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New York City 5 days + Rhinebeck 2 days trip report

New York City 5 days + Rhinebeck 2 days trip report

Old Sep 27th, 2019, 12:37 PM
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New York City 5 days + Rhinebeck 2 days trip report

This trip has been a long time coming . . . I’ve wanted to visit New York City for decades but right moment and circumstances never seemed to come together. So, I decided that trip would be my retirement gift to myself, that I would travel in September (a month that someone tied to an academic school calendar can never consider) and that I would go with a Road Scholar tour, to take the pressure out of planning and especially to give myself good company during the trip. I had friends who had been on Road Scholar tours but this would be my first one.

Flew out of Atlanta at 9:30 on Sunday, September 8th; arrived at LaGuardia at 11:30 and was able to make it in to my hotel, the (Wyndham) New Yorker, by 1:00. New Yorker is near the corner of 8th Ave and 34th street, with easy to spot signage. Constructed in 1929, it’s in art deco style and was a good central spot for this trip. My room was on the 35th floor and had an excellent view of the Empire State Building (which became my marker for finding myself during the trip) and on the side, through some buildings, of the Hudson River sparkling in the sunshine. Also visible was Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.

I had gone with an assigned roommate from the tour and that worked out extremely well (although I heard stories from other Road Scholar participants later who had not had such happy experiences with unknown roommates on past tours).

Luggage for my roommate was already in the room when I got up there about 1:30 but she was already out & about (ironically, at NY Public & Bryant Park, where I also headed before tour started). Coming from a small town, New York was overwhelming when I first arrived. I had seen the library, I thought, on my way in & when I put New York Public in Google maps it took me to the one I had spotted, which turned out to be the Science & Technology branch (quite an impressive size itself but closed on Sunday afternoon). The Main Library was close by so after some extra steps, I found it.

Library was very beautiful. The theory behind public architecture in the early 1900s was that even if people were living in poor tenements; they could still enjoy the beauty of the public buildings of the early 1900s. Rich wood, beautiful ceilings, a Gutenberg Bible (which was almost ignored) and then a nice, “retro” children’s area. I liked its murals and especially the Winnie the Pooh cast and map of Hundred Acre Woods. I expected to be disappointed by bedraggled stuffed animals but the Pooh bear had personality.

I had arrived a few minutes late for the only official tour of the day. I did catch up with the tour and joined for a few minutes but decided that in my first hour of being in the City, I was too restless to listen; I wanted to explore on my own. I was able to go into the Reference Reading area, sit in the big oak chairs,walk along the shelves and recognize titles – it was great fun.

And yes, I asked someone to take a quick photo of me with on the lions in front of the library. The park and library itself were both very busy with people, probably most of them tourists.

The tour began with an early dinner at the hotel diner, the Tick Tock. Afterwards at 6:15, we had an orientation meeting to meet our tour guide & each other in one of the hotel downstairs meetings room. Then, we set out about 7:30, to walk to the Empire State Building. Our tour guide got the group in (so nice to have tickets just handed to us), then we were on our own to get through security and to go through exhibits and take in the amazing views.

I knew nothing of the history of the Empire State Building beforehand so it was interesting to see the photos of the construction process. Amazing how quickly the building went up, to open in 1931, and to see the workers (pre-OSHA!) perched so casually on beams or hanging off cables high in the air. We went to the 86th floor observation deck that was packed with people (on a Sunday night in September, what would it be like in high tourist season??).

The views were frustrating; we were without our guide, not knowing what we were seeing. Someone was able to identify the Chrysler Building but otherwise it was all a beautiful blur of lights and shapes. We also made it up to the “closed floor” observation areas but nothing was labeled, no signs to help us know what direction we are looking in. This floor was not so crowded, at least. Probably at the end of New York stay and in daylight, I would have had a much better sense of what I was seeing.

Next morning, my roommate and I (as we did every morning) got out of the hotel early, for just a brief walk, time to see what the weather would be like and how busy the streets were before 8:00 on a Monday morning. We were back in the meeting room for breakfast, Metro Card registration and then an hour long lecture “Introduction to the Big Apple” by an expert. There were 27 total in the group and those of us under 65 were just handed a Metro card loaded for a week’s unlimited use. The over 65 folks signed up for a special senior discount card. Plus we all got “whisper” devices, so that we could hear our guide easily, even in the subway. .

Subway ride took us to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Rockefeller Center. Quick inside visit to Cathedral, came outside to look at the contrast between the very neo-Gothic church and the massive Art Deco buildings & big sculptures of the nearby Rockefeller Center. I liked the large statue of Atlas, holding up the world, opposite the Cathedral.

It was a beautiful day to be outside; high would reach the mid-70s. We looked at the public art (including golden Prometheus) around the Rockefeller Center, at the sunken plaza, at some filming that was going on, and then went inside. Somewhere I do remember seeing the huge mural, American Progress, and guide told us the story of the unfinished/censored mural by Diego Rivera that it replaced.

We all got vouchers to a place with a variety of food choices (Cucina & Co.), ate lunch in the open space outside the restaurant. One of the books I read compared the Rockefellers & what they meant to NYC to the Medici and Florence – I thought that was interesting.

After lunch, we walked to Radio City Music Hall (which I had not realized was a part of the Rockefeller Center) & our tour leader turned us over to a guide there. I had not been particularly interested in Radio City Music Hall beforehand but this was most enjoyable part of day. I loved the art deco building and furnishings, especially the art work. Even the bathrooms were gorgeous.

Our guide did an excellent job of telling the story of its early personalities and happenings; I was very impressed by the Hall itself (I would be very happy to attend a show there in the future & it could be a back seat). We met and posed with a current Rockette and then, once done, our Road Scholar leader showed up to ride the subway back to the hotel with us. About half of us, including me, walked back, getting a bit more experience with the busyness and noise of New York.

I hadn’t really done that much walking during the day but was still glad to have an hour to rest in the hotel room before walking with the group for a very early dinner at a Chinese restaurant, Chef Yu, 8th Ave. @ 36th Street. We each selected a soup but after that the various dishes were brought to tables & served family style – it was a very good meal, managed very efficiently by the restaurant.

Back in the meeting room of the hotel, we had another hour long lecture, this one on the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Lecture was probably well timed; I think the noise and bustle of the city were exhausting at first; I would have much more energy the following evenings.
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Old Sep 27th, 2019, 12:51 PM
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Wonderful report, looking forward to more.

Having grown up in NJ & frequently visited NYC even as a child I perhaps take it for granted that I'm familiar with the various landmarks, bridges, big buildings, etc, so interesting perspective from a 1st time visitor.
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Old Sep 27th, 2019, 03:15 PM
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 06:36 AM
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The trip sounds like a great retirement gift. My husband and I are always interested in reading about Road Scholar trips. Although we have never taken one we probably will sometime soon.

After your visit to the public library you might be interested in watching Frederick Wiseman’s film, Ex Libris – The New York Public Library. Warning: it is very long. Not enough about the physical building of the main library IMO but very interesting about how libraries function in the modern world.
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 08:21 AM
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nice report, sounds like that tour group worked out pretty well, I"ve heard of them and thought of using them someday. I was intgersted in some of theirs to some places in Mexico or Central America.

That was a pretty good hotel location.
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 07:12 PM
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I'm enjoying your report, thanks for sharing. We have hopes for another visit to New York so I've noted some places to visit from your tour. We love beautiful architecture, especially art deco. The main thing that puts us off is the long distance from Australia - 14 hour flight to LAX then five to NY

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Old Sep 29th, 2019, 07:03 AM
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Thank you! Definitely seeing this as a first timer but hope to return.
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Old Sep 29th, 2019, 07:53 AM
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Part 2: Tuesday, the 10th, began with breakfast in the hotel's Tick Tock diner. Tick Tock was an interesting place, very efficient, bright and cheerful. My Road Scholar voucher gave me coffee/tea, juice and a choice of 6 things (I had Greek omelet, very good). One thing I noticed is that there seemed to be no refills – I never saw a waiter with a coffee pot in hand and I certainly didn’t have the nerve to ask for more hot water for tea.

My roommate and I were almost finished with our meal when we noticed a disheveled guy coming in to the diner, saying loudly, “Call 911! Call 911!”. The wait staff ignored him but he headed straight back to kitchen and we started hearing wait staff saying, “He’s got a knife, he’s waving it around back there.” One of the older waiters said, “Keep serving – don’t stop.” My roommate and I looked at each other; both of us grabbed our just buttered remaining pieces of toast, and went back to our room. Later, we heard that a couple of police had come in & easily removed the guy. Our moment of excitement.

Tour group met in lobby to leave at 8:30. Always disconcerting to me to leave Midtown, with its huge skyscrapers, and then after subway, walk up the stairs to some completely different place. This place, Battery Park, had water and even a few trees.

We saw Castle Clinton, which was the immigration center before Ellis Island, but no time to explore though; we were led straight onto the ferry. I went up to the upper deck and had, for the first time, a real sense of New York as an island and as a seaport. We could see the New Jersey shore and a beautiful bridge that someone told me was the Verrazono-Narrows Bridge on the other side.

Exciting to come up on the Statue of Liberty, to see her getting larger and larger. My roommate and I took the path around the tiny island, getting good views of the Lady Liberty. Thanks to the previous night’s lecture, I looked for the broken chains at her feet (symbolizing the end of slavery in the United States) and noticed how she was walking, not a stationary figure as I had imagined. It was a cloudy morning; I had very lightweight rain jacket with me and we continued on in a light rain.

We spent a few minutes in the very nice museum (seeing the original lantern) and watched some of the excellent film about the history of the statue. But again, just restless, so we headed on to the cafeteria to pick up sandwiches to take with us to Ellis Island for a later lunch. Tour guide had said choices better and lines shorter if we bought food on Liberty Island.

Very quick ferry trip brought us to Ellis Island. Immigration Center an impressive brick public building of its era. Audio tour is included in the price of admission. But, for some reason, I was disorganized about seeing Ellis Island. We decided to go on a ranger tour at noon so ate lunch outside beforehand. Our particular ranger, first generation Chinese American (whose parents arrived in United States by plane), was excellent but he did cover many of the same things I had learned from the Road Scholar lecture the evening before. We walked around the large examination hall; went through some of the exhibits in the museum, then walked around outside, again enjoying the view of the shore & the boats as they went by. It was great fun to me to imagine the harbor as it must have been 100, 200, 300, and 400 years ago when it would have been crowded with ships of all kinds and sizes.

I think my expectations were too high for Ellis Island. It was interesting but I was ready to go before the agreed upon departure time of 2:15. Maybe getting off to a disorganized start on going through the exhibits, maybe the gloomy weather, maybe just still being tired from the stress of travel – I am not sure. It wasn’t crowded but even on Tuesday in September, it was busy. I don’t have any family connections to Ellis Island but I’ve read about it in fiction and seen it in movies so much.

Before we headed back to the hotel, our tour leader took us down to Wall Street and we walked by Trinity Church, the charging bull, the Federal Hall where George Washington took his first oath of office, and J.P. Morgan’s bank (still with its bullet holes from an an early 20th century anarchist terror attack). Our tour leader said we were also very close to the ancient slave market site although it was not well marked.

Then, back to subway, back to hotel briefly and then walked as a group to Tir Na Nog (315 W. 39th Street), an Irish restaurant. I had shepherd’s pie, which came in a casserole dish big enough to serve three people. It was good, although a bit salty, and meal finished with cheesecake.

We were joined by a special guide, Angela, for the optional High Line walk after dinner and this was lots of fun. We had a short ride on the subway, down to the start of the High Line (at the Whitney Museum), and started out just as dusk was falling.

The High Line (converted rail road line that is now pedestrian path) is beautiful – really enjoyed the art installations along it. Crowded, too, all sorts of folks, not all tourists. Our guide, Angela, did a great job over the whisperers telling us stories about the buildings and then the creative forces behind the High Line. Interesting to get a glimpse into New York’s industrial past, which I was unaware of.

Art along the High Line great – my favorite was the clock, Silent Agitator, with its “Time to Organize” at the bottom.

We saw the upward light beam from the World Trade site that is broadcast just for the 36 hours around the attack anniversary. And saw the Empire State Building lit up in red, white and blue, centered beneath a full moon. It was a beautiful night.

We finished up the walk at the High Line’s end, near the new Hudson Yards complex, and saw The Vessel, a new piece of public art, lit up for the evening, and full of people. A few more blocks of walking and we were back at the hotel, this time coming to it from a new direction. We were within a block, I think, of the Javits Convention Center (I’ve been dreaming about attending BookExpo there, one of these days. ) It doesn’t seem like an easy place to get to by foot but maybe that was just because of all the construction going on in the area.

I have since learned that the High Line has its own app & tours by docents twice weekly so there are more options to understanding it.

Wednesday, Sept. 11th: Early pre-breakfast walk, still trying to get familiar with the hotel’s neighborhood. Had another special guide, Stephen, join us & we got on subway again at 9:30 for a quick trip up to Times Square. I enjoyed this tour, seeing all the theaters and marquees, listening to our guide’s stories (guide a former actor, friend of Ethel Merman, now playwright, born & raised in Manhattan). We are able to peak in, from the sidewalk, to the back of the Lunt-Fontaine Theater as they were bringing in sets for their next show.

Great fun to see the New Year’s mirror ball, the old New York Times Building, Sardi’s, the Algonquin Hotel. My fault that I didn’t get to a play. The half price ticket booth was what I had planned to use but I didn’t realize that it didn’t put evening tickets on sale until after 3 p.m. day of play (and I was in Harlem for afternoon). Many of the fellow tour folks had bought full price tickets ahead of time or online after arriving.

The Times Square tour ended at noon and group walked over to Bryant Park, where the tour organizer provided us with box lunches. It was a hot day (high would be 86) so we scrambled to find shady seats. A bonus was the view of skyline, particularly the Chrysler Building, from the park. Park had the best public bathrooms I've ever seen!

Our guide, a scholar of African American music, for the elective walk to Harlem met us in the park and again, we got on the subway and arrived in a very different place. Harlem felt like being in a small city, with its buildings of 2-8 stories, in sight of the Midtown/Downtown skyline.

We walked down a very wide street to the Apollo Theater, for a visit into the lobby with guide providing lots of information. Unfortunately, it was a very hot and sunny afternoon so we were all constantly looking for a bit of shade. The guide pointed out the beautiful Hotel Theresa, which stood out as the tallest building around. (Fidel Castro stayed there in 1960, on his famous last visit to the United States.) We walked down streets of brownstones that were being renovated, saw the old synagogue of Milton Berle (Harlem was transitioning from a Jewish to an African American community during Berle's boyhood), stopped in the shade of the Adam Clayton Powell Center, then a street of beautifully restored brownstones. We were briefly on the edge of a park but I’ve forgotten its name & we also had Malcolm X’s mosque pointed out to us. Street life was lively in Harlem, with vendors and residents (and tourists like us).

Wednesday was our only free evening on the tour. My roommate and I stopped at a busy place a few steps away from the hotel, Bistro Market Place & picked up a good variety of fruits, vegetables and grain dishes for supper (something one misses on trips!). We ate outside at Hudson Yards, with a good view of the River and the Vessel. We had downloaded free tickets to climb the Vessel so did that around 6:00. I had worried it would be miserably hot and too many steps for me but it was shaded by other buildings and great fun with great views. I have a bit of acrophobia but I was able to enjoy being on the top level and walking all around. Again, good view of Empire State Building in one direction and Hudson River in the other.

We then walked the one section of the High Line we had missed the evening before, the Spur, and saw Simone Leigh’s Brick House, a sixteen foot tall bronze statue of a black woman with a house as a skirt. From there, we walked down to the Chelsea Piers and Parks. For a while, we were on a walking/biking trail that we assumed was being used mostly by native New Yorkers. The river was a lovely background; we saw a red sunset over the water & buildings. Got back to the hotel about 8:30, with some time to get ready for the day ahead (Central Park, the Met, and evening visit to 9/11 Memorial).
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Old Sep 29th, 2019, 02:10 PM
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Thanks for an interesting read!
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Old Sep 30th, 2019, 08:00 AM
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Last part!

Thursday, Sept. 12th. We met at 8:30 in the hotel lobby, again ready for another subway ride, this time to Central Park. We came out near the Dakota Building, crossed the street, and were soon at Strawberry Field, the John Lennon memorial. Very interesting to me were the rock outcroppings and the explanations of their glacier origins. I live in an area never touched by the Ice Ages so am fascinated with these signs of past. We paused at Central Park Lake, took quick photos of the charming Bow Bridge, and then spent 15 minutes at a large Alice in Wonderland sculpture waiting for folks to visit the bathroom in the boathouse.

We arrived at the Met a few minutes before its 10:00 opening and there was already a long line waiting to get in. Our guide set us down on the steps to wait until the line dispersed; it was probably about 10:15 when we entered. What would the crowd be like on a weekend or summer day?

Again, we were handed tickets and then met by Road Scholar guide. He talked for a few minutes in the noisy Great Hall lobby about himself and the museum, then walked us quickly through halls to the American wing to show us a few of his favorite pieces of art (the Frank Lloyd Wright room and the Tiffany glass, both on my list to see) and then left us at the Egyptian Temple of Denbur.

This was the day of the trip I had been looking forward to the most. I spent more time in the Egyptian section & then had an early light lunch on the bottom floor, spent time with a special exhibit of the “Old Dutch masters” (it had pulled out the Met’s Rembrandts, Vermeers, de la Hooches, etc.). I wasn’t as impressed with the Vermeers as I had expected . . . maybe the Met’s paintings just aren’t his best ones. I’ve seen The Girl With the Pearl Earring in Atlanta on a tour, the Girl With the Red Hat (and a couple of others) at the National Gallery in DC, and there was a wonderful one, The Art of the Painting, in Vienna.

Most of the Rembrandts good and I loved seeing the famous painting of the interior of the cathedral by another Dutch artist. Took a break after this by spending 15 minutes sitting up on the Roof Garden (not sure if I should have been buying something from the restaurant there but didn’t matter, it was misting and there was talk that the Roof would be closed.) Even with the grayness, I enjoyed the views of Central Park and the City from the rooftop. I was continually trying to orient myself in the city; I think it would take several more trips before I would have any confidence about direction and what I was seeing.

Then, I spent a couple of hours with the Impressionists and never got anywhere else or even truly thought I had sufficiently appreciated that collection. So many wonderful paintings. An entire room full of Van Goghs and almost everything in it excellent, The brush strokes on Van Gogh and other painters of his era add the element of texture that doesn’t show up on the art book plates or web photos.

Amazing to walk through rooms on the way to somewhere else and be quickly startled by a famous painting.

I had complained to myself that the group was leaving the Museum too early, at 3:00, but truthfully, I was tired and rather overwhelmed by then, almost willing to go. It rained on us as we made the 10 minute walk back to subway but had stopped by the time we got back to hotel.

After another 5:00 p.m. dinner (this time at one of the hotel’s restaurants, Trattoria Bianca), we were met by Angela, the guide from Tuesday’s High Line walk, for the trip down to the Oculus and the 9/11 Memorial.

I had been hesitant about this visit but now think it was an important part of the trip. Our guide was a native New Yorker, she was working at a hotel on Times Square on 9/11, , she knew many first responders. She said at first she was horrified that tourists wanted to visit the site but after a woman from Alabama told her that she could understand the loss so much better after the visit, then she had an appreciation for what the visits could do for out-of- towners. And I think that is true for me.

I could visualize what Katrina did to New Orleans since I had been there a couple of times. But I truly couldn’t visualize 9/11 at all until the visit (and even then, very poorly, of course). It was raining that evening as we walked around; it was already almost dark, not many people out. It was a somber time but worthwhile. We saw St. Paul’s Chapel; wish we’d had an opportunity to go inside. (It is NYC’s only surviving pre-Revolutionary War church, George Washington worshipped there, and it survived the attack & was a treatment center for the first responders.) Saw the “survivor tree” (a little Callery pear tree); also the reflective pools that represent the original Twin Towers, saw the wall with the names of victims and the flowers left for them that day. We did not visit the museum itself, which I’m sure is a very intense experience.

Friday, Sept. 13th

End of trip . . . my roommate and I walked again early this morning, made it by the large Farley Post Office, even as far as to walk for a few minutes again on the High Line. Our tour group gathered in the meeting room for breakfast a little before 8:00. One of our group had walked over to Penn Station for “real New York bagels”; something I did not have on this trip.

We had the best lecture/discussion of the tour after breakfast, topic was “Living in New York”, but since speaker was an English professor, it also centered on New York authors & books that captured the New York of their moment best. Several folks slipped out early; catching earlier flights or to do one last sightseeing thing on their own. After program ended at 10:30, I walked over to Penn Station (busy!) to make sure that I knew exactly where to go to catch my 1:20 train to Rhinecliff & then just wandered around the area a bit more before final packing up and dropping off key. Now, I was ready for the next part of my adventure. I would be staying at the Omega Institute, a few miles from Rhinebeck, New York, for a “rest & relaxation” weekend. I was looking forward to Omega itself and also for the chance to see some New York countryside. I had been checking the weather for the last few days and it seemed to be at least 10 degrees cooler in Rhinebeck .

There were waiting areas in the station but it seems my train, the “Empire”, was a big one, going all the way to Niagara Falls with stops in Albany, Syracuse, etc. so it had its own line-up spot. I was in line early and was fortunate that the person ahead of me was an experienced train rider (she was traveling from DC to Poughkeepsie for a family visit). She told me what to expect & that was reassuring since this was my first Amtrak ride.

Everything went so smoothly. The conductors asked destination and then pointed to specific cars; I plopped down into a very spacious window seat. There was plenty of room overhead to store luggage; it wasn’t the struggle lifting it high overhead into a bin that it is on airplanes and there was a space for luggage that I could have used at the back of the car.

Dining car services were available but I had brought my own late lunch; plenty of space to spread out and eat while we headed out of the city. Conductor came by once and scanned my printout of ticket; that was it. Yonkers went by; quickly scenery changed from very urban to small city to rural. The Hudson was on one side, with birds (great blue herons, cormorants, ducks, etc.) and boats. I could see big, old country houses from the train, meadows, grassland, trees. Very quickly, almost 2 hours had passed and I was in Rhinecliff. It was a small station, very pleasant views, nice breeze and sunshine, a golden day. I went up into the old brick train station itself with several others who were going to the Omega Institute for the weekend and our shuttle was waiting for us.

I do regret that I didn’t see any more of the little towns of Rhinecliff and Rhinebeck than a drive through; they looked charming. Countryside was beautiful & soon I was at the Omega Institute, where check-in was handled very efficiently. The site was originally a teen camp, I think, back in the 1940s and 1950s; still has a bit of that flavor mixed in with new buildings. Grounds were lovely; there’s a small glacial lake, flower gardens, vegetable gardens, walking trails, a meditation maze, etc. And one of the new buildings may be the most beautiful library I have ever seen, built in the shape of a lotus blossom, with lots of wood, windows, and even 2nd floor doors that open out to small balconies. I was excited to see that some of the maples had started turning colors and other trees seem to be shading from green to a golden hue.

Meals were excellent, a wonderful variety of vegetarian dishes (I think there may have been one meat entrée at each dinner, I know baked chicken was available Saturday evening). I had such good conversations, too, with the workshop and fellow R&R participants at meals.

I stayed in one of the “dorms”; a cabin with perhaps 8 small private rooms and a shared bath. It worked great for me. The cabins were close to the top of a hill & the first night got to see the beautiful full moon and stars. Saturday was a misty, rainy day but still very enjoyable; Sunday was return to sunshine.

Sunday afternoon started the long trek back home to Georgia . . . the Omega shuttle to the Rhinecliff Amtrak station, back to Penn Station, the E subway and the Queens bus back to LaGuardia, a long wait at the cramped LaGuardia airport, flight back to Atlanta, wait for shuttle to my hometown, long shuttle ride, and then back in the car for the drive to my house. It was a few minutes after midnight when I walked into my own door again but amazed at how well everything went. With all my worries that Amtrak would be late and I would have trouble getting to the airport on time, my train pulled into Penn Station 10 minutes early. I had one flight of stairs to contend with and maybe a 5 minute walk, all inside Penn Station, to get to the spot to catch the E train which arrived quickly. Same good luck with the Queens LaGuardia bus.

I’m grateful it was a Sunday afternoon when I was returning – there were a lot of fellow travelers with luggage on the subway and it was not packed & crowded the way it was occasionally during the week’s trips. I think the same E train goes to JFK airport as well.

I actually had too much time waiting in LaGuardia for my 8:00 p.m. flight home. I asked Delta to check on availability for the 7:00 flight but because I had a “Basic Economy” ticket, they told me no use checking, change was not possible. I noticed they had no shows for 7:00 flight and did not all for volunteers to check their luggage; my flight was completely full and they took the “Basic Economy” folks luggage for check in. Wish they would reconsider that policy!

Reflections: I want to return to both New York City and the Omega Institute. I enjoyed the tour and think it was what I needed to get me around & introduced to New York City. It also gave me congenial companions and was a reasonable price. This tour was a “general” one; the company has specific ones that center around the theatre or opera/music or art museums or the 5 boroughs. Several of my tour group had either been on the “explore all 5 boroughs” tour or were starting it the next week.

If I can find a traveling companion (don’t think I am quite up to either the cost or the experience of a New York hotel on my own), I would like to plan my own trip back. I spent 4 days a few years ago in Paris and left thinking that I had seen the main things that interested me in the city. I did not feel that way leaving New York at all!

On my list for “next time”: returning to the Met, getting to at least one theatre show, MOMA, Whitney American Art Museum, Frick Art Museum, and the Morgan Library. I would also like to visit the Tenement Museum, Brooklyn (maybe its library or walk across the Brooklyn Bridge), and take the Staten Island Ferry. I’d really like to take a cruise all around the harbor. Maybe visit The Cloisters for medieval art, too. There must be some famous literary homes to visit – Langston Hughes, Poe, Whitman? More of Central Park. Maybe the Museum of Natural History.

I am not a foodie but even so, feel rather cheated that I didn’t have that New York bagel. Or any deli sandwich. I saw food trucks that had interesting things; also was tempted by the fruit/snack carts near the hotel but just no time to try anything.

I wonder what being a NYC tourist is like in June and July? My best traveling companions are teachers and those months, plus Christmas holidays, are their best times to travel.

I also am much more interested in train travel after this trip; very good experience with Amtrak.

I got rather frustrated with guidebooks for this trip. I had several but Wikipedia and just the web in general seemed to provide me with more detailed information.

I always like to read about places & watch movies before and after travel. For this trip, I read 2 historical novels : Pete Hamill’s Forever and Harlem Summer by Walter Dean Myers. Now that I’m back I am enjoying Edward Rutherfurd’s New York (800+ pages, didn’t have time for it before I left). I watched Gangs of New York, which didn’t seem to connect to anything at the time but later I saw that it did.

Comments welcome and thanks to everyone for the help in planning trip.

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Old Sep 30th, 2019, 08:13 AM
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I love hearing first impressions. The discoveries of the first trip anywhere are always special.

We are headed back to NYC for a weekend in October. I always have to remind my husband that just because he grew up in NJ and worked part-time in the city, that there are still many places in the city I haven't visited (and he probably hasn't either), so there is still much to explore. Although a Broadway musical is always new if one goes to a different show each time. Sorry you missed out on that (this trip).
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Old Sep 30th, 2019, 05:07 PM
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Thank you for the beautiful trip report. I was in NYC late last October, traveling solo. I did see some of the places you visited but some I did not. Makes me want to go back soon. I particularly liked the weather at that time of year. Not too warm and not too cold.

I found that getting around the city by myself was very easy and I never felt unsafe. I stayed in Long Island City so the hotel bill was significantly less that in Manhattan. As my friend indicated when I was planning my trip, the view you will get in most Manhattan hotel rooms, close to my budget, will be a view of the next building. So you will not miss out on a view by staying in Long Island City. The hotel that I stayed at was a quick 3 block walk to 2 different stations.

Definitely include a visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in your next visit. I booked the earliest tour at 8:15am. It does cost $65 but well worth the cost. The guided tour is limited to 35 people and you are the only 35 people in the museum at that time. I found it to be a very moving experience.
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Old Oct 1st, 2019, 12:36 PM
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"I wonder what being a NYC tourist is like in June and July? My best traveling companions are teachers and those months, plus Christmas holidays, are their best times to travel."

I've been in NYC in the summer and had pleasant weather as well as heat as bad as Georgia complete with the afternoon thunderstorms. I think the worst part was the un-air conditioned subway platforms and trains. Simply sweltering in 90+ temps and when crowded....
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Old Oct 16th, 2019, 05:55 PM
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Fun report, thank you for sharing! I haven't made it upstate yet, but thanks for putting Rhinecliff on my radar. But next time in NYC, do make time for a bagel!
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