As promised, now I will tell you a bit about my anniversary trip to New York last week. Yesterday I posted my review of SpongeBob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical, but today I’m going to tell you how we got to New York City in the first place.

I’ve mentioned before that Mel and I like to travel via Amtrak. It’s easier than driving, and cheaper than flying, with more room for luggage and way less TSA hassle. The cars are comfy, even traveling coach (seen right). However, until November, there’s a problem with taking our local train, The Cardinal, to New York.

It doesn’t go there, at least not at this time.

While they are taking forever to repair and replace tracks in the Northeastern Corridor, service on the Cardinal line beyond Washington D.C. has been suspended. This has been a major pain in the butt for us because the repairs coincide with two trips to the Big Apple that we took this year, and we had to find other means to get to our destination.

Rather than take the train to DC and deal with a long layover while we waited for another train to finish our journey, we decided to drive to Pittsburgh, stay with my sister overnight, and then ride The Pennsylvanian into New York. It’s a fun trip that takes us through the famous Horseshoe Curve in Blair County, Pennsylvania (see the video below) and also past the Boyer candy factory in Altoona, Amish Country and into Philadelphia (after which the trip is exactly like riding The Cardinal).

It may not seem like a big deal to you, but Boyer Smoothies and Peanut Butter Cups were a big part of my childhood. I never really cared for the Mallo Cups, though.

We arrived at Penn Station in Manhattan around 5 PM and hopped a taxi to our hotel, Double Tree Suites Times Square, which was strategically chosen because it was right next door to the Palace Theater, where we went to see SpongeBob Squarepants.

The view from our hotel window, which inspired this week’s Monday Morning Art.

Staying in Times Square is a remarkable experience, and if you can ever afford to do it, I recommend it highly. We only stayed for two nights, and cashed in Hilton Honors points for one of those, so it wasn’t a back-breaking expense.

After freshening up a bit, we walked out of the hotel’s front entrance and were five feet away from the start of the line to pick up our “will call” tickets for the show. I wrote about the show HERE, so we’ll pick up the rest of the story after we got out of the show.

The coolest thing about where we stayed was how close we were to everything. After the show it was a block and a half walk to Junior’s Delicatessen, where we partook of giant sandwiches and brought their world famous greatest cheesecake in the world back to the hotel to eat for breakfast the next morning. That’s me and Mel, waiting for our gigantic portions of food, at the right.

Walking through Times Square after Midnight was a trip. It was still packed with people, bright and loud, and to be honest, we felt much safer than we do walking in downtown Charleston at 8 PM. With so many people around, you don’t feel threatened if you see someone who looks crazy. Chances are you’ll see someone who looks crazier five feet past them, and they’re not paying any attention to you because they’re trying to out-crazy the next guy, five feet past them.

It was a kick walking into our hotel room and seeing that there was more light coming in the windows at night than there was in daylight.

We slept a little later than normal the next day, recovering from the fantastic show, the insanely huge portions of food, and the fun and overwhelming Times Square experience, and then we had Junior’s cheesecake for breakfast, and started out on a couple of excursions around the neighborhood.

I should mention here that one impediment to our summer travels is that I have Myasthenia Gravis, and heat wears me out fast. It has been a brutally hot and humid summer on the East Coast, and New York City has not been spared the heat waves. It’s so hot that, if the Son of Sam killings were happening now, the Satan dog would tell David Berkowitz to wait until it cools down a bit before going out shooting.

So I had to pace myself, but luckily that didn’t get in our way of having fun. In the morning we walked through Shubert Alley and hit a couple of Theatre book stores, and just enjoyed the city. We also ventured down the subway to check out the maps and schedules for later in the day. Having stuffed ourselves with cheesecake, we didn’t really need to stop for lunch.

Part of Shubert Alley, as seen from Junior’s.

We did head back to the hotel to rest for a few minutes, then we went back out, walking in the opposite direction from where’d we gone earlier, and visited Hershey World, M&M World and a Christmas shop, all within a block of the Doubletree.

One of the many giant cool things in the three-floor M&M World.

Super Nutcrackers at the Christmas Shoppe

After that we stopped and sat on Father Duffy’s Steps in Times Square, which was right outside our hotel, and hit up Grand Slam, a gift shop where trinkets and Yankee’s stuff was purchased.By this point, it had become overcast, but also windy. The temperature dropped to a lovely and breezy 75 degrees, but the light rain made put our evening plans in a bit of jeopardy.

Sensory overload while sitting on Father Duffy’s Steps.

Father Duffy himself, with giant animated billboards looming in the background.

After soaking in Times Square, it was back to the hotel to rest up for our first-ever NYC Subway ride, to Yankee Stadium. I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow.

One last picture: Our hotel, right next to The Palace Theater. This is what you call good trip planning (all Mel’s work, by the way).