Saturday, August 30, 2014

Big apple finale

We are back at our old haunt, anchored off the end of 70th street in Manhattan, just south of the 79th Street Boat Basin (map).  When we first arrived at this spot just over month ago, I was prepared for it to be "OK for a night or two," but it turned out to be one of our favorite stops in New York.  Now that we're back, we've been here nearly a week.  That's yesterday's sunset from our aft deck, above.

We had a very nice, if short, cruise here Monday from our anchorage off Ellis Island in the harbor.  Since we traveled up the east side of the river the first time, we stayed mostly to the west side this time, offering closer views of some of the New Jersey landmarks, while at the same time more panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline.

Defunct CNJ terminal, now part of Liberty State Park and the Hudson riverwalk, undergoing restoration.

Hoboken Terminal, with restored ferry docks.  The clock tower was gone back in my day, victim of the elements.  It's been replaced now with a replica.

Stevens Institute of Technology.

After we left here a few weeks ago, I regretted having spent a week here without having made it to the handful of places I wanted to visit.  Having decided, rather than pressing on to New England, to instead take a more leisurely return to the Chesapeake, I wanted to remedy that with a few more days in New York City.  We had also agreed to meet our niece and her mom downtown on Wednesday, so this was the perfect place to stop.

Tuesday we had some downtime.  We did go ashore for provisions and for dinner, but mostly I got caught up around the boat, including a long-overdue oil change for the generator.  I also got all the routes from here to the Chesapeake plotted, and planned our stops.

Carnival Splendor, leaving a port call here earlier this week.

Wednesday we met up with our niece and her mom at, of all places, the Museum of Mathematics (and who even knew there was such a place?)  We got quite a kick out of it, because some of the exhibits were extremely well designed.  From there we walked over to the north end of the High Line, by way of a coffee shop where we had a relaxing stop.

High Line, looking south from near the north end.

Looking north from "the lawn." Old rails are intact on this section.

We all enjoyed the High Line very much, and ended up walking the entire length, all the way south to the Meatpacking District.  This latter neighborhood is nowadays full of upscale condos and high-end retail, but a few actual meat companies are still sprinkled around.  I actually grew up in the meat industry in New York, and worked therein on and off, but in the Bronx.  My dad worked in the Manhattan district both before and after that time; I expect he would hardly recognize the place now.

As long as we were in that neighborhood, we ended up having dinner on the patio at the Standard Hotel, just under the High Line itself.  I've never stayed at a Standard -- I'm sure they are very nice -- but this makes the third one where I've eaten.  They do a great job with the food, but prices are commensurate with their upscale aspirations.  Readers may remember our last dining experience at a Standard, in Miami, where they wanted to charge us $1.50 per foot to tie our tender up for dinner.

Dinner at The Standard.  That's the High Line above us.

After dinner we parted company on the 1 train, which brought us back to the Boat Basin.  Speaking of which, other than the fancy new fare cards and a $2.50/ride fare, the subway is more or less as I remember it, only cleaner.  I'm pretty sure they are using the same rolling stock I rode three decades ago, when it was brand new.  Of course, for our very first ride, we were treated to a car where the A/C did not work and a couple of guys boarded with bongos, passing the hat around the car for their "performance" ... some things never change.

Subway dog.

We again availed ourselves of the subway yesterday, riding down to the World Trade Center site and the memorial park there.  (We did not elect to stand in line for the museum.)  We were both choked up the whole time we stood there, and it was too emotional for me to go looking for the names of friends killed in the attack or to photograph the memorial pools.  I spent many hours in that plaza back in the day, among many visits to the complex, and the empty sky is heavy.

New 1 WTC, from the plaza.

From there it was a short walk (soon to be even shorter) to the PATH station, where we took the train to my old stomping grounds, Hoboken, New Jersey.  We walked along the new shoreline park there up to Stevens Tech, my alma mater, and strolled around the campus.  It was busier than I expected for the summertime, but the campus has not changed much in three decades.  On previous visits I spent time chatting with acquaintances there, but so much time has now passed that I don't know a single soul.

We returned to the beaux-arts Hoboken Terminal by way of Washington Street, Hoboken's main drag. The terminal serves not only PATH but also the surface trains I used to ride to school as well as, since 1989 or so, the ferries across the river. Here, the differences from when I haunted the town are more pronounced. Sidewalk cafes now line the block, amid a mix of mostly higher-end retail, and we stopped at one for a beer.  It was a working-class town when I was there, but the working class can no longer afford to live here.  As if to put a finer point on it, worshipful fans were lined up around the block to get into Carlo's Bakery across from City Hall.

On the way home we stopped off at Bleecker Street to pick up some prescription food for George, who is slipping away daily but still hanging in there.  We were thankful to find a Petsmart with a Banfield in the city, where we can get her food just by showing a card issued at another Banfield.  Strolling that section of Broadway is a little like strolling through a suburban mall; on our way to Petsmart we passed, for example, Best Buy and Forever 21.

Vector at twilight, from Riverside Park, after dinner at the Pier-i Cafe.

As long as we've been flitting around town like locals, I've also indulged in some of my old and favorite NYC food habits, to include real kosher bagels in the morning with a "smear," pizza by the slice which you fold in half to allow the grease to drip out, and fresh hot pretzels from carts on the street corners.  All just as good as I remember and I will miss them all again when we leave.

It is now, of course, Labor Day weekend, and I'd just as soon not be navigating among the amateur boaters.  That said, we need to leave with the weather.  At this writing it looks like Tuesday or Wednesday will be the best day to start the long outside hop from Sandy Hook to Absecon Inlet.  It's the better part of a day from here to Sandy Hook, in mostly protected waters.  So we could leave on Monday to be well positioned, but since it is supposed to be raining from tomorrow afternoon through most of Monday, we'll probably weigh anchor tomorrow morning instead.

Rather than head straight back through the Narrows, we plan to take the more industrial back route through the kills around Staten Island.  It's a bit longer, but we'll get to see some new sights and remain in the protection of the island and the hook itself for the entire trip.  We'll end up waiting a day or so behind Sandy Hook for our chance to make the outside run.


  1. We just visited New York a few weeks ago and we would have benefited from you knowledge as a former local. The public transit maze was a little overwhelming for us but we made it.

    We did buy tickets to the 9/11 Museum. We ordered them online for a certain time and therefore bypassed the line and walked right in. It was an emotional punch in the gut but I am very glad we did it. We spent quite a bit of time at the memorial too. It was all very touching.


  2. I can't put my finger on why, but I think this is one of your best posts ever. Perhaps since it was "home". We'd love to explore it with you someday.


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