It's rare, but every so often I take a real vacation. By this I mean, I take off at least a week from work, go someplace and just relax. In my case, that means riding my bike around and reading. This time, I spent just over a week in New York City. I went for the Five Boro Bike Tour and stayed to go to a friend's reading of his play. During my trip, I ended up biking over 130 miles and read six books. I could have done more of both. It was one of the best vacations I've ever taken.

Pictures are here:

I took Amtrak from Chicago to NYC. It's really a terrible way to travel, especially when you've been on the great trains in Europe. But since I wanted to take my folding bike and it would have cost me an extra $250 at least to fly with the bike, I took the train to save money. The money saved covered the cost of a hotel room for a night in Manhattan. So while it's an unpleasant way to travel, it was great with my bike.

My first night (Friday) was spent at a hotel pretty close to the train station. I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to want to do much after 20 hours on a train and I was right. I put the bike together at Penn Station and biked a few blocks to the hotel. Time for a shower and a piece of pizza and I was out for the night.

Saturday was all about me going to pick up my packet for the ride. I basically biked down to near the second hotel I was going to stay at to pick up my packet. I decided not to check out of the first hotel before doing this because the weather was great and the riding felt good. Plus, once I checked out, I'd be carrying my heavy backpack wherever I went. So after coming back to the hotel, I took the scenic route around Manhattan to get to the South Seaport area and my hotel. Had a small issue at the tip of Manhattan where I biked into a Lupus 5k walk. So I had to walk the bike a bit there, but it was ok. Easy to grab a hot dog from a vendor for lunch and keep moving.

Saturday rides:

Sunday was the bike ride. I've done it twice before and really like it. However, I do think this will be the last time I do it. While it is fun, there are quite a few sections that are so crowded that you have to walk the bike. That's not really fun. I'm actually fine riding in traffic, so I don't need to be just on closed streets. So while I'm happy to have done it, I don't know that I'll sign up again.

Sunday ride:

Monday was my day to try to save a bit of money and stay in Brooklyn. So after a couple of hours reading under the Brooklyn Bridge, I biked across the bridge to go to Brooklyn. I stayed at a hotel in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn. Since I had time before checkin, I biked to Prospect Park, which I heard was a nice park in Brooklyn. It did not disappoint. I relaxed there for a few hours reading a book before biking around to get something to eat. Then to the hotel, a shower, some more reading and hockey playoffs on tv.

Monday ride:

Tuesday was about riding around Brooklyn. I had read that the oldest bike path in the United States was in Brooklyn, along Ocean Boulevard and it took you right to Coney Island. This seemed like the perfect ride to do, so I biked to Coney Island and then around Brooklyn. Ended the day with reading and hockey playoffs.

Tuesday ride:

Wednesday I moved back to Manhattan, but was also the day the my pal Shadla and her husband came to NYC. They were staying in Brooklyn, so I met up with them for a late breakfast before heading back to Brooklyn. I wanted to ride over the Williamsburg Bridge to get back to Manhattan for a change of pace. I got a little lost on my way to the bridge, but eventually found it. Then we all met up back in Manhattan for dinner and the play Skylight, which was quite good.

Wednesday rides:

Thursday was a day to hang out in the Village, which I really didn't know until Shadla told me where we were. This made me feel incredibly cool. We had lunch and eventually found a great place (Molly's Cupcakes) for a celebratory cupcake. (The cupcakes I got in Manhattan after the ride were pathetic.) We then head up to the High Line and met up with Garin. We walked the High Line a bit, people watched and checked out the new Whitney Museum. (My take on the Whitney is to skip it. But then again, I'm not a big modern art fan.)

Thursday ride:

Friday was a bit more riding around and then taking the subway out to Brooklyn to walk around and get lunch with Shadla and Garin. Then I finished another book in Prospect Park before coming back to Manhattan to get ready for Garin's reading. The reading was at a building, literally on Broadway in Times Square. I'd also never been to a reading before, so I found it
all pretty cool.

Friday ride:

Saturday was just about hanging in Manhattan until my train left. It was also the only day that was a bit cooler with some rain. But it was still pretty pleasant.

Saturday ride:

Books read:
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan--Loved the book
The World Beyond Your Head by Matthew Crawford--Liked it, but need to read it again to get all the ideas
The Tiger Wife by Téa Obreht--started off pretty good, but thought it was kind of dumb by the end. Only book from the trip that I don't recommend
Zodiac by Neal Stephenson--Picked up off clearance table at NYC Bookstore for $5. Loved it. Hard time putting it down.
Straphanger by Taras Grescoe--Fascinating book about public transit around the world. Loved it.
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough--Loved it, but I am completely fascinated by the Wright Brothers.