NYC Bus Trip
This is my first official blog post for a trip. I will be trying to post for many of my upcoming camping trips to help people see the beauty and great things to do in upstate New York but this post is actually for my first ever trip to New York City. Despite what a lot of people think not everyone who lives in New York has been to New York City, a lot of people go their whole lives and never visit so when the opportunity came along for my family to go on a bus trip with my daughter’s class of course we had to.
This was the first time in a long time that I had been on a charted bus and they are a lot better than they use to be. Our group used Shaffer’s Tour & Charter for our trip and we had 2 busses for our groups, it seems that our bus was the nicer of the two. The bus we were on had reclining seats (not a lot but enough to make you more comfortable) and armrests that you could put down when not using them, there were also foot rests that I found helped me the most since I have scoliosis and sitting for long periods of time can be very rough on me. Solar shades roll down from the top of the windows to help block the sun without obstructing your view, the windows however do not open unless it is an emergency which proved unsettling because the bus was not allowed to idle while parked in NYC so no AC = a wickedly hot bus. There were DVD players above the seats. When you first step onto the bus it is via a small spiral staircase and the floors are a vinyl that simulates wood. There is a bathroom in the back but I honestly didn’t use it but my 4 year old greatly appreciated having it there. Our bus drivers were great and I have no complaints. That being said the same is not true for the second bus in our group, on the way back their bus broke down. They had to wait for 3 hours on their hot bus with no AC and no electric until another bus arrived to take them home, not what you want to have happen after a very long day in the city.
Enough about the busses here is what we did on our whirlwind of a trip. Our first stop was at 10am and we were dropped off at the American Museum of Natural History or as I will call it dinosaur central. Having a little boy obsessed with dinosaurs we spent most of our time on the 4th floor looking at amazing Dino skeletons and having my son tell us everything you could possibly want to know about them. Since we only had a couple of hours at the museum (by the way if you are planning on going here 2 hours is not nearly enough time) we moved quickly so we could see as much as we possibly could. My personal favorite was the african animals display, they were beautiful. I honestly think I would go back to New York to see this museum almost more than anything else we saw.
Our next stop was to Bryant Park where we were dropped off so we could walk to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Times Square. Now mind you since this was a whirlwind trip we did not get to spend a ton of time in any of these places. We quickly left Bryant Park and walked to St. Patrick’s Cathedral which is an amazing piece of gothic architecture especially when surrounded by so many buildings that are its complete opposite. I was told that it had recently been cleaned and it glistened like a bright white beacon in an otherwise neon sea of the usual. We went inside and there was no possible way you could feel anything but awestruck no matter your religion. We happened to arrive at the end of mass so after a quick security check by quite possibly the nicest security guy ever we walked by the glowing prayer candles and entered a pew. I said a quick prayer with my family and then we left on our way to Times Square.
On the way we went by Rockefeller Center and as a huge fan of Saturday Night Live this might possibly have been the highlight of the tour for me. We also got to walk through the NBC observation deck shopping area which thankfully was very air conditioned, this is where I bought my only souvenir, an SNL hat. 🙂
I did not mention it before but I am from a very small town of less than 1,000 people so Times Square was nuts to me. I mean, I see it every year on TV and it looks so huge but when you’re right down in the heart of it it just feels like another place to visit some super cool stores that go above and beyond anything else I’ve seen in other cities I’ve visited. We went into a few shops especially the M&M store and of course the Disney Store since I have two children and my family loves Disney. There weren’t many street performers other than a drummer that had my son play drums with him so he could be part of the, “school of rock”. After a long time of walking/shopping we sat down in Bryant Park for a bit and waited for the bus to arrive to take us to our next stop, the 9/11 memorial and freedom tower.
What a sobering experience it was to visit the 9/11 memorial for the first time. Not only to see this amazing homage in person but to also try to explain to my kids why it was there and what happened and who all those names belonged to, it is near impossible to not get emotional while being there; it is near impossible to not get emotional right now as I’m writing this. There is a museum here but we did not have time to visit it because we left right from walking by the freedom tower and visiting the memorial and we were off to Battery Park for the last stop on our amazing tour. I will openly admit that I was exhausted at this point and my contacts were sticky and cloudy (good tip, bring re-wetting drops with you if you wear contacts) and my feet and back hurt but off in the hazy distance I could see the statue of liberty. I did not mention earlier but this was one of the first things we were able to see when we entered the city and I think it is equally as sobering to me as seeing everything else we saw on this tour if not more so. So many people have visited this city and so many people dream of going there and for many of them the statue of liberty is the first site that greets them and it was an honor to see her in person through the haze.
And that was it, I got a quick pretzel because I assumed it was mandatory, especially since I don’t eat hot dogs, and we were off to our little slice of suburbia back home. It is a beautiful city that I misjudged, it was clean, the people were so nice and welcoming to us I saw things I’ve never seen in my life that left me in utter amazement, my kids were able to experience a trip that many people may never get to experience and I’m very grateful to have been a part of it.