Fri 31 May - North Dartmouth, MA

Bye bye New York City. North Dartmouth, here we come.

Our month in Chris' Chinatown apartment is over and we are on the move again. We pack up our things and just before 9am, we are in our way. Today is a bit of a stinker, hot and humid.

We get a cab from Worth Street who turns out to be a bit of a kamikaze driver. You know the type, red lights are for decoration, let's see how many times we can change lane etc.

Well, we are physically unharmed but mentally shaken when we arrive at the flash Megabus "terminal" on 34th Street between 11th and 12th Street. The whole block is taken up by Megabus and with routes, it appears, to half of northeastern US. Here is Di trying get find some shade against the relentless heat.

Manhattan is a driver's nightmare. We would not willingly like to drive a car here, never mind as a profession. Sometimes the borough feels just like a giant parking station when nothing seems to move.

It took us almost an hour to just leave Manhattan. The driver went north on 10th Avenue, then 110th Street to 7th Avenue / Adam Clayton Jr Boulevard all the way through Harlem before we left Manhattan on Macomb's Dam Bridge. We left New York City through I87.

An eventful, but somewhat slow drive to Boston, we arrived almost an hour late including a 20 or so minutes break.

We leave the (what we could see) quite beautiful South Station in Boston and pulled our luggage north to 270 Atlantic Avenue where we picked up our hire car for the next month. We have already booked 4 nights in Boston around Independence Day in July, so we will explore then. No photos today.

Well, we like the people at Alamo. The whole transaction was very professionally done and they upgrade us to a Chevrolet Malibu 2013 at no extra cost. Alamo in Scottsdale, AZ was similarly good.

So, soon we are on our way. However, we had been warned that Boston traffic is bad, really bad and they were right. The 58 miles to our destination should have taken 1 hour and 15 minutes when Hans checked on Google Maps earlier. This being a Friday afternoon, it probably took twice as long. Leaving Boston south on I93 was bumper to bumper traffic for quite some time.

Not much to take photos of along the way, but we liked this inventive use of paint to give the illusion of a fortress, which is the name of the business providing "museum quality storage". Nice one.

We find our Best Western motel and check in. Seems quite nice, with an indoor pool, gym and better than average breakfast in a better than average setting. We were told that just up the road there are a number of chain restaurants and soon we are on our way to have some dinner. Those sandwiches and bread rolls we had on the bus had done their thing but were now long gone from our systems, in other word, we were quite hungry.

We passed an Applebee's which looked popular based on the number of parked cars outside of it. We decided to give it a try as we hadn't been there before.

Applebee's is a bar/diner, where you can sit in the bar and drink, sit In the bar and eat or sit in a booth in the restaurant section. The last option was for us.

They had a deal whereby two people got 1 appetizer (entree in Australia) to share and 2 entrees (mains in Australia) for $24 selecting from quite an exhausting list. That was for us. We chose chicken pieces in a sweet and spicy sauce as our appetiser, then mains of half baby back ribs and a shrimp combination. The meals were fine and a bargain for the price. We could eat here again.

Here is Di outside on Applebee's parking lot with our dream machine.

There was a Walmart across the road so we did a stop for travelling provisions (like water and washing powder) before going back to our motel. Exhausted, we were soon in Dreamland...


Thu 30 May - New York City, NY

Our last day in New York City and we go to... Queens... twice. Well, please let us elaborate.

Di, more than Hans, wanted to go to Flushing Meadows in Queens, home of USTA (US Tennis Association), the site of 2 world fairs and a major filming location of a very famous movie.

So, we visited Flushing Meadows Corona Park because the US Open is held here at Arthur Ashe Stadium, and the ending of the movie Men In Black (MiB) was filmed with some landmarks here. Di likes the movie (she's a fan of almost anything with Tommy Lee Jones).

We get off the train at a station in the park and find out that the New York Mets Baseball team also have their home field here too (at the other side of the subway station, which is called "Mets-Willets Point", line number 7).

Looking through the boardwalk towards the south into Corona Park.

It's already a hot day and we take a break in the shade before starting our exploring. Coffee and our Chinese pastries we bought and brought with us from Chinatown. Yummy.

Corona Park was the home of the World Fair in both 1939 and also 1964. Various mosaics were created In honor of these events, including this one by Andy Warhol from 1964.

This mosaic from 1939 says Salvador Dali...but we were not sure whether he was here in person to comple it.

We then walk into Billy Jean King Tennis Centre, including the US Open arena. You first walk into a reception area where they have photos of all previous male and female winners since 1968, when Arthur Ashe won the men's singles. Di looks impressed, doesn't she?
This is the central part of the tennis centre.

Di eavesdropping for some tennis tips... Now listen...

We knew that Louis Armstrong lived in Corona Heights for the last couple of decades of his life, but we did not see much connection of him to tennis and why this stadium was named after him. Maybe Satchmo was a good spectator?

Here we are at the spectator stands of outer court number 11 at Flushing Meadows.

Hmmm.... not much of a fan base although Hans did get the John McEnroe part right. Well, somewhat.

Once exiting the tennis centre, it was easy enough to work out which way to the famous landmark in the park - the Unisphere. You can see it from nearly all angles of the northern section of the park. The Unisphere is the largest steel globe in the world, with steel from US Steel Corporation as we were reminded of in numerous places.

Di gave two thumbs up to this view because it was easy to recognize where they filmed much of the ending of the movie MIB (that's Men In Black for the rest of us) with both the globe and the "spaceships on sticks".

Interesting statue with the Tennis Stadium in the background again. No, we don't know the story behind the statue either.
Well, all around the Unisphere there were heavy duty vehicles and blokey blokes and various tools to get rid of and move snow and a brand new garbage truck (sorry, sanitation is what they all called here).
And then we found out as we stumbled onto the sign for "5 boro fleet show". Talk about being fish out of water.

OK, we had to have some kind of location shot for completeness of the blog so here we are. Note the dressed up dummy in the background, ready for some serious sanitation work.

For once Australia looks just right size and shape wise... We've seen a few maps with Oz in the US where Oz had been a small vague shape or not at all!

We wander out of the exhibition area and stumbled onto "The Rocket Thrower", another commission to the 1964-65 world fair.

He looked good...

To the left of the photo below is a tall flag pole with an eagle on top. Apparently it as a gift from Hitler in 1939 to the World Fair and was accepted while they thought he was still an OK guy. It was interesting to see that it remains in greater New York City despite the high level of Jewish holocaust reminders and museums throughout here and the US.

We wander around a bit further in the park, under a number of noisy freeways and overpasses, and come to Meadow Lake. The water didn't exactly invite you to swim there, but there were quite a few catfish or carps in there from what we could see.

We were not quite sure what the below huge cylinder was for, but we assumed that it was either a left over from one or both of the world fairs or something from Queens' industrial past.

We slowly wander back to the subway station in the heat, take the 7 train to its end station which is Flushing and start looking for a lunch place. We have heard that Flushing is like Chinatown, but without the crowds and that seemed pretty accurate from what we could tell. Lots of Chinese people and lots of signs in Chinese, but few white people. Below is the main drag called Roosevelt Avenue.

On one of Roosevelt Avenue's side streets, we found Sentosa, a Malaysian restaurant and claiming to do "authentic" Malaysian food. Roadtest.

Hans had Prawn Mee aka Har Mee and it was very good indeed. Not as many and varied ingredients as Chinese Malaysian Restaurant on Hunter Street in Sydney (our all time favourite by miles and miles), but the crushed prawn heads had made for a delicious soup as anything.

Di had a Curry Laksa which was not as brilliant, so she ordered a set of Satay sticks as well and they were much better.

After lunch, we take the train back to Manhattan and to the Bowling Green station next to the Staten Island ferry terminal. From there we walk to pier 11.
Now, remember that at the beginning of this blog, we said that we went to Queens twice. Our afternoon, on this hot and steamy day, could not be better spent that on a boat or ferry.
We have read about the commuting ferry from Lower Manhattan to Rockaway (as in "Rock, Rock, Rockaway Beach... Ramones).
The route was implemented post Hurricane Sandy when a lot of the low laying areas were inundated with water including trains to Rockaway. So, the ferry came about. It costs just $2 one way for the 50-60 minutes trip to Rockaway. Absolute bargain. The boat, Seastreak, doesn't look too bad, does it?

Di looks very content in her seat.

And Hans looks relaxed too. We sat inside on the way to Rockaway, just to get away from the heat and enjoy the air conditioning.

This is the Rockaway ferry terminal. Flash, it ain't.

The ferry "terminal" is on the inside of Rockaway, but you can easily walk across the beach in 5 minutes or so, it is only a couple of blocks.

Rockaway Beach has or had a boardwalk. Pretty much all of it disappeared when Superstorm Sandy came to visit in October last year. We spoke to a couple of "welcome" people and they said that further north from where we were, some work had been completed and some was in progress. From where we were, we could see nothing of that. It felt like most if not all of the effort had been directed to Coney Island while Rockaway Beach had been given a "join the queue".
Anyway, it was a beach day, 32 degrees or so Celsius, less by the Atlantic, but quite a few people still by the beach around 4pm. These 2 punters did not swim.

Looking south on Rockaway Beach.

We spoke to this guy a bit. As you may be able to make from his orange overall, he is a lifeguard.

We had to feel the temperature of the water. It was actually less cold than we expected (warm does not seem to an appropriate word here). The lifeguard said it was about 14-15 degrees. Here is Di with her fingers in the water.

OK, Di. The ferry back to Lower Manhattan will leave soon. Hans will come...

Now, this is how it looks underneath the subway tracks to Rockaway. We can't but be amazed that they spend money on things like that Roosevelt Memorial at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island while this, what we would think would be, vital infrastructure is crumbling. Of course, we don't know the politics either so there may be a good reason for it, but we would like to hear that.

Perhaps we spoke too soon as we later read about today's reopening of the subway to Rockaway. Yep, that subway line had been permantently out of action due to damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. The reconstruction work had been completed in 7 months to a cost of $650M. Clearly this section was still "OK".

On our return to Lower Manhattan on Seastreak, we start off by sitting outside at the back, but not for long. Pretty much as soon as the ferry moved, we were sprayed with saltwater. So, we moved around a bit until we found a spot at the left back where the spraying was more tolerable.

A few shots during the journey back from Rockaway to Lower Manhattan. This is Coney Island from the sea.

This is Varrazano-Narrows Bridge which connects Staten Island (to the right) with Brooklyn (to the left).

And this is part of Governor's Island in New York Harbour and also part of the Men in Black movie.

We are back in Lower Manhattan around 5.30pm and decide to have a drink on our way home to mark our last day in New York City. We found that they had opened a new outdoors "pop up" bar on Fulton Street at SeaPort, opposite that touristy pier. The bar consisted of a number of black painted containers stacked on top of each other. You sat on top of the first layer which meant good views all around. It was very colorful too and the beer on tap was decent.

Hans enjoying his brew. Plastic cups was the theme.

While drinking, we noticed that two of the double decker tourist buses had stopped side by side for a red light. We were expecting them to race once the light turned green, but unfortunately one of the buses was picking up passengers just immediately after the light. Pity.

The bartender told us that there was more drinking to be done and food to be had just around the corner as well, so after our one beer each, we moved on. And he was right.
Dinner here sounded good so that is what we had.

Smorgasbar must be an offshoot of Smorgasburg, that trendy weekend Williamsburg market that we visited last Sunday.

Well, it's been a long day, and it's been hot and humid and we are quite sunburnt, so after beer and pizza and some strange maple smoked bacon pieces which were very good, we went home via C-town super market for the last time.

It is almost 10pm when Hans writes this and it is still hot and humid. Think Sydney in February on its most tropic days and nights. Anyway, it is time to say good night. We have a Megabus to Boston to catch at 10am tomorrow. Good night.