Ok, so it was a real, traditional train, not a monorail – I did it for the poetry and alliteration of the word combination.
We were up early – around 4:30am, to put the finishing touched on our packing and to allow plent of time to stop by the bakery (previously visited on Saturday) before descending into Penn Station to wait for our train. We camped out in a corner to await the train departures, securing a spot in the quiet, early morning – it was about 5:30, the first trains didn’t start rolling until 6am, with ours not leaving until 7:15am. It was interesting to see the flow of people, swelling numbers that seemed to flow like waves to the gates as trains were called to board (the station was using gates on opposing sides, so it was like watching a miniature wave pool as passengers would swell to each side every few minutes, only to fade as they descended to their trains before swelling again a few mintes later).
We boarded our train and found seats that were together (on the trip up, we were split two in the front of the car and two in the back of the car), and also not near the front (no annoying drafts this time), where we settled in for some napping for the first part of the ride.
I spent most of the return trip connected to my iPod, switching between three different travel activities – napping, reading, or watching the miles go by. When we arived at our home station, we had a small group of family members waiting for us. We claimed our luggage (mine, it seems, was a bit overzealous and boarded an earlier train – it was waiting for me at the station when we arrived), and drove back to the house to begin the process of unpacking and unwinding. The next day was going to be busy at the house (cleaning and rearranging our living room) so we needed all of the rest we could get.
Post trip thoughts: There is never really enough time to do what you want when you are visiting New York over a weekend. I had a list of places I wanted to try and get to, but realistically only made it to 2-3 of those places. Things change quickly… during my previous trip, there was a large bear in front of FAO Schwartz – this time the bear was gone (along with an anticipated photo op for a Christmas picture), and some of the restaurants had changed hands (The World – a WWF/E themed location in Times Square was now a Hard Rock Cafe).
All told, however, the trip was a good one. Planning a few months in advance helps with getting better rates, but weather can always change. The weather gave us two great days in the city, with Sunday being overcast and cool but still a great morning.
You know, I just may try to make plans for a trip next year… hmmm…