We arrived in New York a few hours after a major coastal storm had passed, which caused more than 1 million power outages in the Northeast. The strong wind from the turbulence was so severe that the LaGuardia Airport had opened only one runway that morning. That said, that was the only bad weather we experienced in New York. Throughout our trip, we experienced an unseasonably warm fall weather where we even had 2 days with high of 70F. This time, we covered the following attractions: One World Observatory, hiked all the way up to the Crown of the Statue of Liberty, and finally, watched the mind-blowing Hamilton show. We also expanded our visits to parts of Brooklyn and Queens (primarily Flushing).
We contemplated on paying double the price for the “any time any day” priority access tickets to One World Observatory, which we did… and it turned out to be the right decision because 1) we moved our visit a day earlier due to better weather and 2) the admission line wrapped around two floors and out the door whereas we literally walked past everyone into the elevator. Ground Zero is now fully opened to public without the need to go through heavy security check unlike our visits from 5 years ago. Later that night, we learned about the terror attack that occurred half hour after we left that area and less than 4 blocks away from where we were at. Since then, the police made their presence felt even more and additional concrete barrier blocks were strategically placed at crowded areas in Manhattan.
Watching the New Yorkers celebrate Halloween was a sight to see. There were many adults and kids dressing up in costumes, walking from stores to stores trick-or-treating along the busy streets. In fact, the Halloween Day might be the most hated day by the pushy costumed characters at Times Square because most tourists ended up taking free pictures with folks with interesting Halloween costumes instead of the typical fatty Batman or Elmo the Molester.
The last time we visited the Statue of Liberty was 17 years ago, but back then, we only paid for the general access to walk around the Liberty Island. This time, we bought our tickets 4 months in advance to go all the way up to the Crown, which has very limited spots since it could only hold 6 to 8 people at a time. We spent the whole day on both Liberty Island and Ellis Island and, as immigrants ourselves, it was a rather meaningful visit. For those who like to build walls or occasionally forget what America is made up of, it doesn’t hurt to refresh one’s memory by visiting Ellis Island, also known as “Island of Hope, Island of Tears” and stand in the big Registry Room hall where thousands of arriving immigrants once waited to be registered by the Immigration Service officers at daily basis for 2 decades (1900 to 1924).
A trip to New York is probably not complete without watching a Broadway show. We purchased the most expensive tickets of our lifetime to watch Hamilton show at Richard Rodgers Theatre. At $464 per ticket, it is more expensive than the Omakase sushi we had in Tokyo earlier this year. It was also the cheapest tickets we could find and we bought them 6 months in advance because the “cheap” tickets were sold out rather quickly. Given the ridiculous price, Hamilton is just astoundingly fabulous. It was better than all the shows we had seen in Las Vegas. If my past history classes were taught using this approach, I would have aced all my history tests. Lin-Manuel Miranda didn’t perform as his last Hamilton appearance was on July 9, 2016. The most memorable characters that night were Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and the really funny King George.
Overall, it was an eventful trip. We visited two Chinatowns (Manhattan and Queens), ate great food, enjoyed weather that was 30 degrees warmer than the Midwest, used Trump Hotel’s restrooms, stumbled upon many French tourists and saw a glimpse of Reese Witherspoon at MoMA and Greg Norman at NBC’s Today Show. The only thing that left us wanting more was the fall colors in New York, which was very lousy. We thought we had time our visit well, however, due to the unexpected cold weather in the summer, most leaves either were still green or had turned brown.