Part 4 – New York City
Yes, that’s not all the luggages that we have. We had smaller bags of carry-ons that aint in the picture lol. So anyway, The Big Apple. As much as I would prefer to go off-the-beaten-track by visiting the less touristy places … it’s however my family’s first time to NYC and so… being 1 of the most visited city in the world, how is it that we don’t visit those acclaimed touristy spots? Now that I had seen NYC in the middle of summer, with the sorching sun and rising temperatures … I cant wait to see it in winter.
Ginnie & MK – the porters of the day.
Day 9. There’s plenty that’s being offered to everyone in Manhattan! Not wanting to visit some of its sights without knowing much about the history behind it, I thus spent the month leading to this trip researching more about each of the various buildings and places of attractions that we planned to visit. So, here are some of the sites:
New York Public Library. The main branch building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965. The site where Carrie Bradshaw of “Sex and the City” was orginally supposed to wed at. Both the exterior and interior of the library look just like a museum –> sky-with-angels painted ceilings, oil-on-canvas paintings and portraits, stone sculptures and of course, countless and countless of books , all stored along the 88 miles of shelf space!
Bryant Park. The location where designers showcase their latest designs, and where models strut their stuff for the bi-annual “New York Fashion Week fiesta. A walk through Bryant Park in the midst of Christmas season shouldn’t be missed. A cup of hot apple cider in hand, we strolled through the park … taking in the sights of New Yorkers and tourists rushing to do their christmas shopping at the holiday shopping fair … and also, to people-watch the many skaters ice-skating. People of all sorts – Parents who lead their lil’ kids … executives decked in biz wear … couples in love, holding hands … siblings trying to chase one another …
Grand Central Terminal. The world’s largest train station, with its 44 (soon to be, 48) platforms. The four-faced clock right in the middle of the main concourse is a familar sight as it’s often featured in many films and tv show. Made from opal, this recognizable icon is said to be valued somewhere between usd $10 – 20 million. There’re also secret tracks or basement right here in the Grand Central Terminal. According to wiki, ” A “secret” sub-basement known as M42 lies under the Terminal, containing the AC to DC converters used to supply DC traction current to the Terminal. ” In addition, there’s also another track that goes from the terminal right to the Waldorf-Astoria hotel – one that is closed down, but according to some, it’s still used by Presidents when they stay at the hotel. Just like any major sites in NYC, the terminal organises its yearly “Holiday Shopping Fair” at the Vanderbilt Hall, for those interested in some christmas shopping.
Do not miss the annual Grand Central Terminal Holiday Kaleidoscope Light Show. A spectacular light show display , ending with a fireworks fiesta, against the sky ceiling and walls of the terminal.
The “Grand Central Holiday Train Show” exhibit that continues to fascinate kids and adults through the years. Check out the NY Transit Museum.
Times Square. What’s NYC without a visit to the popular, and often-featured-in-TV/Films Times Square right? It’s quite an urban jungle of concrete and towers that scrape the sky. Americans and tourists alike, all on cloud 9 THOUSAND with their shopping … All that we saw were people loaded with bags and bags of christmas gifts. Tourists from all over the world (seriously, it’s the most cosmopolitan city I’ve ever been … i must have heard a dozen of languages being spoken each day) – a total kaleidoscopic array of people! Walking along the streets of Times Square first made us shuddered with a wave of pure anticipation and excitement but it soon became a bit too overwhelming and crowded for us.
A 3-storey ferris wheel and an almost live-sized T-rex right in Times Square’s “Toys R Us” .
M&Ms store, all 3 storeys of it. Filled with columns and columns of assorted M&Ms of all kinds. And that’s not all, there’s also countless of M&Ms merchandise for those avid fans – apparels, undergarments, accessories (earrings/necklaces and even, sunglasses!), utensils, school bags, u name it- M&Ms got it. Good job M&Ms, trying to capitalise on their unwavering popularity.
A chocoholic’s delight! First, M&Ms … then Hershey’s!
Hey, Look! What’s that? It states “MK & STEPH. EVER YOURS. EVER OURS.” 🙂 Seeing that we’re in the City, I was inspired by “Sex and the City” (original quote: Ever thine, Ever Mine, Ever Ours). My surprise Christmas gift for baby, 15mins of fame, right here in Times Square!
Day 10. Pennslyvania.
Took a day-tour to explore the historic Pennslyvania. There’s of course the must-go-to trip over to the Independence National Historic Park, where we saw the old, cracked Liberty Bell and the Independence Hall.
Honestly, I was about to comment that a day tour over to Penn state isnt really worth it. 5hours’ plus of travelling, and due to the lack of time, you can’t really absorb all that’s being offered. Trust me, you will be better off going on a free & easy trip, where you will get to enjoy the sights and sounds on your own pace. However, the trip to the Amish county really made up for it. Amish community (at Lancaster,PA) is indeed one that intrigues many. A community that continues to live by the olden ways like their forefathers did, even in our fast-paced and increasingly modern society. To them, “family” is top priority and so, they believe in staying close to their family members. As such, Amish families do not permit electricity or telephones in their homes – they believe that such modern technologies could be destructive to their family structure and their way of life as technologies like these would result in them drifting away from their community. In other words, they lead a very simple lifestyle (NO tv/internet/
1) Plain People – Only the simpliest and basic ornaments are allowed on clothing. That means – NO patterns on clothing, just dark solid colours (often black, navy blue or grey) … NO buttons – pins or hooks will do the job … In most cases, Amish women typically don solid-colour dresses (long sleeves and full length skirt), with a white apron at the front. Apparently, they are also not allowed to cut their hair.
2) Transportation – The “Old Order” people travels only in horse-drawn buggies. Horse-drawn buggies can only travel that far and so, this would forbid the Amish from travelling too far away from their families. They are however, allowed to ride in automobiles – just as long as they dont own them- (planes/cars/trains) though travelling too far a distance is often discouraged.
3) Occupation – Most earn their keeps through farming as they believe that the rural working environment helps maintain their “Togetherness” within their community.
4) Education – Formal education are provided for the Amish kids through eighth grade and so, most of them only studied till grade 8th. Academic study takes place in a 1-room school-house and all students (from 1st to 8th grade) are taught by only 1 single, unmarried teacher.
Please google for “Amish” to read up more about them. Given that the world is becoming increasingly globalised and modern, i cant help but to totally respect the Amish people for standing by their beliefs and leading their lives as simple as they can be, even in this fast-paced and competitive society.
Here’s us with our Buggy ride driver. One of the main highlight was that we got to enjoy a 20mins Buggy ride around the fields and plains of the Amish village. Got the chance to interact with them and know more about the Amish and its culture.
MK, me and our lucky pennies! Yes, those many press-a-penny machines that dot America.. those that never fail to get either of us to try our hand at it. And now thanks to those machines, we have a small collection of pennies that display the different places of attraction that we had been to during our stay.
Day 11. Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty. Radio City Christmas Show with the Rockettes.
At the historic but now-defunct Communipaw Terminal (also known as the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal). Abandoned buildings or terminals like this fascinate me (though, dont bet on me paying a visit to abandoned buildings by myself. I often assume that they’re haunted.). The CRRNJ declared bankruptcy and so, the terminal ceased operations since 1967.
Ellis Island – the gateway to America for all immigrants during the period of 1892 to 1954. IMO, it’s a must-visit for all first-time tourist. There’s so much knowledge that one can absorb here – The changes that the island undergone since when it was first a 3.5 acre muddy island back in 1630 to the stage it is right now and the different processes that an immigrant has to go through in order to pass the check to migrate to USA. Audio guides are available to allow you to experience Ellis Island, just like an immigrant of those yesteryears. Yet, this remarkable and significant island was once left abandoned and uncared for … for almost 50 yrs. As quoted from a site, ” Sometimes called Ellis Island’s Forgotten Side, 30 hauntingly beautiful buildings, vacant, shuttered, and unseen by the public for well over half a century lay before me in dire need of repair”. Even up till now, the other buildings – Ferry Terminal, Hospital Complex and the Contagious Diseases Wards are not officially open for visits for members of the public ( permits needed).
Registry Hall. Statue of a young irish gal, Annie Moore – The first immigrant to be given the stamp of approval since Ellis Island was officially opened on 1st Jan 1892. Pictures of the once-ruined/abandoned Ellis Island/buildings – all in stages of decay.
Statue of Liberty. Need me say more? Remember to get your “Free first-come-first-serve tickets up to the Observation Deck” as early as possible. It’s worth the experience although I have to mention that you will not be in the statue itself, just the observation deck below it.
156 steps to the Observation Deck, that opens up to an aerial 360 degrees view of Manhattan, New Jersey, Staten Island and the other NYC boroughs. Well – it was alot easier to climb up these 156 steps as compared to the rather slippery spiral steps up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The original old torch that’s now on display in the museum.
A view from the bottom. The very narrow flight of stairs (12 storey) that leads up to the observation level at the Crown ( closed, ever since 911). There’s also a ladder from the Crown that leads up to the Torch – the highest point of the statue (closed, since 1916).
A mad rush over to Midtown to see the doc to get MK’s stitches out first before heading for our show. Broadway shows are often a must for tourists who enjoy watching musicals. Truthfully, I would have jumped at the chance to catch many broadway shows if possible ( Wicked! Mary Poppins! The Little Mermaid!). However, prices soar and peak 😦 during Christmas season and also, due to the lack of time… we eventually settled on the famous Radio City Christmas show starring none other than the dazzling rockettes! The ideal show that would get our holiday spirits all prep for Christmas. Imagine a NYC Sight-Seeing bus drive in with Rockettes in tow … 3D effects … live animals (sheeps, camels, donkeys) … high-kick, tap dancing … all in a dizzying performance!
Part 5: Christmas in New York (Im such a procrastinator. It’s already gonne be CNY soon and here I am, still blogging about Christmas lol!)