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Day # 5 – Boston & New York City

When we realized that we were way too old to hang with those young kids after the game last night, we headed back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.  Before crashing out, Bob started reading a magazine that was in the room about different historical things in Boston to see.  We got to talking and then decided to get up an hour early so we could go see some of them.  We were out the door, in the car and headed to our first stop by 6am.


"Where everybody knows your name..."

I was hoping to make the “Bull & Finch” one of our stops last night, but it didn’t happen, so it was our first stop this morning.  While we couldn’t go inside, I was able to show Bob the inspiration for “Cheers” and also where the outside shots were filmed.  From there we hit the Bunker Hill Monument, the spot where most historians say the Boston Tea Party took place, Old North Church, the Paul Revere House, the Old State Building, Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market and the spot where the Boston Massacre took place.  Driving through the neighborhood in the North End of Boston was quite interesting, those old roads certainly weren’t made for an SVU like the one we had, they are so narrow.  Was still great getting to see those old buildings and at one point Bob looked over at the right time as we passed a cemetery and got to see Samuel Adam’s grave!  Good catch there Bob! We also went back by Fenway Park so I could get some pictures during the day of not only the park, but the World Championship banners that hang outside…. wicked awesome!

After our quick tour we hit the road south outta Boston in, you guessed it, the rain!  It rained pretty good there for a while.  Once we got outta the immediate Boston area, we made a quick stop for a bite to eat (at a Stuckey’s no less, loved these places when I was a kid, always brings back memories) and I had Bob drive for a while.  A pretty boring drive really, but we did go through a new state for Bob, Rhode Island (which gave him 8 total new states so far on the trip).  As we went through Connecticut I got to thinking about lunch and thought maybe we could call an order in and stop at Mystic Pizza.  My wife and I stopped there my last time through, May 5, 2005, and it was the best pizza I had ever had!  I looked up the #, called and got no answer.  I guess they werent open yet, then again it wasn’t quite 10am yet either.  My next thought turned to Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, CT.  Louis’ is where hamburgers originated.  Would have been awesome for the historical aspect, but I have also been told by someone thats been there (thanks Barbara!) that they are awesome!  So I looked up the #, called, and not open yet.  They don’t open on Fridays until 12pm (and stay open until 2am!).  2 strikes, oh well, just another reason to come back.


What a beautiful sight to see!

Not that far into New York I took over driving and set the GPS for Shea Stadium.  I know that Shea is no longer there, it’s a parking lot now, but the GPS doesn’t have Citi Field and since it was right next door, it worked perfectly.   Our drive into town took us via the Bronx Whitestone Bridge, which gave us a pretty cool view of Manhattan from there.  At that point it was a matter of following the signs to Citi Field, and it directed us right to where we wanted to be… the parking lot by the Mets/Willits Point train station.  $18 to park, again seems steep to me but it is a game day.  We got parked, grabbed new Metro cards and jumped on the # 7 headed into town.

The train ride started out as an express, gotta love that diamond, but switched to a local and made all the usual stops, thus taking about 25 minutes to get to the Times Square station.  From here we knew exactly where we were and where we needed to go, having done this just yesterday.  This time, however, as we walked up the stairs from down below there were 2 big difference between today and yesterday…. 1) It was sunny and warm!!  Gotta love that!  No more freakin rain!!  Must have have been pushing 80 degrees and it felt awesome!  2)  Thanks to the weather (or maybe because it was a Friday) there was a ton more people out walking the streets!  It was so freakin crowded!  No biggie, we made our way over to the bus stop and after waiting what seemed like FOREVER for a Gray Line, downtown, bus to come (was probably only 30 minutes), we finally boarded and had to sit down below because there was so many people that the top was full already.  No biggie, it was just a few stops until we wanted to get off anyway.


Bob @ the Empire State Building with lower Manhattan behind him.

We had tickets to go up in the Empire State Building, which was just a couple stops up the road, which is good because the seats downstairs on these double decker buses, well, SUCK!  I say that because they now have advertising covering the windows and it makes it really hard to see out, let alone take pictures (cause they certainly wont be anything worth keeping).  I have no idea why Gray Line chose to do that (other than the obvious $$$), but it really stinks for people using their service!  Either way, we got ready to get off the bus as we were passing Macy’s and as our stop came, we deboarded and headed over to get in line to go up to the 86th floor.  As we were walking to the main door, on 5th, a guy stops us telling us we can upgrade our tickets and bypass the wait (which was looking like 1 1/2 – 2 hours at this point, to just get to the elevator!).  He said if we buy these upgrades, for $18/each, we also get the New York City Skyride (blah) as well as we get in a special entry and we can be up and back down in about 90 minutes.  As temping as it was, $18 was too much to me, considering we wouldnt do the Skyride, so I told Bob I wasn’t interested, yet if he was it was cool, I would do it also.  He thought it over for a few moments and told the guy, “No thanks, we’ll pass.”  So the guy says, “Ok, come with me I will take you to the door you need to get in line at” and we proceeded to walk down the street, around the corner, passed the entrance that I thought we were headed for and right about the time I started to wonder what the heck was going on (were we about to get mugged?) we go in a door, the guy hands Bob something and tells us to go up this escalator, through security and we would be right there.  He then leaves and I ask Bob to see what he gave him and it was a card saying that we agreed to pay the $18/each additional and that we had to do so at the ticket booth!!!  WTF?!?!  We went up the escalator (a small one, thankfully), through security and at that point I told Bob, let’s use the restroom first.  So we did and as we left there I spotted a group of people leaving the first big waiting area headed for the first, of three, elevators.   So I motioned to Bob and we jumped in line with them at that point, no questions asked.  That took us to the main waiting area, passed where they take your picture (to try and sell you later) and up the 2nd elevator and you guessed it, to another waiting area!!  This was the last one, on the way up any how, as once we got to that elevator, we made it to the 86th floor.  Bob said his ears popped 4 times going up!!  You do go up really fast, as the read out in the elevator that shows you what floor you’re passing started jumping by 10’s!!


If you look you can see Central Park...

This was my 3rd time up in the Empire State Building and while the lines get old fast, the view never does.  As we walked out to the outside deck our first view was of lower Manhattan, where the World Trade Center buildings were and of course, out in the harbor, Lady Liberty herself.  This was without a doubt the busiest that it had ever been on the observation deck any of my 3 times there.  It was thick with people and it took a little time to get around and get a spot to get a good view of everything, but we took the time cause it is always worth it.  It’s really amazing how the city looks so peaceful from this vantage point.  It don’t matter if you’re looking towards lower Manhattan, at the Chrysler Building, the United Nations Building, or looking out towards, and passed, 30 Rock to Central Park, there is something special about being up that high and looking at the wonderful place that is New York City.

The lines heading down were nothing compared to the lines going up (which always seems weird to me, cause the same # of people need to go down the elevators as did up, don’t they?).  Either way, we were down (again Bob says he ears popped 4 times on the way down, same as going up), and back out on to the street within 90 minutes of getting there.  Looks like we scammed the scammer!!  Take that douche!!  Either way, we had to wait a couple buses to get on and when we did, we got seats up top for an amazing view of the city as we were being driven around.  I had been telling Bob that this is the ONLY way to go when seeing NYC and I stand behind that (wasn’t as happy with the service of Gray Line, but there is another option also now).  After our 2 1/2+ hour bus ride, which included several stops (SOHO, TriBeca, South Street Seaport, WTC, Wall Street and sooooo many more cool places) back to Times Square, Bob fully agreed with me!  What really makes a great tour is your guide.  The more they get into the tour, the better the tour will be.  Our guy was AWESOME!  He wasn’t afraid of sharing his opinions on things and pointed out so much around town, was simply amazing!  If you ever get to NYC, check out the double decker buses, you wont be disappointed… and be sure to tip your guide and driver… Bob did… $20!

Citi Field


Bob @ Citi Field...

Once we got back to Times Square, we had to get back on the #7 and head to Citi Field.  It was already almost 6:30pm, first pitch was at 7:05pm.  We had to make a restroom stop at the worlds funkiest McD’s in Times Square.  I dunno how to really do it justice, but with the video screens and all, it was pretty wild!  They were playing a Miley Cyrus video when we were there, was quite strange.  Once we got outta there, we got on the train and rode it straight to the Mets/Willits stop (with very few stops… gotta love that diamond!).  I talked to my wife earlier today to see if she could look up on Mets.com to see if they allowed video cameras and back packs, she did and they didnt say about the back packs, but no video cameras.  I decided to drop the bag and video camera off at the car, which was parked right there at the station.  As we were walking to the car I asked an NYPD officer if back packs were allowed, and he said “Yes, for sure.” So I decided to not take the time and headed straight for the gate…

The outside of Citi Field is beautiful!!  The brickwork is something else.  The main entry way is reminiscent of Ebbets Field from so long ago.  It’s really cool.  As we were walking up I remembered my video camera, so I took it out of my bag and stuffed it in my pocket.  Little did I know that they were doing pat downs… ugh!  As we got closer, I opened my back pack, the security dude looks in and starts my pat down.  He barely touched me and then said, “Ok, go on…”  I was shocked!!  I could have had anything in my pocket like that and the guy didn’t even notice it or didn’t care to notice it!  Either way, we entered the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, took a few pictures and proceeded to the main concourse to begin our walk around the park.


The view of Citi Field from left field...

When we could finally see the field, we were just past home on our way towards 3rd base.  I have watched several games from Citi Field this year and when I got there and could see the field, it was really weird to realize that I was there!!   We took several pictures, as the game had already started, and kept walking around.  We were down by the foul pole when I remembered that I had been told by several people, including Kenny the Mets fan at Camden Yards, that we needed to eat at “Shake Shack”.  We started looking for it and I figured the best thing to do would be ask an usher, so I did and he pointed us in the direction of center field and told us that “Blue Smoke” was also there that had some great ribs and amazing BBQ!  As we got out there and could see it, we also saw the line that must have been 100 people deep!  No thanks, we’re too hungry to wait that long, so we went looking around for something else.  We were out in left field when we found a place that has chicken strips and buffalo chicken nuggets.  Bob got the strips, I got the nuggets and holy cow, they were awesome!!  They were all white meat, huge nuggets that were lightly breaded, deep fried and soaked in buffalo wing sauce (more than likely Franks Red Hot sauce) and the sauce just soaked right into the breading.  For $8 there was about 10 pieces.  Was really good and I had planned on getting a Nathan’s Hot Dog afterwards, but the chicken filled me up, so I had to pass on the Nathan’s, which was a bummer.


The Home Run Apple from Shea Stadium is on display at Citi Field.

We continued to walk around, taking time to watch the game from different vantage points.  Out in center field, just past where Shake Shake is, they have a few cool features: 1) “Big Apple Brews” – it’s a beer stand that has like 30+ different beers to chose from…. that rocks!  It’s soooo much better than the usual boring choices of Bud, Bud Light, Miller and Miller Light.  2) Picnic tables – they have these picnic tables that have a great view from center field.  What a cool way to watch the game, something different.  3) 1/2 moon shaped tables – somewhere around section 143 they have these tables that point towards the action.  I love having a place to sit my beer, dog and score book (see comments about Citizens Bank Park a couple days ago) 4) A bridge – they incorporate a bridge into the design of the park which ties together several possibilities (depending on how you look at things), such as bridging the old to the new (stadiums) and of course the many bridges in the NYC area.  I really dug that design feature.  I also loved how they brought over the old Home Run Apple and put it on display.  While I didn’t take the time to go down the stairs to see it up close, I did get a good look at it from a spot above it.  That was cool.   Just a short ways from the bridge and where you can see the apple is this vantage point that is perfect for pictures.  From there you can get a great picture with the Citi Field scoreboard behind you, not sure if that was on purpose or just happened that way, but it’s really cool… other parks should have such a spot for us ballpark geeks!  I got my usual picture taken there and then did one with my hands reading “40” to show that Citi Field is my 40th overall ballpark that I have seen.


Citi Field was my big 40! Current park # 29, overal #40!

As we left the game we took a few moments to sit around the flower gardens outside the main entry and just enjoy the look of Citi Field at night.  It was something special.  After all of the rain we had been getting, we finally got a great night to just relax, temps in the mid to upper 70’s, a slight breeze and we took advantage of it.  It didn’t hurt that Citi Field is beautiful lit up at night like that either.  It hit us earlier as we walked around, but sitting there after we left, it really sunk in and that is that Citi Field is by far the better of the 2 new ballparks in New York… there is no question!  It has nothing to do with my hatred of the Yankees,  cause I can’t stand the Mets either.  Just all around, Citi Field is the better park.  The views from the walk around, the design, everything.  Heck, when I say everything, I mean right down to the fans and the ushers… they were much nicer at Citi Field.

The walk to our car from Citi Field was nothing, we were so close, it was great.  We grabbed the car, beat most of the traffic and made our way into Manhattan.  There was still a few things we wanted to do before we headed out of town, like get Bob’s wife a t-shirt from the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square, so we headed there first… and got lucky to get a parking spot so close (like 4 spots from actually be in Times Square – I should have bought a Powerball ticket after that!).  Bob ran and got the shirt while I parked the car.  He hadn’t been out of the car for more than 2 minutes when he called me and told me how there was people in the street sitting in lawn chairs in the middle of Times Square!  I remember Yvonne telling me that they blocked off a couple sections of road and made it pedestrian only so I called her to tell her what Bob said then headed up into the square to meet up with him.  It was wicked cool standing there, with the video boards lit up, it was soooo bright!  Sure enough there were people sitting on green lawn chairs, lots of them.  Looked really weird to me, but it was so cool because everything was so open.  Instead of being confined to the sidewalk, there was so much more room.  I dunno why they did that, but it works.


The lights of Times Square... pictures don't do it justice!

We ended up in the ESPN Zone for a beer (they have tvs above the urinals, as well as in the stalls… too cool!) before we headed back to the car and went to see a few more things.  Our first stop was for some dogs at Papaya King.  I couldn’t find parking, so Bob jumped out and ran in and I picked him up on the next block.  Btw, they were good dogs, had a good snap when you bit them, but overall, Nathan’s is still better.  I then took Bob to see Grant’s Tomb.  We had hoped to see it during the day so we could go in it, but at least he got to see it from the outside.  Next stop was “Tom’s Restaurant”, which of course played the part of “Monk’s” on Seinfeld.  We headed back towards Times Square, past Trump International, Columbus Circle, and the Ed Sullivan Theater (where Letterman tapes “Late Night”).

It was now pushing midnight as we headed to our hotel in Lyndhurst, NJ via the Lincoln Tunnel.  As we got there I asked the guy working the desk, “Is there any way we can have a room with 2 double beds, instead of a king?”  I had asked this at every hotel on our trip and every one told me most certainly.  However, not tonight.  I was told, and I quote, “It would take a rate increase to do that.  You booked your room on Priceline so you can only change your reservation online and it’s too late to do that.”  I was so tired that it actually took a couple moments to sink in that while he said it would take a rate increase, I still couldn’t do it if I wanted to.  I was really surprised that they wouldn’t do that as everywhere else had, including the other Courtyard by Marriott we stayed at in Philly… with no problems at all.  This guy simply wouldn’t budge.  He did however tell us that he would have a rollaway bed sent to our room for us to use, didn’t say if we would be charged for it.  He asked how many room keys I needed, I said “Just 1” and so he handed me 2.  As we went to head to our room we noticed a little store there, so I grabbed me a bottle of water and  a Gatorade, as I was being rang up for them I overheard that guy saying, “What do you mean there are no more rollaways?”  The guy on the other end of the radio was kinda pissy when he said, again, there were none!  So we started walking away and the clerk says to me, “Um, Sir, I am going to have to ask you to let me exchange your keys.”  I asked what that mean and he said “You will n eed to use these instead” and hands me new room keys.  I knew what the deal was, but wanted to hear it from him and when he finally told us that he had to give us a room with 2 double beds, it pained him, badly, to admit that… I loved every moment of it!!!  Take that douche!!

Random Thoughts:

As we stood at Citi Field, just after we ate, the guy next to Bob (outta the blue) asks Bob, “Is this your first time here?”  Bob told him it was and that was all the guy asked him.  It may have been cause he heard us talking about different parks that we had been to on this trip and all, but never heard another word from that guy.

Our tour guide on the double decker bus gave everyone several cool tips, along with tell us, repeatedly, “Get out of Times Square!  You can’t experience the real New York until you get out of Times Square, it’s such a waste of time to be there!”  He also mention that people shouldn’t go up in the Empire State Building, it takes too long and costs almost 2x what it does to go up to the “Top Of The Rock” in Rockerfeller Center.  He told us that if we want to go see the Statue of Liberty, don’t pay to take the ferry out to the island, you can’t even get in there any more and you have a great view of it from the Staten Island Ferry, and its FREE to ride it to and from Staten Island.  He also suggested several great places to eat, most within a short walk of the bus stops… he was awesome!