The trip up was irritating because Amtrak appears to be trying to make the airlines look communicative. Hint: there is such a thing as a public address system. If a train is delayed, it might be more effective to use that to tell people than to have someone come out and tell the 5 people at the head of the line, relying on them to relay the information to the hundreds of people lined up nearly all the way to the entrance to the station. And if people have somehow heard that the delay is 10-15 minutes, you might consider making another update sometime before 40 minutes have gone by. In the end, we were about an hour and a half late. Fortunately, my hotel was close to Penn Station, so I could collapse once I got there.
As for the tour, much of it is really about seeing old friends (and meeting new ones). I mentioned lots of food as part of the deal and this year’s version started with Smorgasburg, a large array of food stalls set up in a park in Williamsburg. Somebody had told me there is a place that sometimes has pastrami dumplings (something that sounds amazing), but they did not appear to be there this week. I was also disappointed that the place that makes sandwich rolls with scallion pancakes was not yet open when we got there. There were, however, plenty of options and I started with Home Frites where I got frites (duh) with chipotle ranch sauce. They were good, but the portion was too large and I’d have been happy with half as much. That cut into my other grazing, which was limited to a plate of teriyaki balls from Mimi and Coco’s. Those were kind of mixed – the more gingery bits were very good, but the ginger was unevenly distributed and the sauce was too salty. Finally, it was hot enough out that ice cream was essential and I tried Blue Marble’s strawberry, which I’d give a B+ to. All in all, it was a good lunch stop and I was glad that I had limited my breakfast to a single bagel.
I will probably get our various touring out of order. We were supposed to go to Green-Wood Cemetery, but they don’t allow tours and even our van drew their wrath. We still had to put up with someone asking if there was stiff competition for gravesites. We also went to Coney Island, where we walked around a bit. One person wanted to ride the Cyclone, but it was shut down with a car stuck. Apparently, passengers had had to climb off. We also drove around Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Crown Heights, Prospect Park, and various other neighborhoods. We were supposed to have a rest stop at a Starbucks, but they were renovating and had no toilets available. A nearby bar served a similar purpose. Eventually, we had a dinner stop for pizza at L&B Spumoni Gardens. That was followed by a bakery stop. Finally, we watched the sun set over Manhattan from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
All in all, it was a good, albeit tiring, day.
The Jewish Genealogical Society of New York was having a talk I was interested in on Sunday afternoon, so I used the time before that to attempt a little research. But I mostly learned that I was already doing the right sorts of things. The talk had to do with Jews and the liquor industry in Poland and Lithuania. There are some tavern keepers connected to part of my Lithuanian family (though they are far outnumbered by tailors and cucumber farmers), so there is some immediate relevance. After the talk, I had time to pick up some Jewish soul food (brisket sandwich and kasha knish) at Ben’s to provide supper on the train home. That train was also delayed (though only maybe 10-15 minutes), with minimal information provided. I was, however, able to nap a little bit on the train, though I still pretty much collapsed as soon as I got home.