but I had forgotten. Apparently all of the gas stations in New Jersey are full service. I really don't want some random guy pumping my gas; who knows what he might be doing wrongly?

This highway split up the car and truck traffic. I guess the idea is to let the cars go faster, but it didn't make any difference here.

This truck has spikes on his wheels. For a second I thought I was in a movie.

Heh, funny. Although usually it's maniacs on the left and idiots on the right.

The Hostelling International in NYC was full when I was looking for rooms there, so I ended up searching Craigslist because I really didn't want to pay for a motel or stay in a different hostel (many of which had pretty bad ratings). A lot of the ads didn't really fit what I was looking for, but a few did, and I went with the most "normal" sounding one (e.g., not the one with 5 artists living in some weird loft-type arrangement). It's kind of risky setting up a room through Craigslist, although talking with the other person helps.

Thankfully, Janice was not only not crazy, she was really nice. In the evenings we chatted about things to see and she gave me lots of advice.

The room also had a really nice view of Manhattan and was only half a block away from a subway stop, which really helped.

I was somewhat worried about parking, since it can be so expensive in NYC. Another great thing about where I stayed was that there was free street parking. I got a spot I didn't have to move the Jeep from the whole time I was there. That was really lucky, because there is street cleaning on each side of the street on Thursday and Friday and also it's often hard to find a spot; some people sit around in their cars for quite a while waiting for a car to leave.

The first night in NYC I went up the Empire State Building. There was a really long line but it moved pretty quickly.

The view to the east.

To the south.

With me to the south.

To the west during sunset. I actually timed it well; I went up around 7pm, so I could see everything during the day, wait a while, and then see everything at night, too. Although the west side got really crowded during sunset.

To the south a little after sunset.

To the east.

Grand Central Station.

Times Square, with I think MTV interviewing people about something.

The Naked Cowboy. I don't know how he isn't sunburned to a crisp.

I always thought of Times Square as a really big square facing these buildings. Actually, it's really skinny and there are buildings like this on both sides of it.

Friday was museum day. I started with the Cloisters because you can get into it and the Met on the same day with one ticket. I didn't know how long the walk up to it was until I started, though; it's on top of a decently-sized hill. There was this really nice view halfway up, though.

There were lots of old religious pieces.

And a nice little garden area.

The unicorn room, with tapestries that tell a story of hunting one.

The Cloisters building.

People in most places honk to say, "Hey, pay attention, because something around us just happened, and you should do something." For example, when the light turns green and the person in front of you doesn't notice because she is digging through her purse. In NYC, however, they seem to honk simply out of frustration, because most of the times when someone honks there's nothing the person in front of them can do. I think that's really annoying, so I'm glad they have signs like this in places.

There was going to be a giant free Bon Jovi concert in the park. Unfortunately, scalpers bought almost all the tickets the second they were out.

Central Park had a lot of sunbathers, as did almost all of the other parks.

The entire city had a lot of taxis, too, although I only used the subway. Almost all the lines operate 24 hours, which is really nice.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is right on Central Park, and it's absolutely huge. There are all different types of art from all different cultures.

A really neat open room based on the Temple of Dendur.

The armory was also fun. It was rather hard to get to, though. Some of the Met is practically a maze, and a few of the areas have only one entrance, which is through another area with only one entrance, which is way on the other side of the museum.

Chinese armor.

I think my favorite type of art is ancient statues.

And my least favorite is usually modern, although some of it is pretty neat.

Like this circle made of many reflective sections.

And this formaldehyde-preserved shark.

A neat Asian room.

One think I had to keep reminding myself to do in NYC was to look up; many buildings have neat tops that you'd never see otherwise. This was also true in the Met, as with this ancient ceiling. Lots of people walked right by it until they saw me looking up; then they scurried back to see it.

The outdoor patio of the Met was another area that was kind of confusing to get to, although it was quite nice.

An exibit on costumes.

Wow, that entire outfit is bright.

Two museums down and two to go. I went on Friday because the MoMA and the Guggenheim are both free in the afternoon. However, you can't just walk in; you still have to get a ticket. The lines at both were pretty long, but they moved quickly because people were just getting tickets, not dealing with paying for them. You're still supposed to give a donation, though.

Like I said, modern art isn't really my thing, so I didn't think the MoMA wasn't nearly as neat as the Met.

Although these seats were fun.

I walked by Bryant Park after the MoMA. It had a nice big lawn area and lots of seating around, including the old school desks.

There were a few people playing chess and backgammon, but not many.

The Guggenheim is also more modern art. All the exibits are against the walls, and the floors spiral up to the top around the edge of the building.

I needed some scissors, but all the ones I saw cost around $7, which I wasn't willing to pay to use them once. I was these for $3, though, so I grabbed them. When I checked out, though, I noticed I was charged $7 for them. It turns out some employee had put them in the wrong section; the $3 ones are 5" and the ones they put there are 7". Although by then I didn't want to try to deal with a refund, so I ended up with $7 scissors anyway.

Saturday morning I went over to the Hostelling International for Jerry's Grand tour, a 16-hour walking tour of NYC (from 10am to about midnight). I would have liked him to go a little faster (we stopped a lot and he also kept giving vendors pictures he had taken of them on earlier tours, which was rather fun), but it was a pretty good tour overall.

We walked across the Brooklyn bridge, which was neat. However, everyone kept stopping to take pictures, and a few of us though we had fallen behind because Jerry had been walking really quickly at the start of the bridge. So we walked fast the rest of the way, hoping to catch up, but when we got to the end, the rest of the tour wasn't there. One girl called her friend, and apparently the rest of the group was actually way behind us, still on the bridge. So it might be useful for tour guides to give everyone their cell phone number in case people get separated.

City Hall Park has a fountain, the lights on which are still gas-fueled.

St. Paul's Chapel, Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use.

Ground Zero.

The New York Stock Exchange.

The bull on Wall Street.

Some people posing for a photoshoot at Battery Park.

I had to leave the tour early, though, because Amy and I went to Grease on Broadway that evening.

The subway uses the same stalls for both entrances and exits. It usually works well, but every once in a while you get people on each side staring at each other while walking towards it, seeing who can get there first.

Sunday was park day. I was surprised there are so many little parks scattered around NYC, which is really nice.

A plane had spelled something in the air, but the wind had blown it out of form by the time I saw it.

It's hot and humid along the entire east coast, and NYC is no exception. I think every single room in this apartment complex has a window A/C unit.

Gramercy Park is one of the only two private parks in NYC. Only people who live in the buildings around the park have a key to get in.

Union Square had different performers all day at this area.

East Village has lots of interesting shops, which is a nice break from all of the brand-name stores in most of NYC.

The subways can get pretty packed during rush hours...

...but the cars at the very front and back are usually a little emptier, so I tried to get on those.

A Bastille Day celebration.

Some thing enclosed in a fence by a business. Whether the yellow thing was intented to be played on or viewed as art, the fence really gets in the way. Unless the outer fence is somehow part of the art as well.

The Queensboro bridge has a little tram next to it that takes you to the Franklin D Roosevelt island between Manhattan and Queens.

"If you tell people the lights in the sky are billions of burning balls of fire billions of miles away, they will believe you. But if something says 'wet paint,' people will touch it to make sure."

The subway escalators have these series of blocks and barriers to keep people from sliding down the middle. I think it would be great to get a ball and play some form of Plinko, though.

Some of the subway stops have stained-glass windows.

Amy and I went out to Jacob Riis park Sunday late at night. I was kind of uncertain on whether we could really be there, though. Some websites said the beach was open 24 hours, and the park service had some events scheduled until 10pm earlier in the month. Other websites said it was only open until dusk, though, and the giant main parking lot was closed when we got there. However, we could still park by the visitor's center, so I'm still not sure what the official policy is. Either way, it's nice to just sit and listen to waves crash on the beach without a crowd of people, even without the chance of seeing sea turtles hatching like in Florida.

Lots of vehicles, both business and private, double park at times. Most leave enough room for other vehicles to get by, but it can be really close.