Road trip: New York

My trip to New York City was an exciting but long trip. Our plan to stay up and drive to NYC over night wasn’t such a good idea. Everyone was tired by the time we got there and we didn’t have much time to do anything. The weather was great for the first day but then it rained a little on the second day. Other than that the experience was a great and it’s one to add to my books.

Our trip started at late Friday night. We wanted to leave town and get to New Jersey before Saturday afternoon. According to the directions that my brother received from MapQuest, it estimated that we’d arrive within seven hours. That’s the estimate if we didn’t stop but we had to stop every two hundred kilometers or so to switch drivers.

My brother drove the first part of the trip then I drove the middle part and my friend finished the last part. During the night drive, most of us managed to stay awake but it didn’t last long. I tried to get some sleep because I was scheduled to drive next but the back seat isn’t that comfortable. It’s especially not comfortable when you’re sleep with your neck tilted and your head up against the window. I felt every bump we drove over. The highway of New York was fairly smooth until we reached certain parts of the state.

The nice thing about our trip was the fact that they had rest areas situated every hundred kilometers or so. Basically, it’s a parking lot where you go to take a break from driving. There wasn’t much else there but some benches and a washroom. They don’t have that here in Canada but most of our cities are close to each other. In New York, there was nothing but farm land in between the major cities.

My friend was kind enough to lend us his GPS navigator for the trip. We found it to be helpful during certain times but during other times it was just a headache. We typed in our destination address before we left and we drove off. It took us to the border just fine but there was a quicker way that it could have taken us. Just to be on the safe side and to avoid getting lost, we followed the GPS. It took us to New Jersey but it took us the long way and made our trip almost ten hours long.

My brother used MapQuest to get directions to New Jersey but it gave us something different than what the GPS had suggested. The GPS suggested that we take the Peace Bridge into Buffalo but my brother’s map suggested that we cross the Lewiston Bridge. Apparently, the direction that the GPS gave us was the scenic route which meant a quieter but longer ride. If we had taken the route that my brother had planned, it would have meant a more direct path. We would have been driving east on I-90 and then south I-81. That path would have taken us just under eight hours but instead our trip took about ten hours to complete.

After driving all night long we finally reached Jersey City, New Jersey. Our next task was to find the place where we’d be staying. The streets of Jersey aren’t like the streets of Hamilton. One major differences is that they don’t warn you when your lane is about to end. You find out when traffic slows down to a halt and cars starts getting into a single line. My friend wanted to signal the car behind us to let him know that we’re merge but the guy just kept driving forward. When we got to the end of the merge, another lane was merging with the merging lane. Three lanes were merging into one lane and there wasn’t a single sign telling drivers of that. Out of towners can easily be intimidated by all of this.

We drove around for another hour before reaching our destination. This place was a little hard to find because it was on the street that was connected to an on-ramp to the highway. We basically had to make a U-Turn in order to get there. After making the U-Turn we still had a problem finding it. The street split into two with one going to the highway and the other going to some other highway. From our point of view, it looked like we had to continue on Highway 440 but we actually had to stay on West 63rd but that street looked like it was merging onto another highway.

After we checked into our room, we decided to get a little sleep before going anywhere. The sun was up so I couldn’t sleep much. We were a little hungry though so my brother ordered two medium pizzas from Domino’s to split between three of us. I think I ate one medium pizza to myself because the other guys kept going for the pizza with the olives but I stuck to the pepperoni pizza. I was hope that eating all that would get me a little sleepy but it didn’t help much. As soon as we were done with the pizza, we left for New York.

New York seems to be such a busy city that they prohibit people from standing around. I’m not sure who came up with that idea or why it’s not a good idea to stand around but we decided to break the rules anyway. What are they going to do to us? Tell us to keep moving?

Our first stop was to visit Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty. The boat ride took us to Ellis Island first but we weren’t interested in that island. Getting onto the board felt like boarding an airplane which was totally unexpected. They made us go through the same procedure as if we were about to board a plane. They’ve ask us to take off anything metallic and place it into a box. I had to take off my belt but I never had to do that before when I flew to Hong Kong. When I walked through, they asked me to take out my wallet and put that into the box as well. I didn’t have anything metallic in my wallet so I’m not sure why I had to take that out. I’m sure that they have a valid reason to do all of this but I think it was a waste of time.

The boarding process to get onto the ferry felt like it took forever as well. There was a long line up but it wasn’t much of a line. People started walking towards the exit but there was only room for a few people to go through it at a time. So people were cutting in line and when they got out, they were cutting in line again. It was like total chaos.

When we go to the front of the line, we were delayed because people with wheel chair wanted to get onto the ferry so the workers had to walk down the ramp and pull up the wheel chairs. The stupid thing was that the ramp was pretty steep. Someone with a motorized wheelchair probably couldn’t drive up the ramp. Whose stupid idea was that? And they were boarding people to the upper floor. I don’t’ know why they didn’t make the ramp go onto the main floor since it would have made more sense.

From the time we go in line to get onto the board until the time we actually board took almost half an hour. In Hong Kong, it takes less than five minutes to get all of that time. With the amount of time that it took me to get onto the ferry in New York, the Hong Kong ferry would have already reached another island already.

Getting off the ferry took just as long. The person who was driving the boat obviously didn’t know how to steer the thing because it took forever just to dock. He kept driving forward and backward and wasn’t going anywhere near the dock but once we’ve dock, the guy working inside the ferry was yelling at people to hurry up and get off. It’s bad enough that the driver can’t dock the boat on time and it’s even worse when they tell the passengers to get off in a hurry because they’re behind on schedule.

I was eager to get off the boat since the ride took a lot longer than expected. As I exited, I could hear people complaining about the ride. People who work in the service industry should not make their customers upset especially if they haven’t done anything wrong.

Liberty Island was packed with tourist. There was an option to go into the Statue of Liberty but that was an extra $6 and we didn’t know that the pass meant we could have gone up the statue. By the time we go onto the island, it was close to closing time anyway so we probably wouldn’t have had enough time to do that. We ended up walking around and taking pictures and then going into the gift shop. Even the workers at the gift were giving people attitude but I’ve done enough ranting about New York for a day so I’ll save the rest for later.
Picture was taken at Liberty Island

I forgot to bring my remote control with me so I had to set the timer on the camera to take a picture of everyone. I wasn’t willing to lend my camera to another person in case they run off with it. Not like there’s anywhere they could go since we’re on an island but I didn’t want to risk it.

The first day in New York was a pretty good one with the exception of bad services here and there. The city offer tourist many sites to see and things to do. If they worked on their attitude, I’m sure it’ll make the visit a lot more pleasant.