• New York City Adventure — September 2011

    September 5, 2011 | Trip Recaps
  • A photo of New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal. The Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT) is the main gateway for interstate buses into Manhattan in New York City. It is owned and operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ). Colloquially called the Port Authority, the bus terminal is located in Midtown at 625 Eighth Avenue between 40th Street and 42nd Street, one block east of the Lincoln Tunnel and one block west of Times Square. The PABT, opened in 1950 between 8th and 9th Avenues and 40th and 41st Streets, was built to consolidate the many different private terminals spread across Midtown Manhattan. A second wing extending to 42nd Street was added in 1979. It is one of three bus terminals operated by the PANYNJ, the others being the George Washington Bridge Bus Station in Upper Manhattan and the Journal Square Transportation Center in Jersey City.

    On September 5, 2011, Labor Day, a blind friend, Tyler Terrasi and I decided three hours beforehand to take a spontaneous trip to New York City. It was a pretty slow Labor Day weekend, and he has not been to New York City with anyone other than his family, so we decided to give it a try. After calling him and informing him that we were off to New York City, he came over to my apartment in Brighton, MA. It was about 10:00 PM on Sunday night, and the bus left at 1:00 AM. After trying, without success, to purchase his ticket on the Greyhound website in a pressed amount of time, he gave up and decided that he would get it when we got to South Station. I had already got my ticket, so we were all set. So, at about 11:30 PM that night, we left and headed for New York City!

    After taking the subway to South Station, where we just barely made the last train, we found ourselves at gate 2, all set to board the 1:00 AM Greyhound bus to New York City. Although, interestingly enough, it did not leave until 2:00 AM. During the ride, we mostly slept, and the driver, literally, flew down the Mass Pike and Interstate 84! Even though we left an hour late, we still arrived at the scheduled time of 5:30 AM at the massive Port Authority Bus terminal, located in Midtown Manhattan. Of course, being there that early in the morning can be dangerous, but Tyler and I did not let that stop us from having a good time. Our first stop was the subway station, which was located below the terminal so that we could purchase our unlimited ride MetroCard. While the transit system took out the one-day pass, rather than take our chances, we decided to get the weekly pass, just to be safe, even though we were only there for a day. To get there, I asked a guy how to get to the subway, and the response that I got was, “I don’t freakin work here!” So with that negative response, we spent some time exploring, and I found the stairs to the subway because I could smell it! The New York subway system has a very distinct smell, so it was easy to locate. After getting assistance from a passenger on getting our Metro cards, our first stop was a friend’s house, and he lives down on 23rd street. We took the number 1 train downtown a few stops, and got help over to his apartment. This train, like many trains in New York City, had the automated stop announcement system, which Tyler really enjoyed. Upon arrival at our friend’s house, it was about 6:30 AM and we were both tired and hungry! We relaxed for a bit, then he took us to a nearby deli. I had a corned beef sandwich, which is popular throughout New York City, which was way overpriced. But, it was awesome to enjoy the classic New York City sandwich! After breakfast, we went back to the apartment for a while longer, then after resting, Tyler and I were bound for Penn Station. We went there, in order to learn more about how it was laid out, as well as to listen to the train announcements. Penn Station, besides the subway system, is served by Amtrak, the Long Island Railroad, and New Jersey Transit. We were assisted by many nice passengers, in order to successfully navigate the station’s complicated environment. We smelled all different kinds of food, including Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, and many restaurants in their massive food court. We heard announcements for trains bound for towns throughout Long Island, as well as for trains to many places far away, such as Chicago and Washington, DC.

  • View of Columbus Circle, looking east at Central Park South from inside the Time Warner Center

    After Penn Station, we decided to ride around a bit, and wanted to head in the direction of my favorite bar, called 123 Burger Shot Beer. However, because of the lack of announcements throughout the subway system, we got on the wrong train and headed up toward Harlem, which is not the safest area in New York City, Luckily, we just crossed the platform at 125th Street station, and made our way back downtown. We got off at Columbus Circle and walked up 59th Street a few blocks to 10th avenue. Unlike Boston and other cities, it is easier to keep track of your location, since the streets and avenues are in order. Upon arrival at 59th Street and 10th Avenue, we took the M11 bus down to 123 Burger Shot Beer, which obviously has three things on the menu from first hearing it: burgers, shots, and beer. However, they actually have a few more things on the menu, such as fries and a Philly cheese steak. I wanted to show Tyler the bus system as well, which he really enjoyed. Upon arrival at 123 Burger Shot Beer, I had a few beers, which were cheaper than Boston, and a few Philly cheese steaks and fries. It was quiet, since it was around noon. This bar is one of the cheapest that I know in New York City, and it is open from 11:00 AM-4:00 AM each night! In Boston, bars close at 2:00 AM. To our surprise, for the two of us, the bill was about $15, the cheapest lunch that we have probably ever had!

    Following our inexpensive and awesome meal, we made our way back to our friend’s house on 23rd street to get our bags and head back up to the Port Authority Bus terminal. Upon arrival, we got assistance to the Greyhound ticket counter, Tyler got his ticket, and we caught the 3:30 PM bus back to South Station. What a day! While it was spontaneous and exhausting, we had a great time, and as I told Tyler, now that you tackled New York City’s extensive transportation system, any other one is a walk in the park!!