Albany, NY's Madison Ave and surrounding areas.
This is a gorgeous park with several historic buildings, including a lovely playhouse on a small man-made pond. No the western end of the park lies a set of high priced and historic houses with massive expanses of lawn, while the eastern side borders on the heart of downtown Albany. A must-hit spot when visiting the City.
A small park lies behind the State Capitol building. Aside from being a nice park, it is surrounded by the Alfred E. Smith Building, One Commerce Plaza, the State Education Building, and Empire Plaza. All of these are large buildings employing many state workers. This results in a broad and tasty variety of high-calorie grease pit lunch trucks showing up around the park. When I'm off from work on a weekday, I tend to try and hit those.
Old School McD's
I'm not much for McDonald's, but once in awhile, I need a "sacred cow patty", and that's where I turn. This McDonald's offers something more though- the exterior design dates back to the fifties, with large amounts of neon lighting and chrome on the exterior, it breaks the mold of America's favorite cookie-cutter fast-food chain.
Pepsi Arena? Not really.
This used to be the Knickerbocker Arena, so named because of the Knickerbocker Dutch heritage in the area- Albany being a 1600's era Dutch fort. In the rush to profit along with all the other stadiums, the naming rights were sold to Pepsi- but those rights expire in the near future, and rumor has it that Pepsi won't renew. What will it be named a year from now?
Astronaut Ice Cream
This is the New York State Museum. There's a reccomended donation, but it is free- but you're a jerk if you don't pay.
I don't pay sometimes- but only when I run into the gift shop to pick up some astronaut ice cream. I love that crap. Oh, and there's a Subway Sandwich place up top- but ASTRONAUT ICE CREAM.
This intersection is pretty hairy- though you don't see that on the map. There's five roads hitting this intersection, as well as a gas station that has exits onto two of them- it's pretty confusing, and more than a little dangerous. Use caution.
This is the end of Madison Ave., where it joins with Western. This is a good way to get from Guilderland/Colonie areas into downtown around rush hour. Yeah, there's traffic lights, but there's a lot less people. It's slightly slower than the highway, but a lot less frustration.
Okay, listen, a lot of people who are trying to get to Madison Ave. take 787 and take the Madison Ave. exit- makes sense, right? Not really- that area around the exit is a snarl and a traffic nightmare. Instead of the exit for Madison Ave., try the exit for Empire Plaza. It's well marked, and it brings you around into the Empire Plaza underground parking area. Follow around till you hit the horseshoe at the far end, loop back under the Plaza, and take the last right before you go back outside. Go through the little archway, and you'll get dropped out on Madison Ave., past a bunch of lights and hazardous Downtown-Center Traffic.
This Price Chopper supermarket is "affectionately" known as the Ghetto Chopper. Sitting on the border between where all the college kids live, as well as the higher-end-of-the-low-income neighborhoods, it gets a colorful mix of... interesting people. And it smells funny.
Getting onto 787
This little horseshoe is part of my commute every day. It's the quickest way onto 787 from my part of Madison- if people COULD DRIVE. Unfortunately, you get assholes that don't know how to drive, and a yield sign that doesn't belong there.
Folks, the people coming around the horseshoe have one lane. The people merging on get a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT LANE. You don't need a full three car-lengths before you attempt to get on, the tiniest gap between cars is good enough.