10,713 steps = 3.9 miles
Big Bus Tour - Downtown (red route)
Empire State Building Observation Deck
One World Observatory
Dinner at Ellen's Stardust Diner
Big Bus Tour - NYC by Night (yellow route)
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For our first visit into New York City we wanted to get an overall view of the city. After arriving in the city by train at Penn Station, the first thing we did was walk two long blocks to the nearest Big Bus Tour stop, which happened to be Stop #4 on the corner of 5th Ave & West 32nd Street. Once there we converted our digital tickets into paper tickets and boarded the first bus to arrive. All the Big Bus Tour buses are open-top double-deckers, unfortunately our bus didn't have any empty seats on the top deck so we began our tour downstairs looking out the windows at people on the sidewalks while we listened to the Tour Guide explain all the buildings we were passing by.
Just a few stops later at Stop #10 half the people on the bus hopped off and we got to upgrade our seats, and our views, to the upper deck. We then rode the bus around to Stop #16, which is known as Restaurant Row (8th Ave & 46th St). With so many places to chose to eat we asked the Tour Guide to recommend a nearby "Authentic New York Style" pizza joint and he suggested John's Pizzeria. Their slogan here is "Whole Pies - No Slices", so we chowed our way through a small pepperoni and meatball pie.
After lunch we once again boarded the bus and rode around to Stop #4 where we started. The Empire State Building is just a couple blocks from here so we headed in that direction because we had tickets to access the Observation Deck on the 86th Floor. I forgot to mention that first thing this morning, before we boarded the first bus, we walked over here and found a two hour wait to get into the building. That's when we turned around and got on the bus. Now that it's after lunch time there was very little wait time, we practically walked straight up to the elevators.
After our visit to the Empire State Building we hopped back on the bus and rode it around to Stop #10. This is the closest stop to the One World Observatory and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. When we rode past it earlier in the morning there was also a long line of people waiting to get into the One World Building, but now around 3PM there wasn't much of a line at all. Just a word of caution, don't go up to the observatory thirsty, I ordered a 20oz bottle of Gatorade at the bar up there and was presented with a bill for $7.61 just to quench my thirst.
After climbing 102 stories in 47 seconds aboard the SkyPod elevator at One World Observatory we hopped back on the bus and headed back to the Times Square area for dinner and to get into position to take the "New York by Night" Big Bus tour. Before the tour we ate dinner at Ellen's Stardust Diner, which came highly recommended by our campground neighbors Bill and Erika. At this diner all the waiters and waitresses are aspiring Broadway actors and actresses and while you are dining they put on a near nonstop show which showcases their entertainment and singing talents. The diner was proud to announce that last year they lost 17 of their staff to the "Lights of Broadway". We were having such a great time we didn't even think to take any photos, sorry!
After dinner we boarded the 8PM bus for the 2 hour long "New York by Night" tour. The tour begins and ends near the three story high M&M Store. That's right, three stories of nothing but M&M branded merchandise. After the two hour bus tour we went in looking for bathrooms, and or coarse we were informed they were on the third floor. As a thank you for letting us use their bathrooms we purchased a 1/2 pound bag of my favorite mint flavored M&M's and a bottle of water.
We are finally at the end of our first day in New York City, it's after 10PM, there are no more bus tours, we are on foot and just over a mile away from Penn Station, where we have to go to catch the train home. By the time we pull into the campground and see THE POD awaiting our return it's nearly 1AM. We plan to get up around 6AM to leave early to catch the train back into The City tommorrow. Time to get some sleep!
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