As a kid, “Sesame Street” was one of my favourite TV shows. However, it’s not the stories or the characters (though my fave is Cookie Monster) that made me such an ardent fan. Rather, it’s the idea of a close-knit community where everyone knows and are friendly with each other, as well as the ambience and the infrastructure (buildings designed with a mix of old-school style and eclecticism) of the “neighbourhood” that I was drawn to. It’s only much later that I found out online that “Sesame Street” was a fictional street set in NYC. Adding in the influence from other TV shows (Friends, Sex and the City, 30 Rock) and movies, NYC became a top destination in my list of “must-go” places.
Image from “Daily Mail”
2 weeks ago, the dream of visiting the Big Apple came true!! *excited* Had also included Washington DC and Niagara Falls in the mix. Might as well. In total, we had spent 11 days in all 3 places, with majority of the time (1 week) in NYC.
So I’m gonna categorised our travelogue into key places visited in each day. Towards the end of the trip, we didn’t really have a plan but to re-visit some of the earlier places just to check out more attractions and food. Given the amount and variety of food we had tried, that would likely be a separate entry.
After some 17 hours of flight time and near 2 hours overlay at Dubai, we had arrived at JFK International feeling like crap. I had managed to catch some sleep now and then but it wasn’t the restful kind of sleep.
To worsen my already foul mood from the lack of sleep, the immigration clearance at JFK was horrendously slow, and frankly, by far the worst I had encountered. Arrgh… We were stuck in the same queue as passengers with travel visas. Essentially, they had lumped everyone that requires an ESTA, even though your passport does not require a travel visa, in the same queue. There were easily 100 plus passengers in the queue and so few counters.
There was a counter specifically for people who require assistance. I’d noticed the same number of passengers, all of them in wheelchairs, and there were not that many by the way, stuck in the line for more than 30 mins!! It appeared that each passenger had taken around 20 mins (or more) to be processed. What’s going on, man?
Can you believe that we had managed to clear immigration near 2 hours after our flight had arrived?? This is just ridiculous. At the baggage claim belt, our bags were already removed and placed at the side. Given the inefficiency of the immigration clearance process, I would suggest to allow ample buffer time before your next appointment after touch-down.
Now that we’re done with all these procedures, let’s search for the AirTrain JFK station. The AirTrain JFK will stop at Jamaica Station. After that, you can opt for the express train (LIRR) or the normal service (MTA subway) to get to Manhattan, which is where we had stayed. The AirTrain JKF is free so you don’t pay anything at the airport until you reach Jamaica Station where you would then buy a ticket for the connecting ride. The cost and travel time of the LIRR is US$15.50 and 35mins, whereas the MTA Subway is US$7.50 and 50mins. We’re not in a hurry so we’re good with the normal service.
You can buy the metro card at the machines at Jamaica Station or the “Metro News” stand just across these machines. Think there is an unlimited 7-day card at US$30 (if I recall correctly) which would be good for those who would be there for that duration. Unfortunately, our week in NYC was interspersed with DC and Niagara Falls so we didn’t get the unlimited 7-day card cos it would expire while we’re in Niagara Falls.
Each trip is a standard US$2.50 regardless of the number of stations in between. In comparison, taking the MRT in Singapore would require one to tap the card (EZ Link) at point of entry and exit, and the appropriate fare would be deducted at the latter. Since most of the key attractions planned were within walking distance, we chose to walk where possible. The pedometer on my handphone had clocked between 16,000 to 20,000 steps per day. No way I would have walked that much back home.
The subway train is a little smaller than I had expected, and not as scary as how they had been portrayed in TV shows/movies. You know, like muggings at knifepoint or gun in broad daylight, hoodlums dancing or rapping/ singling along the loud music blasting from their boomboxes (Gosh, I must be stuck in the 80s) or taunting passengers on the train… I am not saying these don’t happen. Just that we never encountered any of these during our trip, thank goodness.
The subway stations reminded me of those in Paris. Lots of steps (a nightmare for people with huge luggage), very few elevators, old, worn-down and dirty, often reeked of pee. Eeww…
Hotels in Manhattan, depending on which part of the city, are expensive. On hindsight, we could have searched in the Airbnb too. Maybe next time in our next vacation. After ploughing through reviews in Trip Advisor and other websites, cross-comparing prices, checking proximity to the subway/train station and to key attractions in town but still not too shabby, we had settled for Herald Square in mid-Manhattan (19 W31 St), which is also very near to “Little Korea”.
Similar to the subway station, the hotel reminded us of the one we had stayed in Paris. For the first 4 days, before we had checked out to go to Niagara Falls, we were given the room at the top floor (9th floor). The room was not that big but it was clean and decent. The bed is queen-sized but very soft. We didn’t know that was the biggest room in the hotel until after we had checked in twice- once after returning from Niagara Falls and the other from DC- where our rooms got smaller after each check-in.
After we had settled down and freshened up a little, it’s time to head towards our first destination- Chelsea Market.
Chelsea Market is quite a distance to walk from our hotel so we took the subway Line A (or C, E, 1, 2 and 3) from 34 St station to 14 St station.
One of my friends had highly recommended the lobster at Chelsea Market. His exact words were to just go for the lobster first and then check out the other things. After I told the hubby that, he was fixated in attacking the lobster. There’s nothing else on his mind except the lobster.
To get your lobster and other seafood fix, “The Lobster Place” is the place to go. It is like a marketplace for seafood. There’s also pre-packed sushi and soups. The lobster section is right behind. There are 3 sizes which you can choose the lobster of your preference or have the guy pick one for you, and they would prepare it on the spot. We chose the 2lb (around 900g) North Atlantic lobster at US$40.35 (S$52).
The lobsters displayed were actually pre-steamed so they can be “flash-steamed” just before serving. Nonetheless, the lobster tasted very fresh and so juicy. The stoned feeling after the long flight had affected my appetite. That means the hubby had more of the lobster to enjoy and I’m sure he isn’t complaining. Haha..
Now that we had settled what we had considered as the first thing to do at Chelsea Market, it’s time to visit the market proper. Initially, I’d thought Chelsea Market is like a farmers market of sorts and set outdoors. The shops and restaurants are actually within an air-conditioned building.
It’s not really a farmers market but more of a mix of restaurants/eateries and various shops selling food items like spices, teas, chocolates, candies, baked goodies etc.
These cupcakes from Ruthy’s Bakery looked too cute to be eaten. So cute that many people, including myself, had to snap a few pics of them. A good thing is, nobody seem to mind if pictures are taken. Am sure in a city like NY, if people do mind, they won’t hesitate to tell you.
There’s a stall (“The Filling Station”) that sells different types of oils, vinegar, salt/seasonings and craft beers. The vinegar are stored in those metal containers with dispensers at the bottom and little paper cups at the side for sampling. I had a field day sampling different vinegar. Heh, but I am not a free loader. I got a 200ml bottle of white truffle oil at US$24 (S$31). Perfect for the gazillion packs of Israeli couscous bought in this trip.
The next place of interest would be Times Square so we had hopped on the subway from 14 St station via Line 1, 2 or 3 to 42 St station. While planning the itinerary, I was initially confused over the naming of these stations (“how come some of them are named after the street number?”). Yup, they are. Do find a city map with the subway stations and lines (a mix of alphabets and numbers which seem confusing but it’s really not that bad) plotted on the various locations.
While NYC has its charming neighbourhoods, Times Square is like the heartbeat of the city with the bright lights and dazzling colours from the numerous ginormous billboards and video screens, tons of people including tourists (evident from the photo-taking and the maps in hand), street buskers and those in costumes of superheroes or cartoon characters which you can pose with for a picture, with a tip of course.
On the risqué side of things, these ladies are certainly bold enough to strut around in their birthday suits with parts of the American flag painted over certain “strategic” spots.
Food carts selling hot dogs, pretzels, falafel, kebabs, nuts and drinks are a common sight in NYC. There is a food cart at every corner and street. I’d see people grabbing something from these carts and eat as they are on the go. For those not rushing for time, they would consume their food at a nearby park or bench.
Gary was tempted to get a hotdog from one of these carts. He’s like, how can you not eat a hot dog in NY? Hmm, ok. But the stories he had read and heard about the unhealthiness of hot dogs had put him off such that for a rare moment, he didn’t succumb to the temptation. Wow, he must have read some heavy shit about these dogs cos he’s usually very dismissive of these stories. However, he did get a lamb gyro from a food cart near our hotel on our last day.
In a mad-crowded place like Times Square, you’d definitely need the cops to be patrolling around, not especially with the latest ISIS threats of retaliation and what not. These cannot be taken lightly. Somehow, these cops on horses had also “double-hat” as a “mascot” for the city evident by the many tourists, including ourselves, who had taken photos with them. Hopefully, they are not distracted by all this attention that they lose paying attention themselves? :/
Knowing that we would be tired from the long flight, we had decided to take it easy on our first day and not load ourselves with too many areas of interest. After dinner, we had decided to call it a day. By 8pm, we were feeling totally drained, largely due to the jet lag.
After a good 9 hours of sleep, I am feeling a lot better and ready to start our day. After a quick bite at a nearby diner, we started our journey along 5th Ave, starting with the Empire State Building.
Of all the skyscrapers in NYC, the Empire State Building is a major icon. It is after all THE building which King Kong had scaled. Haha. But we didn’t go up cos one of my colleagues, who had studied in NY, had recommended we go up the Rockefeller Centre instead. She said the grills at the top of the Empire State Building would affect taking pictures of the view.
Next, we walked along to the NY Public Library, recognisable by the 2 lion sculptures at the entrance. Not quite visible in the picture below. We had stepped in briefly but didn’t spend much time in there. There’s quite a bit to cover today.
Lunch was planned to be at the “The Oyster Bar” in the Grand Central Terminal. As mentioned earlier, food reviews would be in a separate entry so I won’t talk about what we had for lunch. From the NY Public Library, we resumed walking along 5th Ave and then turn right along W42nd St.
The Grand Central Terminal is more than just a train station. There are some retail shops, a food court at the lower floor and some restaurants. Heh, there’s even a restaurant by the famous basketball player, Michael Jordan, called “Michael Jordan’s The Steak House NYC”. Usually a restaurant, that’s opened or endorsed by a public figure/celebrity, would have images or anything to do with that celebrity right? Like “Kenny Rogers Roasters”. The restaurant has more pictures of the bearded country singer than the chickens. Strangely, the Michael Jordan’s restaurant devoid any of these.
There’s also a market in the terminal. Ooh, I love to visit markets! The variety of items in the market includes fresh produce (vegetables, fruits), meat, dry goods, bread, cheeses and many other stuff.
After spending some time at the Grand Central Terminal, it’s time to move on to the Rockefeller Centre. We had turned back from W42nd St towards 5th Ave again and continue upwards till between the 48th and 51st Sts.
Being a fan of “30 Rock”, Rockefeller Centre cannot be missed. I can’t explain the excitement over seeing familiar parts of the building featured in the show, even if they are just brief shots. For example, the statue of Atlas and the bronze sculpture of Prometheus. Sigh, I missed “30 Rock”.
Another show which I miss, and would often watch reruns of it, is “Friends”. Can’t contain my excitement (again) when I saw these merchandise of “Friends” in the NBC store. So tempted to get one of those T-shirts with classic lines (Joey’s “How you doin?” and the hilarious sofa pivot scene where Ross was barking “Pivot!” to his friends in their attempt to deliver his new couch along the narrow stairway to his unit) or features (“Smelly Cat” and “Central Perk”) of the show. I didn’t get it in the end. On a separate note, seeing these “Friends” merchandise had inspired me to search online for the location of the “Friends” building. Would get to that later.
To catch one of these late-night talk shows, you need to reserve the tickets way earlier. Probably several weeks in advance.
The final highlight is the visit to the “Top of the Rock Observation Deck”. During the peak season, it’s advisable to purchase the tickets online. We decided to take a chance and were lucky that there wasn’t much of a queue.
It’s pretty cold up there and the wind’s turning my hair into a crazy mess. But, omg, the view IS spectacular. Do spend some time taking in the scenery of NYC. I would love to do that if it wasn’t so freaking cold. Brrr..
You can also go for the Radio City Music Hall tour and NBC tour. Think in “30 Rock”, it was Kenneth Parcell the page who had led the NBC tour. Anyway, we didn’t go for either tours.
Alrighty, that’s it for Day 2. By the end of the day, our feet were aching mad. Lying in bed after a warm shower had never felt so good…
Rise and shine! Another day of sightseeing! We had woken up earlier to take the Staten ferry. The main purpose is to catch a glimpse of the iconic Statue of Liberty. There are cruises and tours that would take your directly to the statue as well as to climb up to her crown. Well, we don’t need to be that up close and personal with her. Seeing her from a slight distance would do. Plus the Staten ferry is free. Yup, that’s the buzzword.
The ferry schedule is published online. Except for Mon mornings where there are no trips, the service is regular with trips every hour and more during the peak period.
As the ferry departs from the Whitehall Terminal, we had managed the catch a view of the skyline of lower Manhattan. The sky was really clear and blue. Without the cool sea breeze, the weather was rather warm. Thought it would have been cooler at this time of the year in NYC. The afternoons were generally warm but not unpleasant. The evenings were much cooler.
Ah, there she is.. Standing tall and proud. Though most of our pictures were taken by my Samsung Galaxy S5 handphone, we were glad we’d brought along our Canon camera for moments like these where very close zoom-in shots are required. The picture of the Statue of Liberty was taken by the Canon camera. Think it looks pretty sharp ya. Don’t bother trying to take selfies hoping to catch the statue in the background. It would appear very small.
Around 25mins, we had reached Staten Island. Have no idea what’s on Staten Island. Anyway, we did not plan to spend any time there. Now that we had approached the island, the question is whether to stay on or disembark the ferry. One might assume that the same ferry would pick up some passengers right away and head back to Manhattan. My colleague said to disembark and walk just “a round” while another person- a sales lady at Bloomingdale’s who spotted the hubby poring over the city map at corner while I was browsing through some skincare products- had advised to stay on the ferry.
Now who’s right? Well, I do not know what’s the usual situation since this is our first ferry trip. I would suggest, listen to the announcement made. For the ferry which we were on, they had announced for all to disembark cos the ferry isn’t going back to Manhattan. Maybe at some point but not at the moment. At that time, we’d noticed there’s another ferry docked in an adjacent bay with passengers boarding. Hence, once we’d disembarked, we turned all Speedy Gonzales and walked really fast to the point of almost running, to catch the other ferry. Now I’d understood what my colleague meant by walking “a round” cos we literally had to make a slight U-loop just to get to the other ferry. It’s hard to explain here but there are signages that would point to the other bay.
Next stop is Wall Street. It’s within walking distance. Locate Broad Street and walk upwards.
Wall Street is really just a financial district with very tall buildings that loomed over you. It wasn’t that interesting to me. It’s buildings after buildings. Typical concrete jungle. There were also quite a bit of construction going on, hence the numerous barriers around, and hoards of tourists, mainly from PRC. So we’re just going to check out the Federal Hall National Memorial, where George Washington took the oath of office as the first President, and the “Charging Bull” (or “Wall Street Bull”) sculpture, and move on.
Oei, what the hell… There were barriers around the bull! Wah, the bull looks pissed and can’t wait to charge through the barriers no?
We had watched a travel documentary on local celebrities leading tour groups. There was an episode where a local TV actor had brought a group to NY, Boston, DC and some other places nearby. Wall Street was highlighted and I don’t recall seeing any barriers around bull. This actor had also added that touching the bull would supposedly enhance your financial luck. Oh really? I also wanna touch the bull!!! *Bawl* Haha…
Eh, what’s the hubby looking at? Oh, by the way, we had bought a selfie stick specially for this trip. I used to find it amusing when I see someone holding such a stick and trying to take a selfie (or “wefies” for a larger group). Actually, it’s really useful. Previously, we would help each other take individual pictures. Unless we really want a picture of ourselves against a certain backdrop, we would ask for assistance though we were usually quite hesitant, in case the person fled with our phone. With this stick, it’s DIY all the way. We’d just need to mount the phone on the stick, turned on the timer and *click*. Not sure if this is an Asian thing, maybe for now, cos our stick had turned a few curious heads (mainly non-Asian). One of them had even asked us on where we had bought this stick. Lol!
There are several of these traditional shoe-shine services around. Check out this guy in his hat and suit, very wall-street style, reading his papers while getting his shoes polished.
The next location is a rather sombre one. Who can forget the tragic event that had happened on 11 Sep 2001, or 9/11? On that day, the world was shocked at the terrible terrorist attacks on the twin towers of WTC and the Pentagon. Around 3,000 innocent lives were wiped out by these senseless acts.
Hence, the 9/11 memorial and museum were created in remembrance of this tragic event as well as an earlier attack on the WTC in 1993 where 6 lives were lost. The twin reflecting pools and cascading waterfalls were built within the footprints of the twin towers.
The names of those who died in 1993 and 2001 were inscribed in bronze around the perimeters of the pool. Extracted from the 9/11 memorial brochure: “The arrangement of names is based on layers of “meaningful adjacencies” that reflect where the victims were on 9/11 and relationships they shared with others who were killed that day, honoring requests from victims’ families for specific names to be next to one another.”
To digress, at the time of the attacks, it was late evening in Singapore. I recalled attending a function and was about to leave when I heard some people muttering about an attack on World Trade Centre. Note at that time, we did not have smartphones where we could easily read the news online. But there were traders and brokers in the function who had these pagers which they could keep track of prices as well as the news. One person had even thought that the World Trade centre refers to the current Harbourfront, which the latter is the new name. It’s only when I got home, turned on the news, and saw footages of the planes slamming into the twin towers. I was shocked. I cannot imagine the fear and desperation of those stuck in the buildings or the last moments of those who knew they would have no tomorrow.
The visit to the museum had brought back some of these thoughts. I was particularly moved by the courage of the first responders, recovery workers and volunteers, who had put others before themselves, even losing their lives, in the process of rescue and help. There was a story about a civilian, who had worn a red bandanna over his face to protect against the smoke, staying in the tower to help others. The tower collapsed and he didn’t make it but they found his bandanna. There were other recounts of such selfless and courageous acts.
By 5pm, we left the museum and head towards Chinatown. Gary insisted in adding Chinatown in the itinerary.
Chinatown is really like a china town, dominated by Chinese restaurants and shops with signboards in Mandarin. Such a stark difference when compared to say, Greenwich Village or Soho, where the only similarity is the design of the buildings with the stairs (for fire escape) on the facade. Kind of reminded us of a street in Hong Kong. Even the signboard for McDonald’s is in Mandarin. Guess the Cantonese were the first to settle and establish this enclave? Noted the heavy Cantonese-accented English from most (if not, all) of the service staff we had encountered in Chinatown.
We had settled dinner in Chinatown, and had one of the best and juiciest xiao long baos. There are some good Chinese restaurants here.
Had walked past the entrance to “Little Italy” on the way to the subway station. It’s getting late so we didn’t explore that part of town. Am also feeling a little tired. We had quite a long day.
Checked pedometer: 22,393 steps. Woah! That’s the highest number of steps recorded on a single day for the entire trip. No wonder my feet seemed to ache more than yesterday.
Despite the ache, I am actually glad to walk a lot. Cos we ate a lot too so all these walking would help burn off some of the calories of whatever we had eaten. Lesser guilt psychologically too. Hehe..
It is a day of parks and chilling’ out!
There are a couple of parks in NYC. Whether large or small, they make great spots to have a bite or drink, read a book, hanging out, take a break…That’s provided the weather is nice and cool. Back home, we do have some green spaces, with more coming up, in the neighbourhood and town. Unless you want to scramble your brains under the hot sun, people would rather stay in the cool comfort of an air-con environment. I do like to lie on the grass and be with nature sometimes but the weather is just too hot. In minutes, you’ll be all sweaty and sticky. Urgh..
We had passed by Bryant Park, located behind the NY Public Library, on the way to the subway station. Oh! There were a couple of scenes from “Sex and the City” that were shot at this park.
I am such a fan of “Sex and the City” that I had searched on the locations in NYC where some of the scenes were filmed. Bryant Park was one of them. And Miranda had lunch sitting on the steps outside the entrance to NY Public Library. We didn’t check out the restaurants featured in the show but we did revisit this particular bakery along Bleeker Street. Will come to that when I talk about Greenwich Village.
Ha, a friend had sent me a link on FB on the 10 creepiest places in NYC. Guess what? Bryant Park and Washington Square Park (which we had visited later) are on the list cos they used to be cemeteries! But I wasn’t spooked out cos these 2 parks are pretty popular and there are always people around so that reduces the spooky factor. There are other places in the list which appear to be deserted today or in shambles. Personally, I think places that are built over cemeteries are not as nerve-racking as those with a tragic or violent history.
We had alighted at 72 St station and reached Central Park at the entrance nearest to “Strawberry Fields”. Nope, there were no strawberries. It is a memorial dedicated to John Lennon who was shot outside Dakota Apartments, directly across the park, where he had lived with his wife, Yoko Ono.
Central Park is huge. It would be fun to cycle around the park but the rental rates are too pricey. We had walked past the lake where some people had rented boats and rowed leisurely (think some effort is still required). There was a 4-man a capella band belting R&B songs. They even have their own CDs on sale. The mood in the park is just so relaxed!
We’d walked on further to the Bethesa Terace where the centrepiece is the Bethesa Fountain. There were a couple of street buskers near the fountain. One was dressed in a colourful poncho and strumming some instrument (not a guitar). Another guy was making huge soap bubbles!
Actually, we had walked southwards of the park towards mid-Manhattan. If time permits, we would like to check out the other side of the park where the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir is.
Our final stop was at “The Sheep Meadow” where the only “sheeps” were people. In fact, dogs and bicycles were not allowed in this part of the park. Guess they want to keep it clean and quiet. Definitely a juxtaposition with the backdrop of buildings where it’s all hustle and bustle over there, and chill and peaceful here. Saw a lot of people just laying on the grass, looking completely relaxed. What a nice place to spend quality time with family and friends with a little picnic and some games.
After Central Park, we had moved on to another park- Washington Square Park. To get there, stop at W4St station. Yup, that’s the other creepy place in that list. Apparently, there’s a tree known as “Hangman’s Elm” which still exists and was used for public hanging with the last known hanging to be in 1820. Well, we didn’t deliberately go search for this tree. Some things are best left alone.. *shudder*
You know you’d reached the park when you’d spotted the Washington Square Arch. Looks like the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile in Paris. Like many other parks, there were be people playing chess, reading, hanging around… There’s an old dude sitting on the bench with lots of pigeons perched on him and everyone was crowding around him like it’s some performance. Is he wearing a sweater made out of bird seeds??
The park is within Greenwich Village. Now, we moved on to check out the rest of Greenwich. Of all the places in NYC, Greenwich Village is my favourite. There is laid-back vibe about this neighbourhood fused with an eclectic mix of bohemia and old-school charm. Quite a varied mix of shops and good restaurants (some of the best pizzas can be found here).
Unfortunately, there’s only so much we can eat. Even if the hubby is able to stomach more food, I had to stop him especially when we’re talking about food heavy on carbo and fats.
I read that the TV show “Friends” was based in Greenwich Village and we’d finally found that building which Monica and Rachel, plus Chandler and Joey (since they lived across the hall from them), had stayed!! Ok, it’s actually the exterior of the building that was featured in the show, not the actual building cos most of “Friends” were filmed in LA. Anyway, this building can be found at the inter-section of Bedford St and Grove St; the same building with “The Little Owl” at the ground level. If I’m not wrong, “Central Perk” (the cafe which they regularly hanged out and where Rachel used to work as a waitress) is supposed to be where “The Little Owl” is right?
Can you spot me leaning against the lamp post? :p
As I had mentioned earlier, we had accidentally chanced upon “The Magnolia Bakery” (401 Bleecker Street, W11th St) which was featured in Season 3 of “Sex and the City”. It was a scene where Carrie and Miranda were chomping down these cupcakes. So are these cupcakes really that good?
Tell you the truth, we love the cupcakes so much that we had made 3 (!!) trips to this bakery. Of all the cupcakes we had tried in NYC, hands-down the cupcakes from this bakery are the best. It’s not the cupcake that’s delicious but rather the rich and generous frosting slathered on each cupcake. Firstly, these cupcakes were not stored in very cold temperature (like the ones from “Cake Boss”, icky) cos that will harden the frosting and totally ruin its taste. However, the texture of the frosting for these cupcakes are just nice. Soft sweet swirls rather than a gooey mess.
There are tall stacks of layered frosted cakes as well but we prefered the cupcakes. I never know I could go ga-ga over cupcakes, and not just because they were featured in “Sex and the City”. I’d used to scoff at cupcakes, thinking they are nothing more than overpriced tiny cakes decked with colourful sugary frosting, and people can’t help buying them cos they look so pretty. “The Magnolia Bakery” had changed a little of that perception but it’s only for that bakery. It doesn’t mean I am a cupcake fan.
That’s it for Day 4. The next day, we woke up early to catch the tour bus for Niagara Falls. We regretted choosing this lousy tour. Will leave our complains in another entry. In any case, we had seen the fall so that’s great. After Niagara Falls, we stayed in NYC for another night before taking the train to Washington DC for 2 nights. Will also reserve our DC travel details in another entry.
For the remaining 2 days of our trip, we had spent 1 day at the Woodbury Commons outlet. Had purchased the bus tickets online and spent almost a day there. Got ourselves some really good deals. Just to rattle off the list- A couple of CK and DKNY jeans between US$29 to US$70 (that’s more than 50% less than what we would have gotten in the shops back home), a fuschia Kate Spade bag large enough to store my laptop at US$121, some shoes (Tory Burch, Cole Haan) and a couple of shirts and socks for the hubby. I don’t understand why Coach is such a hit. The designs in the outlet store were not to my liking and I don’t like to just get some cos they are cheaper here. That’s shopping without control.
On the last day, we revisited Greenwich Village again, Soho and the Brooklyn Bridge.
We didn’t have time to check out all of Soho, so we had concentrated along Broadway St instead. I’d find Soho more of a shopping haven than Greenwich Village. I don’t know. There seems to be more shops in Soho.
Did some last-minute shopping. Got a climate cool top from Adidas at 50% off, and some hair products.
It started to drizzle by mid-afternoon. Of all the days spent here, it felt the coldest on our last day. If not for the drizzle and mainly lack of time, we would have walked to Brooklyn Bridge.
After an early dinner at Soho, we returned back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and made our way to the airport. Our vacation had ended! *Sob sob*. Thankfully, we have the long weekend to rest before going back to work.
Some post-trip thoughts:
1) Let’s be honest, NYC is a dirty city. The subway stations and streets were old and sometimes littered with rubbish. There’s also a rancid pee stench in some parts of the stations and streets. Thankfully, most of the restrooms (my no.1 pet peeve) are still quite decent.
2) There are also a lot of homeless people sitting around especially during the late evenings where along certain streets, a line of them would be sleeping on cardboards. It must be really dreadful during winter. We had also passed by quite a few cray-crays whom many of them would engaged in a lively conversation or debate with themselves. What happen to these folks?
3) In some ways, the service level in the shops and restaurants are similar back home. That is, there isn’t much of a service. Sure, they would greet you, often a lacklustre, “Hi, how are you?” (which is fine cos a lot of them don’t even bother to greet you back home) and that’s it. No smiles, no nothing. Anyway, being in the service line is a tough job so no service is better than crappy service. You know, the kind where the person gives you some attitude. Of course, you can always hold back the tip.
The above are just a general summation. We had also met some nice folks around. Like that Bloomingdale’s sales lady who had given us some tips on where to go, what to do…
Nevertheless, I still like NYC. Certain things, especially when they are built upon certain influences (in this case, from favourite TV shows), would be entrenched in your minds for a while. There’s so many interesting sights, places and food which we didn’t manage to experience in this short duration of a week. Guess we would visit NYC again and likely to add other places (Boston?) as well.
It was a good break. We had enjoyed ourselves very much, so returning to work would be difficult for the first few days. Guess we won’t be going anywhere else at the end of the year. I don’t know yet… Perhaps a short weekend getaway? Hmm..