Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Traveling---Trips and Tips

All aboard for our train ride to the Hamptons. By Sunday we were feeling pretty sure of ourselves. We said goodbye to our apartment, and the doorman quickly got a taxi for us. Inside the train station, we purchased our tickets from a machine. The train is very reasonably priced. Every one stood watching a big sign, waiting for the track number to be posted. As soon as it lit up, people moved in a giant wave. New Yorkers don't waste time. We settled in with good seats near the door. After a few minutes, we found out we had to move to another train. Something was wrong with the one we on. After about 15 minutes, we had to transfer to our final train. Here is my first and biggest tip about riding the train: You do NOT want to have a lot  of luggage. A small overnite bag or backpack is perfect. I hope you are getting a mental picture of our heavy, heavy suitcases. It is crucial to this part of our journey. The train ride was over two hours and was very nice. One of us slept. The other one plotted the stops. After asking which of the Hamptons was the one before our stop, I felt pretty prepared.  When Bridgehampton was called, I knew we were next.  Our suitcases were handy and we were ready to move. As soon as he called East Hampton, we were on the go, dragging our suitcases up the four steps to the nearest door. We were the only people getting off. I reached the door, and it closed. As I was screaming "Noooooooooooo" and pounding on the door, my friend leaned against her suitcase and fell over it (That's the trip part). As she landed on the floor, a very nice lady helped her up. I was still pounding on the door. The ticket taker came by and said he didn't see anyone, so he had given the signal to go on. The train was behind schedule because of the extra transfer at the station, so I guess they thought they could make up some time. I don't know how he could have missed seeing us, even without the Statue of Liberty crowns. Once again, I had nixed the idea, in case our friend meeting us at the station decided to pretend not to know us.
All ended well. I called her, and she was able to meet us at the next station, which was only a few minutes away. We stood by the door the entire time. After being told for two days not to stand up on the planes, and not to stand up on the buses, we learned that it is vitally important to stand, and be ready to run, when one is on a train.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Travel Guide. Part One

I just spent eight days in New York City and the Hamptons. What a trip that was! This was a reunion visit with three other friends that were my fellow travelers to England. We are all about the shopping, and the quaint little villages, and the resale shops, so visiting is always a good time with lots of laughter. It was just what I needed.
Gerry and I didn't get to "our" apartment until late (almost midnight) Friday night. Charming, charming building, complete with doorman. I guess when you are traveling on Friday the thirteenth, you have to expect a few difficulties. We thought we would arrive late in the Iafternoon, but the flight and the weather didn't co-operate. Luckily, it's very easy to find a late dinner in the neighborhood, and we also found a yarn shop practically next door.  It was our first stop on Saturday morning. I bought a skein of the most expensive yarn
I have ever seen, I will either make something small but beautiful, or I will wind it into a ball and be happy. Next came brunch, outside, complete with people watching. I bought an antique book from a street vendor. "Around and About Old England"  My favorite place, and a lighthouse on the cover, so I couldn't leave it, even though I promised myself not to buy too many books on this trip. They are so heavy, but I am so weak.

We only had one full day in the city, but with the hop on hop off bus tours we were able to see quite a bit. Most of it was from the bus, since we got a late start. But we took three tours. Actually, we took one of them twice. First, we did the uptown tour. That one was the best. Our guide and bus driver were very informative and entertaining. We saw Central Park, brownstownes, and mansions, churches, and China town, Harlem, and Sean Connery's home.  Jacqueline Kennedy's apartment building, and also Maya Angelou's. The Trump Tower, Grant's Tomb, the Museum Mile, Times Square, and much, much more. At the end, we gave them a big tip. Then we wanted to do the Downtown Tour. The guide said "Yes,yes, this is the downtown tour. Hurry and get on." So we did. Before you knew it, we were seeing Chinatown, and Harlem, Times Square, Grant's Tomb etc. Well, you get the idea. People in NYC are always in a hurry. They talk very fast, and will always say yes to any question you ask. This tour guide had a broken microphone, so we didn't hear a lot of what he had to say. But by this time, I was about ready to give the tour myself. (Remember, I had years and years of training at a Living History Museum, I know about tours.) At the end, we felt sorry for him, and gave him a medium sized tip. By then it was almost time for the Evening bus, so we got on that one too. It was starting to get cold, but we stayed upstairs for most of it, wearing our yellow plastic bag ponchos. Gerry wanted us to wear the Statue of Liberty crowns that she had purchased earlier in the day, but it was a little windy. Of course, the city, by night, is fantastic. We went over the bridge  and spent a lot of time freezing in Brooklyn. The Empire State Building was lit with red, white, and blue for Flag Day. We saw Chinatown again. This tour was supposed to include the Statue of Liberty and the site of the Twin Towers, but I don't think that happened. The guide was a comedian (not so much) and we heard too many stories of his fiances and girlfriends. By this time we were very very cold and hungry. This time, a small tip. We were finally catching on that we were about the only ones putting money in the bags they held out as we got off the bus. Hey, we're from Iowa, and we are always polite. After a trip to Starbucks, we hailed a taxi, and went back "home" feeling like New York natives.