Thursday, February 14, 2008

Times Square: Part One

We finished up our business on Long Island at lunch on Wednesday and had until 3:40 Thursday afternoon for exploring. So we loaded up the rental and drove to Bayside, NY, which is nearer to LaGuardia but far enough away to save on the expensive motel rates by the airport. None of us were real enthused about driving into downtown Manhattan for the evening with the high parking rates and copious amounts of traffic so I asked the motel clerk if there was a train station nearby. As luck would have it, we were ten blocks away from a stop on the Long Island Railroad.

We walked the ten blocks and bought roundtrip tickets for non-peak hours (we were going before rush hour and coming back after rush hour) that only set us back $10 a pop. You can't beat that. Soon we were aboard a train and being whisked towards Pennsylvania Central Station only twenty minutes away.

Once out on the sidewalks at street level, we were truly lost for the first time of the trip. I mean we knew we were on the corner of 7th Ave. and 36th Street but had no idea what relation everything was to where we were at and the GPS unit wasn't much use unless we had a specific building or address we wanted to see. So after a short conference underneath the entrance to Madison Square Gardens, we decided to head towards 5th Avenue, which we all had heard about. For some reason, we made it to 6th Avenue but never to 5th. I don't remember why anymore but we decided that we wanted to head towards Times Square.

Now I am smart enough to know that Times Square is actually a large area consisting of many blocks but I didn't have any clue as to which way it was. But for some reason, I had an inkling that it was in the 40+ block of street names and so we started off in the direction of increasing street numbers. After what seemed like a long walk, we got to 46th Street and whatever road we were on and decided that we were probably just going the wrong direction. So I found a donut shop nearby that was apparently not busy for some reason and asked what I thought was an English speaking person which way to Times Square. He told me in a very thick European accent that I was one block away. So minutes later we found ourselves at Times Square just as dusk was starting to descend upon the city.

The first order of business was to buy some souvenirs to take back home. I got a knock off Prada handbag for my wife and a hooded shirt for Little Abbey that said something like, "Someone who loves me very much went to New York and bought this for me." I even made it home with one of the famous I (heart) New York t-shirts which sell for 7/$10 in that area. We basically walked up one side of Times Square and down the other taking in the sites for a couple hours.

One of the things that I noticed during our walk was the lack of street bums. In fact, I only saw two or three the entire time and none of them said a word to me, even the one I offended. The one that I offended had a cardboard sign that said, "I need $ for drugs, booze and prostitutes." I was trying to get a picture for my blog but he kept turning away. Assuming he wanted some money, I went to give him the change in my pocket but remembered I had left it all back at the hotel and all I had was a quarter or a $20 bill. I tossed the quarter into his cup but he tapped my on the shoulder and dumped the quarter back out into my hand and turned back away. I guess a quarter was just too much of an insult.

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