Monday was a sunny, but very cold day. We ate breakfast at a brunch place in Brooklyn, with various types of waffles.
We went to the Empire state building for a look, clear and could see for miles. We did the audio tour, which was cool, made the visit a bit more informative. It was one of the nicer days of our visit, which was a nice change to have climbing a tall building to lookout in decent weather, rather than clouds and rain.
We then made our way to The Metropolitan Museum of Art for the afternoon. We only had a few hours, and barely got around any of it. That is the one place I wish I had more time at, it was very interesting. We checked out the greek statues and art, the American wing, and some of the weapons wing, where they had full suits of armour, including horse armour.
A last walk through Central Park, then for dinner we went to Chelsea Market again. I found a vegan sushi place, where they had the most delishuz sushi… though I’m not sure if you can call it sushi when it has no seaweed or fish. It was very tasty, nonetheless. I also had tiny doughnuts again, with crazy flavoured sugar. I had cardamon, and apple flavoured sugars.
Our final stop was the Empire State Building again, this time in the dark. I definitely recommed it for anyone who goes to NYC, the view is amazing, with lights everywhere. Everywhere. All the buildings look so cool, and you can see the glow of Times Square. The crazy thing was we could see a line of lights in the distance, over the lower tip of Manhattan. It was a line of planes, we could see 7 of them, all in a row fading into the distance, and all, I assume, headed for JFK. The line kept moving, but was always there, a constant incoming of planes that were landing. This was about 9pm at night, and we must have seen at least 10 planes go past (it could have been more, I wasn’t counting). It was a bit ridiculous, just the sheer amount of planes that were landing.
There was a helicopter flying all around our hostel for ages. Maybe they were looking for someone. I couldn’t face packing, so we had all decided to go to bed, when we found out my brothers finacee has given birth to a cute tiny little baby (not actually tiny), so that was pretty exciting 🙂
Today we slept in, and eventually dressed, and went to Central Park. Via a hipster coffee shop, where we ate bagels. Then via Grand Central Station again, as I wanted another look. It was still huge.
We walked around all of Central Park. I’m not kidding, we walked from one end to the other, with various trails and meanderings in between. We popped out at about 86th ave at about 3pm where we grabbed a bagel for lunch from another good bagel shop, then we were right back into it. That was all we did all day. Dale mapped it, About 12kms. Unfortunately most of this post is pictures. Or fortunately, if you like looking at pictures.
We chased squirrels, climbed over rocks, followed pretty trails, and towards the end of the day we came across a whole bunch of people marching and chanting. In Spanish, I think, and I believe it was some kind of church group.
Some of the statues and stuff we had to wait a while to get a clear picture – at the Alice in Wonderland statue, we had to wait for a couple of kids to get off the statue, just for a moment, so we could get a picture. They seemed to think everyone wanted some random kids in their pictures. I appreciate they’re kids, and want to play, but just because I’m an adult now, doesn’t mean I don’t like playing too, doesn’t mean I don’t want to climb on the statue and get a picture. I’ve felt this in a few places, that the adults have to stand back, while the kids run around and play on stuff and have fun.. why aren’t the adults allowed to do that too? Just because we’ve grown up, that doesn’t mean we have to sit back and be boring and bored and not climb and explore and blow bubbles and have fun. I still like tree climbing and flying foxes and dancing around, why shouldn’t I be allowed to do that?
My favourite part was when we were walking down a random trail, and something fell out of the tree beside us. My first thought was, omg, why is a bird falling out of a tree?!, but it turns out it was two squirrels fighting, who fell maybe 6m, landed on the ground with an audible thump, and then they both jumped up and ran off. They looked a little stunned. Silly squirrels!
We rode the carousel – there has been a carousel in the park since 1871, I think the current one is the 4th one in the park, and the longest lasting. The first was powered by a horse and a mule, walking around under the carousel, out of sight. The next two were powered by steam, and the current one has been around since 1908. All the bits are hand carvved.
We awoke early again, subwayed into town, checking out some of the local street art on the way. It was another cool day, but I think rain was scheduled, so a good day to do inside stuff.
We headed straight up to the American Museum of Natural History. Then we spent all day there. It is Huge. 4 floors of massive displays. We didn’t get around it all. The dinosaurs were great, you only comprehend how big they actually are when standing next to the skeletons. Imagine a land where those things are wandering around. Crazy. Many of the intact skeletons they have there are from Alberta, in Canada, likely from near the badlands area.
So many of the displays were done well, like little windows into other parts of the world. The background is painted to blend in with the exhibit, they use the substrates that match – sand, dirt, bushes etc, they even make footprints and groom the ground to make it look natural.
The forest displays were pretty neat, as were the animals,….. The ocean displays were very cool, you entered a room with dim lighting, looking down from the upper tier, to the floor below. The roof has displays overhead, blue and ripply, like you are underwater. Hanging from the roof, diving into the room, is a massive model of a blue whale (life size, I assume). You wander around and check out the animals, my favourite of which was, in a dark corner, a sperm whale and a giant squid restling. Well, all that fits in the window is the head of the whale.
The day ended with us walking back through the Rockefeller Center and getting amazing Ben and Jerry’s icecream in a chocolate coated and chocolate hail dipped waffle cone.
The weather dawned bright and sunny, with a bit of a breeze. Our room is still stifiling hot – the central heating is all connected and stays the same temperature. We have had our window open constantly since we arrived, and it hasn’t cooled down. Outside is 2-3 degrees, inside must be over 20.
We did the usual getting ready and headed out on the subway. This time to the bottom of Manhattan, where we joined the masses going to Liberty Island. If you ever decide to go to NYC, and want to climb to the crown of the Miss Liberty, make sure you book it well in advance. Like three months. As soon as you know you’re going to NY. Currently it is booked out until the beginning of July.
We went through the serious security checks again, and had people telling us which line to get in. As if we can’t see. Take jackets, scarves, hats off, all bags through xray. Crazy. The island itself was patrolled by various army guys, armed with various large guns.
Instead of going to the crown, we wandered around the outside of the island, with the rest of the thousands of tourists. I was a little disappointed as we boarded the boat, but that is what you get for not planning far enough ahead. We’re doing pretty well so far, with our turn up on the day and see if it works way. I really did enjoy it, and all you would really get that is extra, is a view of the Manhattan skyline, for which there are many other buildings to climb anyway. The Statue of Liberty was lovely though, plenty of views of it, and they have an audio tour, which makes your walk much more interesting. Liberty is weathered green, and made of a thin copper sheeting, laid over a wrought iron frame. Mounted on a large stone pedestal, the money for the pedestal was entirely raised by the American Public.
After the tour, we stood shivering with the crowds until the boat came. We stopped over on Ellis Island for a bit, where the immigration museum is, had a brief look around, then took the boat back to Manhattan.
Back to our favourite subway again, and we headed uptown to Murray’s Bagels, where we ate some very delishuz bagels. I appreciated the customer service here too – many places aren’t rude, but arent exactly smiley or helpful either. Murray’s was smiley and helpful, and delishuz.
After eating all the bagels, subway-ed further uptown to a shoe shop, failed to buy shoes, and happened to go past Union Square, so we stopped for a look. It is apparently where everyone hangs out, just to sit, read, relax. It was bustling and cheerful, with squirrels in the trees, and some people filming something near one end, and a vege market going on down the other.
The last stop of the day was Times Square. We hopped off the subway at Times Square and 40th, and emerged onto the street. We always find it hard to get bearings when we get out of the subway – who knows which way is which! After getting our bearings, we found Broadway, and headed up it. Into the seething mass of humanity. It was ridiculous. Masses of people walking everywhere. Billboards all over everything,, advertising clothes, broadway shows, doughnuts. Lots of people dressed up as Disney characters etc, that trick you into getting your photo taken with them, then expect a tip. (NB: Don’t get your photo with the Batman or the Elmo hanging out at Times Square, not unless you want to pay them!).
We wandered up to the red stands, where we sat for a bit, watching the masses of people, and the constant stream of cars, that were mostly taxis.
In Canada (everywhere else but Vancouver), we liked to play the game of Truck. You watch the vehicles going past, and say what kind they are (When I say truck here, I mean ute, still a personal vehicle but often with a tray on the back, and often quite huge). It was usually: “Truck, truck, suv, truck, suv, truck, truck, oooh, a car! truck, truck, suv, truck truck…” Most vehicles seemed to be large utes. In NYC, the game turns into: “Taxi, taxi, HONK, taxi, car, taxi, taxi, service vehicle, taxi, HONK HONK, taxi, car, taxi, taxi”. And they’re all yellow. It is just like in the movies.
Lots of people trying to sell you stuff, especially tickets to comedy shows. I’m pretty sure there would be a catch though, like its booked out for the next week, or you could only go on off nights. We had no less than 4 different vendors try and sell us tickets. We didn’t buy any. Dale had to nom a burger from McD’s, then we headed home. Dinner was back near the hostel, in Brooklyn. Dale had scoped out some ideas he day before, so we headed to a place called Roberta’s, on Moore St. It doesn’t look like a restaurant. No signs, except for a the singular word “Roberta’s” hung above the door.
It looks like any other cheapish housing building in the area, and no indication that it is anything much, except a small group of people hanging out near it. A door stands open, and you enter through a red curtain, to be greeted with another plain, wood door. Through that is like another world. Dark and vibrant, there are people seated at all the tables, a few waiting for take away meals, and the pizza making crew working busily and precisely in the corner. We ordered a classic, the margarita. It was excellent pizza.
We had planned to go to the Natural History Museum today, but somehow our plans all got changed. We started by heading to downtown Manhattan, where we hopped off the subway near the World Trade Center Location.
We stopped to check if they had any space to check out the memorial (you need a day pass, which is free, but you have to be given a time to go in, as they are still constructing around it). They had space, so we started with that. We checked out the small church on the next block, St Paul’s Chapel. Built in 1764, and I think is the oldest surviving church in Manhattan. It survived the Trade Center attacks and subsequent building collapses (without even a broken window), and after, it acted as place of gathering and rest for volunteers and rescuers. The fences around the church were where many people left flowers, pictures, tokens as a memorial. After the fences were filled, church officials put up 15 panels for people to use, but in the end, they needed about 400 boards. Not a lot of memorials on the fences these days, but there are lots of people trying to sell you memorial books.
A small church, but a center of hope and support. The memorial site was interesting. They have the first three of the 7 buildings that are going back up, built, and they are glass paned and interesting. The new buildings are being erected in different places to the lost buildings. Where the original two towers used to be, there are now remembrance water features. Each is a square, sunk into the ground, with water flowing down the walls, across the floor, then down into a well in the center. Each well is surrounded by a wall with the names of all the victims on it.
The whole thing made me quite sad. So many people died.
After that, we headed across to a computer shop, where we purchased me a laptop. It didn’t take us long on our trip to realise we each needed our own laptop, but it took this long to find one that was appropriate, not too expensive, didn’t have to be posted, and didn’t require an American or Canadian credit card to buy. We stopped by Best Buy to get me a case, then headed far uptown to the Chelsea Market, for a gander and an eating of delishuz food. We had sandwiches from the Num Pang Sandwich shop, and donuts covered in fancy sugar (I had gingerbread, cranberry and sage sugar) while sitting next to an interesting water fountain.
Conveniently just outside was where the High Line started, so we climbed aboard and wandered along that. It is an old rail line, that runs along a couple of stories above the road level, that they have converted into a long park type place ,with trees, benches, flowers and grass. It was a little bare, what with it being only just spring, but there were a few crocuses poking their heads up in a few places. It was a good walk, nice to walk and see all the buildings, and to get the views down the New York Streets.
After the Highline, we decided on more shopping (I need to replace my running shoes), so we headed uptown even more. The subway is great. We popped up right next to Central Park, and checked out the local sports store. None of my shoes, but a guy who was very interested in us and where we have come from, and he definitely wanted my fox hat. I wouldn’t trade it though. They didn’t have my shoes, but it wasn’t a lost cause, as we headed straight into Central Park.
It is quite big. Also, within a few minutes of walking, I was surrounded by so many squirrels, I didn’t quite know what to do. At one point I counted 6 that I could view all at once. They weren’t particularly scared of people; I think they know people often have food, and a couple came right up close to me, if I threw them discarded bits of acorn. SO VERY CUTE.
That entertained me for a while, but eventually we walked through a little bit, encountering a few patches of snow, lots of squirrels, lots of nut carts, and a guy making massive bubbles. There are lots of statues, and we saw a few small lakes. I definitely intend to go back there, this time with my camera battery charged (I forgot to charge it last night, it died halfway through today. Bad Becca).
A subway ride all the way back to Brooklyn, where I summoned up enough energy to sort my new lappy out, and write a few blog posts.
We woke early, with some difficulty, breakfasted and showered, and left the hostel at 9am, with a big day planned.
We had scouted out all the different passes you can get for touristy stuff in New York (there are quite a few, and good deals), but we ended up buying the CityPass, which is entry to 6 tourist places for I think it was $109usd. It can be quicker to use the passes, you can often skip lines for tickets. The other was the New York Pass, which is twice the price for 5 days, but you can choose any up to 80 different attractions. We didn’t think we would have time for that/didn’t want to be that rushed.
The other useful purchase was the 7 day transit pass/card. All you can ride, for 7 days, for $30usd. Is great, we can
just come and go as we please, with no need to worry about buying tickets. Also useful, as we are staying a half hour
subway ride out of the city, in Brooklyn.
We had our first experience of the busy time on the subway – packed like sardines on a subway train. It was interesting, on the subway I saw so many people with actual books. In fact, most people were reading actual books, rather than e-readers.
We got off the subway, climbed stairs, and emerged, finally to New York City. How Exciting! All the subway trains have the USA flag on them.
We wandered down the road, marvelled at all the people, the tallness of the buildings, and the sheer amount of taxis, and came across St Patrick’s Cathedral. Ok, sounds good, I said. It is huge and amazing. I am not a church person in terms of religion, but man, they built some amazing buildings. They are currently cleaning the place up, so unfortunately much of it is covered in scaffolding, but the bits we could see were pretty amazing. Massive pillars, carvings on all the walls and grottos, massive stained glass windows, and great arching roofs. Lovely. The scaffolding was a little sad, but I guess they have to clean it up at some point.
Next we wandered down to the Rockefeller Centre, where we spent a bit of time trying to figure out if 30 Rockefeller Plaza
is an actual place… Turns out it is the main building. We wandered around the plaza, ice rink, Lego Store, and all the
We then headed over to the Museum of Modern Art, where we viewed many things, including Starry Night, by Van Gogh (one of
my favs), a number of works by Picasso, my favourites of which were the water lily walls and agapanthus flower.
It was very interesting, but we didn’t manage to see it all. It is like 6 floors and massive. The cafes have queues to get in, but are quite yummy. Also, tons of people. I guess tourists don’t care that it is mid week. Quite a line up to see the popular artworks, and some of the exhibitions were quite crowded.
After MOMA, we headed to the Rockefeller Center, where we zoomed very quickly up the lift to the top. Fastest lift I’ve ever been in. They had a full security check, with metal detector and bag xray, and security guards everywhere. It was starting to rain, but we still had a decent, if slightly misty, view of the NY Skyline in both directions: Central Park to the north, and Empire State to the South.
We zoomed back down the lift again, and headed off through the Rockefeller Plaza. Unsure what to do next, we came across a Ben and Jerrys, so I spent 10 minutes ummng and aahing over what I wanted. We shared a sugar coma inducing sundae, with masses of icecream, hot fudge sauce, and brownie. Yum. I think I was too distracted eating it, as I don’t seem to have any pictures.
We had a bit of time to kill, as we were going to a Broadway show in the evening (excite!!!). We headed over to the NY Public Library. Which is the fanciest library that I have ever seen. It is massive, and all marble and pillars and carved walls and sconces and fancy roofs… Took a while to find actual books, but the building itself is very impressive.
Next stop was Grand Central Station. And again, massive! So very, very, big. When we were in Vancouver a few days ago, we were in the Central Station there, where apparently the guy who built it was keen to imitate the Grand Central in NYC. He did manage that, if he was building a small model. Grand Central NYC..huge. and so very many people. People everywhere.
And 2 or 3 layers of trains. Who knows. We saw trains, then walked down and saw more trains. And people. Ridiculous.
We ate dinner in Grand Central, decent amounts of turkish.
Finally, to the best part of the day, back on the subway, and off to our Broadway Show! We had chosen to see Wicked, for various reasons. It has been on for 10 years, therefore must be good; visually pleasing; good reviews. and a NY type one.
It was marvellous, I really enjoyed it. The stage and setup was all very interesting, the costumes were wonderful and made me miss all the skirts and dresses I got rid of before I left NZ, and the story was great. I’m not sure how it compares to other Broadway shows, as I haven’t seen them, but this twas totally up to my expectations. All it really did was make me want to see all the rest of the shows.
Finally, another visit to the subway, then home and bed by 11pm. Eek.
4am does exist. I don’t think it should. Nor do I think I should have to get up then.
Up at 4, quick shower, dress, and lug all our stuff out the door. We booked our flights quite soon after we decided to go, so we booked an 8am flight. 8am seemed like a reasonable hour. Getting up to be at the airport 3 hours before for an 8am international flight is not so reasonable.
We managed to check in with the lady, after our online checkin didn’t work, then our kiosk check-in didn’t work. She took a while – the computer was going slow, but she was very lovely and helpful, especially for it being 5am in the morning. She even sorted our seats so we were sitting together instead of separate. I want to send her chocolates. After that, we had to go through security. Shoes off, belts off etc etc. Forgot that custard counts as liquid, found out after we had gone through security, so we had to go back one at a time and eat as much as we could, otherwise we would just have to throw it out. After eating, we then had to go through USA Customs. I was taking an orange through (I thought it would be ok, as it was an orange from the USA, but no siree, not good), so we ended up going through extra screening to make sure we didn’t have anything else. Also, because we had been on a farm, they had to go find our checked bags, get them from wherever they were waiting, bring them to the special screening place, then scan them again. We had to sit around a lot. Then they had to send the bags back off to the plane.
Finally made it through, to sit and wait for our plane. First flight was 3-4 hours. Tea and cookies, and we watched Top Gear.
Changeover in Minneapolis (everything was snowy), then onto a little plane to fly to Newark, New Jersey. It seems that so many planes go through Minneapolis on their way to other locations. On the plane I slept for a bit, coz just soooo tired (my travel pillow immediately proved its worth!). We arrived at Newark Airport on time. Dale’s bag arrived, my bag, and the snowboard bag didn’t. After being the only one waiting alone, forlornly, by the empty carousel, I asked baggage services. Luckily my bags were only an hour behind me, on the next flight. Better than the people ahead of us in line, whose bags weren’t arriving till the next day. The thought of wearing the same smelly travel clothes for a couple of days made me sad. They also gave us free food vouchers while we waited. I bought a salad, knowing I should eat some veges at some point. Bags finally arrived, and Dale got the snowboard bag and ran off with it, and some poor guy came and took it off us..coz it was actually his. Turns out we had exactly the same snowboard bag. Our one came out soon after
We had booked to fly into Newark when we thought we would be staying in Manhatan, which we didn’t; ended up staying in Brooklyn. It meant a bit of travel once we arrived. We caught a sky train, then another train, then another train, then another train, all the way through the city to Brooklyn, where we only had a 2 block walk to our hostel. We are staying at NY Loft Hostel, which is really quite nice, it is a bit more of an upmarket hostel, although the shower next to our room is a sad one.
We grabbed dinner from the mexican food cart around the corner, and it was filled with delishuz. We sat down to briefly plan the next day, before falling asleep.
We have 6 days in New York, and need to make sure we do all the things we want to!