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Truly an Adventure

sunny 80 °F


Leaving Burlington we headed south along Lake Champlain, a beautiful drive with the Green Mountains to the east and the Lake and Adirondacks to the West. A campground was chosen just to east of Albany, about 11 miles from the AmTrak train station which proved to be very convenient. The trains into the City leave every hour from 0700 hrs to 5:00 pm with returning trains leaving (all from Penn Station) with the last train arriving in Albany at 9:30 pm. To our pleasant surprise the train cars were very modern, clean and well maintained which made the 2 1/2 hr. trip enjoyable as we viewed the Hudson River along the way. Our homework on where to stay proved time well-spent. The hotel we chose was a Marriott about a block & 1/2 from Penn Station, an easy walk. It proved to be very safe as the NYPD 23rd Precinct station was just across the street from the hotel entrance. The street was lined with at least 50 police cars. Son Todd generously gave us some of his Marriott points accumulated when he served overseas on TDY (Temporary Duty) in London & Frankfurt. Hotel rates in the City are outrageous so it was greatly appreciated. After checking in about 2:30 pm we decided to walk to the Empire State Building for a tour. The observation deck is 100 stories above the street and offered a fabulous view of the city and beyond. We were amazed at the endless number of people on the streets and were amused by the sounds of the city- the horns and sirens blaring constantly. Traffic congestion in downtown Manhattan makes it easier to walk, and walk we did. Pat's iPhone watch records distance walked and each day we walked between 4 1/2 and 6 miles! Another thing that struck us was the number of eateries there are, and the amount of construction in progress. More sky-scrapers, in fact, one when completed, will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, taller than the new World Trade Center tower at 1,776'. To end Day One we enjoyed the restaurant next door to our hotel for drinks, light food, and people-watching from our table on the outdoor patio.

On Day Two we walked the several (20) blocks to Rockefeller Center to board our double-decker tour bus to see the sights of Upper Manhattan. It included circling Central Park northward along Central Park West then swinging back southward on Madison Avenue. Countless sights were pointed out along the way on the narrated tour. It lasted about 2 1/2 hours. After touring St. Patrick's Cathedral across the street from Rockefeller Center we found an Irish Pub in the neighborhood to satisfy our early afternoon appetite. The Cathedral is magnificent, of course. The Catholics have invented several dozen ways to donate to the church including credit card machines, candle sales ($2. each) at every prayer station, and a private tour by the Archbishop Dolan, himself. The price for that one was not published but a $1,000 minimum might get their attention!

Penn Station was originally built in 1911 as a transportation hub for the Pennsylvania Railroad entering the City. In the 1960's Penn Station above ground (street-level) was razed and Madison Square Garden was built on the site with the train terminal remaining & functioning on the lower level. At the time of original constructioin the Pennsylvania Railroad was the world's largest corporation and its wealth came from steel, coal, and petroleum. It competed with the New York Central Railroad owned by Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt built the twice-as-large Grand Central Station a few blocks away to accommodate his trains. Fierce competition ensued among the New York Central, The Pennsylvania, and the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) railroads, along with the Erie Canal Barge System for transportation of petroleum (oil) products refined in Cleveland by Rockefeller and transported to NYC. John D. Rockefeller controlled the oil (90% at one time) and played one company against the other for the best transportation rates. It was later learned that a 'kick-back' scheme to Standard Oil Corp (Rockefeller) was awarded when a transportation contract was won by one of the shipping companies. Another story!

By the time our sore feet made it back to our hotel neighborhood we found a local establishment called 'Mustang Harry's' for food & refreshment. It was like finding an oasis in the desert! It was quite a day for starters! Needless to say, it was early to bed on Day One. More tomorrow................................

Posted by dixter 06:36 Archived in USA Tagged nyc touring

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