I’m writing this from the Long Island Rail Road, the “fastest route from JFK airport to Manhattan” according to the airport AirTrain system. The LIRR reminds me of the train to Heathrow in London. Its the view of the hundred year old suburbs, the row houses, the occasional abandoned industrial building that reminds me so much of that sprawl outside London There’s the same brick buildings, both turn of the century and post-war, that you see in the London suburbs alongside the tracks. The trees are dedicuous, bright green and some actually look to be more than fify years old. London, or Philadelphia, I suppose, someplace more like the English capital and less like an English village.

I am on my own today, no Ben, no Paul. I am on my first real vacation to New York. Every other trip has been for work, and only once have I managed to steal an extra day to visit friends and family, and to actually see the city. Hence why i am on the train and not in a car with a driver. When I am on my own dime, and my own time, I will learn a local public transit system. I actually enjoy doing that. I like the challenge of having to learn place names, landmarks the geographical refererences of a new city.

So here i am on the Long Island Railroad, which sounds like it should be one of the properties on a Monopoly board. I imagine commuters taking this same train fifty years ago, going to Penn Station, at the tail end of the business migration from downtown to Midtown. I will arrive at Penn Station and, thankfully, hop on a subway and not go to work. Three days in NYC, three days of exploring. I am so happy.

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