New York City & Coney Island 2009

09NYCBannerNew York City | Photos | Videos


June 20, 2009
New York NY

Though I had wanted to wake up early and get into the city early, that didn’t happen. But Matt and I did wake up and head out around 9:00 AM to be greeted by gloom, clouds, and precipitation. The drive from Pottstown to Trenton was just over an hour. I was trying to pay attention as I would be driving most of the same roads to Jackson, NJ for Six Flags a few days later, but the roads were very confusing. And expensive with all of the tolls.

We finally arrived at the train stop in Trenton and met up with Bubba and Steff. Once we got our tickets we headed out to the already waiting train, which left at 11:40 AM. I had this totally stereotypical vision of what riding on a train into the city would be like. For some reason, maybe because my last real exposure to NYC was in the early 80’s, I always imagine transportation and such into the city as being straight out of the 80’s. Surprisingly, what I had envisioned in my mind was SO close to what it was actually like. It was scary how close the interior of the train matched what I’d imagined.

But the train ride in was a lot of fun. I hadn’t been on a real train in a long time, and don’t remember the conductor actually coming and collecting tickets the last time I was on Amtrak. After a little more than an hour we arrived at Penn Station. Our first stop was the closest restroom. It was old and run down, and very typical of what I imagined NYC’s public restrooms to be like. I also had my first weird New York moment. I was waiting for a stall to open, and eventually a door opened to a stall beside me and a short middle aged woman came running out and hurried out of the restrooms. There was a line for the Women’s room, but I’m not sure I’d have done that if I were her…

NYC 2009

Anyways, we headed topside and as we did Bubba mentioned we were right under Madison Square Garden. I walked just inside the Garden just to say I’d been there, and then we headed out side so I could take some pictures. MSG is very close to the Empire State Building, and that was our first destination of the day. Sure, it was gloomy and foggy, but I really wanted to head to the top.

Once we arrived we headed into the lobby and were told it was a 40 minute wait. Well, the wait times were incorrect because we just bypassed all of the queues since no one was in line. In about 20 minutes counting the time I spent in the gift shop we were heading up to the 86th floor’s outdoor observation deck.

The views were…cloudy. I’m sure on a nice day they’d be really spectacular, and you could see a decent distance. I did manage to see the Statue of Liberty from a distance, as well as Manhattan in the distance. I took a lot of pictures, but mostly of closer buildings since the fog covered a lot of the buildings further away. I had brought an umbrella and was thankful I did as it rained off and on for the duration at the top. I would have loved to have stayed up there longer, but the weather wasn’t cooperating and there were lots of other things I wanted to do, so after about 30 minutes we headed back down, stopping at another gift shop so I could buy some stuff.

NYC 2009

Lunch was had next at a small Italian eatery right across the street from the ESB. It was actually really good, too, and so typically New York. Bubba wanted to go to CRUMBS Bakery and I wanted to see Times Square so we walked, first up a block the wrong way, then over and down towards CRUMBS Bakery, which was thankfully on the way to Times Square. We headed by Grant Park, stopping off for a cupcake at the bakery. It was delicious.

Apparently it was Gay Pride in NYC and they had a stage set up in Bryant Park with live music. Because of the rain, it wasn’t very crowded. Even though the music was terrible, we all walked over to the stage not knowing what was going on to get a glimpse of the performer and his horribly repetitious song. The lyrics and dancing were awful. Grant Park was nice, though, and a few minutes later we were arriving at Times Square.

I’d stayed here with family back when I was 3 or 4 years old. It was much different now, basically a huge tourist attraction with lights and LED screens and shops. We walked around as I took pictures and eventually headed to Toys Я Us. The goal was to ride the Ferris Wheel, but the line was really long. We did do some window shopping and I found some things that I’d eventually like to pick up elsewhere. After a bathroom break and looking around we decided to head over to Coney Island, the 2nd main destination of the day.

Coney Island 2009

It took a second to find the Subway station, but once we did we purchased our Metro card and hopped the train to Coney. This was my 2nd Subway credit. The ride to Coney Island was almost an hour, but it was neat. I like the trains on the NYC Metro better than D.C.’s but D.C.’s stations are nicer, and the lines are much easier to get around on. Granted, NYC is huge so that was part of my ‘issue’ with it. Eventually, though we did arrive safe and sound at Coney Island, only to be greeted by a burst of pouring rain. Thankfully it didn’t last long, and as we walked down the Ave., we realized we’d thankfully just missed The Mermaid Parade. Our first stop on Coney Island was the Infamous Coney Island Cyclone (How Sweet it Is). Would I like it?

Coney Island Cyclone (#183)No. Not even a little. I hadn’t wanted to get off of a coaster as much as I did Cyclone in a long time. I had fully expected to continue to think of Psyclone (R.I.P.) as my least favorite of the Cyclone clones, but as it turns out the original is now at the bottom of my rankings. I had hoped that the rain would give me a crazy ride. I was leery of all the padding when getting into the back seat of the train. Going up the lift hill was exciting beyond belief, but then the first drop happened. Honestly, I don’t remember much about the layout or anything because I was trying to brace myself for all of the pain that was coming my way. My back and shoulders hurt, badly, after riding. Matt said it was running slow and poorly. He was spot on. He asked about a $5 re-ride, but I had had more than enough. Sad, a coaster I’d looked forward to for so long was so bad. I knew it was a possibility, though, so no disappointment came from the Cyclone on this trip.

After riding the Cyclone we walked thru the old Astroland area, now labeled ‘Dreamland’ with temporary signage and some temporary rides that looked rather fun. Had it been a nicer day and were I staying in NYC longer, I’d have gotten a wristband for Deno’s and Dreamland so that we could have ridden longer.

Coney Island 2009

Circling around We went into Deno’s, heading straight to the Wonder Wheel. This was something else I was looking forward to riding. I’d ridden the version at Disneyland, which I enjoyed even if the swinging cars were slightly unnerving. What would I think of the original?

Deno’s Wonder WheelOh. My. Goodness. This was officially now one of my top 5 scariest rides ever. I was expecting something like the Sun Wheel at Disney. This was far scarier. First off, it’s so old. It isn’t even driven by tires, but gears, which was neat. I expected the ride to circle quite a few times once all of the cars were full much like other Ferris Wheels do, but the Wonder Wheel only circles twice, and for that I’m thankful. Once the car started rolling forward I was a bit nervous, but when it started swinging out of control, I was scared to death and started screaming. And it just kept swinging. I was holding on tight. It was scary as it swung up 90° as you’re in a cage sitting on a wooden bench. Every time it swung it scared me. Even as much as it frightened me, I’d pay $6 to ride it again.

I asked if Spook-o-Rama was any good and was told no, so we walked to the front of Deno’s and out onto Surf Ave. I needed batteries for the camera so I stopped in a shop to get a few, then we walked down to Nathan’s so Bubba could get a hot dog and I could use the restroom. I don’t like hot dogs, but toyed with getting one from Nathan’s Famous for obvious reasons. Then I saw the price and the hot dogs and decided that I’d stick to not eating hot dogs.

We sat at some of the outdoor seating for a while so that Bubba could eat, then walked back over to the boardwalk so that I could go out on the beach. Everyone else stayed on the boardwalk, but I walked out onto the sand and even put my feet (with shoes on) in the water. That’s 2 trips to the beach in one year year! As I was on the coastline, I could see a large tanker on the horizon. Then as I looked south, I could see a large cruise ship coming up the coast that was pretty massive.

Coney Island 2009

After staring out at the ocean for a few minutes I walked back up towards the boardwalk. We walked down the boardwalk and ran into more of the freaks from the Mermaid Parade. There were all kinds of freaks, clowns, mermaids, and what not everywhere, as well as press covering them and taking pictures. Matt wanted a quick bite to eat, and I toyed with getting a drink, but the alcohol on Coney was far too expensive.

Once we finished up at the food stand we headed back up the boardwalk and out by the Cyclone, then over to the Metro Station to wait on the train. It was about a 45 minute ride back to where we were headed, but where were we headed? Bubba and Steff were heading back to Trenton because Bubba parked in a lot that closed at 11 PM but Matt and I were staying in the city a little longer. Eventually Bubba and Steff got off at Penn Station as we waited and got off later, heading topside on 5th Ave. where I needed a restroom. Matt suggested going into the Plaza, but as we approached, not knowing if they still allowed the public to use their restrooms, I asked the doorman where the closest public restroom is, and he suggested the Apple Store across the street.

Now, this isn’t just any Apple Store, this is the glass box Apple Store that’s underground. We had decided to see how busy it was since the iPhone 3G S had just been released. So we headed across the street and down the spiraling stairs to the Apple Store. After a quick bathroom break we went over to play with the new iPhone. Yeah, the video and digital compasses are nice, but I wasn’t ready to go out and get a new one just yet, because mine still worked just fine. This was definitely larger than the other Apple Store I’d been to in D.C. and it was packed. I toyed with getting a new iPhone case, but decided against it.

Coney Island 2009

After spending time browsing we headed back out. It was still slightly light out so we walked over to Central Park. Yes, the park is huge, so we only really got to see one small corner of it. Matt wanted to see what the kiddy park looked like so we walked over to the gates. It was nice, and I’d like to go back and spend some time there in the future. The whole area we were in was very nice, even if it was getting dark. Such lush greenery and trees surrounded by huge skyscrapers made for an odd contrast.

We walked back out of Central Park and around a block or two until we ran into FAO Schwarz Toy Store. Sadly it was closed, but at least I was able to see it. Then I suggested eating at a place called Pop Burger for dinner. I had a ‘Ghost Burger’ (It was vegetarian) and Matt had some real burgers. The food was good, and the place was pretty trendy.

Then we started to walk back to Times Square from the opposite end that we came from before. We saw an older gentleman and his ‘escort’ for the evening, which I pointed out to Matt. He didn’t think that was what was going on, but I could tell by the way she was dressed and the fact that she was at least 40 years younger than him that they weren’t together unless she was getting something out of the deal.

NYC 2009

Finally we came to Times Square. It was packed and the lights were dazzling. I had to call the Piano Bar that we were heading to, Sweet Caroline’s, in order to get directions, but we finally made it. The show was supposed to start at 10:30 promptly, but it was starting just as we arrived at 10. It was nice, but nothing special as far as the looks of the place went. Crocodile Rocks in SC was way nicer inside. The players were really good, though, and lots of fun. I ended up getting a free drink AND they played both songs I requested.

It was different than its southern counterpart in that there was a lot more Hip Hop/Rap and Metal requested, along with the old piano standards present at both. In the south there was way more country being played. Around 12:30 AM we decided to leave since we still had to take the Metro to Penn Station and the train to Trenton was leaving at 1:40 AM. Once we got to the station we made our way to the platform, but it was confusing and I was glad Matt was with me. There were lots of homeless people sleeping on the ground, that’s something I’m not used to.

As we sat on the steps to wait for our train to get its gate assignment, a group of young people behind us asked us to take their picture, so I did. They were really nice and we chatted a bit before the train finally got a gate. And at 1:40 AM, just as promised, we were pulling out. I slept most of the way back to Trenton. Then there was another hour drive home that thankfully I didn’t have to drive.

All in all, I had a fun day. There was still a lot more I wanted to do, plus stuff I’d like to do again in nicer weather. However, the city came across as really dirty. I will say, though, that I was surprised at the attitudes of everyone I came across. Not one rude person all day. People said thank you and held doors open and were very nice, and these were the locals. Fun enough city, but I don’t think I’d ever want to live there.

HERSHEYPARK