Last night I went to bed thinking that I was fine. But then when Mom came to bed about 20 minutes later, she thought that I was really hot. Sure enough, I must have caught the flu. During the night I would alternate from roasting to feeling chilled. I’m thankful that I didn’t catch it sooner…that would have ruined the great vacation that we had.
Given the tossing and turning, I’m guessing that I slept about four hours out of the five and a half hours that I was in bed. Many others were running on empty as well.
Here we are (in a blurry photo) on the subway.
We have successfully navigated the three trains and two fares to get to the airport. After we make it to the gate area, we can finally relax.
Some miscellaneous thoughts about Manhattan. Public restrooms are rare. Understandably restaurants only allow their customers to use them. The McDonald’s had a lock that required you to enter the code off of your receipt. I ended up buying a small fry.
Another thing, the sounds are something else. On Wednesday, we woke to a jackhammer working on the new construction next door. The subway train wheels have a very loud screech when they stop. Tuesday afternoon had a heated argument in the street. In Manhattan, drivers use their horns at any little annoyance. Bottom line, it’s noisy here.
Our flight is 213…JFK to LGB. They currently say that we are to arrive at 3:35…a little earlier than scheduled. =)
Today is our last full day in NYC so we plan to make the most of it. Although we didn’t make it out of the apartment by 7:30 am like we had discussed, we did make it out by 8:15 am…not too bad.
Given the earlier time, the subway cars were packed full. We skipped getting on the express train (which takes fewer stops) because everyone was jammed (quite literally) on it. Even when we got on the next local train, we all had to stand.
We got off at Times Square and found out bus stop. The first bus to stop was nearly full. We got on the next one which was empty…So we all got nice seats on the upper deck. Nice weather and nice view!
Coincidentally we got the same tour guide as our first one yesterday! He’s black with a foreign accent, informative and entertaining. We saw a lot of NYC landmarks…Empire State Building, Madison Square Gardens, Macy’s.
We got off downtown at the World Trade Center. We went to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. But then we realized that our Explorer Pass was good for something else…the 9/11 Tribute Center and Walking Tour. Initially we were disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to see the 9/11 Museum…I suppose that we still could have done it if we were willing to pay $18 to $24 per person and wait in a slow moving line.
So we headed to the the 9/11 Tribute Center and Walking Tour which was next to the fire station closest to the World Trade Center. Turns out that a tour was about to begin in 15 minutes. Paul, a former NYPD officer, led the tour. He had a passion to share what happened to our country on that day. We greatly appreciated it.
There are two World Trade Center Memorial Pools with waterfalls. Each sits where one of the two original WTC towers stood.
Afterwards we walked towards the Brooklyn Bridge and the bike rental location. We were each given a bike and directions. We only got “lost” a few times. Thankfully our cell phones could give us directions to get us back on track.
The bike shop recommended that we cross over the nearby Manhattan Bridge to get to Brooklyn and return via the Brooklyn Bridge. So that’s what we did. Our goal was Julianna’s Pizza near the base of the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn. Again the beautiful weather and great views made for a pleasant journey. About 40 minutes later, we arrived at Julianna’s Pizza between 1:30 and 2:00 PM. The line of people waiting to get seated only increased our anticipation and appetite.
Of course, we enjoyed the pizza!
Then we began the journey back across the Brooklyn Bridge.
We stopped halfway to take pictures.
After dropping the bikes off, we walked back to the bus stop. On the way, we came across a candy store called It’Sugar. We had to stop. They had many unique offerings.
Here’s a box of Colon Blow. Looks like wood shavings.
Joanna couldn’t resist getting some ice cream.
We got back to the tour bus pickup location. Unfortunately a traffic problem caused the buses to be behind schedule. So we had to wait a while. But finally we returned to midtown Manhattan with a tour up the east side.
The unique building in the back is called the Frank Gehry Apartment Tower. Note the curved lines.
The tour guides were very knowledgeable (or very good at making up facts). We passed by the inn where George Washington once stayed. Here’s a picture of our guide Friday evening.
Here’s a picture with the famous Chrysler Building in the background.
Back in Times Square, we used another of our Explorer Passes to get a free meal at Señor Frogs, a Mexican restaurant/bar. The “music” (aka noise) was very loud. We counted it a cultural enlightenment experience (which we have no desire to repeat).
After dinner, we head to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium that was close by. Having read a number of their books, we weren’t sure whether or not we’d enjoy it. But we certainly did!
Here’s Sarah’s head sitting on a table.
Can you find the jars with Jeffrey and Sarah’s heads?
Here are multiple Victorias!
My favorite was the “Black Hole” which was a room designed like a cylinder. You felt like you were walking down the middle of a dark tube. Moving dots of colored lights were projected on the walls which gave you the effect of being in a spinning tube. Once inside of the tube, I would stagger back and forth holding on to the railing for support. In my head, I knew that nothing was moving. But my brain was telling me otherwise.
Finally we headed back home a little after midnight. So here are pictures of Times Square around midnight.
Waiting for the subway to take us back to the apartment.
We woke up to some showers. Fortunately the showers stopped after a bit…and the day stayed mostly cloudy. Combine that with mild temps in the 70s and it was a very pleasant day!
Today we actually got an earlier start. We skipped grilling sandwiches like we did yesterday to save time…besides no one was excited about eating them later.
We got out of the place around 9:30 in the morning. Due to a lack of good planning, we took three trains to Rockefeller Center…it could have been two. But, oh well.
We walked over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We saw the inside and were impressed…especially since it was initially finished in 1878. It was recently renovated.
After walking around the cathedral, Mom and Dad walked a short ways to pick up a bus map. The rest then found some food trucks for lunch.
We boarded the Uptown bus. We rode up top of the double-decker bus. A tour guy told us about various sites and buildings as we passed by. Like who has lived there, who lives there now, what shows/movies were shot there, where John Lennon was murdered, etc.
We stopped at the American Museum of Natural History and used our Explorer Pass again. Given our limited time, we only saw a few exhibits…like the dinosaur exhibit.
On the spur-of-the-moment, we got off at St. John’s the Divine Cathedral, one of the world’s largest cathedrals. Of course some pictures were in order. However pictures don’t do it justice.
We then hopped on the next bus and got off in front of another huge cathedral. This one was built by John D. Rockefeller.
We then walked to Grant’s Tomb which was right across the street. It was massive and impressive.
We then boarded the next bus to continue the Uptown loop back to Times Square. We passed through Harlem and continued around Central Park. Some were pretty tired.
Back in Times Square, we took the subway home.
Once we were back close to our apartment, we decided to eat at a Thai place called Sweet Basil. We all enjoyed it very much. Their Drunken Noodles dish is highly touted on Yelp. Joanna and Victoria each ordered it and shared with all of us. We were all impressed.
Once back at home base, we shared the cheesecakes that we brought home the night before. Wow! The Devil’s Food Cheesecake was incredible!!! Perfectly designed for chocolate lovers.
Today, we let people sleep in. Jeffrey was the last one up…sometime around 11 am. By the time we showered, ate and got ready, it was after 1 pm.
We took the subway in to Times Square. We picked up tickets to The Ride for the 4:15 pm bus. Since we had a little over an hour till then, everyone went to Coldstone Creamery except for Dad who picked up our Hop On, Hop Off bus tickets.
The Ride was quite the entertaining show. Scott was our host who told jokes, gave interesting facts, and interacted with the street performers.
Space is obviously at a premium in New York City…there are no places to sit. If you try sitting on the sidewalk, you are told to get up. So sitting down to eat was in of itself a treat.
Afterwards we debated where to eat. We finally settled on Junior’s, a place recommended by many (including our gate agent in Long Beach).
Sarah had a (huge) burger. Nicole had a salad. Joanna and Victoria each got a grilled cheese with fries. Mom and Dad split a salad. (The salad was actually very good.) Jeffrey would have had a burger but the bun had milk so he had to get the tenderloin steak instead. He didn’t complain.
Dad got a chocolate fudge brownie for dessert and shared with Mom. We brought three slices of their famous cheesecake back to the apartment.
Here are some pictures of Times Square at night.
Just like the previous night, we were treated to live entertainment on the train. Tonight was a guy playing a harmonica and used a bucket for a drum and a pole for a cymbal. He then, in a no pressure way, asked for donations. Afterwards he moved on to another car.
The previous night, two black guys turned on some hip hop music and did some talented and athletic break and pole dancing. Afterwards they did the same as tonight’s guy.
Because of the reception and because their roommates had early flights, the kids didn’t get to bed until REALLY late. Their roommates flying back to California didn’t even bother to go to bed since they had to catch their shuttle at 4:45 am. Needless to say the Pau singers didn’t get much sleep.
In the morning, I took the subway in to meet them at their hotel. I brought them back to the apartment along with their luggage.
Our new camera can be remotely controlled by a smartphone. So here’s Tim taking a picture while we are waiting for a subway train.
By this time it’s around noon so some ate some food and then took naps. While some napped, Mom and I took a short walk and picked up a few more food items at a local store and bought some more bottled water.
Back in the room we explored our options using the New York City Explorer Pass. We kind of came up with a game plan. So around 4 p.m. we headed back into the city. Our first stop was Grand Central Terminal where we took some selfies and pictures.
Exiting the terminal, we were immediately disorientated. Because of the tall buildings, it’s hard to know whether you are on the east, west, north or south side of a building. So we headed towards Times Square based on Dad’s internal compass but then Joanna (using her phone) figured out that we were going in the wrong direction! So she led the way to the Rockefeller Center.
Once there, we picked up our tickets for the Top of the Rock (observation deck at the top of the Rockefeller Center) and then found some places to to get some food. After eating, few of us went to the nearby Lego store and picked something up for Josiah.
Around 7:30 pm, we headed to get in line to go to the Top of the Rock. Sarah was super happy about their TSA wannabes. Not! So eventually we make it to the top and hang around looking at the views along with dozens and dozens (or maybe it was hundreds and hundreds) of other people most of whom spoke a foreign language (that’s how you know you are at a good tourist location). A few of us lingered at the top to catch night time views of the city. Some went to the nearby St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Once down at the bottom, we regrouped and headed to the subway directly under Rockefeller Center.
I think we’re in bed by little after 11. Because some were quite tired, we made no plans to get up early in the morning.
The concert Monday night was one that we’ll always remember! We arrived at Carnegie Hall plenty early so we spent time in the Carnegie Museum. Lots of interesting artifacts…a copy of a letter from Franz List that started the ball rolling. We learned that a lot of famous composers have conducted there…Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Sousa,
We enjoyed the middle school choirs that opened the evening. Then we heard the high school choirs…they almost overflowed the stage with so many singers. They were very good as well.
After intermission was Mozart’s Requiem. What we all had been waiting for!
Sarah is in the middle of the back row of this picture. She is second from the right of the lady with the white shirt that is walking in front of the back row.
Here’s Joanna in the middle of the back row of this picture.
Here’s Victoria standing in front of the middle guy in the back row.
Here’s Jeffrey in the middle of the second row from the back.
Picture of the entire choir and orchestra.
We weren’t disappointed. The conductor was great. He was obviously into it. The large choir included a good men’s section that definitely enhanced the performance. Way to go, Jeffrey! The crowd gave them a well-deserved standing ovation at the end.
After the concert, we briefly met up with Sarah, Joanna, Victoria and Jeffrey.
Mom, Nicole and I headed back via the subway. By the time we got to bed it was after midnight again.
By the way, the singers had a reception afterwards from 11 pm till 1 am. The kids told us later that it was first class…nice venue, live music, and great food (including salad, rolls, finger foods, drinks, desserts, cheesecakes, and more). It was the whole nine yards!
This morning it was bright and sunny at 8 o’clock when Mom and I woke up. Given that we went to bed close to 1 a.m., we were still pretty tired. The only food we had in the apartment was some bars and chips.
Eventually around 11 a.m. we figured out where the grocery store was and headed out. It was almost a mile away so we walked and carried an empty roller bag and backpack to bring back the groceries and water. (Actually we figured out later that we could have shopped near the train station just a few blocks away.)
Walking through the neighborhood was an adventure. The people, the houses, the sounds, the subway passing overhead. Thanks to Google Maps on my phone, we ended up at the small grocery store.
Nicole was in near shock over the prices. (Just kidding, kind of.) The prices were high…some things were really high. We did spend over $100 just to buy some food for breakfast and so we could pack some lunches. But we figured that we won’t have to eat out nearly as much.
By the time we got back to the apartment it was 1 p.m. So then we finally ate and around 2 p.m. we all lay down for a nap. After our nap we got ready to come to Midtown.
Everything is a new adventure…finding the subway station, buying the passes, getting on the right train, getting on the right train going the right direction, getting off the right subway station.
We made our way to the Hilton Hotel around 5:30 pm. We met up with Sarah, Joanna, Victoria and Jeffrey in their hotel lobby. They took some group photos before heading over to Carnegie Hall.
We picked up some falafel from the Halal Guys food truck and ate it in their room. Then we headed over to Carnegie Hall.
The flight was uneventful. JetBlue is nice! Plenty of legroom, free entertainment including movies, variety of snacks and drinks.
I was feeling nauseated when arrived at JFK. So we stopped for food. We found a salad bar. As we were eating we realized that we hadn’t picked up our checked bag! So we packed up our food and headed to baggage claim. Obviously our bag wasn’t still on the carousel since it had been a while.
We finally found baggage services and hoped that our bag would be found. Thoughts of buying toiletries and a new wardrobe crossed my mind. Thankfully our bag was there.
Next began the adventure to take the train system to the apartment. We took one train line (AirTrain) out of JFK. Then a different one to the apartment (Long Island Railroad). Each train line has its own pass.
We could have also used the subway to get to the apartment (which is what Google advised). Then we could purchased and started our seven day subway pass.
Now we know all these things. But about an hour and a half ago we were SO confused. We walked around one station several times…asking for help and getting conflicting answers.
I was tempted to get frustrated but I remembered to give thanks for the various trials. James 1.