Day 5: Bus Tour / Grand Central Station
The plan today was for us to visit Central Park and the American Museum of Natural History. However, when we got up it was another damp and cold day. According to the weather forecast, the weather the following day (Saturday) was meant to be dry and sunny, so we decided to do Central Park tomorrow instead.
This left us with nothing planned for today, so firstly, we decided to have some breakfast.
I thought about having breakfast in our hotel, but the buffet was $35 each, so I decided to try elsewhere. I had noticed that there was an Applebees a block along from our hotel, so we decided to give that a go. We were seated straight away, and got orange juice brought to us first of all.
I had scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes and toast, and Aidan had a cheese and ham omelette and potatoes.
The food arrived quickly, it was fine, but nothing too exciting though.
After we left the restaurant, we had a think about what to do that day. I suggested going on a bus tour, which Aidan was happy to do.
There are people from the 2 main companies, City Sights and Gray Line, selling tickets for the bus tours on pretty much every street corner. The first sellers we came to were Gray Line, so we thought we might as well use them. I only really wanted to buy a 24 hour pass for each of us, but somehow, I managed to end up buying 48 hour passes – I think you have to be firm with the sellers and tell them you only want 24 hour passes (or failing that, tell them you only need a day’s pass as you’re are leaving the next day )
There are a few different tour loops available, we wanted to do the downtown one – there was a downtown bus waiting at the stop, but unfortunately, it was full. There was another one right behind it though, so we got on that one and made our way to the top deck. We were given earphones to listen to the guide and we were also given ponchos to use in case it started raining.
The tour made its way down 7th avenue past Macy’s round Madison Square Gardens and past the Empire State Building (The damp and grey weather today made me glad again that we’d done that on the first day during the nice weather), then down through Greenwich, Little Italy and Chinatown, and to Battery Park. It unfortunately decided to start raining when we got to Battery Park, and we were soon the only 2 left upstairs! We were also stopped at Battery Park for 20 minutes or so, so we were a bit cold and wet by the time we started moving again, but at least the rain stopped after a while.
The tour then went through the financial district (Wall Street), then up past South Street Seaport, through Chinatown again, then up past the United Nations, Rockefeller Plaza, Central Park and back to Times Square.
The lady doing the commentary was OK, but I don’t think she could work her microphone very well, as a lot of the time all you could hear was crackling and buzzing.
I think I’d prefer to visit the different places on my own if I go back – either by walking to them or getting the Subway. I might have enjoyed the bus tour a bit more if the weather had been better, but being cold and damp put a downer on it a bit for me.
After we got off the bus, we walked back to our hotel for to warm up for a few minutes.
The weather appeared to be improving (well, it had stopped raining anyhow), so we decided to walk to Grand Central Station and have a look round there. I read on a website that there was a transit museum there, so we thought we’d have a look at that while we were there.
We walked up to Grand Central, as I’ve mentioned, once you’ve got your head around the street / avenue system, and you know where you’re going, it’s easy to navigate there. One thing I did start doing is if you’re heading in diagonal direction, whenever you get to a crossing, you’ve got a choice of 2 crossings, so take which ever turns green first – we saved a lot of time doing that.