Buses provide a convenient alternative to airplanes and trains. Buses have many stops in several locations of the city, and they depart frequently to many popular destinations. I recently went from Washington to spend the weekend in New York City.
The Vamoose departure point is one block from the Bethesda Metro Station, close to a Starbucks coffee shop. The area is covered, so you don't need to worry about the rain.
The departure point has several benches where travelers can sit to wait for the bus. A line forms about 15 minutes before departure, and an attendant checks you in, while another places your large suitcases in the luggage hold of the bus. On the trip from Washington to New York, travelers were given one bottle of water and they were offered a newspaper. That was not the case on the way back.
The seats of the bus are comfortable and can be reclined. Each seat has seatbelts, overhead lighting and ventilation. The bus is equipped with grounded 110V electrical outlets where phone rechargers and laptops can be plugged in. The bus is also equipped with Wi-Fi.
In New York, the Vamoose bus stops two blocks from Penn Station, about 20 blocks away from Times Square.
Tourists flock to Times Square because it is close to the Broadway entertainment district, and there are many stores with a variety of products.
People congregate to see the cars passing by. The multitude of locals and tourists are mesmerized by the flashing advertisements along 7th Avenue, and a cacophony of sounds fills the night. People laugh and talk on their phones while the cars roar on the street and honk at pedestrians who obstruct traffic.
New York has anything that you want to buy, from electronics, cameras or just souvenirs. Dozens of souvenir shops sell miniature Statues of Liberty, cups, keychains, T-shirts, postcards and many other things that you may bring back home to remember your trip.
Times Square is the gathering place for New Year's celebrations, when you can see a crystal ball drop at midnight, but it also is a platform for evangelists and some strange people. There is a great police presence, so nothing very bad happens there. However, you may see a granny with heavy makeup wearing only panties and pasties holding a guitar strapped to her shoulder offering tourists to pose with her for a photo if you give her a few bucks. You may also see a guy with raised arms and closed eyes meditating in the sun wearing only a sheer toga.
The New York subway provides convenient access to many parts of the city. From Times Square it is easy to go uptown to Central Park or downtown to Chinatown, Little Italy, Wall Street, the World Trade Center and many other tourist attractions. The subway cars that I rode were clean and people were polite and helpful when I asked for directions.
New York's Chinatown retains much of the traditional oriental ambience that is maintained by a large Chinese-speaking population. There are many stores with souvenirs actually made in China! Along the streets there are fruit markets, fish markets and many restaurants.
The intersection of Canal and Mott streets is one of the most picturesque sections of Chinatown. Restaurants, such as the popular Big Wong are located in this area.
The restaurant offers a large variety of delicious entrées, such as Peking Duck.
The Statue of Liberty
A tour of the Statue of Liberty requires at least half a day. You will need to go through a security check similar to that of the airports to visit this iconic New York landmark. Cameras, belts, wallets, phones, etc. are scanned with X-rays, and people go through metal detectors. There is a line to buy the tour tickets, although you can reserve them online ahead of time and pick them up in the will-call window when you arrive. There is another line to go through the security check, and there is still a third line to board the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. Make sure to take an umbrella if there is a chance of rain when you visit because most of the lines are in the open air.
There is a discount rate for seniors.
The ferry has three levels and many people choose the top level to get a better view of the surroundings. Since the boats are quite crowded, it is hard to get a spot by the railing to take pictures without including a lot of heads of tourists or cameras on selfie sticks.
The trip from the ferry terminal in Battery Park to the statue of liberty takes only about 15 minutes. You can see the New York skyline as the boat departs, and the Statue of Liberty grows in size from the size of thumbnail to a colossal size.
People sometimes ask: Why is the Statue green? The answer is that the statue is made of copper, like a U.S. penny, and the outer layer oxidizes when exposed to air and rain. It took about thirty years for the Statue to turn from her original copper color to the green that we see today.
Emma Lazarus wrote a poem in 1883 to raise funds for the completion of the pedestal. Her poem, The New Colossus, has inspired many people to immigrate to the United States, specially the part that says:
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
The ticket to the Statue of Liberty includes a tour of the Ellis Island Museum, which was formerly a processing center for about 12 million European immigrants from 1892 to 1954.
Ellis Island was the site where people were given a brief medical examination, and they were not allowed to enter the mainland if they looked sick. The rejected people were sent back at the ship operator's expense.
The Ellis Island Museum has a display of some trunks that were used by immigrants coming to the United States. The museum has graphs and images of the population growth of the United States due to immigration. Many of the waves of immigration correspond to catastrophes in other parts of the world, such as the Irish potato famine, the Russian revolution and various events that destabilized Norway, Italy and other parts of Europe.
One section of the museum describes the prejudices, negative publicity and different kinds of protectionism that were used to keep immigrants from coming to the United States. Construction of walls, establishing quotas and setting barriers to immigration, such as an English literacy test, were discussed almost since the establishment of the United States. In spite of this, the U.S. owes its prosperity to the contributions of immigrants and their progeny.
World Trade Center
The new World Trade Center building has a geometric design that deflects the wind to reduce its sway. The glass sides reflect the clouds and the sky, so that the building sometimes appears transparent.
A memorial for the victims of the September 11 terrorist attack in 2001 is adjacent to the new World Trade Center. The memorial is a large square well with water overflowing over its four sides into a pool that drains into another square structure.
Metal plaques along the sides of the memorial record the names of the 2,606 persons who died on that day.
Brookfield Place is located across from the World Trade Center Memorial. It is a shopping center with high-end stores and a food court that attracts many of the visitors who come to visit the memorial.
Brookfield Place had to be extensively renovated after the 2001 attack.
The Winter Garden Atrium is located next to a French bakery and coffee shop.