That meant we had to make the journey from New York to New Jersey, by train. It involved the underground, or as New Yorkers call it, the subway, from Columbus Circle which by any other name was really, 80th street, to 34th street which apparently was the New Jersey jump-off point for us to get overground, well a lot of it was overground. So, were we going uptown or downtown?
Apparently, it was downtown, and to 34th Street on the A train.
You would not think this to be a difficult task, but for people not used to the subway, and where they were going other than some internet-derived instructions, without the help of a man at the station, just getting tickets may have stopped us dead in our tracks. With his help, we determined the return fare for the three of us and then get through the turnstile onto the platform.
We get on the A train, but soon discover it was not stopping at all stations. There was for a few minutes, a little apprehension we might just simply bypass our station. Luckily we did not.
Now, finding your way to the New Jersey transit part of Penn station might appear to be easy, on paper, but once there, on the ground, and mingling with the other passengers which all seemed to be purpose going somewhere, it took a few moments to realize we had to follow the New Jersey transit signs.
This led to a booking hall where luckily we realized we needed to buy more tickets, then find the appropriate platform, and then get on the right train, all of which, in the end, was not difficult at all.
Maybe on the return trip, it might be.
At Newark Penn station it was momentarily confusing because the exit was not readily in sight, so it was a case of following the majority of other passengers who’d gotten off the train.
This led us to exit onto the street under the train tracks. Luckily, having been before to Prudential Stadium to buy the tickets, we knew what the stadium looked like and roughly where it was, so it was a simple task to walk towards it.
We were early, so it was a case of finding a restaurant to get dinner before the game. So was a great many others, and we passed about 6 different restaurants that looked full to overflowing before we stopped at one called Novelty Burger and Bar.
It looked inviting, and it was not crowded.
It was yet another excuse to have a hamburger and beer, both of which seemed to be a specialty in America. I could not fault either.
And soon after we arrived, this restaurant too was full to overflowing. Thankfully there were other Maple Leaf fans there because being in a room full of opposition team supporters can be quite harrowing.
That was yet to come when we finally got to the stadium. I was not expecting a lot of Maple Leaf fans.
We went to this game with high hopes. New Jersey Devils were not exactly at the top of the leaderboard, and coming off the loss in Toronto, this was make or break for whether we would ever go to another game.
It’s remarkable that all the Ice Hockey stadiums are the same. Everyone has an excellent view of the game, the sound systems are loud, and the fans are passionate. Here it seems to be a thing to ride on the Zambonis.
At the front door, they were handing out figurines of a Devil’s past player, and it seems a thing that you get a handout of some sort at each game. At Toronto we got towels. And, finally, we were in luck.
The Maple Leafs won.
And it was an odd feeling to know that even though their team lost, there did not seem to be any rancour amount the fans and that any expectation of being assaulted by losing fans was totally unfounded, unlike some sporting events I’ve been to.
Perhaps soccer should take a leaf out of the ice hockey playbook.
That also went for taking public transport late at night. I did not have any fears about doing so, which is more than I can say about travelling at night on our own transport system back home.
Oh, and by the way, there are train conductors who still come to every passenger to collect or stamp their tickets. No trusting the passenger has paid for his trip here. And, if you don’t have a ticket, I have it on good authority they throw you off the train and into the swamp. Good thing then, we had tickets.
It was, all in all, a really great day.