New York – Days 3 and 4
I wake up early and start heading to The Rockefeller Center. It is the home of The Top of The Rock Observation Deck, a competition for the Empire State building views. I get there second and the place is still closed. Opened right on time and we got in and up in no time – pleasant and easy, nothing like the nightmare the competition proved to be the night before.
The views from here are priceless. Not only can you see the New York skyline with the Empire State Building (back to being the tallest one in the city), but you can see Central Park in all its grandiose beauty. Also, unlike the other place, here they have put places to sit and enjoy the experience.
If you get here and wonder where to go to see the city from above, dont think twice, go to The Top of the Rock. Well worth the time.
And you get a fun distracting light show on the roof of the lift to make the floors go faster!
Then it was off to the subway and down to Chelsea. Quick french toast and off to explore.
It was still too early and most places were closed, so I had a coffee too ;)
Looked through a few antique and second hand shops. Didnt buy a thing though. Then I started my walk to the Chelsea market.
Here the atmosphere is quite different than what I have encountered in New York so far. No skyscrapers, intimate streets with green trees and the familiar escape ladders from the movies.
It took a few wrong moves before I located the market. Its not an obvious one and no big signs lead to it. You enter a building and then walk down a hall and you reach it. But boy, was it worth it!
The market is amazing and cozy with its artworks on bare brick walls and lights illuminating it in a wonderfully mystic way. Feels kind of like a secret gathering for food enthusiasts.
And food there was! All kinds of exciting little shops and treasures for the tastes – bakeries, pastries, pasta, soups, English delicacies and so forth and so forth.
This place grabbed my attention…
And this vegetable jambalaya soup made me very very happy indeed!
Back to the streets and just walking through.
Next I walked into Greenwich Village with its more organic street patterns and relaxed atmosphere. I think it was considered the bohemian capital in the past. It is home for a lot of tertiary institutions, I passed through a campus for the New York University.
This is Christopher Park, where sculptures honoring gay rights activist are located. I believe there were some events nearby at the Stonewall Inn that gave rise to the movement in the States. Didnt have the guts to take pictures inside, as there were a bunch of people there, didnt want to be disrespectful.
Next I walked into and through Soho, Nolita and Noho. The area has a somewhat industrialised look and I do think it was home for a lot of small factories in the past. Now its a shopping and artistic hub for all kinds of creative souls. I browsed through an outlet with creations of fashion students and walked by a high fashion designer store. Its all here and probably what draws in the visitors.
This guy stopped me and wanted for us to take each other’s picture… so we did.
I spent the day mostly walking and looking around. Loved the low rise neighborhoods I went through, it felt like such a change from the skyscrapers I have encountered so far. Almost like a different place, the back alley or something. Still, I dont believe I got to experience the art scene as much as I would have liked. Probably needed to read more about it before venturing down there. Maybe next time.
It was getting late, so I made my way back to the hotel.
Day Four of my New York stay starts beautifully. A lovely bright morning with blue skies and wispy clouds. I get out early again and get on the subway and make my way down to the tip of the island – Battery Park.
An elderly asian man offers to take my picture in front of The Sphere, now historic because of its former location in the fountain of the World Trade Center.
The cruises headed to the Statue of Liberty leave from nearby. I had resigned myself to not going, after hearing horror stories of ball breaking queues, rude security personal and generally unpleasant service along the way. It was so early, I decided to just have a look and see what is the situation.
The first boat to the Lady was leaving in half an hour at 8:30am. There were not many people around, so I threw caution to the wind and purchased a ticket, all the while mentally preparing for the worst.
There was a queue already, but seemed still manageable. Made my way through security, which was located under a grubby tent and yes, staffed by not so nice people, although there was a lovely young black security guard who smiled at me and I think asked me how far along I was.
Then we go through the fenced ant walk throughs and start waiting our turn to go on the boat. All the while watched over by another set of grumpy employees on the other side of the fence.
Get on the boat and then the fun starts. It felt amazing! The fresh morning, the wind in my face, Manhattan behind and Lady Liberty ahead… this was worth it. Enjoyed every part of the trip.
As we get close to Liberty Island the boat coasts and kind of stays closeby, probably to give everyone a chance to enjoy the view and take the necessary pictures. I think we did this for about 10 minutes, just changing position slightly.
The best part was that since we were the first boat, there were no annoying tourists on the island already, destroying my pictures! I realized my luck later, when leaving and seeing the loads of people walking all around the place.
I have heard a lot of people dont go off here and just wait till Ellis Island to leave the boat. After visiting the place, I can see why.
I havent had breakfast or coffee yet, so I decided to get something from the food place available. It was old, old, ancient and falling apart. The choice of food was limited at best, but sufficiently expensive to compensate. I was given my muffin and coffee on a grubby wet tray and paid my dues to the check out chick, yet another grumpy person.
I consumed my purchase outside, as it was at least somewhat pleasant with the Statue of Liberty in view.
The toilets… they were the worst I have seen on my trip. The area looked and felt like it was going to collapse any minute. The side of my stall was wobbly and hanging on a singe hinge from the ceiling. The place was bellow any standard, let alone as part of one of the biggest tourist attractions of the richest country in the world. Would love to know why this is in such a state. There must be a story behind it.
Even though I was on the first boat, the queue for climbing into the statue was already going to take 30 minutes, as advised by the person on the entry of the yet another security tent. No thanks, I just wanted to get outÂ of there quick.
The Statue of LIberty itself actually didnt seem as big as I expected. I dont know what I had in mind and it is pretty majestic, but not quite as much as I had envisioned. I loved her green color though!
Next, back on a line to go on the boat and reach Ellis Island.
Now, this is definitely worth a visit. It has so much history behind it and is very well organized. Audio tours, movies, presentations and people who seemed to enjoy their work. I watched a film, which was great in refreshing my memory in regards to the significance of the island, I followed an audio tour and walked in the steps of all those immigrants, coming with great hopes to this land. Sadly, most of the issues they were running from in Europe have become slowly part of the American life today.
This is the Great Hall, where most people where collected and processed, watched from above by the people deciding their fate. Thankfully, the great majority made it through.
Another queue and back on the boat and on my way back to Battery Park and Manhattan.
Next is a walk and browse through the Financial District and its mind boggling buildings.
This is what most of New York feels like – construction zone.
New York Stock Exchange, now heavily guarded.
I almost missed it, there were no signs or memorials or anything really, just well fenced construction zone.
The former home of the World Trade Center seen from one of the breaks in the fence:
The sheer size of the void of tall buildings is the only thing that gives the space some emotional weight.
Otherwise I saw nothing to suggest or give respect to the event that happened.
This part of New York is truly magnificent. Its like a collection of majestic buildings of all kinds.
One feels like an ant walking through.
Then, as soon as you enter China town, the mood changes.
The Mahjong frenzied garden ;)
I found the Malaysian place I was looking for and got down to business..
Then across the street I saw this:
Its probably hard to see, but there were 5 bail bonds offices right there and then.
China Town has basically taken over what used to be Little Italy with few exceptions. Lots of little restaurants, shops and itty bitty things, a fun place to walk through.
Then it was time to make my way back to my neighborhood.
The garden at the Museum of Modern Art was bliss. People just sitting back and enjoying themselves amongst the fountains and trees. A little stall in the back corner was selling hand made gelato and I took advantage of it, while breathing in the atmosphere.
Then it was time to look through.
The museum was well worth the visit and entry fee.
Then I got back to the hotel, wondering what to do for dinner. It was about 6pm now, but I wasnt yet hungry. Mr.Blab had put the idea of Carnegie Deli in my head, so I had a look at their website and decided that it was worth the walk over there to experience the famous “sandwich” and cheesecake.
The walk over was around 20 min. I ordered, paid, grabbed my food, which weighed about 100 kilograms, or so it felt, and walked back to the hotel.
Just look at this “sandwich”! That small white thing at the top is the bread ;)
And this is the famous cheesecake.
I grabbed my heavy food plastic bag, laptop and coffee and made my way down to the small hotel garden, where I ate and blogged into the nights. I barely made a dent into the sandwich, but I fought with the cheesecake for 1.5hours, until it was gone. D-vine!
And that was a fitting end to my last full day in New York.