When I knocked off writing, I had just recounted my arrival into Grand Central Terminal on a Metro-North train from Croton-Harmon. It was now lunchtime, and I headed to the Oyster Bar for my excuse for this trip -- to sample the New Dutch Herring. Unlike the typical pickled herring eaten by may ancestors in the Baltic Sea area, the Dutch serve up essentially raw fillets briefly cured in a little salt. At least they do this during the start of the herring season (which is June-early July). As the season progresses, the salted fish laid up in the barrels become more and more "pickled." While this is a typical Dutch treat, it's not commonly available in the U.S., and, as far as I know, only the Grand Central Oyster Bar and Russ and Daughters, an "appetizing store" in the Lower East Side, sell this during a limited season, when they fly the fish over from Holland.
I found my way to the Oyster Bar, and when I scanned the menu, apparently the "new" herring was gone, but they did have a marinated herring that, while slightly "pickled," was pretty good. I had this with a glass of genever, the Dutch precusor of Lodon gin.
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Then I wandered around the lower level of the food court, checking out places where I might wish to have lunch during the Gathering. There are actually gates to trains on this lower level. Look at the stone carving. They don't make 'em like that anymore.
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My next destination (and other excuse for the trio) was a visit to the Strand Bookstore at 12th and Broadway. This involves a ride on the Lexington Ave. Subway, but first I decided I needed some cash, and a branch of my bank was just 2 blocks away on 42nd St., across from the Library. I got my money, and returned to a subway entrance, and I had some problems with the turnstyle not working right, which required my to swipe my Metrocard twice, thus ripping me off of $2.75.I made my way through the sweltering maze (at least I was out of the sun) to the Lexington Ave, Tracks and got on an express train which made its next stop at 14th St, Union Square. A short walk to the Strand, and I was in bibliophiles heaven. I actually found a couple of the books I was looking for and browsed a bit, though getting a bit woozy from running around in the heat, despite being in the air conditioned store. Aha! Dehydration I figured, but I wasn't going to whip out a water bottle and start drinking in a bookstore. After I left, I did do that, using the handy bottle of fancy water served up in Acela First class. After drinking the whole thing, I felt a lot better. So back to Union Square and to braving the 4 or 5 trains.
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A quick express ride (well with some slow screeching movements through the complicated maze of tunnels in Lower Manhattan, and I reached the Borough Hall Station in Beautiful Downtown Brooklyn:
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After stopping by a little hole in the wall newstand to buy another bottle of water (bigger than the last one), I made my wat to the disused (well, decommissioned) subway station that houses the New York Transit Museum. A nice surprise: Senior admission ($5) is 50% of regular and the qualifying age is only 62! I will have to come back, because I got there at about 3:15 and the museum closes at 4. (They actually started chasing us out at 10 to 4) so I couldn't see all of the exhibits. But I did get a nice look.
I remember most of these turnstiles. They also worked well, and didn't make me use two token to get in:
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I remember most of these subway cars, and rode them during my visits to the Big Apple over the past 50 years:
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Now, these cars, I don't remember riding. I''m not that old. (This cars are from the World War I era.)
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After checking out the ferry schedules and estimates of subway travel times, I decided to make a push for Rockaway Beach, despite the relatively late hour. To do that I had to "take the A train." (In this case, to Rockaway Park.
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The A train, which runs in the 8th Ave. subway at Penn Station, runs as an express in Brooklyn, coming to the surface and running as an elevated train in the farther reaches of Queens. We passed Aqueduct racetrack, the Howard Beach JFK airport station, and then the train entered a different world. On the mainland side, there were loads of waterfront houses, kind of like the Eastern Shore of Maryland, if the Eastern Shore had New York City style housing density. Lots of little channels, everyone seemed to have a boat. Then we crossed a long bridge over Jamaica Bay, viewing planes taking off from JFK on our left, and entered Rocakaway Beach. This is still New York City, but it's also a beach community.
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In order to make the ferry back, I had to hurry along a bit more than I might have wanted to in other circumstances. It was certainly an interesting place, a mix of high-rises and funky little (and very densely packed) beach houses, with and elevated railway running though and frequent subway service to Manhattan. I think they got hammered pretty badly during Superstorm Sandy.
To return to Manhattan, I decided to try out the NYC ferry service. This left from a dock on Jamaica Bay at Beach 108th St. I got there in plenty of time and had no trouble using the touchscreen device to buy my $2.5 ticket back to the Wall St. docks. The dock was very well shaded, which I appreciated after being blasted by the hot sun all day, but I imagine it would be a pretty cold place to wait if commuting in the winter. The ride is about 55 minutes to an hour, depending on whether the boat stops in Sunset Park Brooklyn.
Right on time, the boat showed up:
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After the outgoing passengers disembarked, they let us on, and soon we were off on a cruise that actually took us out in the ocean for a while.
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We got to see Coney Island and the Verazzano Narrows Bridge.
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Finally, we approached lower Manhattan
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But we shouldn't forget Beautiful Downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge, and, I didn't realize that the Brooklyn waterfron still has a working container port.
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The ferry landing at Wall Street was not just for the NYC ferries, a bucnh of other lines also docked there. It was kind of like the Grand Central Terminal for ferries:
It was getting time to get to Penn Sation, unless I wanted to go home on Northeast Regional 67, so I headed up Wall St,
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to the subway station and rode a 2 train, the same line I rode in the morning to Times Square, back to 34th St. Penn Station. Of course, I left the station from a different place than where I entered it, and I did get turned around a a bit until I figured out where I was. I passed the Traxx oyster bar, though I'm not sure I could find it again if I went looking for it. In nay event, I was hungry, and even though I knew I was due a meal on the Acela, I went over to Rose's on the LIRR level and got a New York slice of pizza to silence the rumblings of my stomach. Then I went up to the Amtrak level and, holy cow, Penn Station is sure a different place at 7:30 PM on a weeknight. Gone are the mad crowds. In fact, I think Union Station in Washington is busier at 7:15 PM.
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When I got to the Club Acela, I found out that my 8:15 train was running 15 minutes late. I also took care of my Empire Service ticket I wasn't going to use, receiving an e-voucher for most of it. Finally, we were sent to the gate, which was a pretty mellow experience totally unlike the usual Penn Station madhouse, and went down to the tracks after the arriving passengers were cleared. I found my way to First Class, confusingly on the north end of the train, and settled in. Lots of empty seats, so I took a table to myself. I started the evening with a glass of bourbon and ordered the the tenderloin tips, along with a glass of red wine (not shown here)
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After dinner, I had a couple of glasses of a nice Korbell sparkler. So, as you can imagine, this was a pretty mellow trip home. My wife was picking me up, so I had no worries about DUI. The train made up the time very well, and we arrived in Baltimore only about 5 minutes behind schedule. As you can't think I've ever seen the departure board with so few trains listed. see, it was one of the last trains of the evening. I don't think I've ever seen the departure board with so few trains listed.
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All in all, a nice trip. I'm looking forward to coming up for the gathering and riding some stuff I've never been on. Maybe next year I'll pack my swimsuit and hot the beach in Rockaway. Given that the drive from Baltimore to the closes beaches in Delaware is a bit over 3 hours, a trip to New York to go to the beach isn't totally out of the question, and you don't have to deal with beach traffic, either.
Edited by MARC Rider, 11 July 2018 - 09:32 PM.