I had never been to the Amtrak station in Pittsburgh, but the turn-by-turn directions from my phone got me to a nearby parking garage without incident. I asked the attendant for directions to the train station which was only a block away. This would be the first of dozens of times I would ask a stranger for directions over the next few days…
It was early morning, and still dark outside. As the outside temperature was only eight degrees, I walked as fast as is possible while pulling a wheeled carry-on bag. I figured the cold air would keep the wheel bearings on my luggage from building up too much heat as I galloped along. Within minutes (and after asking additional directions from a girl outside the bus terminal), I was in the train station chatting with a man from Philly who was on his way home. By the time the sun came up the outside temperature had dropped to one degree, but the train was toasty.
The trip to New York City took almost nine hours. Train seats are much nicer than airline seats, but nine hours in a chair is still nine hours in a chair. I welcomed all of the walking I’d be doing over the next couple of days.
Spending nine hours on a single train, then getting dumped out into Penn Station in New York City during rush hour is a drastic and sudden change of pace. The hallways were loaded with people scrambling to get to their connections. After I stepped out into the walking traffic I had to keep moving with the flow to avoid looking like a tourist, and also to avoid causing a human traffic jam. Navigating the subway with wheeled luggage during this time of day is like a high-speed game of Frogger.
This was my first exposure to the New York City subway, so I was clueless. I had instructions from Sara to take the 1 train to the S train to Grand Central terminal. It was a start, but after seeing the signage for the subway system of one of the biggest cities in the world, my instructions felt similar to telling the pilgrims to head for Nevada once they hit shore. It took additional help via phone, and plenty of help from the locals to get me where I needed to be. New Yorkers seem to have a bad reputation in the media and other folklore, but what I experienced was quite the opposite. I asked about a dozen people for help while in the subway system, and each time I was given quick and friendly advice. A tip of the hat to all of you who helped the tall, confused guy dragging the suitcase around.
Note: I was so busy hopping trains and trying to stay out of people’s way that I didn’t even try to take any pictures in the subway.
NYC Gallery: www.danielkusko.com/Travels/New-York-City/