Well, I am back from my first vacation to New York City. Matthew, James and I made the long voyage in Matthew's car. The trip began with me getting up bright and early to drive to Omaha, as we wanted to leave by 8:00. We arrived at our Chicago hotel early in the afternoon, so we decided to drive into the city. Parking proved to be expensive, but we bit the bullet and did it anyway. We bummed around the city for a bit, eventually stopping for some great Chicago deep-dish pizza. After that, we went up to the top of Sears Tower, where I got in trouble for using my mini tripod. For $20, however, I decided that I had earned the right to use it, and continued to do so, though a bit more carefully so as to go undetected. After the tower, we went to the Navy Pier, which was mostly closed, but we made it out to the far end anyway. Strangely enough, that wasn't all that was closed - most of Chicago seemed to close shop around 9:00. None of us could figure out why.
The next day was basically just a lot of driving. We made it through Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey before finally arriving at our destination. There was a nice traffic jam in Pennsylvania, apparently caused by a simple lane merge (of which we had already seen two) - we were baffled as to why this caused a 45-minute wait. Eventually we arrived in Newark. We decided to park the car there and take the train for $1.50 to the city, as nobody really was looking forward to driving in the traffic. After the train ride and a connecting subway ride, we finally made it to our hotel at around 11:00 at night.
The first day in the city involved seeing most of lower Manhatten. We went to ground zero of the World Trade Center and then Battery Park, where we attempted to go to the Statue of Liberty. Upon arrival, though, we discovered that we were too late to go up into the statue, so we bought tickets to the ferry for the next day. We got up early the next day to go back to the Statue of Liberty, only to discover that we were once again too late, so we went anyway and abandoned the idea of going into the statue. In retrospect, this was probably good - Ellis Island ended up being much more interesting anyway. I found (I think) some of my ancestors on the wall of names of people that passed through the island when it was still used for immigration. There was also plenty of historical information and other displays that took a good amount of time to go through. We eventually made our way to the Empire State building, and then Rockefeller Center. We went to "The Top of the Rock" around sunset to get the mandatory nighttime shots of the city. On the third day, James and I went to the Metropolitan Museum, and Matthew went to the Museum of Modern Art. Apparently New York's definition of modern art is a bit skewed, as Starry Night was at the museum Matthew went to, much to my dismay. After the museums, we met up again at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. We then went to the new authentic gelato shop, which turned out to be incredibly expensive, and in my opinion, not as authentic as they claimed (even if it was an Italian company). We then went to what is supposedly going to be the largest Roman Gothic cathedral, and when we were ready to leave to go see more of Central Park, we discovered that it was absolutely pouring. We waited out the storm, and made it to FAO Schwarz after it died down somewhat. Before going back to the hotel, we stopped for dinner at a fairly upscale restaurant near the hotel. James and I had wine with our meals, and the wine was more expensive than the food. I had duck, which was absolutely amazing, and my wine was paired very well with it. On the fourth day, we made it back to Central Park where we spent most of the day.
The next morning we got up very early to drive to Philadelphia. We took the New Jersey Turnpike, which had a total of seven lanes each way at its peak, and was actually two highways in one with dividers between them - one for cars only, and another for cars/trucks/buses. We made it to Philadelphia around 10:00, parked the car, and saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. We also had some authentic Phily Cheese Steaks, which turned out to be very expensive ($7!) and highly overrated. We then took James to the airport so he could get home to his brother's graduation. We were pretty bored with Phily by then, so we went to the grocery store to stock up for the trip home. Amazingly enough, I found Comte cheese at the store, so I bought two pounds to take home. Another interesting fact - apparently in New Jersey (where our hotel actually was), people don't like to turn left. Ever. We were on a few parkways that the only way you could actually turn left was to turn right before an intersection and double back. There were even signs that said "All turns made from right." Needless to say, it was quite frustrating.
The next two days consisted almost entirely of driving - we stayed in Indianapolis, but we never even went into the city. Matthew and I arrived in Omaha around 4:00 on Sunday, and then I went the rest of the way back to Lincoln.
One last thing - I have loads of pictures from the trip - 820 to be exact. I'm hoping to go through them this week, but I'm pretty busy with packing for the move back to Colorado, so we'll see.