I rolled into New Brunswick NJ round 1900 and got checked into the hotel after the long drive of lighthouse hopping.
But I had a mission to complete to get my attractions pass from the Planet Hollywood in Times Square and that meant taking a train from New Brunswick to Penn Station right in the heart of Manhattan.
The first leg of the journey was relatively painless…depending on which train you take with NJ Transit, the trip into Penn Station can take anywhere from 45-65 minutes and is generally a very pleasant journey. The seats are comfortable and a good book helps pass the time.
When I got off the train at Penn Station, it was somewhat shocking how low the ceilings are and it is a very oppressive looking and dark place. It’s not particularly easy to navigate round when you’ve never set foot in the station and the signage SUCKS.
Now, I did have the awareness to buy a MetroCard from the machines before trying to find a train that would take me from Penn Station up to Times Square. I had a rudimentary map of the subway system and I knew that I wanted 1 train and after a bit of searching, I finally found a sign for the 1 train and went for it.
This is the thing the guides often neglect to tell you about navigating the subways. Just finding the number or letter of the train is not sufficient to find the proper platform. You need to also be aware of the directional indicator on the sign and what it actually means.
In this case, what I wanted was the red “1” bullet combined with “Uptown and The Bronx”. I discovered this thanks to a kind local whilst I was standing on the platform for the “Downtown and Brooklyn” 1 train and my sense of direction feeling kind of “off”. I also discovered the 18-minute MetroCard reader lockout when I tried to switch to the other platform so finally I just decided to hoof it from Penn Station to Times Square (which is about 8-10 blocks).
An interesting little bit of trivia that I learned when I stepped out of the station doors is that Madison Square Garden sits right on top of Penn Station. Maybe that’s why the ceilings are so low but I’ve since learned they’ve been meaning to replace Penn Station by gutting the old Post Office across the streets but still haven’t managed to pull it off even after decades of floating the idea.
After collecting my attractions pass, I made sure to find the right platform from Times Square which has about every subway connection imaginable and made my way to the NJ Transit platforms without further incident.
By the time I got to the hotel room, I was seriously ready for a bit of sleep after a very long and exhausting day…but a lovely day of going walkabout! 🙂