Monday, October 3, 2011

New York City – Day 1

As we were finally entering New York City after having been on the train for three nights and almost four days, my overworked camera broke! I had been clicking away and periodically recharging the batteries. I had to remove the battery from the camera to do this and I guess the battery cover/lid had weakened and finally came off! Oh no! Not now! Not when we had finally reached our destination! The camera still worked but I had to secure the cover with a rubberband;  this “first-aid” had to suffice until I could purchase a new camera (asap – as in the following day).

We were met at the New York Penn station by my classmate’s friend and she assisted us in getting a cab to Union City, New Jersey  where we had booked two rooms in an apartment. It was so much cheaper than staying in New York City itself and it was quite accessible. It was actually only a 10 minute bus ride from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC, through the Lincoln Tunnel. We only needed to walk two blocks from the apartment building and we could see the Manhattan skyline.

View of Manhattan from Union City, New Jersey

We only had two days to see as much as we could of NYC so we were on a very tight schedule. We all agreed that a bus tour would be a good place to start off so we took the hop-on hop-off Gray Line bus Downtown Loop tour. The tour took us through the streets of downtown Manhattan where we had a view of magnificent old buildings as well as modern architecture.  The tour also took us through some of the oldest and newest neighborhoods in Manhattan. The tour begins at Times Square/ Gray Line Visitors Center (7th Avenue-Broadway between 47th and 48th Streets). Stops include or are near Broadway/ Theater District, Macy’s/ Madison Square garden, Empire State Building, Flatiron Building, Union Square Shopping District, Ground Zero Museum Workshop, Greenwich Village, Soho, Chinatown/ Little Italy, City Hall/ Brooklyn Bridge/ World Trade Center Site, Whitehall Street/ Battery Park, South Street Seaport, Lower East Side, East Village, United Nations, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, and Winter Garden Theater.

Gray Line Downtown Loop Tour

Streets of Manhattan

Buildings of Manhattan

Flatiron Bulding

Empire State Building

Manhattan neighborhoods

We got off at Whitehall Street/Battery Park because we were going to take the free Staten Island Ferry. The 5-mile boat ride to Staten Island takes only 25 minutes and provides a view of the New York Harbor, the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We had to be content with viewing Lady Liberty from a distance since we were pressed for time. It was a cool and blustery day and we enjoyed hot soup and sandwiches on the promenade of the outdoor plaza atop the terminal building while taking in the magnificent view. We then took the ferry back to Lower Manhattan.

Lady Liberty

View from Staten Island

Before boarding the Gray Line bus again to continue our tour, we decided to do some exploring on foot. Actually we were looking for a shop so I could buy a camera. It was close to Mother’s Day and I got one on sale – good buy! So I had a new camera but it was only partially charged. No time to charge the battery; we had to move on! Anyway, I still had my trusty rubberband-bound camera and the camera on my cell phone. So the photos shown here were taken using the three cameras I had with me.

After we had completed the tour route we did more exploring on foot (Fifth Avenue and surrounds).  Oh so much to see but so little time. The last item for day 1 was the Empire State Building. It was so cold and windy up there but we just had to see the city lights! Our New York experience would have been incomplete without the view from the ESB.

St Paul's Chapel

Ground Zero viewed from St Paul's Chapel

Big Piano FAO Schwarz

Rockefeller Center

View from the Empire State Building

It was close to midnight when we finally headed back; we caught the last bus back to Union City.

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