NYC Day One

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
Trip End Oct 18, 2012

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Flag of United States  , New York
Thursday, September 13, 2012

Howdy folks,

My feet hurt, my leg muscles are aching and we've only spent one day in New York City! I guess when you walk around for 10 hours then they should hurt, but I guess it was worth it. I got up at 6:30am, but I had an early night so we were raring to go. After some last minute planning, we extended our stay at the hotel for 3 more nights and caught the bus into New York just before 9am. The bus was more like a Greyhound and soon we were on the New Jersey turnpike before getting stuck in traffic for 10 minutes as we looped down to the Lincoln Tunnel. 40 minutes after we began, we exited at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Our first glimpse of NYC gave us a look at things to come. The New York Times building with yellow taxis as far as the eye could see and people everywhere. We weren't too far from Times Square so we walked there first past the Ripley's building and plenty of billboards. Times Square looks strange in the morning light and all the video screens around us definitely added to the aura of the intersection. It isn't so much a square as two criss-crossing streets and there is definitely a lot of activity going on. From Times Square, we walked north to the visitor information centre which was pretty small and looked more like an Apple store.

We were keen to get a CityPass and check out all the sights, so we headed over to the Rockefeller Center. The building was built 80 years ago around the same time as the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building. It was the largest building project of its kind at the time and spans several blocks including the Radio City Music Hall. It is so big that it has its own ice rink and Christmas tree in winter! We took the elevator up to the Observation Deck which has the best view of NYC. North lies massive sprawling Central Park and to the South is the main business district complete with plenty of skyscrapers. It was a sunny, but hazy day when we were up there so the photos don't do the view justice.

We stopped for lunch down in the food court and it was pretty good. We walked out through the plaza which had just about every flag except the Australian and German ones! Next stop was the Museum of Modern Art or MOMA. There they had everything from Salvador Dali to Vincent Van Gogh as well as many other displays such as furniture and eco design pieces. Something for everybody!

We headed east past the Helmsley Building which seemed to have cars driving out from the middle of it and down to the United Nations HQ. We didn't have time to do a tour as it was already 5pm, but apparently the building is designed so that every country has an equal view of the city, very socialist! The US state building right across from it had plenty of cops around, but wasn't looking as much like a bunker as the Embassy in Ottawa.

Walking back west, we entered the lobby of the Chrysler Building which is just as famous as the Empire State Building due to its high cascading peak which glows magnificently at night time. The ceiling in the lobby is completely painted as a mural and is one of the biggest paintings in the world apparently. Not far away was Grand Central Terminal (station) which is one of the busiest in the world and fittingly we found the Apple store right in the middle. Its hard to say how many people we saw walking past while we were there, but it was a constant hum of activity. When we went outside we noticed that around the first floor of the building is a taxi road as well that circles the building above the street level! Crazy or ingenious?

The New York Public Library was only a block away, but it was closed as well for a special function. Around the back of it in the park we some 300 people doing a huge yoga session. I would be too self consious to have people taking pictures of me doing downward dog! We found a cafe to have dinner and it hit the spot. With so much walking around it is important to keep eating and energised. Once the sun set, we lined up to go to the Empire State Building Observatory Deck.

Lining up for observation decks is somewhat an art form. There isn't usually one elevator or line that you go through, in fact this one had 3 elevators. Security checks were tight and my mini tripod was temporarily confiscated! No idea why about that one! Eventually we came upon the last elevator and were met by King Kong who was enthusiastically beating his chest for the tourists. The skyline at night looked completely different and the Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center was lit up patriotically. Being further down, we couldn't see north Manhattan anymore, but Times Square was lit up pretty well.

On the way back to the Port Authority Bus Terminal we went past Madison Square Garden (which is circular) and all the freaks at Times Square. Business must be ruthless because we passed 3 Elmos, 2 Mickey Mice and even Super Mario all competing for photos and tips. By the time we got on the bus it was after 10pm and luckily it was express back to the hotel. I call that a big day and it was only the beginning!
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