tom911's pre-Christmas trip to New York City, an annual event

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by tom911, Dec 7, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Hello this Saturday night from New York City--just about midnight here. I’m at the Indigo Hotel on West 28th Street, not far from Herald Square and Macy’s at 34th Street, on a free night that came with my Priority Club (Holiday Inn) credit card renewal. Hotel was going for over $600 a night when I made the booking two weeks ago, so an excellent trade off. I stayed here before about a year ago and found it very convenient.

    [​IMG]

    I took advantage of a special $224 fare on American that only allowed travel this weekend. That’s about $110 less than the cheapest fares in the SFO-JFK market. I had been looking at the following week and flights that worked the best were approaching $400 already.

    I flew out on the 7am nonstop flight this morning and I’m glad I selected that one as the next departure, at noon, was cancelled. Because of AA’s weather issues at DFW a lot of alternate routes would not have been available later in the day (too many passengers trying to fly on too few flights), so grateful I did get out.

    This trip was in coach. Flight has been very full all week and being that I booked less than 2 weeks out just wasn’t high enough on the upgrade list. They did clear 2 at the gate but that doesn’t help when you’re #4 on the list. Enjoyed the 5 hour flight anyway, sleeping about 2 hours and watching some video on the tablet.

    On arrival made my way by AirTrain to Jamaica station. Found out my last Metro card with $3 on it had expired in October, so had to buy a new card. It’s $5 on the AirTrain and then $2.50 on the subway. Arrived at the subway platform to find a huge rat walking about. Didn’t look too intimidated, either, of all the passengers walking about. Eventually he found his way to the end of the platform and walked into a tunnel. I’ve seen rats here many times before but they’ve always been down on the tracks.

    After checking into my hotel, about a 15 min walk from the subway station at 8th Avenue and 34th Street, I headed right back out, covering Macy’s at Herald Square, Bryant Park, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Rockefeller Center (basically from 28th Street up to 50th Street). Forgot to put on the wool socks before I went out which was a mistake. No sign of rain or snow and I occasionally put my gloves on. Guessing it might have been in the high 40s. Stopped for pizza very near Madison Square Garden before heading back to the hotel.

    Macy's:

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    Bryant Park:

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    Saks Fifth Avenue:

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    Rockefeller Center from Fifth Avenue (just too many people in line to get the best photos from in front of the tree that was just lit this week--I did not want to spend an hour in line):

    [​IMG]

    Tomorrow I relocate to Jersey City.

    Rest of the photos start here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-USA/New-York-City/2013-New-York-City-preChristma/i-fXJSdFP
     
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  2. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Should add that I have replaced my Samsung netbook, which I've had for about 5 years, with an Acer C720 chromebook which costs $249. Seems to meet my needs so far for trip reports, uploading photos, and e-mail. Just needed something small and lightweight for when I'm out traveling. As I do select hotels with free internet, this type of notebook actually works well. I can back up all my photos on smugmug so not dependent on keeping them on memory cards while I'm out. It comes with an 11 inch screen (the Samsung was 10). Also have google drive for working copies of trip reports as I go.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2013
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  3. FetePerfection
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    FetePerfection Silver Member

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    Thank you for the trip report so far. Makes me feel like I'm there.
     
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  4. gaijin62

    gaijin62 Gold Member

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    I am thinking of getting one myself myself to replace my Dell mini 10. But not use chrome instead install linux. How do you like the build quality of the Acer?
     
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  5. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    The model I have is new and comes with 4g of RAM (most others are still 2) and a 16g SSD. Weren't too many reviews on Amazon when I ordered mine but they were mostly positive. Battery life is supposed to be 8-9 hours.

    Back at the Hyatt in Jersey City. Been snowing since about 3pm and by the time I made it back to Jersey CIty it was clear.
     
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  6. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Hello this Monday morning from the Hyatt in Jersey City, located right on the water with a view of Manhattan and the tower at the World Trade Center (tallest building in the photo). Made it over here at 1pm Sunday and was allowed to check in early. They combined two different award bookings (one for my Hyatt credit card renewal night and the second a normal award night). Rates were $269-299 so a good value to use those free nights here. I get free wifi and buffet breakfast as part of my Hyatt Diamond benefits.

    View of Manhattan and World Trade Center (tallest building) from waterfront next to hotel:

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    Started Sunday with a run over to Penn Station for hot chocolate and two donuts at Tim Horton’s, a franchise that is well known in Canada. Oddly, Dunkin Donuts, on the other side of the terminal, had lines 10 deep at the counter. No line at Tim Hortons which was nice. Train station was packed.

    Caught the noon PATH train from 33rd Street to Jersey City. That involved one train change at Grove Street in Jersey City. Due to track maintenance that trip took a full hour. Left my bag at the hotel and got the nonstop train from Exchange Place (Hyatt) to the World Trade Center and started my day in Manhattan there.

    Took a walk through the cemetery at St. Paul’s Chapel, across from the World Trade Center, then a walk over to the Staten Island Ferry. Did a quick turnaround ferry trip to Staten Island to get off my feet for a while.

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    Statue of Liberty as seen from Staten Island ferry:

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    Arrived back in lower Manhattan and walked over to the South Street Seaport. Brooklyn temperature sign shows 30F/-1C. Snow started falling at 3pm and kept up until I left Manhattan after 7pm. Pretty heavy along Broadway as I walked up to the Christmas market at Union Square at 14th Street. Along the way I met some shoppers from Dundee, Scotland (accent gave them away). Seemed like they were trying to hit every store in Manhattan and they were already loaded down with shopping bags.

    [​IMG]


    Was surprised that the South Street Seaport was closed. They did have significant damage to the ground floor after Hurricane Sandy, but I had been there since and the upper floors were operating (shops and food court). Guess Sandy was just the final blow for the property owner and they’ve decided to tear down and rebuild the entire property and put in some high-end restaurants with Brooklyn Bridge views. It closed this past September. Won’t be open again for 3 more years, It had been there for 28 years.

    [​IMG]

    Late lunch stop was at Chipotle on Fulton Street, not far for the South Street Seaport.

    Caught the PATH train back from 14th Street and Sixth Avenue after 7pm. Had to stand most of the trip. A large group got off in Hoboken and I had a seat for the next two stops. Got off at Grove Street, a 10 min walk from my hotel, and just walked back from there rather than wait for the connecting train.

    Looks like it’s raining outside and Manhattan is covered in clouds.

    New photos start here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-USA/New-York-City/2013-New-York-City-preChristma/i-65QRrPf
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013
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  7. gaijin62

    gaijin62 Gold Member

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    Thank you. :)
     
  8. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Yeah they closed a good deal of the stores / restaurants around the area during Sandy, but the closure was somewhat unrelated. They have been planning to upgrade the whole thing for a while, with supposedly some green space on the roof and what-not. I was going there on a consistent basis since I went to school at Pace, and it sucks that it's gone even if temporarily.

    Good luck with the nasty weather... I've been out of the city for the last few days. If you're still around in the next couple of days we should hook up (I work right down there by the ferry).
     
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  9. tom911
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    Snow coming on down right now in Jersey City. Can't even see Manhattan. Fly home from JFK later today and have a feeling the fun is just beginning.
     
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  10. viguera
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    It's supposed to stop around noon, and JFK is rarely bad with delays when it comes to this much snow (we're only supposed to get 3-4"). I'm sure you'll get out just fine. :)
     
  11. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Hello this Tuesday morning from Jersey City. Snow has been falling since I got up before 9a.m. Planning on making my way out to JFK around noon for a 3:30pm departure to SFO.

    Yesterday morning I took the PATH train over to 33rd Street and walked past Macy’s. Not as crowded during the day.

    [​IMG]

    From there off to Times Square where various cartoon characters make a fortune convincing parents to allow their children to have a photo with them. Have some photos of the crystal ball that will be dropped to bring in 2014 in just 3 weeks.

    [​IMG]

    Next stop:Central Park. Took photos of a couple horse-drawn carriages ($50 for the first 20 minutes if you were wondering), as well as the holiday market at Columbus Circle, right across from the Time Warner building where CNN has space.

    [​IMG]


    Stopped into the Plaza Hotel to check out their tree. When I was here two years ago they had just brought out a huge gingerbread house, but that might have been a week later as no sign of it this visit.

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    Down Fifth Avenue passing some of the stores decorated for the season, and then to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to light some candles. Massive reconstruction underway inside with very limited searing. There was a Franciscan priest there from Padova who had brought over some relics of St. Anthony of Padova that were on display for two days.

    And back to Rockefeller Center where I could freely walk anywhere I wanted to, not dealing with the crowds I encountered on Saturday night:

    [​IMG]

    Over to Grand Central Station for a look about the holiday market there and to purchase a black and white cookie at a bakery ($2.65 now), then a walk back to 33rd Street for the train back to Jersey City.

    Dinner was at Bertucci’s at the Newport PATH station, about a 15 min walk from my hotel, where I had a pizza and sangria (brought back memories of Lisbon). Back at the hotel after 9 for the night.

    New photos start here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-USA/New-York-City/2013-New-York-City-preChristma/i-FfDRQvH
     
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  12. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Fifth Avenue:
    [​IMG]

    Grand Central:
    [​IMG]

    black and whites:

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Hope you're right. CNN just reported LGA is closed to incoming flights. Snow just stopped in the last few mins here in Jersey City. Packing things up and getting ready to head out now.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2013
  14. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    NY/NJ airports on twitter is reporting 5.5 hour delays at EWR, 5 hours at LGA but "only" 2 at JFK. It's worse than I thought it would be, since JFK is generally on top of things when it comes to this type of light snow... probably just issues with inbound flights delaying the departures.

    And BTW, don't be fooled by anti-semitic Elmo... he's kind of a dick. LOL

     
  15. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Arrived in the Admiral's Club and sipping on an ice cold beer. Only real delay getting out here was at Chambers Street waiting for the A train. Must have been some type of delay on that line as nothing came along for 10 mins and then a C train followed by an A train and an E train across on different tracks.

    SFO departure at 1530 still shows on-time and my upgrade cleared 100 hours out. I end the year with a 91% domestic upgrade rate (40 of 44) and 100% for all segments on 10 systemwides (6 for me, 4 for friends traveling with me). Decent end to the year. Already have 50K booked for next year.
     
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  16. tom911
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    Safely home. Had an initial 30 min delay waiting for mechanics to come and sign off on some paperwork, and then when we pulled away we had to go back because of an ill infant on board. Pilot said it was his decision to remove the infant (sounded like some type of ear problem that could worsen on descent) Ended up being airborne right after 1700 and landed at 2025, just over an hour later than scheduled arrival time. I preselected the beef fillet and had some Round Hill Cabernet Sauvignon. They ran out of that midway during the flight and the person sitting next to me got the last glass. Overall, a pretty nice flight.
     
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  17. spesalvi

    spesalvi Gold Member

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    thanks for sharing Tom, I always enjoy your TRs
     
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  18. NYBanker
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    Very nice report. You captured the NYC that I know!

    I was in your town (SFO) whilst you were here. Darn cold out your way!

    Have a merry Christmas!
     
  19. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    We've had the coldest temps in 40 years over the last 10 days. Napa got down to 16 one night and Benicia has been down around 25 a couple nights. Not looking forward to my heating bill as it will probably be the highest I've ever had.

    I was born in New York City and have cousins all over. We moved out here when I was 10 and the Brooklyn Navy Yard closed down.
     

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