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Friday, 22 May 2015

My New York Story (Part 2)

Standing tall and watching over the city for over a hundred years, a symbol of hope and freedom for millions who migrated to America, the Statue of Liberty was not to be missed.  We finally had the chance to visit her on our third day. It felt surreal to finally see her up close. I learned on the audio guide that the exterior is originally copper but has turned green due to oxidation. Up to now, the Statue of Liberty has remained the symbol of freedom not only for America but for the rest of the world.  The tour took more than half of our day and once we were back in the main island of Manhattan, we were starving.

We had lunch at a random Chinese restaurant in the financial district and dessert was, I’m excited to say, in Serendipity, one of the locations of the movie of the same title. This movie, I could watch over and over again and it was amazing to finally try the hot frozen chocolate. Since reservations for dessert were not accepted, we had to wait for an hour once we were there. We went to Dylan’s Candy Bar which was just around the corner to while away the time. The 6 year old had a field day there. The frozen hot chocolate, their most famous dessert, having been featured in the movie, was worth the one hour wait.

It was past five in the afternoon when we finished in Serendipity and decided to finally use the ticket we booked online for the Empire State Building. There were lots of tourists but since we went for the express ticket, we were able to jump the long queue. Without realising, our timing was actually perfect. It was starting to get dark and the lights were starting to turn on, giving us both the day view and night view. It was an exciting experience to finally go up to the main observation deck on the 86th floor. I was imagining Meg Ryan running towards the lift to get into the last flight up, to meet up with Tom Hanks from the movie Sleepless in Seattle. I watched that film a thousand times.

The view was amazing and I could clearly see my favourite building in New York, the Chrysler building. Once it was all dark and the New York skyline well illuminated, all I wanted to do was stand there in silence and take it all in, 86 floors above the ground.

New York, too many places to see, too little time and too many things to write about so please hang on for the third installment of my New York story.

Monday, 11 May 2015

My New York Story (Part 1)

New York has been called by many a name. The big apple, the urban jungle, the empire city, the city that never sleeps. Each evokes a different idea which gives some preconceived notions. I for one had all these assumptions about this city, after all , it is the location of all my favourite movies. I have all these thoughts swimming in my head about New York, Manhattan to be specific.

The start of Spring had me finally set foot on the land of milk and honey, America. But I did not just want to go to America, I wanted to go to New York. I knew what I did not want to do and that is sit on a tour bus and just take in what the guide tells me, clicking my camera at every stop and turn. I wanted to do as the locals do, walk and explore New York on foot.

After a good flight with British Airways, we arrived at midnight and true enough, this city really does never sleep. The streets were still buzzing and the city all lit up. Excitement got the better of me and I did not sleep a wink.

The first half of our first full day was spent walking along Times Square with a ride on the indoor Ferris Wheel in Toys R Us. Times Square has that electric vibe, chaotic and crowded. Considered as the crossroads of the world, even when you are on your own, you will never feel alone there. A photo opportunity at the famous red steps was not to be missed.

Lunch found us queueing at the famous The Halal Guys (dubbed as the most popular food cart in the world) on 53rd and 6th which we happily devoured with a side of Central Park view. It was delicious.

The rest of the day was spent walking along 5th avenue, taking in the skyscrapers and visiting FAO Schwartz and having some latte at Starbucks inside the Trump Tower. The heavens opened so it was a good excuse to sit and people watch in the gold interiors of the building.

The next day, we skipped the complimentary hotel breakfast and went for brunch at Sarabeth's across Central Park. This was a good idea indeed as Sarabeth's hit the spot for a breakfast lover like me. The waffles, the coffee and ambiance. I could eat breakfast there everyday.

And what better way to burn off the calories than to have a lovely walk around Central Park across the restaurant. 

Central Park was magical even that time of the year when the trees have not come back to life and flowers were still not abloom. It was a lovely day. Despite the chill in the air, the sun was out.

A visit and a walk through at The Plaza which was just across Central Park was in order. Having been made famous by the movie Home Alone, The Plaza is world renowned as it is, having set the standard for luxury for more than a century and had the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt and Mark Twain as guests in the past to modern day Tommy Hilfiger having his own penthouse at the hotel.

The Plaza food hall, a European inspired food hall, is a place to visit when in New York. Since we were still full from lunch, we could not try the wonderful European dishes that were presented before our eyes. I did not leave the place without trying French chef Danile Boulud's cafe and having a few of his macarons. 


Our visit to New York would not be complete without seeing the New York Knicks play. So that evening was spent in Madison Square Garden. This was one of the highlights of our trip.