Day 13: Park and Cruise

Thanks to the rainy days we had earlier this week, we left the two crucial outdoor activities for Thursday, with the forecast for sunny weather. Another first; I have never prayed for the sun before.

And sun there was, in all its shining glory! We headed straight to Central Park, hired bicycles, and started our ride through. A couple of km into the ride had me puffing inordinately, and we found that the tyres were almost flat. That entailed a grumpy ride back to the shop for a change of bike, and we had to restart our tour.

Central Park was, is, pretty enough, bustling with people basking in the sun, and plenty of slopes to make the ride challenging. Exactly a week ago we had been cycling in Stanley Park, and I couldn’t help drawing comparisons. The highlight of Central Park was all the running bare-chested men showing off their toned bods! Hmmm. Now Souvik is setting that kind of target for himself ;-).

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We spent 3 hours at the Park, and could’ve done more, had we not had a cruise to head to. Fabulous to catch the sunset, and learn a little about the history of the city, and some funny stories. Lots of photo ops too!

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Day 12: Intrepid and nostalgic

On Indy’s advice, we went to see the Intrepid Sea, Air and Naval museum, and what a tour that was! We went Into the Growler submarine, and all over the Intrepid which is now a military museum.
Most of the equipment made no sense to me, but they look exciting in pictures. And a military exhibition is a great opportunity for the macho Top Gun-type pictures that we love to click.

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We wrapped up our outing in the city early today, to meet an old old friend of mine, Kaveri, and her family. Rupali, Kaveri and I had got together after 21 years, but those years just melted away as we chattered happily, reminiscing about those fun old days.

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Day 11: Wet blanket

Oh what a day it was, just rain, rain, rain. It wasn’t fun to lug the rain gear in addition to our regular paraphernalia of cameras, mobile phones, etc, but at least we were able to get around to a few sights.
We started the day at the Top of the Rock, sadly with just a hazy view of the skyline from inside out. We were struck with a realisation that most buildings looked rather boring or ugly, except a few, notably the Chrysler building and the Empire State Building. Unfortunately, the Chrysler view was obscured by the very ugly MetLife building!

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A hearty lunch and a happy browsing followed, after which we felt the need to get moving again to work off those pizza slices. We’re still trying to follow Srini’s agenda, so we headed off to the Grand Central Terminal. Grand Central lived up to its grand name, with its great main lobby, and the ceiling with constellations (apparently in the reverse order). Again I had that feeling of deja vu, thanks to the many scenes that have featured in movies.

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By this time we’d had enough of the rain, but wanted to make one last stop to the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, and that was quite worth it. Loved, loved, loved the glass cube, but there’s very little of Apple that I don’t love!

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Wile we didn’t manage to catch too many sights today, what we did see was a slice of ‘real’ New York life, and the pace at which it moves, come rain or shine. It was a day for umbrellas, and those scenes that we’ve only seen or heard about.

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And at the end, we transitioned from tourists to local(ish), as we rushed at top speed, heads down, through traffic lights, alongside other commuters, to catch the bus home. The day wasn’t over though; we went on to reconnect with friends, after a 12-year gap, and spent an enjoyable evening together.

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Electric Times Square!

We’ve seen it hundreds of times in movies and photos, but stepping into Times Square last night we were electrified! It was everything we’d expected – the lights, the people, the energy – and then some more. To me, it was the neon-lit version of Rome’s Piazza Novona, but it’s unnecessary to make these comparisons.

We were in our peak touristy mode yesterday, and it shows:

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And we simply couldn’t get over the lights! Plus there was some kind of festival, with live music and food and loads of people to step the excitement up a notch.

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Clichéd pictures, but I must post them!

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Day 10: Big Apple, small bite

From laid back Canada, we shifted a few gears in our vacation to in-your-face New York. It’s been my dream for a number of years, and Souvik’s only choice for his maiden visit to the US, so little wonder that we could barely stand still, as we waited for our friends to pick us up at the airport last night.
Rupali and Srini are both enthusiastic travellers, and they wasted no time in giving us a useful orientation into the city, and drew up an ambitious agenda. As quickly as we could, but much, much later than the rush hour, Souvik & I hopped onto the bus to take us into the city, and started our tour.
First stop was at the shop to get a local number. As soon as Souvik identified the Bangla shop man, he switched to Bengali chatter that helped us get connected (on the phone) faster. High time I learnt the language, I guess!
We followed Srini’s instructions, worked out the subway, and found ourselves at the WTC site. To me, all the people looked familiar, like scenes out of a movie or TV show. We were amazed by the number of different languages to be heard from all over the world. And both of us were eager to eat!
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Next stop: Battery Park, to catch the ferry to do as the immigrants did over hundreds of years – land at Ellis Island and pay homage to the Statue of Liberty. Ellis island was a revelation. It’s easy to forget, but important to remember how this country was built by the struggles and determination of immigrants over the years, and continues to do so.
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The Statue was designed by French sculptor, Frédéric Bartholdi, and placed on a pedestal designed by Gustav Eiffel. publisher Joseph Pulitzer helped to raise money for the sculpture. And the fact that interested me the most was that it came as a giant jigsaw puzzle and was assembled in New York!

After the ferry tour we moved on to Wall Street, and the Merrill Lynch bull, all downtown must-do’s.

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We snacked along the way, of course, to energise ourselves for the rest of the evening. We can only pray that all the walking burned off that Oreo brownie ;-).

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