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New York, days since

Day 2: met someone from IU for dim sum, walked Canal and Avenue of the Americas, bit of NYU campus, Bleecker Street Fair, Arab-American street fair, Washington Park, Greenwich Village (meh, given its reputation), Highline Park (neat, crowded), Penn Station (ugliest train station I've ever seen), some Chinese acts in honor of 35 years of US-China diplomacy at Lincoln, reading in Central Park.

Turns out most of the trains don't have the cool "next stops" signs. Some have a more standard "next stop" signs. Some don't even have that. Some stations have "next train in" signs, some don't. Cell signal is often not present in tunnels.

Day 3: met someone from Caltech for lunch near Union Square, walked around Union Square, Stuyvesant Town, east to the sea along 18th but it was blocked off past Avenue C, took L train to Lorimer in Brooklyn --

Things are a lot different there! Felt low-key and spacious with low buildings and wide-streets. Funny thing is, it'd still be fairly dense: we're talking 4 story buildings instead of 8 or 18 story ones. More like Camberville, less like Manhattan. Lots of people walking around, fewer open businesses to justify their walking. Some pretty nice residential streets.

G train to 21st St. station in Long Island City. Ugh! Very wide streets, an outright empty lot next to the subway station... first couple streets I walked down, 11th being the second one, were pretty depressing wasteland; 21st itself was better. Hopped another train (justifying that weekly pass I splurged on!) to Queens Plaza; itself meh, but around the corner is more interesting, lots of shops, also greenery under the elevated train at Queensboro Plaza. An elevated train! I rode the N to the end, Astoria-Ditmar, reminded of Chicago as elevateds always do. Nice neighborhood there, busiest I'd seen that side of the water, despite pretty low buildings. Lots of Greek and Japanese restaurants, Greek society buildings, a street festival I was told was for San Antonio, though it was all street food and carnie stuff (including a few rides.)

Day 4 (today): F to York, just the next station in Brooklyn, meh itself, but found Brooklyn Bridge Park, kind of neat and very popular. *Very* popular; all the restaurants had long lines, even at 2pm. Went down the park, realized too late there was less shade and fewer exists; the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (which is interestingly double-decked into the hillside) blocks off access, and the one pedestrian bridge was closed for construction. Next time I'll believe Google Maps when it shows no paths. Finally escaped out the south end, into Brooklyn Heights, again nice looking and human-scaled, though pricey restaurants. Wandered to the courthouse area, train to Prospect Park, read there, walked through much of the park, found the Brooklyn Public Library -- neat outside, less exciting inside -- a triumphal arch, walked up Flatbush, finally train to Chinatown, pigged out on dim sum, limped home.

Oh, I forgot to complain about York: there's only one exit, at the opposite end of the train from me, so I had to walk all that. And then you go up a bit, and walk horizontally some more, before finally hitting the surface. Who the hell designed this?

* My feet hurt. I need better shoes.
* I have yet to notice a single bookstore. I was reminded of this by seeing two sidewalk tables of books for sale.
* I looked at Wikipedia... Brooklyn has over 2.5 million people, even bigger than Manhattan's 1.5, which itself is probably bigger than the T-accessible Boston area. There's zoos in at least Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx. Giant parks in at least Manhattan and Brooklyn. WP noted that as its own city, Brooklyn alone would be the 4th largest in the US. Manhattan wouldn't be chump change either. Brooklyn has a huge art museum of its own, too.
* The subways are often seedy, hot, as noted surprisingly variable in tech level, and god help you if you don't have good legs, or legs at all -- stairs up, stairs down... but their coverage and frequency are pretty good. Going back to Boston and its miles between stations will hurt.
* Tip for people with hurty feet: don't go wandering everywhere; stick to within a few blocks of the station, or walk down streets between stations.
* I'm supposed to return to Boston tomorrow. I'm tempted to extend my stay, not to amortize my transportation cost (trivial) but my transportation time. Though it's getting a bit last minute to find a place, and if I want really good deals I should probably be renting a whole week at a time; I'd forgotten that.
** On the flip side, I've veered between excited at discovery and burning out already from overstimulus of novelty, and back. There's job-interview studying I want to do, and a San Diego trip in less than two weeks I haven't planned yet.
** Tempted to shift job hunt focus to NYC and move here. One reason for Massachusetts was for Romneycare health insurance backup if I got a job and quit it, but now the whole country has Obamacare. Of course, I barely know anyone in NYC (surprisingly) while I've got a slowly acquired social circle in Boston. OTOH, there's still not much of a really *close* circle in Boston, except for someone so busy I see her like 3x a year anyway.
* Megabus departure point looks a fair bit less convenient than the arrival point. Bolt Bus looks as bad. Nnng it's the train next time.
* Lots of bus stops/companies in Chinatown. Not just connections to Boston, but ones to Knoxville, Birmingham, or Montgomery. Wacky.

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Damien Sullivan

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