Yankee Stadium great aside from the subway home .. Z hotel Long Island City
I covered a lot of games at the old (not original, but the version that was recently torn down for the NEWEST new version) Yankee Stadium. And it was pretty cool.
I hated to see that one go, and I realize the new version is awfully high end and super expensive, but it's a fun place to watch a ballgame. I bought a pair of tickets for $100 each for my son and I last weekend, and that got us the 14th row in the second deck a bit past third base. Not quite prime seating, but a good view of the whole ballpark and, thankfully for a summer's visit, some shade. At a price.
They've kept the old, white arches-style from the old ballpark, with a huge ring of them on the upper deck. You can see the monuments to the former stars out behind centre field, but I'm not sure if they're as visible as they used to be.
The food was quite good, with a great variety. We had some Carolina pulled pork from Brother Jimmy's bbq (I couldn't resist the name) and a couple of large Stella Artois. The price? Just $44. Ahem.
I think the Italian sausages were $8, but they come with sauteed peppers and onions so that seemed reasonable.
The cheapest part of the day was the subway ride from lower Manhattan and back. It's $2.25 for the subway in Manhattan, and it's a breeze as the new park is maybe 50 meters from the 161st St. stop on the four, B and D trains. Going up was fine, as people arrive at different times. Going home, on the other hand, is crazy.
Making matters worse is that I had bought a MetroCard, hoping to save time and effort of paying cash fares all the time. But the damned thing hardly ever worked. The magnetic stripe readers don't seem to get the signal, and my card kept getting refused, even when I had plenty of money left on it.
My card was refused again at Yankee Stadium on the way home. Even though we had dawdled a bit on the way out listening to the refrains of Sinatra singing "New York, New York" there was a crush of fans trying to get onto the subway. Because my card wouldn't work, I had to join a lineup of about 30 people needing to pay cash fare. And there was only guy working at the entrance we were at, and it was hot and crowded and he was NOT in a good mood and was not working real fast.
I looked around and couldn't find a machine to dispense the Metro cards. They have the machines all over at other subway stops, but I didn't see one at Yankee Stadium, one of the busier stops in the city before or after a game I'd think. Crazy.
Anyway, at least the crowds were gone by the time we got on the four train headed south, and we rode in style and comfort. Thank goodness for the NYC air conditioned - and clean - subway cars. Folks who didn't visit the city in the 1980s probably have no idea what the subway was like in those days. Absolute filth doesn't begin to describe it, from my memory. Graffiti everywhere and dirty, smeared windows and garbage and probably not much air conditioning, as I recall. A far cry from today. It's still hot as blazes as you wait on the platforms and traverse the stairs and walkways between train lines, but at least the cars are cool and comfortable.
We got in late on Thursday of last week and stayed the night at the Z Hotel in Long Island City. It's a fairly new spot we featured briefly last year in Star Travel in a story on new hotels in the "suburbs" or Manhattan.
This one is in Queens, maybe four blocks from the East River, with an absolutely breathtaking view of Manhattan and the Queensborough/RFK/59th St. Bridge. All the rooms face out to the river and the city, although views up higher are presumably a little better. We were on the ninth floor and the rooms have floor to ceiling windows, so it's QUITE something.
My son has been around a fair bit, but he took one look and said, "Holy s---."
The rooms have free wifi and calls to anywhere in the world also are free. They also have iPod docks and LCD TV's and a lot more, including free bikes and free, hourly rides into Manhattan. It only takes a few minutes to get over the bridge and into town, and the shuttle goes to 59th St. and Lexington Ave., near Bloomingdale's and next to the subway. Central Park is three blocks away, and Rockefeller Center is only a few blocks past that, so it's a great place to get dropped off.
The front desk folks were nice, but they didn't tell us about the shuttle or much else about the hotel.
There's a wonderful view from the bar on the rooftop, with more awesome views (see the morning photo above). Drinks were $12, which is fair and a lot cheaper than fancy joints in Manhattan. It was fairly quiet up there but the bartender told me he's a month into the job and still not tired of the nightly light show from across the river.
The room we had was small but fine, with an illustration of Billie Holiday on the wall and some cool, funky light fixtures. There also was a steel storage contraption in the corner with some magazines and a purple construction helmet. Why, I have no idea.
The neighourhood is said to be improving but you're basically staying in what looks like industrial Leaside, with transmission shops and such all around. The other real downside to me was the food downstairs at the lounge/diner. It's done up nicely with a library/Paris kind of feel to it. The $10 hot breakfast buffet was quite good, but at dinner it took a half hour for the kitchen to deliver up some very mediocre hamburgers. Disappointing, for sure.
Still, it's not a bad alternative for folks on a budget or looking for something a little different. And you won't find a view like this in Manhattan.
Rooms in mid-August today were listed from $165 to $260, and weekdays seemed cheaper than weekends. Which is a reverse from most Manhattan hotels that are more business dependent. So this might be a good place for a weekday visit for folks on a budget. You surely won't find a place this nice - despite its faults - for $165 on a weeknight in Manhattan.