We checked out of our posh hotel and discussed our options for the day. We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in Manhattan with the intent of catching a bus into New Jersey around 6 o’clock that evening.
We barely made it to the Port Authority in time to buy a ticket for the bus that would take us where (we guessed) we needed to be. The ticket seller behind the glass apparently had more important things to do, like texting someone, than to help us buy our tickets, even though we were clearly in a hurry. When we asked him where we were supposed to catch the bus, he became irritated and told us that it wasn’t his job to know that. (How do you work at a major bus station and not know how to direct passengers to their busses? I guess texting your homies about god-knows-what is more important than knowing how to do your job.) We got on two or three busses before landing on the one we needed to be on. To this day, I’m still not sure that was the right bus, but it was heading for North Bergen, NJ and that’s all that mattered. We had very little time to figure things out, so we decided that this bus was good enough and that we’d figure it out once we got into New Jersey.
There weren’t many people on the bus, which was good because I was actually pretty nervous about it. I didn’t think that we’d be on the bus for long, but once we crossed the bridge, we headed north…and our destination was south. Uh oh. Maybe it heads north for a while and then swings back down south before going back into Manhattan. That’s got to be it. Boy this is not a nice area of town. There are a lot of bars on windows, run down cars, boarded up businesses, and that guy looks like he just killed someone. I’m uncomfortable. I shoot Danny a worried glance. He puts his arm around me. We keep heading north. The area starts to look like it has syphilis. It looks disease ridden and like it is decaying before my eyes.
We crossed one major street, and it was like the gates of heaven opened up. The cars parked along the streets went from rusted out jalopies to brand new BMWs, Mercedes, and Lexuses. The houses no longer had bars on the windows. The people had all their teeth and looked friendly. Oh my god, there’s a Borders! Danny and I had talked about getting off the bus and calling a cab to take us to our hotel, and I decided that if we were going to get off the bus in a strange town, this was the part of town to do so. I felt safe here.
We decided to hang out inside the Borders we saw a few blocks back while we waited for a cab to come pick us up. While we were making our way to the Borders with all of our luggage, a silver SUV pulled up and asked us if we needed a ride. I saw the word TAXI printed on the side of the window in small, white letters. I must have had a lapse in judgement because I didn’t see anything wrong with the situation. Nevermind that this “taxi” didn’t look like any other taxi I’ve ever seen or have any affiliation with any recognizable cab company. We took this guy up on his offer and we were on our way to the hotel…FINALLY. Once we arrived at our Howard Johnson EXPRESS (“express” means “shitty” when you’re in the hotel/motel business) and got checked in, it finally occurred to us that we may have just narrowly escaped an untimely death. We found out later from coworkers that it is common for the MOB to run TAXIS as a SIDE BUSINESS. That’s cool…as long as we’re not sleepin’ with the fishes.
The motel was a dump, but it was a “clean” place to sleep at night. The shower looked like it time traveled from the 60s. But we were content with it because we were only going to be there for three more nights, it was cheap, and we were going to spend the majority of our days in Manhattan.
We discovered that a hotel just down the road had a daily shuttle that picked up in the morning and came back at night. The best part was that it was free! That totally beats the shady $8 bus ride every day. The only problem was that it left New Jersey at 8, 9 and 10 each morning and left New York at 4, 5 or 6 each night. That didn’t leave a whole lot of time each day, especially since we planned on catching the 10 am bus every morning. It ended up working out just fine because by that point in our trip, we didn’t have the energy (or the money, frankly) to spend the entire day sight seeing.
The rest of our trip was thankfully uneventful, as we spent the last three days crossing things off of our “must do in New York” list. We went to the top of the Empire State Building and saw the breathtaking views, went by Madison Square Garden, saw some street performers break dancing, went to Grand Central Station, ate New York style pizza while we crouched against a building in Times Square, took a ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, saw a mass yoga class happening in Times Square, visited Ground Zero, strolled down Wall Street, and took a nap in Central Park. Of all of those activities on those last three days, the nap in Central Park was our favorite.
All in all, a disastrous trip that I can now (2 years later) look back on and laugh about. Why did so many things go wrong? Does New York have a vendetta against me? Maybe against Danny. How did we end up in so many predicaments? Are we just inexperienced travelers? (No) Is New York just too harsh for our laid back, west coast swagger? (Maybe) Are we just finicky travelers? (Some of us aren’t) Regardless of the reason, New York was not a place that we wanted to go back to anytime soon. I believe we agreed that when we made our first million, we’d consider coming back.
So why is it that two years later, after having sworn off the City that Never Sleeps, am I sitting in the San Diego Airport waiting to board my flight to New York? Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, or maybe it was due to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys lulling me into believing that New York is, in fact, a great place full of things to do, people to see, and places to eat.
I’m off to Milwaukee first (layyyyyoverrrrr) to meet up with the Mom, and then hopefully, Hurricane Earl pending, I will be enjoying the Big Apple by midnight tonight. I’m SO EXCITED!!!
Start spreading the news. I’m leaving today! I want to be a part of it, New York, New York!
Maybe I’ll just move there. HA-HA, just kidding DANNY!