New York

We have finally made a trip to New York. This is one place we always wanted to revisit, but for some reason, we couldn’t pull the plan through… until now. The last time we visited New York was 12 years ago and it was also in December. This time, we made a rush planning because we had to renew our passports at the embassy in person due to “some interesting circumstances”. Unlike other trips, we put almost zero effort into the trip planning because we were swarmed at work… as usual.

Our flight to New York was rather smooth although it was delayed for an hour. We took a cab to our hotel upon our arrival at LaGuardia airport. During the ride, the cab driver asked us whether he should take the tunnel or not to the hotel. He obviously didn’t instill any degree of confidence in us on his ability to get us to the hotel. After checking into the hotel, we took the subway trains to New Jersey to visit John, Cathy and Ashton. It was very nice to see them and we had great dinner at their place. Cathy walked us to the nearby Jersey City’s waterfront after dinner. Even though it was foggy in the evening, the Manhattan skyline was still beautiful. We took the last PATH train back to Manhattan, which was jam-packed with passengers. After spending a short time at Times Square, we decided to call it a day.

On Sunday, we took a subway train to Chinatown for dim sum breakfast… certainly one of the best meals we ever have. We strolled around Chinatown and Little Italy before headed to Battery Park. Since Ellis Island was closed due to Superstorm Sandy, we took the Staten Island Ferry free ride to see the Statue of Liberty from afar. It was certainly much better than paying for the cruise boats that park a little closer to the statue on a very foggy day. We didn’t spend any time in Staten Island since we took the next ferry back to Manhattan upon arrival. From Battery Park, we strolled around the financial district and visited the famous Charging Bull statue, Trinity Church, New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall. From there, we headed to Ground Zero. We acquired our free Memorial tickets from the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site, which is about 5 blocks away from Ground Zero. The security at the Memorial was incredibly tight. It wasn’t possible to see the Memorial without going through the security because the entire site was walled off due to the on-going construction at Ground Zero and to control the crowd. We spent a good chunk of time at the Memorial before we took a subway train to Brooklyn to see the Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn side in the evening. We initially planned to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan, which is about an hour of walk, but we decided against that because we were incredibly tired due to the amount of walking we did the entire day. We took a subway train to Chinatown for dinner before heading back to the hotel.

On Monday, we spent the majority of our morning renewing our passports at the embassy. While waiting for our new passports, we paid a visit to the nearby United Nations. The security guard I talked to obviously misled us because there wasn’t whole lot of things to see and do in the building… just bunch of gift stores. After picking up our passports, we visited Grand Central Terminal, New York Public Library and Bryant Park. Then, we visited B&H Photo Video, which is the largest non-chain photo and video equipment store in the United States. I was very pleased to be able to visit this store because I have bought many expensive toys from their online store. This store is definitely a paradise for photographers. It has pretty much all the equipments of any brands where you can see and touch to your heart’s content. I bought a heavy duty Gorillapod to allow me to photograph the evening skyline at the Top of the Rock observation deck the following day since I already knew tripods weren’t allowed to be used there. From there, we visited Penn Station and Madison Square Garden where we witnessed hundreds of teenage girls anxiously queued up to get a glimpse of One Direction boy band who supposedly was in the building. We took a short rest at Macy’s Herald Square before having early dinner. After dinner, we strolled around Times Square before calling it a day.

On Tuesday, we visited the Rockefeller Center in the morning. We headed to the Top of the Rock observation deck, however, the view wasn’t spectacular due to the thick fog. After having the biggest corned beef sandwich at a deli restaurant, we decided to spend some time in Central Park. This is one place we didn’t initially think of visiting, but it turned out to be a great visit. It just felt great to be able to get away from all the noise, people and traffic… and where we could walk leisurely without bumping into anyone. We spent a good few hours walking around and sitting at benches, doing absolutely nothing. From there, we visited the nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art. We finally walked a good 20+ blocks back to the Top of the Rock observation deck to see the Manhattan skyline in the evening, which was incredibly packed with tourists. A trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without having a New York style thin-crust pizza, and we had a great pizza dinner in the evening.

On Wednesday, after having our breakfast, we took the hotel-provided shuttle to the airport. Driving in New York definitely takes some time to get used to. Our shuttle driver was one hell of a driver and also a hell driver. There were a few circumstances where it was almost impossible to overtake slower vehicles on busy traffic and he did it with ease. Whenever he saw the light turned green and the traffic wasn’t moving, he would make a full use of the honk… the one feature in a vehicle that the Midwestern drivers rarely use.

We were extremely pleased to be able to get our passports renewed without problems. We were also incredibly pleased that we have finally revisited New York 12 years later. The weather was pleasant throughout our stay there even during the winter month… a great trip for sure.

Day 1: Meeting John, Cathy and Ashton, and dinner at their place in New Jersey.
Day 1: West Manhattan skyline view from Jersey City’s waterfront.
New York
Day 2: The Memorial at Ground Zero.
Day 2: East Manhattan skyline view from Brooklyn side.
Day 3: The busy Grand Central Terminal.
Day 3: New York Public Library… one of the most beautiful public libraries we have ever been to.
Day 3: Times Square… the amount of people here every evening is just astounding.
Day 4: Climbed on the ledge at Top of the Rock to shoot this photo, yelled by the security guard… totally worth it.
Day 4: Christmas celebration at Rockefeller Center.
Day 5: Manhattan skyline view from the plane.
Literally taking the Charging Bull by the horn 12 years ago… taming the Charging Bull by the balls 12 years later.
With and without jacket at United Nations. Both pictures were taken in December… a sign of global warming?
The actual trip route.

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