NYC Trip - The Top of the Rock

Wednesday, September 30, 2015
City view from Top of the Rock

I've received advices before arriving in New York that if it was a choice between the Rockefeller Centre and the Empire State Building, that I should pick the Top of the Rock. Not that the Empire State Building was any much lacking, but that the Top of the Rock provided a much better view of Manhattan as a whole. And of course, it provided a view of the Empire State Building.

Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock

I bought tickets to the Top of the Rock weeks before our tour started. I debated at first because it was hard to estimate when our tour would end the first day. The problem with the Top of the Rock tickets was that they were timed and you had to be at the foyer around about the time of your ticket. Since I was not sure when our tour would end, where we would end, would we need to make our way back to the attraction, I chose a safe time of 6pm at night.

Looking out

I suppose I estimated too late since we had time to kill and had to spend some time getting lost on the streets of Manhattan.

Anyway, around 5:30pm we decided to make our way to the Top of the Rock. Although a bit early, they let us in without much fuss.

It was a good day to go look over Manhattan. Although slightly overcast, the weather was nice and clear enough to get a great view of the city.

Central Park from the Top of the Rock

There's really not much that I can add here. The view was breathtaking. Hubby actually said it was nothing like being the King of the World on Top of the Rock with the Queen of his heart, LOL....and it seems that bringing romance to building tops is also the done thing.

Empire State Building backdrop

NYC Trip - Lost in New York

Wednesday, September 23, 2015
So the tour with the local guide around 3pm that afternoon and we were left to our own devices.

Funny that it wasn't actually quite as bad as I thought it would be. We asked the bus driver to drop us off at Macy's on 34th Street so we could walk around the downtown Manhattan area.

Macy's - the world's largest store

Hubby had been harping on about eating some hot dogs in New York and so the first thing we did was walk around to find a street vendor. It was difficult as we were spoilt for choice. There were literally street vendors galore at every street corner in Manhattan.

Haggling with the street vendor

After walking a bit, we finally settled on a street vendor. Hubby proceeded to negotiate some food and we managed to walk away with hot dogs and pretzels. Missy was really chuffed with eating her pretzel.

Eating pretzels is a lot of fun!

We manoeuvred our way down some Manhattan streets and stumbled onto Times Square. This place was crazy!!! Diverse, vibrant, bustling, cosmopolitan, touristy, a space where people come's a wonder how a place can be all these things and more.

Times Square...yeah!

We didn't go into any of the shops but just walked along to take in the atmosphere. We had to get to the Top of the Rock because we had an appointed time to be there so we walked on.

We got to a small office park on a street corner near the Rockefeller Centre. We decided to rest for a bit while waiting for time to pass. Missy took out her art book and started drawing some pigeons that were flying in and out where we were sitting.

Drawing pigeons is fun too!

There were mobile charger points at this small park and it would've been more appreciated if any of us had actually bought our chargers along.

And then it was time for our appointment with the Top of the Rock.

NYC Trip - 9/11 Memorial

Wednesday, September 16, 2015
One World Trade Centre
And this was to be the last long stop with the tour guide.

No visit to New York is quite complete nowadays without stopping by to pay respect to the thousands of people who lost their lives that fateful day of September 2001. 14 years on and we are still haunted by those moments.

Map of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum

In place of the destroyed Twin Towers, plans of rebuilding have started on the World Trade Centre. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum are already in place when we visited. Some buildings were still under construction but One World Trade Centre, the museum and the memorial are already open to the public. We were not able to get into the Museum though because there had been a lot of visitors that day.

We walked around the Memorial. The area was filled with trees and water sounds supposed to signify hope and endurance. Even with hundreds of visitors, it was a place of solace and remembrance. The names of all who died in the Towers were etched on marbled counters. Looking just over the counters, the waters flowing through set a serene and peaceful atmosphere.

I was nowhere near the city and country when it occurred. In fact, I only saw the events transpired on TV. But standing here now, at this very moment, at this very spot where it all unfolded, I can't help feel sad yet inspired, knowing how one tragedy that was used to break a nation, strengthened the tie that binds instead.

A visit to the museum is definitely on the cards next time we stop by New York again. I can't wait to see what's in store for us there. Pity we didn't have enough time to look around.

NYC Trip - Grand Central Station

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Time waits for no one! - Grand Central Station clock

So this was the second of our long-ish stop with the tour guide. This was timed perfectly for lunch at around 1pm. We were dropped a few streets off Grand Central Station and had a brisk walk through. We were briefly introduced to the Chrysler Building before entering a side market that led us into the hub of the Grand Central Station.

Chrysler Building - peekaboo!

Grand Central Station is as busy as all the TV and movies show. It's a hustle and bustle kind of hub where all kinds of people from all walks of life meet, connect and depart. It's probably a funny thought but even though Grand Central Station does not seem to be an attraction that a tourist can fully enjoy aside from its architecture, I suppose if we were given the chance to stay a bit and watch the masses go about their day, it would really be quite an insight.

Big windows

The tour guide pointed out that the big windows that provided so much light into the station, were not just windows. A path is actually in between the glasses providing a walkway for people. I even caught a person through the glasses with my camera. I wonder how do I get there?

Walking person inside the window

Hubby and I paused and posed for a selfie before searching for lunch.

Grand Central Station selfie

We were given an hour to do our lunch business so everyone in the group scattered about. The family headed for the food court which was located underneath the main floor. The food court is a big area with a couple of fast food places on offer, just not the popular ones. After walking around and finding out what was on offer (Indian, Greek, hamburgers, etc.),  we chose to go with Chinese food (surprise, surprise).

What we noticed while heading up and down the station was that there was a heightened security within the area. I suppose since the July 4 weekend was coming up, it can't hurt to be extra careful at such a public place.

The hour to eat lunch went by fast. We made it back to the group's meeting place just in time to head out.

NYC Trip - Central Park and Strawberry Fields

Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Imagine mosaic

Our first long-ish stop when we were being toured by the local guide happened as we strolled Central Park.

Now "stroll" may not be the right word. It was a little hurried, but certainly not that quick that the beauty of the place was lost on us.

I like the idea of having a park in the middle of the city, the contrast of having the busy life and gobsmacked in the middle is a place to unwind. We have our very own in Mississauga as well, although not as lavish and as encompassing as Central Park, I suppose.

Central Park

Central Park stands on 341 hectares of land. According to our tour guide, although the park is "natural", it is actually artificially landscaped. The only things that are natural in the park are the stones and big rocks that they could not move about. And so they just worked around them and included them into the landscape.

New Yorkers love their park. You can see it in the things that they do in the park. I suppose it's not much different from any other cities but there's just something about the way New Yorkers do Central Park that make it so serene and enticing. They run, walk their dogs, take a stroll, play music, ride their bikes... It just seemed so peaceful and so right.

bikers gathering at Central Park

We did not tour the whole of Central Park and only caught a glimpse. Made a mental note that on the next visit, Central Park needs to be on the list to explore.

On the way back to the bus, the tour guide brought us along the path of Strawberry Fields. Now as mentioned in a previous post, Strawberry Fields was a tribute to the memory of late Beatles member, John Lennon. The mosaic circle of "Imagine" was gob-smacked in the middle of things and many musicians paid their respect here by playing their (not so loud) instruments and entertaining the public for free. Amplified sounds are prohibited in this area.

Strawberry Fields
 After leaving Strawberry Fields ground, we went onto the surrounding neighbourhood to check out some of the buildings where famous people lived. Sadly, I can't remember a thing about any of it! Oh well.....