Day 24 – Fort Lauderdale (Florida) to New York City (New York)

by tailored on December 13, 2011

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After getting up nice and early we grabbed the free shuttle bus to the Airport and prepared to fly to Washington DC.

Seemed weird without Harriet the Harley

Harry was pretty excited at the fact that we would be in New York tonight – his dream city and one he couldn’t quite believe he would be visiting.

We had a long chat and before we knew it we were descending into Washington DC. It was a quick descent and from the air I could tell that it was a very well planned city with all the streets running parallel to each other. Just before we touched down I was excited to see the pentagon in the distance (the only time I saw it).

We went outside to the taxi rank and got the first one, we got him to take us to Union Station which is the station that we are catching a train to New York from in 7 hours time.

It was now around 10:30am so we had knew we would have to get a move on if we wanted to see everything in Washington that we had planned to see.

After around 20 minutes of unsuccessfully following directions on a map which took us to the wrong level multiple times we eventually reached the locker room. After a few minutes of manipulation we managed to get our 3 big bags into the room for a small fee ($32).

Set Out Into Washington DC

We then set out into the wide world of Washington DC and by that I mean we stood at the doorway with no clue where to go.

We looked so lost that a lady came up to us and offered us directions.  Her directions allowed us to see all the sights of the city by following a large loop that would eventually lead us back to Union Station.

We then walked towards Capital building – we had some photos taken in front of it and then had a quick look from a distance at the building behind it (I assume it was the high court). We then walked down the busy path towards a street that had all of the Smithsonian Museums on ether side of the road for around 1 mile.

We went into the first one on the right which was a massive architecturally designed building that had a sign out the front which told us it was the ‘Nation American Indian Museum’. We went in and weren’t stopped by security which meant that it was free entry but we still had to go through metal detectors. We walked around the edge of the ground floor and had a look at all the basic information about Native Indian American History and then we reached the elevator. We got in and went right to the top floor; from there we went to a 360 degree theatre which had seats all around the sides and a circular screen in the middle which showed the same video too people on all the sides. The theatre was full of screaming children who were excited by anything and were clearly on a group fieldtrip. The lady that works in the museum gave us an introduction into the 13 minute video and then told us not to use any flash photography. The video began with images and video going over the arched ceiling above us and then there were thunder noises which made all the kids do over exaggerated screams. The video was interesting but at the same time it was boring due to its target audience being 5 year olds. We left the theatre and went back to the elevator and then to my delight we went to the ground floor and left the museum completely (I was expecting to spend half our time in Washington looking through boring museums about stuff that doesn’t interest me in the least).

We then went to the opposite side of the building which was away from the museum and took us down a path at the edge of a park which had a group of old historical looking buildings on the opposite side to it. As we walked along I noticed that their were a heap of runners in the park and it made me realise that it would be the easiest place to keep fit because there are paths everywhere. We continued down the path and it became clear that the entire city is full of historical buildings and national monuments of some sort.

We then reached the part of the Smithsonian that I was actually looking forward to going to, it was the ‘National Air and Space Museum’ which I knew had every type of plane through history (Jack had been the year before and told me how amazing it is). We went in and found that the entrance was about 50m x 110m and was around 75m high. The area was huge and had some massive planes and rockets in it. The first things that I noticed and liked the most were the Apollo 11 capsule and the fastest rocket ever. I also liked being able to have an up close look at a modern day fighter jet. We then went to an upstairs section which had a large room completely devoted to the Wright Brothers. The room had a chronological history of their accomplishments around the walls as well as visual explanations of how they perfected flight using small models. In the centre of the room was the actual plane they used to fly for the first ever time, it looked simple but I couldn’t understand how they managed to get a motor of that size plus a person in the air with such fragile wings. The cloth on the wings had been replaced from the original but the original cloth was on display in a cabinet near it. We spent 30 minutes in there and then had a bit more of a wonder through the museum, looking at a huge variety of planes. I really enjoyed looking at the planes but I was also looking forward to seeing something new.

We then walked across a fairly major intersection and ended up at the National Monument which is an incredibly awesome attraction it is the ridiculously tall pointy thing at the end of a man made river. We weren’t able to go right up to it due to a recent earthquake but we did manage to have a fairly close look at it. We then walked down a grass field with a path in the middle which took us to the WWII memorial which is directly between the National Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. It has a list of all 50 USA States and who from each state died in WWII. There is also a fancy fountain in the middle to commemorate all the fallen soldiers.

We walked around the edge of the lake, which to our great disappointment was empty and had construction equipment in it, until we reached the Lincoln memorial. It was a very good looking memorial with a huge statue of him which is famous even in Australia and the grand entrance is pretty magnificent. As I had my photo taken infront of the statue I had a look and just in the small room I was in there were 5 police officers and 3 private security guards. We then went out front and had our photos taken on the steps infront of the empty lake as well as the Lincoln Memorial.

From there we decided to head towards the White House which we knew the general direction of due to the lady who told us where to go but we didn’t know exactly. We headed of through a park and then across a few roads, I then began to notice that there were a lot more police cars on the side of the road which meant that we must be heading in the right direction. We then reached the back of the White House but even from our obscured angle we could see that it was a magnificent building with the most security I had ever seen. The back entrance had a big gate that seemed impenetrable as well as about 10 security guards holding machine guns and a few police officers wandering around the general area. We then went around to the back and went down the street that had been closed of to traffic and was purely there so that people could look at the white house. We walked down it with security watching us the entire time; we stopped at the main viewing gate which had the perfect view of the grand entrance to the white house. We had a look for a while and then dad took a photo of 2 young girls and then one of them (after a while of being confused by our camera) took a photo of me and dad together. As we had a bit more of a look I noticed a few police officers run to the gate and start yelling at everyone about an unaccompanied bag which had been left by the gate. A man very quickly stopped taking photos through the gate and claimed his bag, he was told to leave it on and then he left (dad, in a manner similar to the New Orleans Stadium incident, was completely oblivious to any commotion happening just 15 metres away from us).

We agreed that we had seen enough of the sights of Washington DC (mainly due to the fact that our train was leaving soon) so we began heading down the streets of the city centre. We were now passing office blocks which gave me the feeling we were heading in the right direction I took dad’s word for it. Dad then resorted to the map to confirm that he was going the right way and then we stumbled upon Union Station once more. We wandered around in circles for a while as we searched for our bags and then we reached it by chance. We collected our bags and then waited by the section where our train was leaving from. It was now 2:30pm and our train wasn’t leaving until 3:15pm so we decided to take it in turns to grab something to eat. We hadn’t eaten since that morning so I was keen for something substantial and it was then that I remembered some very nice looking Pizza that I had seen just that morning. I went and bought some Pizza which came in huge individual pieces; I then went across to the other side of the ‘food court’ and bought a bottle of Mountain Dew. I returned to dad and ate the tasty Pizza while he went and bought his own lunch.

I finished my lunch and was only slightly satisfied so I waited for dad to come back and then I went to look for the bakery that I got breakfast from. On my way I went to a book shop and found that it was really boring except for a whole stand in the middle devoted to the Harry Potter books and its merchandise. I then left in disgust when I found that they sell Harry potter books for more than they cost at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Theme Park. I then found the bakery and bought a chocolate croissant which I ate back with dad but it was a bit repulsive.

After another 15 minutes they called for all passengers of our train to board now, we then joined the end of the queue which was now over 150 metres. We thought it would take hours but it moved so fast that we were at the front in about 5 minutes, we then went through the ticket check and headed to the Amtrak Train to board. As I began to put my passport away after showing it to security I found that it had fallen out of its case. I rushed back to security and found that a security guard was just picking it up. I grabbed it off him (I expected him to not believe that it was mine but then I remembered that it had my photo in it).

We then hoped on the train which was similar to a first class aeroplane with big seats and small windows. I sat next to dad and fell asleep fairly quickly. After 10 minutes of waiting, while they re-checked tickets, we left the station on our way to New York City. I watched as the train left the station and then I got comfortable and had a quick nap while we headed out of Maryland and into Delaware. After about an hour I woke up and to my joy I discovered that the train had free wifi, I used it to pinpoint where we where and I found that we were now near Philadelphia. I used some Facebook for a while and then had a bit more of a nap which lasted for another 45 minutes. When I woke up it was now dark and we were approaching New York. I could now see a group of high rises in the distance on the right of the train so I assumed that was where we were heading but we went straight ahead and within a few minutes we were underground. Dad explained that we were now going under the tunnel into Manhattan which turned out to be true as before we resurfaced the train had stopped at Penn Station.

We walked through Penn Station which was about the size of Union Station but a lot less fancy but a whole lot busier. We walked through the complex halls and then all of a sudden we ended up outside in the middle of one of the busiest corners I had ever been to. There were cars everywhere (including a massive amount of yellow taxis) and the buildings all around us were huge. We walked down the sidewalk and eventually reached a taxi stand, we waited for a while until we reached the front and jumped into a taxi. The taxi took us through chaotic streets that were nothing like I had ever seen, there was no structure to the chaos and it was so bright even though it was night time. We drove for around 5 minutes and finally arrived at the Milford Plaza which had construction blocking most of the entrance but there was still a little section where we could enter.

We went into our hotel and checked in for the 5 nights at the reception. It was a very smooth process but we were very thankful to be heading up the elevator to our room, but then we got confused by the elevators. Because it was such a busy place we had to push the button for our level and then out of the 6 different elevators, we would be sent to one and then that elevator would take just us to our level. We took it to the 8th floor and then followed it around through some various turns until ending up at our room. It was the same layout as all our other rooms but it was a lot smaller, smelt like mould and had the constant drone of sirens in the distance. We put away our bags and then got changed into our more comfortable clothes that were still warm.

We then went back downstairs and outside to the chaotic streets and decided to turn left out of the hotel and then take a left at the next corner. We came to a slightly busier road and followed that for about a block past various theatres and cinemas. We could see at the end of the block there was a chaotic section ahead that was a lot brighter and busier than the road we were on at the time. Once we reached the end of the block we found ourselves in the middle of Times Square, it was crazy! There were people everywhere, it was covered in billboards and the noise was piercing.

We walked through the middle completely in awe of where we were. We went to the famous red steps and reflected on what we were doing and how amazing it was to be there. After about half an hour of observing the commotion we decided to look for a place for dinner as it was nearly 9pm. I thought all the places might be closed but dad reminded me that it is ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ which turned out to be true. We walked a block away and found a fancy Italian restaurant but decided against it due to the high prices. We walked around for another half an hour without seeing anything that wasn’t New York Pizza and then dad made the brave call to go back to the Italian restaurant (the first time I had ever seen him admit defeat).

We went back to the restaurant and went in, the waiter sat at us at a table in the middle which made it clear that they had put in as many tables as physically possible. We sat at the table next to a cute young couple who hadn’t been dating a lot and clearly didn’t go to restaurants very often. We then ordered a drink each and I got Spaghetti Meatballs, while dad ordered a Pizza Margarita. They came around 25 minutes later and we finished our entire meals in a hurry as we hadn’t eaten in 8 hours. My meatballs were delicious but to my disappointment I only received 1 coke, we then sat and talked for a while. As we sat I eavesdropped into the conversation of the young couple who called the waiter over to question the addition of a service tax (tip) onto their bill.

We then left and went back out to Times Square and decided to search for some entertainment which we found with a man on a street corner trying to talk people into going to a comedy show. We decided to go so we walked 20 metres out of Times Square and down into a basement which had a group of seats ready to watch from. We sat in the middle and order 2 compulsory things each from the reasonably priced menu. We waited for about 5 minutes for more people to come in, just before 11pm when the show was set to start, my cheesecake and coke came out. I ate it in silence and waited for a few more minutes until the host came out.

He was in his early 30’s, lived in Brooklyn, had an autistic son and was really funny. He did a 5 minute intro and then in between each of the 10 minute shows by the 5 comedians he would do a bit more. He introduced the first guest and we did as he had instructed and gave an enthusiastic cheer to boost their confidence even though we weren’t too excited because we had no idea who the guy was. He was fairly fun and did jokes that were all about his disappointing sex life but in a relatable way. The next guy was fairly funny and did a lot of fat jokes about himself which was relatable (for dad not me). The host then went around the room and asked where everyone was from and found that there were people from all over the world but mainly the USA but more memorable was that their were a young couple from Australia sitting at the table beside us. The next few comedians weren’t quite as funny but they made up for it with their continuous sex jokes which are always hilarious. One of the last comedians went off his head (in a funny way) at a woman in the back that was texting while he was speaking.

It was a good show and we were glad to have seen it but we were very thankful to be out of there and heading back to our hotel as it was now 12:30 and 20 hours since we had woken up that morning. As we walked through Times Square I noticed that it was still just as bright, busy and chaotic even though it was late which was awesome to see. I also noticed that there were heaps of cops which made it have a very safe feel to it. We reached our hotel and showed our room key to security and then went straight to bed.


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