New York To Boston, and Back Again

So what did Adam end up doing in New York? Worked a lot, predictably. The rest has been difficult to glean, what with the antisocial time difference and the commandeering of skype sessions by young children who jump all over the couch and repeatedly point out that they’re wearing underpants. From photos uploaded onto phanfare, I know A’s been here:

...which is somewhere in America, I guess...

1. …which is somewhere in America, I guess…

…and that he made it to 51st Street:

What's at 52st Street? Apart from this sign?

2. What’s at 51st Street? Apart from this sign?

He did manage to tell me he’d spent all week looking for a knish, as per Ginny’s suggestion, but when he finally found one he’d just eaten a steak “the size of [his] own head” and so he regretfully declined.

A's head, for the sake of comparison.

3. A’s head, for comparison.

He got into the local coffee, pretzels, and bagels, though.

Without sounding like a scary stalker wife, I looked through his runkeeper account and discovered he’d spent most of his free time jogging through Central Park setting new personal bests, although it’s hard to compare once you factor in the differences in humidity. (You know, I’m not sure how I thought I could say that without sounding like a scary stalker wife. In my defense, he left it just sitting there, all logged in.)

It wasn’t all working, eating, miscellaneous signage and showing off by fitness-based social network, however – he also had a quick trawl through Lydia Warren’s absolute treasure-trove of experiences in and around New York, after which he took a wander out to the Berlin Wall:

Check it out.

4. Check it out.

…as well as the Brooklyn Bridge, although whether he also wandered through DUMBO as photosbyp suggested is a mystery yet to be solved.

Not the postcard view.

5. Not the postcard view.

I ended up booking A on a train with Amtrak, even though it was a lot more expensive than the bus. Ordinarily I would be a budget-bus girl, but my single, previous experience with Greyhound is that I couldn’t easily book a ticket for someone else, especially from overseas, I had to scrum at the station for a seat, and at the first pit stop they switched me on to a different bus for reasons which (in my ill, tired, jet-lagged state) I didn’t quite understand. I still reached my appointed destination, but it confused the hell out of the people who were supposed to pick me up such that I spent a lot of time standing around at 1am in the middle of nowhere in Delaware with only a pimply, young, service-station attendant in a bullet-proof mini-fortress for company, and no working phones.

Then, on the return leg, the bus not only departed late, but at the first pit stop two women caused an argument over correct queuing etiquette which – despite the bus being only one-quarter full – escalated to the point where we all had to hole up in the station to await the police, who took one or two hours to arrive. By the time we made it to the edges of New York it was peak hour and traffic everywhere was entirely gridlocked, so we spent another couple of hours sitting motionless whilst our friends in Maryland fretted over the fact that we hadn’t yet confirmed our arrival and the bus driver found sixty-seven new ways to say, “Eh, what can you do?”

This is all just fun fodder for emails when you’re a backpacker on a loose schedule, but when you’re on a limited itinerary and you want to catch your epically-long flight out of JFK so you can go home and rescue your poor, sick children from a mother who is slowly circling towards insanity, things are different. There are other bus companies plying the route, but I heard mostly mixed reviews about the reliability of their services, and the one I was prepared to book with basically told me to get screwed because I’m trying to reserve seats from outside the good ol’ US of A, so I won’t even dignify them with a link. Thank you Amtrak, for actually being on board with the global economy. And you know, given that the company paid the bulk of A’s travel expenses, I didn’t feel too extravagant.

The only slight problem with the whole thing was that I accidentally misread A’s mildly convoluted flight itinerary and booked him onto a train which was scheduled to arrive at Penn Station, from Boston, precisely 2.5 hours before the departure of his international flight, instead of the more preferable four hours of which I’d informed him. I realised my mistake just as I was heading off to bed last night, and immediately entered into a googling and emailing frenzy through which I tried to establish the fastest, most reliable transport option between Penn Station and JFK. In the end, with his faithful carry-on-sized suitcase by his side, A managed to jump mathematically from the Amtrak service to the LIRR, and from the LIRR to the AirTrain, and was followed by an excited crowd to the check-in desk where he announced, “Here I am, gentlemen*.” He is in the air as we speak, even if nobody has yet given given him twenty thousand pounds.

Sadly, this means I’ve heard even less about his time in Boston than his time in New York, but I can tell you what I’ve pieced together through the small handful of pics he uploaded to phanfare using the wifi on the 165.

Some kind of wildlife park, perhaps.

6. Some kind of wildlife park, perhaps.

Not something I could figure out by sleuthing through runkeeper.

7. Not anything I could figure out by sleuthing through runkeeper.

South entrance of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, showing Cyrus Dallin's statue "Appeal to the Great Spirit".

8. Ooh! Ooh! I know this one!

I am well versed on Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, due to Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman and Robin Glasser’s fine guide book, You Can’t Take A Balloon Into The Museum Of Fine Arts. If anyone has any insights into the rest, do let me know.

*Narrative license has been used to relay certain details.

Full Itinerary (updated – with photo locations revealed at bottom):

Day One

  • Fly Singapore-> New York (22hrs/1 stop)
  • Taxi transfer to hotel
  • Overnight in central New York

Days Two through Six

  • Mainly working, with various forays into street food, running around central park, and other sightseeing, namely:
    • Berlin Wall at 53rd St
    • Madison Ave
    • Brooklyn Bridge
    • Rockefeller Centre
    • Street foods as suggested by Ginny and Ellen.
  • Overnight in central New York

Day Seven

  • First train out of Penn Station to Boston (4hrs) (There is also a 3.5hr express service, but the 4hr one arrived earlier that day. I think the longest service took 4.5hrs.)
  • Sightseeing around Boston:
    • Reflecting Pool
    • Hop-on-hop-off tour bus (2-day ticket)
    • Freedom Trail (as suggested by photsbyp) – Park Ranger Walking Tour, Allegiance to Revolution Trail 1773-1775. (1hr. The full set of free tours takes 4hrs. A suggests you bring a background knowledge of American History, as the level of detail is quite fine.)
    • Trolley to Davis Square for dinner (and then trolley back again).
  • Overnight Back Bay, Boston

Days Eight, Nine, Ten

  • Sightseeing around Boston
    • Check out
    • Ramble around Back Bay Fens, Harvard Medical School
    • Breakfast at cafe
    • Museum of Fine Arts (opened 10am – requires repeat visit, apparently)
    • Hop-on-hop-off bus to Seaport District
    • Bus/taxi back to hotel to collect luggage and proceed to train station for Dunkin’ Donut lunch and train to New York
  • Afternoon train Back Bay Station to Penn Station (4.25hrs)
  • Precision-timed scramble from Penn Station to JFK (LIRR from Penn Station to Jamaica Station, Airtrain Jamaica Station to JFK terminals – total 45 minutes)
  • Fly New York-> Singapore (26hrs/2 stops)

1. Madison Avenue.

2. 51st Street is where A got asked for directions by a random stranger and was able to confidently answer as if he was an actual New York resident. He felt so worldly.

3. Running in Central Park, of course.

4. A section of the Berlin Wall, on 53rd Street between Madison and 5th, New York.

5. Brooklyn Bridge, commuting between offices, and not wandering around the District Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass at all, unfortunately.

6. The Barking Crab is of course a restaurant – in the Seaport District of Boston.

7. Iced tea and a miniature Strandbeest.

8. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as established.

More itinerary suggestions appear in the comments section of the New York, New York and Boston post.