Train to Penn Station
We landed under Madison Square Garden after taking the NJ transit – a much more afordable option than Amtrack, especially when coming from Philadelphia where one can take SEPTA to Trenton, then transfer to NJ transit. It ends up being about 1/4 the Amtrack price. There are also Chinatown buses to NYC, but they land in Chinatown of course, and sometimes it is better to end up midtown. We walked from Penn Station to The Highline.
We scored a beautiful day with low humidity, breezes, and sunshine. There were sailboats in the river and a blimp in the blue, blue sky. I had the excellent companionship of KJ, a homeschool mama and improv actor, and her best friend J, who just got back from three months in Thailand (!!!). I really could not have been happier.
The Highline is an elevated rail line that has been made into a walking trail/park that has delicious design. Flowering vegetation, quirky sculptures and other art that plays off the railroad tracks present in some places, amazing views of trains in use near Penn Station and of the many cranes doing Manhattan construction, glassed-in lookouts over some city streets, and other little surprises like a maze and a water-sidewalk where you could cool your toes. Also, there was a Lego thing, see below:
Below are the maze, the cranes and the trains!!
KJ says she takes everyone here, and I can see why. Built in 1851 and barring females until 1970, this place has a lot of history. Dust covers a collection of drumsticks suspended over the bar, framed photos and paintings and newspaper articles cover the walls, sawdust carpets the floor. I got a bowl of chili and a seltzer for $6. Lunch in Manhattan for $6?? Unthinkable, but it happened! There were not many people there on that weekday afternoon. An older lady with a walker ambled in and we all kind of eyed her suspiciously, but KJ is relentlessly friendly and soon we were sharing a table with DS, a septuagenarian lifetime New Yorker with a gorgeous accent. Talking with DS turned out to be a highlight of the day as she regaled us with stories of Greenwich Village in the early 1960’s when she had male interracial roomates and was involved in the art scene. She did stand up comedy just like KJ!! DS belied our early impressions and proved to be completely lucid, very young in spirit, and appreciative of our company. We were sad to say goodbye to DS, but she had a doctor appointment and we were off to look for discount show tickets
LOVE this bookstore!! We dashed in for just a minute. I wanted a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet since I had re-encountered his beautiful, soul-feeding poetry recently. I realize this is a bit of a non-sequitor, but the next time you struggle with life’s pain, just let these words sink in:
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
Thank you, Mr. Gibran.
Moving on, we took a crazy taxi ride to TKTS at 3pm which, according to KJ who is knowledgable about these things, is the time to go. None of the Broadway or off-Broadway offerings grabbed us, we were having so much fun just talking and being outside in the beautiful weather, so we decided to go to Rockefeller Center.
We walked around the place where the Christmas tree stands every December, which is when we Fantastics tend to visit. This day was full of people sitting outside, enjoying the weather and the people-watching and maybe a treat from a nearby café. We had amazing baked goods from Le Bouchon, which according to Google Translate means “cork” and also “traffic jam” but who cares because YUM!! French pastries!
Below is Times Square, a beautiful church we passed, and the arch at Washington Square Park.
I had to bid adieu after that, since I really have too much to do at home to be traipsing about NYC into the wee hours, sigh. But it was a lovely day and I feel lucky to have walked around admiring the city with such wonderful companions. I also got some hot tips from J about Thailand, mainly that she was happy with Booking.com, which I will look into, and Charles Schwab, which she recommended (along with NomadicMatt) for overseas banking and where I already opened an account! So, thanks KJ, J, DS, and NYC!