bunny_hugger's brother pointed out we were in a great area, DUMBO, to wander around and take in sights (the acronym is for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, a label chosen in the late 70s to fend off developers by making the area sound less appealing), but she was worried that I would be too cold to wander around for long. He recommended a bar, though, and a candy shop, which were near enough.
I think with enough activity I wouldn't be cold, but, who would we be if we turned down the chance to get to a candy store? Other people, at least. The store didn't just have the normal array of bulk candies, though; it had a healthy number of reasonably exotic bulk candies, as well as rarer or harder-to-find or regional candies. Goo Goo Clusters, for example, which I haven't seen since ... I forget when, or Vallomilks, or non-vanilla flavored Charleston Chews. (By the way, I recommend Charleston Chews as giving a really good bulk-for-weight experience; it seems like you can chew them forever without consuming your whole 200 calories.) They even had some of the British import candies that are harder to find in the area, like Curly Wurly. I got a few candies, and bunny_hugger got the Swedish Fish and a few miscellaneous other candies to snack on for her flight back.
The bar which bunny_hugger's brother recommended was also nearby, and upstairs. It was dark, naturally, but the long wooden tables had regularly spaced candles, giving it a really charming atmosphere. bunny_hugger's brother has good taste in bars. bunny_hugger remembered here she'd forgotten to call her parents and tell them all was well, so she took the opportunity, and got into a long, strange conversation in which she tried to guide them through some issue with their iPod Shuffles. After a heroic effort at walking them through, bunny_hugger begged off, saying we had just enough time to get to the restaurant without being late, if the subway took about as long as her brother projected.
He underestimated the subway transit time by about fifteen minutes --- he figured it at a half-hour --- which might have been just the difference of catching connections since we had to make two of them, unfortunately. But what really killed us was trying to find the subway again. I suppose my relative lack of out-of-Manhattan experience showed here because I expected the subway station to have some kind of marker or signage or indication that it existed which stood out in some way. Or maybe have a sign pointing to it. Something. I remembered what street it was on, but we walked away from the river way too far without finding it. I took out my iPad, and found where it reported the subway entrance was, and it was supposedly on the block where we were. While bunny_hugger got updates from her brother --- he was going to be late, mercifully cancelling much of our lateness --- on the phone, I lead her back and forth over the area where Google Maps clearly had the subway icon and there wasn't any hint of ever being able to get below street level.
There was a shuttle bus coming to a stop near us, so I asked the driver and got directions which took us to a spot which looked familiar, although that might've just been from wandering back and forth so much. There we still weren't having success, so I asked another pedestrian and got pointed right at the station. We had walked right past it on the other side of the road, and might have had some chance of spotting it, inadequately signed as it was, if there weren't a food vendor's stand outside obstructing the view.
So. We got to the appropriate destination station horribly late, and hoped we could set off in the right direction at least, although I managed to lead us in exactly the wrong direction. But we'd checked on the roads we should cross before leaving the station, so we caught it at the first intersection, and got to the restaurant. It was a tiny restaurant, about four feet by eight feet, and packed; the wait for a three-person table was estimated at a half-hour, and this would be an underestimate.
Her brother arrived after a reasonable time, bringing with him bunny_hugger's suitcase, as well as real actual vinyl records of his band's new album. She had thought we might go back to his place to get her luggage before returning home, but he thought this was more practical. We had more time to wait, which meant that while we were able to get two seats at the bar, and a guacamole-and-chips appetizer, we weren't all able to sit and with the luggage and my messenger bag we made an awkward traffic obstruction without meaning to inconvenience anyone.
But we did finally get seated, at the end of a long table, and bunny_hugger's brother ran into the owner while he went back to the bathroom and they were friends from back when the restaurant was in its old, smaller location. The owner was so glad to see him that he comped us for a round of drinks. bunny_hugger reports this happens wherever she goes with her brother, at least in Brooklyn; it's quite easy to believe. He's the sort of person who knows everyone, and if he doesn't, everybody still thinks they know him.
We had a great time, although her brother was feeling a little sick, possibly from something he'd eaten, possibly from the sudden relaxation of stress after all the work for his band's concert the previous night and their recent album release. Hard to say, but he carried on pretty well and didn't pass out at any time. We also followed his advice about what to order, so had a great dinner.
After several hours just being together, her brother needed to get back home and recuperate. He promised to lead us to a bar where there was a playable Skee-Ball alley, so that even if we didn't choose to drink there was still Skee. We weren't particularly interested in that, but he was enthusiastic about this, so we agreed to it, and he lead us directly back to the subway station, forgetting the Skee-Ball-enhanced bar. You know what it's like.
There was an unexpected and fun surprise while waiting for our train: there was an actual, certifiable rat wandering around the tracks. New York City has the reputation for having an infinite set of gigantic rats, but if you go by actual sitings, there's really not so many out there, and this one going about his or her business drew appreciative views not just from us but from all the folks waiting at the platform.
Since we needed just to get back to the Port Authority we only had the one subway transfer this time. The transfer was nevertheless complicated because of track repairs: we wanted, I believe, either the number 2 or 3 train, which wasn't running, but the number 4 and 5 trains were, to all the 2 and 3 stations. But the 4 and 5 weren't running from the tracks for 4 and 5; they were instead running on the 2 and 3 tracks. The important result of this was we ended up going back and forth around the Fulton Street station, confused.
All this got us back home --- well, to my home --- somewhere very close to the time change. We had, sadly, missed the chance to have birthday cake with my parents, but we'd find time for that Sunday, surely.
Trivia: New York City's Rapid Transit Commission opened bidding for subway construction franchises on 13 November 1899. Source: 722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York, Clifton Hood.
Currently Reading: From Sails To Satellites: The Origin And Development Of Navigational Science, J E D Williams.