Our Excellent East Coast Adventure – Final

Leaving the Beach

As I had mentioned in my previous posting, Wildwood, New Jersey is a resort destination known for its boardwalk and beaches. In the three days we stayed in Wildwood, although we walked kilometres of the beach, we only scratched the surface as the beach, side to side, is easily 10 Km’s long. The first day that Barb and I walked the beach, the number of people there would have been less than 100 as dark storm clouds brought heavy rain, reminiscent of our 2nd day in Cape Cod. Barb said that from her experience here in the peak of summer, 10’s thousands of people would flock to this beach.

One interesting feature of Wildwood is that there are no “high-end” hotels here. Virtually all of the accommodations are relatively inexpensive motels which appear to all have been here since the 1960s. This all means that Wildwood is a very family-friendly place where I can see people can come here for a week or a weekend and it is budget-friendly. I can attest that the costs for our accommodations in Wildwood were a huge bargain compared to everywhere else on this trip.

On our last night in Wildwood, Barb and I walked the boardwalk almost end to end. The weather had gotten considerably better since the rain a few days ago and even after 9 PM, there were thousands of people also out walking around. The boardwalk at Wildwood has a mixture of places to eat, souvenir shops and carnival-type activities like rides and booths. By far, it’s mostly placed to eat and souvenir shops. Other than snacks, we only at lunch once on the boardwalk. Let’s leave it by saying that quality food is not the big draw on the boardwalk.

Before I leave the wrong impression, we did have some really good food at restaurants in Wildwood. One restaurant, in particular, I have to call attention to is Urie’s. Now I should point out that for at least the past 20 years when Barb had reminisced about her childhood trips to Wildwood, the name Urie’s restaurant invariably came up, almost gaining a mythic reputation and going to Urie’s as least once a must-do. According to their website, Urie’s has been open since 1956 so it’s likely been an institution for generations of Wildwood visitors.

Urie’s ended up being a sprawling restaurant with at least 100 tables, and all-white plastic patio furniture. Nonetheless, the place was packed and the service was really good. Despite the unique decor, the food was actually really good, all at a fairly reasonable price. I can see the attraction.

We only ended up staying three nights in Wildwood and we both agreed that it was enough. By Tuesday, we were back on the road to drop our rental car at the train station in Wilmington, Delaware, our 6th US state on this trip. We had arranged to drop off the car here as we planned to take the train to our final destination of New York City.

Bite of the Big Apple

While Barb and I have taken trains many times in multiple European countries, this train ride marks a first for anywhere in North America. I specify for me as Barb had taken the train across Canada with her Dad several years ago.

We both love travelling by train where we can. We arrived at the train station in Wilmington and within 15 minutes were on the train. For shorter distances, the reduced wait times compared to flying just can’t be beaten. Everyone who has flown before knows all about the wait times involved in air travel.

We were last in New York City 12 years ago in 2010. We made arrangements to stay in the very same hotel as last time, the New Yorker Hotel. This hotel was convenient for several reasons but mostly because our final destination for our train ride was Penn Station, just 2 blocks away from our hotel and we were able to walk to the hotel after arriving.

It’s staggering the number of people there are on the streets here in New York City. While Boston has some crowds in some of the more popular areas, it’s the massive scale of people in this city that sets it apart. On the streets, the subways and restaurants, there’s a throng of people.

Yesterday was Wednesday and our first full day in NYC and we wanted to get a few things checked off on our list. The first was to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. On our last trip to NYC in 2010, we had seen the Brooklyn Bridge from the ground and this time we wanted to experience walking over it.

There is a large walking area in the middle of the bridge but it took a lot of walking to finally find the entrance to get on the bridge. We decided to take the subway to the Brooklyn side and walk back to the Manhattan side and there were thousands of other people walking the bridge at the same time. It’s about a 2 Km walk across and with stopping for photos and to see the sights of the city it was about 45 minutes to walk across. I’ve read that if you walk across the bridge at sunrise, there’s hardly anyone else on the bridge.

On Wednesday night, Barb and I wanted to go for some drinks and found a local bar a few blocks from our hotel. In fairness, in NYC there appears to be a bar a few blocks away from everywhere. We got to this bar fairly early and within a few hours, the place was packed with standing room only. Seated at the bar, we both noticed a bottle of Empress Gin and had a few drinks with it. Empress Gin, distinctive for its blue colour and made in Victoria, BC, was first introduced to us on our Vancouver Island trip last year at the hotel we stayed at in Nanaimo.

Today is Friday, the last day of our East Coast Adventure as we’re flying home tomorrow. We’re actually not looking forward to the flight home given that we need to connect through Toronto Pearson Airport. Unlike the direct flight we had coming into Boston, we have a very short connection in Toronto and everything we’ve read on the news is that Pearson Airport is a gong show with all kinds of delays. We’re fully expecting to miss our connecting flight into Vancouver. We’ll see what happens.

Our last day here in NYC took us on a trip over to Staten Island on the ferry with the same name. The ferry was a short ride, providing unique views of lower Manhattan, New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty. Realistically, there’s not much to do on Staten Island once you’re there. We spent some time in a mall but it was the hottest temperature of our entire trip, reaching about 32 degrees so being in an outdoor mall isn’t the ideal choice. The final hours here in NYC involved a walk through Central Park, enjoying the shade of the trees for a few hours.

And Finally …

Over dinner last night, Barb and I were discussing our thoughts about this trip. Interestingly, neither of us felt that a third trip to NYC was in our plans but we could easily see spending several weeks just in Boston and Cape Cod, with the majority of the time in Cape Cod.

What we both really want to do is get back to travelling to other parts of the world again. We have an ongoing desire to see France and Germany again, now both seeming like distant memories. We’ve wanted to visit other parts of Africa in the upcoming years and of course a return visit to India. And of course, going back again to Australia! So many places to see and we hope that you’ll come along with us on those Excellent Adventures.

By now I’ve now posted all of my photos from this trip to my photo website.

All the best,

Baden

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