For the past fourteen years, it was one of my dreams to visit New York City. Last week I found a deal on plane ticket $69/way so I just decided to take a short vacation there, also Japan is in Golden Week, which is a two weeks holidays. I don't have much assignments from Japan for now. Good timing. People talks about swine flu so I had a bit of concern but I will see...
Things I printed out...
- Ticket for the parking at DTW
- New York Airport Service, a round trip ticket coupon
- Explorer Ticket Redeem Coupon
Woke up at 3:30am, chilly 45F outside. Stretched my body, took a shower, and stuffed myself a breakfast. Finished packing and left home at 4:10am, there were not many cars on the road so I arrived to the parking nearby the airport by 4:50am. Got on board a shuttle bus to the terminal, but many other customers are arriving at the same time so stopped for another 5 minutes before going. Entered the building at 5:00am, and since I have no check in bag, I just printed out the boarding pass and proceeded to the security. I bought a magazine, and a bottled water as I walk toward the gate, then I waited for the boarding to start.
The boarding started at 6:00am, there were four police officers for random baggage screening. Since I got a priority seating I was able to get on board without a trouble. Soon everybody took their seats and readied but the plane did not leave the gate until 6:20am. Within 10 minutes, the plane took off to south and turned east, flying nearby Detroit downtown. The plane flew over Canada and kept going. When the plane started to descend, I start seeing some familiar sights. I saw Newark Airport under overcast then Liberty Island, Lower to Upper Manhattan, then the Citi Field, which had the old stadium demolished completely (it was still there when I came last October) The plane landed to the west and arrived at the gate at 7:50am, which was earlier than I thought. This is good since I have more time for sightseeing! I got out of the plane and walked out to the Ground Transportation.
AA4877 at DTW
Sun coming up from east
Some views of Manhattan
LGA in sight
Citi Field at May 2009, old stadium is now a parking lot Citi Field at October 2008, still has old stadium
It took me a while to figure out where to catch the bus but a female employee standing in front of New York Airport Service sign showed me the way. I pulled out a printed voucher and got it signed off, I am good to go. The bus arrived to the stop at 8:00am, and departed within 10 minutes with around 10 passengers on board. The bus went through I-278 to I-495 freeway, then Queens-Midtown tunnel and finally arrived at a street by Grand Central station at 8:24am. I was thinking maybe it will take about 30 minutes but I guess not. I guess I saved a few more minutes. Once I am got off, I saw the huge station, and tall Metlife building right behind it. Hmmm, I feel like I am in New York City. I wanted to check it out so I stepped inside of the station. The interior was tall with chandeliers hanging, and looks like all the platforms are at the ground level and one level below. Nearly 75 tracks and also the access to subway system.
NYAS Bus boarding here (8:03am) The bus arrived to New York downtown (8:24am)
Once get outside, I needed to locate a building on W 46th Street. Since I am currently at 42nd and Park Avenue, I headed to west then turned north at 5th Avenue. After reaching the 46th St. (Also known as Little Brazil), I walked toward west but I missed the store at the first time. I look around but I did not see any sign, so I gave up. I think I should try at the another location near by Penn Station (later I found out they recently moved the store across the street so I used it for Monday)
Now it's time for me to take the subway for the first time. I came back to the Grand Central station around 9:00am, and bought the 1-Day Fun Pass for $7.50. I pushed the buttons like, New Ticket -> Unlimited -> 1 Day Fun Pass, and used my credit card to pay for it. It was easy. At the gate, I just needed to swipe the card and the display on right side shows "GO". It was pretty easy, also. I passed the gate and went down two levels to get on the #7 train to Times Square. From there, Penn Station can be accessed via underground passage.
Inside of Grand Central Station
Ticket vending section Platform
1-Day Fun Pass
The gate for the subway
Once I am at Penn Station, I walked into Ripley's Believe It or Not museum around 9:20am to pick up my Explorer Pass. I just needed to give them the voucher I printed out. After that, I walked to the Luggage Service to drop off my bag. I paid $8, I kept a small bag containing a tour book, a map and some cash. Headed to 86th St and walked to west toward the piers to visit Intrepid Museum.
New York Times building in front of Penn Station
The rain was stopped for a moment as I walked to the USS Intrepid Museum by foot. The place was just opened for the day as I arrived, and there were around 200 people lined up already. I used will call access to pass the line. At the museum, I could see many planes, mostly they are familiar but some planes like Kfir, Etendard, MB-339 are the first time for me. They also had a Concord display and I could even go inside. Wow...
USS Intrepid At the flight deck
Pictures of aircraft
I think I had enough fun here, so I headed back to Penn Station. Some rain drops, but does not matter much, I just looked up the sky and the high-rise buildings. and people working out in a tiny gym. I think New Yorkers must live like a hamsters... Small and Crowded place to live, not so much space to workout, and busy/stressful lives.
Train in the A line
Guggenheim Museum and Metropolitan Museum
#6 Line Subway train 11:39am The station sign. All tile work...
Best Buy in New York
Metropolitan Museum Obelisk
After arriving to Penn Station, I used E line to Lexington Av/53rd St and switched to #6 line to the 86th St. The exit there took me to Lexington Avenue and 86th. They had a Best Buy store and Staples at NW corner. They look all tiny compare to I usually see in Michigan or other part of the U.S. After checking the direction, I walked to west toward the Central Park. The Guggenheim Museum was just north of 86th St. so I took picture of the building before heading south to the Metropolitan Museum. It was already at noon so I bought a couple of hotdogs for $4, finished eating and then went inside of the building. The pass I have let me get the ticket without a line (again), so I walked to the Will Call and redeemed the ticket. They had an audio aid for a discounted price, so I took advantage of it.
Inside of the building, I get to see many exhibitions, some statues, wall painting, and jewelries and containers from ancient Egypt and Greece. They also had many paintings from Middle Age and to the Modern ones. I get to see Picasso, Dali, Cezanne, Monet, and many others. They also had some collections of armors from Europe and Asia. The good thing is that most of the items I can take picture. While watching on the exhibitions, I found out that the rain is over and outside is getting sunny so I think I should add a plan to go up a skyscraper in the evening then...
Before leaving the museum, I walked in to the Central Park to check out the obelisk. At the park, people were walking, jogging, riding bikes and also playing softball at a field nearby. I guess this is the place New Yorkers can get some relaxation time have more places to go so I left and move to the 86th street station. Since I was not familiar with the system, I entered from a wrong entrance, so I got to the north bound platform. I exited once but when I tried to enter to the south bound platform, the card did not work. According to the station master, I have to wait 18 minutes before I can enter again. He helped me getting through the manual gate. So no need to wait.
I thought about going to the Empire State Building today so I decided to go to Grand Central station. I guess it is my bad habit that I always get curious try out something new. The guidebook says I should not take an express train, but since I already know both 86th and Grand Central are big stations, I went down one level below to catch an express train. It took about 10 minutes. to the destination. After arriving at the Grand Central, I walked to the 5th Avenue then headed south to the building. I passed by Public library, which was under renovation but that huge building still looked nice. Kept walking toward south and finally arrived. I could see they were going some renovation works. I went inside and found out it is too crowded. I asked how long the wait, and the answer was 1.5 hours... Maybe I should come back here in the evening, so I decided to walk back to Grand Central, so I can go pick up my bags before they close for the day.
Empire State Building at few blocks away
New York Public Library
Took a ride back to Times Square, and walked up to the storage to pick up my bag. When I get there, the door at the store was shut with a sign, "be back at 6:00pm". It's still 5:45pm, so what I am going to do!? Walking back to the station after get my bag but let's check out the famous Times Square for now... The place was pretty crowded, I was wondering about the reason since today is not the New Year's Eve?! (Oh, I guess I am one of those visitors then.) I spent some time, looked up the famous tower and took a picture of it. I stopped by at a Hard Rock Cafe to buy a couple of pin badges. Walked back nearby the train station but decided to eat dinner at Applebee's before heading to the hotel. I was concerned that maybe there is no place to eat nearby the station. I had a salad for dinner.
City Bus Sightseeing Bus
Police on horses Hard Rock Cafe at Times Square
Virgin Mega Store
Toy R Rus Subway entrance
Sun is positioning right behind the Empire State Building
I took the #7 line train out of the Times Square, and got off at the 33rd and Rawson St. I called the hotel for pick up, the shuttle was there to pick up other guest so I could just get a ride immediately, I arrived to the hotel within 5 minutes. Checked in a room, took a shower. The sun was still up and it was right behind of the Empire State Building. I called my dad to talked with him and then left to the downtown again at 7:45pm. I was told that the shuttle leaves the hotel every hour, and additional trips based on availability.
Left hotel at 8:00pm, arrived at the station in five minutes but just missed the train so I waited until 8:18pm for the next one. After arriving to the Grand Central station, I walked out and headed to the Empire State Building. The sun was set and it was pretty much dark outside.
Train for #7 line came to the 33rd and Rawson
Grand Central and Chrysler building An ambulance parked in front of Grand Central Station
Empire State Building at night The picture at the entrance
Enter the building once and joined the line which was very short unlike in the afternoon. I can just proceed to the security, at 8:45pm. Finally bought the ticket at 9:15pm by redeeming my pass. Get in the elevator and moved up to 80th floor at 9:25pm, where I need to switch another one to the observation at 86th floor. I finally got to see the outside from 86th floor at 9:40pm. It took about one hour to be here.
Entering the security (8:45pm) Lined up to buy the ticket (8:55pm)
Almost at the ticketing window (9:05pm)
The observation was pretty crowded, I had hard time finding the place to take pictures at all four directions. I had to wait, wait then when a person moves away from the fence, I can go. There were many Japanese speaking folks, as well as many other languages. By 10:00pm I was done, just walked down to the stairs to the 80th floor then joined the line for the elevator going down.
To north To West
Came down to the first floor at 10:20pm. They dropped me off in the middle of gift shop. Well, I am not buying any, sorry. I realized when I come back to the hotel, there is no place I can buy water and other stuffs, so went into CVS to get groceries. I guess it's no way I can make it back to the station by 10:45pm, which is the last chance I can get a ride back to the hotel from station. I caught a taxi (it was not difficult) and showed the map given by the hotel staff to the driver. Okay, we are good to go and arrived back to the hotel around 10:45pm, merely a 20 minutes ride for $20. Quite tired and my body smells a bit salty but I just went to bed.
I woke up at 6:00am, had a breakfast at 7:00am, took shower, got ready for the day and come down to the first floor at 7:55am. Since I don't need to carry a big bag today, I can move around with ease. I have been told that a shuttle van will leave the hotel at 8:00am to subway station and also to the airport, so I got in a van but had to wait for 15 minutes because the hotel staffs had some issues, so I was just watching rain drops falling on the car windows. Arrived at the station at 8:20am, only to find out that a train just left so I had to wait for another few minutes.
#7 line train bound for Grand Central
Since my plan for today is to go to Liberty Island in the morning and watch Yankees game in the afternoon, first I needed to pick up a ferry ticket at Times Square. The train arrived to Times Square at 8:30am, I walked into Madame Tussauds' House of Wax at 8:40am to get a ferry ticket from CitySights. In order to visit the observation at Statue of Liberty, I need to get the special ticket only issued for a limited number a day, and I have to have the ferry ticket with myself to get it. Man, things are a bit complicated...
To South Ferry for observation ticket and getting on board a ferry
The fort Ticket Office
Boarding to the ferry
Memorial Battery Park
Liberty and Ellis Islands Lowe Manhattan
I walked down to the platform of #1 subway at 8:45am. The Train came within a few minutes and arrived at South Ferry station. When I stepped outside, it was rainy. So I took out my rain jacket, and headed to the ticketing office. The park was very much empty but there are some sightseeing folks like me. The office is located with in a fortress like structure since it was surrounded by a stone walls all around, and some holes for the cannons could be seen. There was no line for the ticket for statue of liberty observation and I could just walk right up to the window to get one of those "limited numbered ticket". I could even walk to the ferry without a wait. I was expecting a long line, long wait under rain. I guess I'm lucky.
Ticket to monument
After boarding, the ferry left at 9:30am and started to cruising toward the Liberty Island. I could see the lower Manhattan getting far away, at the same time, the statue of liberty looks getting bigger. The ferry docked at 9:45am. Walking down the pier to the center of the island. From there, we can go check out the Liberty Lady. Since no backpacks or drink were allowed, everyone with bag has to use a locker available right before the security screening entrance. I stuffed everything inside of my bag, paid $1 for two hours rental. I could use my fingerprint as ID so no need for a key. I while lining up for the screening, they gave us a plastic card about the statue of liberty. I am not sure why they are doing but on well. Maybe there's some reason behind it. They had the air blowing detector, I had to remove my belt also so I guess the setting must be very, very sensitive. After spending about twenty minutes in the process, I could just walk in to the structure. In inside, they had some exhibitions and we get to know how the statue was constructed, it was pretty cool. After taking the 165 steps of stair, I was the foot step of the liberty lady. I can no longer go up to the top but I get to see the interior part of the statue. After going around the observation deck under light rain, I decided to go down. As I come down, I could look at the all the spars, bolts supporting the structure. The construction is more than 100 years old, but the entire things just look great. I still could tell that those each parts and design are very thick and large, due to the metallurgy not well developed yet. I walked around the statue before picking up my bag and head back to the ferry pier. I was able to get on one right before leaving so I did not have to wait.
Arriving to the Liberty Island After getting off, you head to the park
Security check before going up Lockers you can use
Inside of the statue
I wish I could go up
The ferry departed from Liberty at 10:45am and headed to the Ellis Island. At the island, we get to see the immigration process back in old days. Many part of the building were tiled floor with all tiled up to the middle of the wall. I did not spend much time there but it was kinda interesting. Long time ago, people come to the United States, going through the building where I am right now and then immigrated to this country. Those black and white colored pictures, they give me snap shots of what was look like, just like a time travel. I hopped on the ferry leaving at 11:35am depart from Ellis island and headed back to the ferry port.
A view from ferry
Much of the hallway is tiled up (maybe for easier cleaning?)
Since I got to downtown Manhattan, I hoped that I could do a couple of things before going back up again. So on the way back to a metro station, I checked out the Ground Zero (former World Trade Center site), bronze statue of bull (11:55am), NYSE (12:10pm) at lower Manhattan. In front of the bull statue, I was swarmed by a bunch of Chinese visitors, I guess the number of the visitors from China is increasing because of the growth in the country. They have more money now... In contrast, I did not see much Japanese around maybe because of the swine flu scare, and also the slowing economy. People tends to pick places where are closer. The rain does not seems to be stopping like yesterday but I guess the game has not been cancelled yet, so I have to see.
A sculpture salvaged from WTC (The sphere)
Former WTC site
New York Stock Exchange
I walked to Fulton station nearby City Hall at 12:30pm, and took a train which came at 12:40pm, arrived at 125th at 1:00pm. I had to switch to the local train. I arrived to new Yankees stadium. Train came at 1:05am and arrived at Yankee Stadium. The old one was still standing right across from the new one. I walked to the stadium, and went to gate 4 for picking up my will call ticket. I went inside and waited, at the same time I can buy myself a hot dog and water, the total was $10 (1;30pm)... Of course I already know that the game likely be postponed, but just keep looking up the iPhone screen for weather information. While people wait, there is a very, very long line for Yankees Museum. The game was postponed after 2:10pm. Since the rain seems not stopping at all. Left station at 2:40pm and decided to go to the Guggenheim Museum.
The game was postponed...
Back at 86th Street, walked out from the subway and headed to west. Once I reached the building, I discovered something unusual. Many paintings were removed from the spiral wall and some people working on the lightings. Although the outside looks sharp all thanks to the architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, we cannot help it getting repaired. They were doing some works and only two galleries were open. I arrived there at 3:00pm and stayed only for an half hour. The security staffs there were not nice and very much irritated. Also I cannot take any picture... Oh well, not much to see so let's move to Rockefeller Center now.
Yoshinoya and Starbucks Yoshinoya Beef Bowl (Gyu don)
My intension was to go back to hotel after visiting Rockefeller Center so I thought about checking out Yoshinoya (a Japanese fast food restaurant) I found yesterday in New York near Times Square, so I took a train back to Grand Central, 3:40pm - 3:48pm to Ground Central, then switched to #7 line. I had to wait for a while for the next train. The only issue about the subway in NYC is no way knowing that when the next training is coming. Changed to #7 to Times Square 3:55pm-4:05pm. Walked up to Yoshinoya after 4:00pm. Stayed for 30 minutes. They only take cash. I ordered a Beef Bowl, and it was not that impressive but the beef was just like in Japanese way. Hahaha
Walked to Rockefeller Building from there since it was not too far out. I was not expecting the weather to be any better than right now for tomorrow, so I just took a elevator up to the 86?th floor. The outside was still raining a bit but no problem taking pictures, I can even see the Empire State building was party covered by the cloud. I could see the ball at the Times Square. It did not take too long before I decided to go down.
Inside Empire State Building
I walked down to the subway station but decided to buy dinner before entering the gate. I found Sbarro and bought spaghetti combination. Going back to the hotel was quite tricky, first I took D train from Rockefeller Center to 7th Avenue (heading west), then switched to E train to move to Lexington Ave/53rd station (heading back to east). Once I arrived there, I walked to 51st St to use #6 line then moved to Grand Central (heading south). I finally changed to #7 line (heading east). I left the Rockefeller Center at 5:45pm, and arrived at the 33rd and Rawson St station at 6:30pm. Man, it was a long ride. I called the hotel and got picked up by 6:40pm. For the evening, I ate dinner, watching TV and relaxed I wrote a couple of letters to my friends and family members. I can mail them tomorrow.. I went to bed at 11:00pm.
33rd and Rawson Station My dinner.
Woke up at 6:00am, had breakfast from 6:30am. I took shower, packed my bags but I finished a little later than 8:00am so when I get down to the first floor, the shuttle to the station already left. I was told that there will be another one at 8:45am but I could not wait so I checked the route from the hotel and walked to the station under slightly rainy weather. It was not so bad. I did not feel the place was dangerous. I left the hotel at 8:10am, walked 15 minutes to the station. I bought another 1-Day Fun Pass and went up to the platform. The train came in five minutes and reached to the Ground central at 8:47am. First I needed to go drop off my bag. The outside was still raining but not at the rate I need a rain gear so I kept walking up to the 46th street and gave my bag to the luggage service at 9:10am for $10.
Grand Central in the morning New York through a mirrot
I walked out from the building, and headed to the U.N. building via Grand Central by going down to 42nd St. I could take 46th St to east but I was not sure whether it is a safe way to proceed. It was raining a bit so had to bring out my rain jacket. Once I get there, I realized that the entrance was actually located at the north side of the property so I walked for a bit more before going through the gate and join the line around 9:40am. While I wait, I was watching a gun with tied up barrel and also a globe looking object with gears inside. Passed through the security, bought a ticket for the tour at 10:00am. I am on the tour #4... I am not sure how long I have to wait, it looks crowded.
There was a group of students for the tour. I am not sure how long this one is going to take... So I waited for a while looking at the pictures of chairperson's drawing (presented by Iran?) then the tour began at 10:17am. The lady showed the place was from Japan, but has native level of English and whatever she described was very focused and professional. I guess that kind of person can be at U.N., not like me... The tour it went over the main missions of the U.N.; development, human rights, General Assembly room and then weapons of mass destruction. The room for national security council was under renovation so I could not get to see the room I sometimes see it on the news. The tour covered the many topics while watching many gifts from nations, and organizations, and finished at 11:34am, but I think that 1.5 hours worth more than the half day of education. I guess because of the background of how I was raised. As an engineer, I always want to do something about those topics. Getting to know that some landmine only cost $3 to make and still need $1,000 to remove them? Nonsense...
I went downstairs to the shopping, and mailed out some post cards. Then left the U.N. building at 12:04pm and walked back on the 42nd to the Grand Central. I went to the McDonald's for lunch around 12:30pm. I have few more hours to stay, let's see how much I can cover.
Chairpersons Each country gets three seats, and another three blue seats...
Japanese garden U.N. General Assembly
Tour explaining peacekeeping operation Tour showing the countries not joined
Walked inside of MoMA building around 1:00pm to check out the exhibitions. With the pass, I do not need to be in a line to buy a ticket, so just walked up to the information desk and redeemed the last portion of it. The are many people inside due to the weather. Before going in, I had to line up for coat check since I have a bag with me. Going up to the 6th floor to start. There are particular paintings I wanted to see such as,
- Salvador Dali - Persistence of Memory
- Vincent van Gogh - Portrait of Joseph Roulin
- Paul Cezanne - Sill Life with Apples
- Marc Chagall - I and the Village
- Giogio de Chirico - The Enigma of a day
- Claes Oldenburg - Two Cheeseburgers and Everything
- Andy Warhol - Campbell's Soup Cans
- Sol LeWitt - Serial Project
They did not have the starry night... That was one of my goal to have a look at it. The funny thing was that I met with the guy I saw at U.N. tour again. I lined up to eat something at a cafe around 3:30pm have some tea, and my legs were pretty tired. Watching people and cars outside moving around under rain... Made a final round after 4:00pm and I stopped by at their gift shop before I left the museum at 4:30pm.
Everyone wants to take a picture of a famous work by Dali Shooting photos towards the garden
Hot tea and Tiramisu
Since I have some time left, so I decided to check out Carnegie Hall. I was walking up the 5th Avenue and saw a Tramp Tower, I saw it before on a TV program, as well as Steinway and Son company near by the hall. I guess that's enough for the trip, it's time for me to pick up my bag and head home. I walk up to Luggage Service on 86th St. around 5:25pm, then walked down the street to the Grand Central station under rain.
Steinway and Sons Carnegie Hall
A Prius used as taxi
I concerned about high food price at the airport, so I went downstairs to the food court at the station. I could have burgers, pizzas, Chinese and very much all kinds of food. I had to use a restroom there (A guidebook wrote that I should avoid using restrooms at stations, but this one seems okay since so many people come and go. I guess it would be the same for the lady's. Just a common sense, I guess). I walked around and tried to choose what to eat; I had McDonald's for lunch, and spaghetti for dinner last night, I decided to try out a pita from EATA PITA at 5:30pm. I took a seat nearby and enjoy the taste since it's been a long while having a pita. After finishing, I went outside, which was raining pretty good. Walked up to the bus stop at 5:50pm. The bus was already there, and I got my bus ticket checked. I was good to go.
The bus left the stop on time at 6:00pm. There were only 6 people on the bus. The bus took the opposite route from how I came, and rain was falling pretty good on the way. I arrived to the terminal around 6:30pm and walked up to the counter. I start hearing of cancelled flight, it made me worried, but mine was still on schedule. I think I can go home today (wrong idea...). Passed the security pretty quick so I was at the gate by 6:40pm. I just need to wait, and keep my fingers crossed that there won't be any delay.
Pita The bus to LGA
I had almost two hours before the flight, so I was updating my web page on the netbook I recently purchased. A bad news came in at 7:20pm, which the plane for Detroit flight is stopped at Boston, and they are hoping it will come to LGA by 9:00pm. A lady nearby the counter was furious, she stared yelling and complaining that she paid $200 for the ticket to go home by 11:00pm, and she demanded some compensations. Oh well, I'd better not get involved. At 9:20pm they made another announcement that the plane just left Boston. Okay, I just need to wait a bit longer...
Citi Field and LGA, Goodbye New York Arrived back in Detroit
The boarding finally started at 10:35pm, and everything after that was quick, got pushed back in 15 minutes, and took off shortly after that. The plane headed to east and turned around to fly over LGA. Soon the plane reached the cloud level so I could not see the ground anymore. The cloud coverage broke later and the plane crossed Detroit river after midnight. We landed at 12:30am and taxied to the gate. Walked off from the gate and caught a shuttle van to the parking. I drove home around 1:30am, and went to bed by 2:00am.
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