The Best Way to get to Manhattan and Back

Trip Start Jan 31, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , New York
Sunday, September 4, 2011

   Are you frightened of contracting athlete's foot fungus from walking barefoot at security stations in North American airports? Want to know how you can fly from Toronto to New York and not be subjected to the silliness of having to take your rubber flip-flops off so they can be x-rayed? Fly Porter Airlines.  

   Here’s how our day started: We caught the 504 King streetcar at the corner of our street. The Red – don’t knock it – Rocket dropped us at the corner of King and York Sts. From there it was a three minute walk to the Royal York Hotel, where a Porter Airlines shuttle bus picked us up and deposited us by the ferry dock at Toronto Island Airport. Once in the terminal and checked through to the departure lounge we started chowing down on wonderful little chocolate cookies and short breads. Elenka washed down her treats with cappuccinos, while I quaffed lattes. We don’t as-a-rule make such as mess, but what-the-hell, it was free, all on Porter. You shouldn't stuff yourself quite the way we did though; a nice breakfast or box lunch will soon be served once you’re in flight. Elenka says they offer beer and wine for the asking. We passed. We were both too buzzed from the caffeine.

   Porter flights to New York actually land in Newark, New Jersey. If you’ve ever tried making your way through New York’s LaGuardia Airport during rush hour you’ll appreciate Newark International. From Newark it’s a painless thirty-minute train ride through post-Armageddon-like Jersey to Penn Station in mid-town Manhattan.

   For the neophyte, or the cautious, a long weekend in New York might be the best time to get your feet wet. It’s a time when the locals leave and the tourists take over. New York, on this Labour Day weekend had a very Toronto-like feel to it. Just like home, people would stand in the middle of the sidewalk madly punching keys on their little telephone/computers, as though the centre of the walkway belonged to them. Or they’d walk three-abreast, taking up the whole damned sidewalk. New Yorkers aren’t like that; they move about the streets at five times the speed of the Torontonian and never take up more space than they require And they don’t get in the way of others either. And this brings up something else new and interesting.

   Half-assed pedestrian malls have been haphazardly thrown together in Times Square and along Broadway Avenue since we were last here. New Yorkers have no time for strolling or sitting at outdoor cafés. They’re like sharks; they have to keep moving. The pedestrian mall architects must have on some level recognized this, hence the lacklustre effort.

   Another oddity: Midtown Manhattan has blue bicycle lanes painted along many of its streets. The problem is that hardly anyone rides bikes in Manhattan. In Toronto we have these problems in the opposite. Perhaps we should consider a mayor trade. We’ll take New York’s Mayor Bloomberg and they can have Mayor Fords. New York is bigger than Toronto; the least we can do is offer two for one.

What we did:

  • We stayed at the spacious and well appointed Desmond Tutu Center in Chelsea. It’s a little less convenient than hotels near midtown, but the bathroom alone was larger than some of the rooms we’ve stayed in in New York.

  • We watched  Rickey Romero from acrophobic heights at sterile new Yankee Stadium hand the ball off to Casey Jansen who in turn handed the entire game off to the New York Yankees. The Blue Jays ended up losing all games in the three set series

  • We hiked fifteen or more kilometres a day along the granite plain, stopping only occasionally to gaze at the jagged peaks of Manhattan’s mountain-like skyline.

  • We ate an unforgettable breast of duck at a restaurant called the Cookshop, across the street from the Tutu Center.

  • I bought a new pair of Asics running shoes – see photo – guaranteed to trim seconds off long distance runs. Elenka bought a pretty blue dress.  

  •  What we didn’t do: 

    We wanted to see the Broadway play "The Book of Mormon" It’s a musical about Mormons saving Africans, probably from Catholics and other Protestants they don’t get along with. It’s been sold out for months in advance, but before every performance the company holds a twenty-or-so ticket lottery. We entered the lottery along with some three-hundred others. Instead of seeing Mormons sing to Africans we ended up watching the last half of Clint Eastwood beating up Asians in the movie Gran Torino, back at the Tutu Center.

    What we shouldn’t have done:

  • I wanted to meet Tina Fey, Alex Baldwin and maybe get a tour of the Rockefeller Center from funnyman Kenneth on the hit T.V. show 30 Rock. Instead, all we got was an elevator ride to a foggy rooftop.

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    Renate on

    Wow! My daugthers havent`t never such coloured shoes.

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