Our train wasn’t due to leave Boston until 13.05, so we had plenty of time to check out and relax in the Fairmont Gold lounge.
Having sampled Uber as a car service, I was sufficiently emboldened to try Lyft as an alternative. Sure enough, a driver turned up within 2 minutes, wordlessly loaded our bags into the back of his largish SUV and dropped us off at Boston South Station about 15 minutes later. The music he was playing was crap, but hey….
We will miss Boston. It’s a lovely and very interesting place, and has supplanted Montreal in my affections as the city I like most on this trip. The hotel was also excellent – a great room and good Fairmont Gold service.
The train was on the board with the platform number to be advised, so we settled down to wait. The hall was fairly busy, but not rammed.
Time moved on in the way it does, but no mention of our train arrival at Boston. Walker paranoia being front and centre, we checked the departure board at least four times. Jean went to the Amtrak ticket office – they just shrugged and said it would be announced. She even pretended to go to the loo – this has always been very effective at precipitating the arrival of transport. Not this time, however.
Blessedly, the announcement came about 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time, so we set off for Track No. 9.
Boarded Car 3 and found our Business Class seats with no trouble. Manhandling our big suitcases into the luggage rack proved bloody hard work, but I managed it. Just. Anybody less than 6 feet tall would have had a real problem.
Settled down into some nice wide seats with airline-style mains power availability for keeping phones charged as the train departed silently, unceremoniously and more or less on time. Amazingly quick turnaround.
After a few relatively local stops, the next out-of-state stop was Providence. So we can say we’ve been to Rhode Island…..
About an hour and a half later, we got to New Haven 8 minutes early. So we can say we’ve been to Connecticut……
Next stop, scheduled for 16.50, was New York Penn Station. Train arrived on time, and everything had gone smoothly to this point, but now a truly bizarre sequence of events began.
To start with, lots of people got off, so it was crowded. The information we had directed us to Moynihan Hall, and this was in the opposite direction, against the flow of people, and we had a backpack, a very heavy suitcase and a smaller cabin bag each to contend with.
Fortunately, there was an elevator which took us up to this enormous hall, and, of course, we didn’t have a clue where we were or what to do next. It was also absolutely chucking it down.
We were offered 8th or 9th Avenue as exits. We chose the latter as it was the nearest.
I attempted to summon a Uber to take us to the hotel – the Gildhall in Gold Street. As I was doing this, an enormous man on the exit door sensed our naïveté and offered to help.
From this point on he took almost complete control, overriding everything I was trying to do on the Uber app, but at least telling us the exact location for the pickup. I selected the cheapest option, but he regarded that as a rip-off, and he was probably right.
Despite the promise from the app that the driver was imminent, he never appeared and all of a sudden his status was “delayed”. Our new friend reckoned that he’d cancelled on us, and again he was probably right. On checking again, the price had risen by about $10, and we were both fed up with waiting around and getting wetter for a car that might never turn up. Faith in Uber took a huge dent, naïf that I am. All part of the learning process.
I don’t know exactly what job this guy was supposed to be doing, but he was helping everybody left, right and centre. Extraordinarily, he then literally led us, baggage and all, to the subway, explaining all the time where he was taking us and what we had to do when we got there. It’s a huge station, and this was probably a 15-minute walk.
He even produced a Metro ticket and showed me how to load it with money. Not content with that, he then took us through how to use it, and got both of us through the gates, explaining that we had to get to Wall Street station on the No. 2 express line going in a downtown direction. We were both now thoroughly bemused, a) by the fact that somebody would take such an inordinate amount of trouble b) by the amount of information he was showering us with.
At this point, he left us without hovering for a tip. Just as well, because my cash resources were $2.85…..
We meekly got onto the subway train as indicated, and indeed it was going in the right direction. This subway system really needs getting hold of if we’re going to get around New York.
Off we got at Wall Street after a perfectly straightforward journey. Because we were so loaded down with baggage commensurate with a nearly 100-day trip, we were hoping for an elevator to take us up to street level. No such luck. We had to lug our bags up some steps.
New York has the reputation of being hard and pitiless. Nothing could be further from the truth, particularly after our earlier experience. People could see that we were really struggling at this point, and helped us with our bags all the way up to the top of the steps.
That was extraordinary enough, but then the girl that had helped Jean up with her suitcase offered us her big umbrella, as it was hurling down. When we protested, she said that she had plenty of others and really hoped we would enjoy our stay in New York. She insisted we have it and walked off. We were both absolutely dazed at this time. I cannot see this happening in London.
Google Maps indicated that it was about a 10-minute walk to the hotel from here. It was 10-plus minutes of absolute hell. Pitch-black, pouring rain, trying to drag two bags each along New York sidewalks, stopping and checking the phone every few yards to ensure we were on track, visibility impaired by rain hoods over our eyes and trying not to lose our newly acquired umbrella. We only have two hands…
We finally made it, soaked and shattered, to the hotel, where we got a truly large and sympathetic reception. A free glass of Prosecco was offered and gratefully accepted.
We made it up to the room on the 9th floor, with our bags being delivered very shortly thereafter by an equally sympathetic bellhop.
After a period of recovery, we went down to the in-house restaurant, where again we got a great reception and, about 10 minutes later, a table for two after a no-show. The place was busy, even on a wet Monday night, and we had a very nice, but pricey, meal.
Returned to our room via the front desk, the girl occupying same being enormously helpful and positive. A previously ordered kettle, essential for our morning cup of lemon and ginger tea, had been delivered.
We started looking around in more detail for what the room had to offer.
Jean picked up what she initially thought was a pack of teabags….
I kid you not. Honestly. $30 the lot. Absolutely mind-boggling, and definitely a first for us!
Worth a try? Not tonight. Too knackered. Maybe later in the week! Will not keep you posted….
There is even a bath bomb containing CBD, a component of cannabis, available. $15. Might be tempted to have a bath for the first time in years. CBD is supposed to be good for arthritis……
No idea what we’re doing tomorrow (stop sniggering at the back), but getting to grips with this place is going to take a while. Will be reporting later on how this goes, if you’re interested.
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