3 September - New York
We set off at 7.30 am on this Saturday morning for Grand Central Station. Downstairs we had a quick breakfast in the food hall. We then boarded the shuttle service between Grand Central and Times Square. Train line 7 or the shuttle would have done but we found the shuttle first. We didn't actually go into Times Square, but we'll visit there soon. We instead walked along 42nd Street to the Port Authority Building where we had to catch our bus to the Woodbury Factory Outlet Mall in New Jersey, a bit over an hour north of New York by road.
We booked online and our Hotel Concierge had printed our voucher for us. We followed the instructions on it and went to the fourth floor to collect our tickets. We were rudely told by a "lady" there we needed tickets not a voucher. This was the bus departure point and we would not be on it without tickets which we had to collect from the first floor. As we went from ticket office to ticket office, yes we encountered three or four of them, we met up with other travellers and even a local lady stuck in the same situation.
The voucher clearly said it was valid only for the departure at 9 am and the return trip at 4.45 pm. It was two minutes to 9 by the time we found the right ticket office and the line went out the door of the office with 20+ people ahead of us. It was looking grim for a while but we felt we had done nothing wrong and collectively we argued our case to be issued tickets for the next bus. Ultimately we were successful and as it turned out it was Grayline Coaches that were the bad guys here and they were the agents. The actual company that ran the buses was far more easy going and understanding.
So off we went and had a busy day shopping. There was a lot of people there. Some stores you had to line up to get into. Many items are much cheaper than back home and judging by the crowd, they were much cheaper than anywhere else nearby too. Finding a table in the food hall for lunch involved finding some people who were nearly finished eating and waiting for them to move on. Crazy.
We arrived at the departure point for the return bus at 4.30 pm and waited for over an hour for a bus to arrive. We were at the front of the line having just missed an earlier bus. By the time we boarded the line was over 100 metres long. It was going to take a lot of buses to clear that. We bought a new suitcase whilst we were there and were able to fit most of our purchases into that. Late afternoon was clearly a popular departure time, even though the mall was open till 9 pm. It took the bus 30 minutes to get out of the car park.
We finally got back to our hotel just before 8 pm. Simone called and wished me a happy Father's Day and sent me a picture of her engagement ring. With the 14 hour time difference it was still Saturday night here. We went out for a late evening meal and not long after we got back Bronwyn also called and wished me a happy Father's Day.