Sunday, August 09, 2015

Day 22 US, 12/07, NY, Transit Museum, Opinion

I did not take so many photos this day. I had found there was a public transport museum in Brooklyn, the New York Transit Museum, located at a disused subway station. On board the A train again and to Brooklyn.

The train was busy but I saw a seat and squashed into it between two black men. Now, if this was anywhere else I have ever travelled on public transport, the men I sat beside would adjust themselves slightly to give me some space and at least put their legs together. No, I sat there shoulders hunched, knees squeezed together and my hands on my legs in front of me and I felt most uncomfortable. This is quite unacceptable but Dorothy is not in Kansas anymore. Gradually over the period of about five minutes with almost imperceptible movement, they both gave me more space. I had worn them down and won the battle against their intimidation tactics. Blow me down, the same thing happened to R later, with only one man this time. It must be a New York Subway thing, maintain your space.

While another subway station seemed closer, we alighted at Hoyt-Schermehorn as that had been suggested and with a little difficulty, found the museum entrance. (I am not sure why it was hard to walk along a street in a straight line in a westerly direction)

Entrance to the museum was only $7 and it was quite interesting with plenty of history and interactive stuff for the kiddies, including bigger ones like me. I do like generating electricity.


Downstairs is the disused subway platform, now stocked with various exhibits of engines and carriages. There were quite a number of carriages but here is a selection of a few. I've reordered them to what I think is age of the carriages. Most interesting to me was the cooling fan evolution. 

Skylarking lads, beware of this spinning fan.


Still there are fans to chop a hand off if you misreached for a hanging strap.


Finally, some protected fans.


Fans are now concealed.


Are these fans or quite early air conditioning? The square grills look rather like air con intakes to me.


No doubt about this one, definitely air conditioning.


How old is this carriage? It looks exactly the same as the one on which we travelled to the museum.





We walked to the nearby shops in Fulton Street and for the second time only, I entered Starbucks for a cold drink and something to eat.  The first time was the day before after leaving the Empire State. Its coffee as lousy as everywhere else in America, but its food was not too bad.

I was intrigued by the lad's transport. It's not  a segway because it had no handles. Google gives me many names for it, Oxboard, IO Hawk, Hovertrax. While he does have to balance, it has an inbuilt gyroscope.


Invented in the Netherlands, it seems. I want one.


There was certainly a closer subway to the shops than the one we used to arrive. And then things went a bit wrong. We descended into Hades and waited for the A or C train at Jay Street-Metro Tech (I've just read that this station has the worst rat problem of any of the subway stations. We didn't see one.) I was looking at the platform information sign and it said A and C train. Next to that was a wheelchair symbol and an arrow pointing to what I thought might have been wheelchair access to ground level. But I felt a bit uneasy and it was the longest period we had ever waited for a train. A woman approached us and asked us something about the F line. We explained we were tourists and could not help her. She returned a few minutes later and asked if we wanted the A or C train. Yes, we said. I think you are in the wrong place. I believe you need to go that way, yes the way the arrow pointed. From what I could work out, the platforms for the F train are at right angles to and below the platforms for the A and C lines. I really think New York could do with some sophisticated platform screens.
New York subway travellers. Note the two lasses with matching gold earphones. I was a bit puzzled as the train seemed to take a different path back to 42nd Street, probably to do with either the A or C being a limited express. I really like this photo.



We were back at our flat by early afternoon. I looked at maps, as is my want, I noticed Christopher Street. Rang a bell. Ah yes, Stonewall, the place of a world changing gay revolt. Let's go there for dinner. This time it was the 1 train from 41st Street. We had a very nice meal at Quarter in Hudson Street, with a very attractive waiter. I noticed the the PATH train. It may have been useful to us, getting us to Penn Station, not too far to walk back to the flat or change to the subway. From memory, PATH is operated by New Jersey Transit and takes you across the Hudson River. Would our Metro Cards work? I didn't know, so we walked a bit more to the subway.

Tomorrow is our last day and you will be relieved to know it will be the end of my travel posts. This has been a once in a lifetime holiday, after last year's once in a lifetime holiday. Will there be another once in lifetime holiday next year? I think not, but R can be very persuasive. Sorry nieces and nephews. We leave you the paperwork for the reverse mortgage on our property.

During our travels, with maybe one or two exceptions, people and staff were polite, helpful and friendly. Aside from the above mentioned train travellers and a bit of a scam (note, R's problem with his card became known to us only after writing this part) you will read about tomorrow, even New York people are included. While we did stick to the tourist trails, there was not a place I disliked and we never felt unsafe. Canada was spotlessly clean and they should take some pride in this and their environmental awareness. Even New York was quite clean. When there was rubbish, it did not linger for long before one of what must be an army of cleaners removed it.

I haven't mentioned television. I really can't remember much about Canadian television but I don't think it was anything great. We always had difficulty finding something bearable to watch. In New York I did tune in more to tv. Our television had 999 stations, each as execrable as the next. Now I understand from where our tv ads breaks are designed. Believe me you Aussie folk, our commercial breaks are nothing compared to the US breaks. It seemed to me half of the programming was ads. Mainstream evening commercial news was a little similar to ours, but with very little about the world outside the US, or New York even. I think PBS was the only station that had any kind of world outlook. Even when it was released Golden Girls, while amusing at times, seemed a little trite to me. It hasn't improved with age. Can you believe game shows from the 1970s were being shown! The presenter would be now dead and many of the contestants too. As critical as I am of our television, it is not too bad at all in comparison and god bless our ABC. I had already listened to American radio via the internet and not thought much of that either.

Canada is a grand country and there is much about it we in Australia could learn from. I've made it clear to a couple of friends that I did not think much of New York. New York is a very big and very busy and congested city. Maybe away from Manhattan it is not as bad. Well it wasn't so busy where we were in Brooklyn at the train museum or even Uptown in Harlem. We live very close to the centre of a very large and busy city and I hope it is never as congested as Manhattan. We found the crowds of people overwhelming at times and we, for better or worse, chose to stay in the thick of it.

Drivers in New York are quite absurd. They constantly block intersections, ignore traffic lights, park illegally, stop in the middle of the street and pay no attention to what the traffic around them is doing. You don't hear a polite toot of a horn to draw a phone using driver's attention to the fact that the traffic light is green. No Siree, nothing less than a five second horn blast will do. Truly awful. Hmm, sounds a bit like Melbourne really. Moving around Manhattan by streets in a car or bus is very slow. There is probably a lot to criticise the subway about, but by golly, it is fast and frequent and who would choose to drive in Manhattan.

Mind, a good bit of the slow traffic is caused by pedestrians. Many traffic lights have pedestrian countdown indicators and I used to think these were a good idea. They are not and only encourage pedestrians to begin walking as long as there are enough seconds to get across, which prevents cars turning. Barely no one takes any notice of the red flashing don't walk.

There were no disasters along the way and we never left anything behind or lost anything, I did leave two things at home that I should not have. Instead of picking up my combined hair shampoo/conditioner, I took the anti dandruff shampoo, which I use occasionally, just in case. Worse still, I had bought a tube of Vegemite to take, and I forgot to take it. It is very expensive when bought by the tube, but nevertheless, during our tour, I reckon I could have sold a squirt of Vegemite for $2 a shot on to fellow Aussie travellers' toast. Only one place we stayed had Vegemite for the buffet breakfast, and the jar was quickly emptied.

Once home for a week R received a call from his bank. There was a suspicious transaction in New York and his bank had withheld payment. The bank knew the date of our return and this transaction happened after we had returned. We retraced our steps and could not account for the amount. R called the bank back the next morning and there was now another from the same person, both around AU$150, way too much for dinner out or grocery and liquor bills, and larger amounts paid by his card we knew well enough. Payments were stopped, R's card cancelled and there has been some inconvenience to him. At restaurants in Canada the machine is brought to your table to pay when using a card. In New York, the card is taken away, and paperwork brought back for you to approve and sign. 

I have remembered so much more and learnt so much detail by writing these posts and looked properly at photos. R rarely looks at photos, even though during our trip he took many with my old camera. I think I have worn out both Google and its maps.

This is not the last post. There will be one tomorrow and then one with a few scans of things and probably a 'missed' things post, things I forgot to mention.

31 comments:

  1. Unfortunately I hadn't heard of the transit museum otherwise I would have had a look. I didn't find the subway system inviting but used it out of necessity. Good job your bank is on the ball rather than just paying these scams.

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    1. The subway is pretty grim with very little attractiveness about it, but it is efficient. There was a protest covered on tv by people who want it better funded. We were impressed with our bank. While we would have eventually received the money back once the transaction was disputed, it is long process and the bank would have lost the money, so it is in their interest too.

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  2. You could create a picture book of the world's subways.

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    1. I could, I suppose Susie, but I really don't know much compared to people who take a really passionate interest in such places.

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  3. Rather than a loooong comment about all of this, which would be almost a post in itself, all I can say is thank you.
    And how glad I am that R's bank was on the ball.

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    1. Thanks EC. Your and other comments are always so encouraging.

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  4. Two points.

    First, your accommodation in such proximity to Times Square was both a positive in being close to many famous locations and a negative in also being within the area of dense people movements. We stayed on 97th Street and so had relief from the denser population locations every day.

    Second, my credit card also was scammed almost certainly in New York a fact that only became evident three months after my return when a statement containing about $4,000 worth of UBER transactions complete with NY telephone number - hundreds of small items ranging from under $10 to about $250 - appeared. I have never used the UBER service and this sudden deluge of transactions apparently didn't stir my bank to notify me of possible fraud notwithstanding its much marketed 'Falcon' security system and the fact that I had been back in Australia for months. It took over two months for the bank to meticulously investigate each of these 'transactions' and refund me what had been fraudulently obtained from my now cancelled card.

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    1. Victor, with local knowledge we really did not have a clue about where we were staying but close to Times Square seemed to be a good idea and it was a very convenient place to stay, but as you say, very busy.

      So your card was scammed too, by much more. How common is this? Someone must be aware of how it happens. Part of the problem I expect is America not using the chips in the cards. Almost everywhere we had to sign, not that any staff even looked at the signature. Now another fraudulent charge has appeared on R's statement and the bank has debited him but assures him it will be refunded when the investigation is complete.

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  5. In reading your posts, I hadn't realised how long your trip of a lifetime was while you were away Andrew. A great way of doubling your time away by blogging about it when you got home. Thank goodness your bank was on to the credit card skimmers.

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    1. Carol, yes, writing about the holiday is a little like reliving it. The time did pass quickly for us, but then at our age, time passes quickly regardless.

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  6. So sad to hear about R's card getting hijacked. If I ever go to New York, which is highly unlikely, I'll remember to use cash only.
    "maintain your space" seems to be an Adelaide bus thing too. People plant themselves in their seats and don't budge, don't even wriggle a bit when someone else sits beside them. Many more people put their bags on the seat and won't take them off until you ask them.
    Starbucks started up here in Adelaide a few years back, but didn't last long. I heard from several friends the coffee was awful.
    We have a couple of pedestrian countdowns here too, one in Norwood and one somewhere else. We don't have enough vehicular or pedestrian traffic to warrant such a thing, but there they are.
    I've enjoyed reading about your holiday, and I'm even more determined now to go and see Canada if/when I win the lotto.

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    1. Hi River - I was on a train where a woman came toward the only vacant seat and it had a bag on it which the owner did not move. after a very long 20 seconds the new arrival said to bagOwner "has that bag got a ticket for that seat?"
      I could not have sat next to her after saying that, but bravo I thought.

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    2. River, there is nothing wrong with cash and we should have taken more. Many of our Starbucks have failed here too. I only know of one, but they are popular in America. Their food is pretty good, the service patchy.The bag thing happened to us on the train the other day. I just say 'excuse me' and go to sit and the bag is removed. If I put a bag on a seat and the train or tram starts to fill, I move it off the seat. We would have gone earlier to Canada when the weather was cooler, but we were correctly told the lakes don't thaw until June.

      Ann, if there is one seat left and there is a bag on it, the owner needs a slapping.

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  7. So glad the bank was on top of things; still sucks that R's card was scammed... hope it's all resolved quickly. I agree that we're backward here in re: having the cards chipped.

    Stonewall. Oh my, that brings back memories. One of my dearest friends (a former child actor) and his partner were very much involved in the gay rights movement's early years here in the States and Wade's partner was a very active participant in the Stonewall riots. In later years he lectured, and wrote, extensively about that time. I will take flowers to Christopher St. one day, in their memory.

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    1. Jac, it seems it is quite common. We haven't signed for anything for years, not since the introduction of swiping your card, and subsequently inserting it for the chip to be read. Mind, Asia was ahead of us with chip usage.

      Christopher Street seemed so quiet and peaceful. It was hard to imagine the riots. Clearly the area has changed. It wasn't too far to walk to where the bar was. We should have made the effort.

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  8. oh yes everybody planning a trip:
    take a Vegemite tube to sell per squirt and layoff the cost, and 2. tell your bank the dates. the first phonecall I answered on return from a short trip was the bank to say "someone is using your card overseas".
    Thanks for another great report Andrew.
    The Newport workshops fire is terrible.

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    1. Ann, at the end of day I would have shared the Vegemite with people in need of mother's milk. We only just learnt that our friend who we travelled with last year had his card scammed in Budapest.

      The fire is awful, and destroyed things almost irreplaceable, never mind morale of the volunteers. But the private train company or the government should pay for better and more secure storage of our railway heritage.

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  9. The transport museum looks like fun and right up your alley. What a pisser about the card scam. Here, as I'm sure with you, your card would never be taken away to process. A wireless terminal is always brought to you. I think it's to do with the lack of chip and pin there. Now we have contactless cards where you just wave it at the machine and I worry about security. These contactless purchases are limited to £20, rising to £30 later this year.

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    1. Craig, we normally pay by cash here when out for dinner, because it usually with friends and so it is easier. I just remembered something which I must write about, bill splitting. If the premise doesn't have a wireless machine, we go up to where it is attached with a cord to pay. I think our pay wave limit is $100. I've used it for a couple of years and never had an issue. Yes, the chip is the key. There was the odd time R used his pin, but mostly just by signature and a card swipe.

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    2. That paywave ability really annoys me as does the limit, because it is a purchase limit not a daily limit. So if someone steals your card they can use it all over town at $100 a pop and run up a huge bill in no time at all. I hope it has the effect of making people more careful where they keep their cards. So many shoppers still wander supermarkets with their handbags on the child seat and wide open.

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    3. River, I noticed in Canada that some of our fellow travellers kept their cards and room key cards in special folders that prevent the cards being read unless they are removed from the folder. Yes, you would soon have a big bill if someone did as you describe.

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  10. That was an interesting museum. I find the huge amount of people in NY, Hong Kong and Amsterdam were quite daunting. I think we are so used to wide open spaces here.You sure had a great trip. Doesn't it make you glad to live in Australia even though we have useless politicians.

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    1. Diane, while I haven't actually been out of the airport in Hong Kong, Amsterdam was incredibly busy and crowded. I can't recall if you have been to Tokyo, but we found that quite ok. Yes, I do like Australia as a place to live and travel reinforces it, but as I say, Canada is pretty good.

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    2. Yes its a beautiful country and Vancouver is super but i couldn't stand the winters.

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    3. Such cold is not imaginable by me Diane.

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  11. Great and insightful piece, those photos of the trains were quite nice. Greetings!

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    1. Thank you Blogoratti. Kind words.

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  12. R having his card details snatched wasn't the perfect way to end your holiday Andrew.. I don't know about you but for me when I go on holiday, even to Paris and definitely Sydney, it always makes me appreciate Perth even more.. not the bad drivers though! Was fab to see the train museum, you must have been blissed out :)

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    1. No really big drama Grace, just some inconvenience. It happens. I found the museum interesting, as I do most. The only one that had me go, 'wow' was in Tokyo.

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  13. I personally have enjoyed your journey. Thanks for sharing it.
    The museum is interesting looking at your photos.
    Shame about R's card, but I expect there is usually something..nice to get it sorted out..

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    1. Thank you Margaret. There was plenty to see at the museum, especially for real train buffs.Yes, card is pretty well sorted now.

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