US Trip ’07: Last Day in NYC

New York City

May 28, 2007. After doing the tourist ritual of going up the Empire State Building, my parents did a little shopping along Fifth Street. While they were shopping, I went out to walk around the block to take some pictures and to leisurely watch pedestrians and other tourists go about their own things.

New York City

After my parents bought themselves their own pairs of “bargain” shoes, I suggested that we walk all the way to our hotel, which was more than a dozen blocks away, to save on cab fare and to soak up what’s left of us to experience during our last day in New York City. I was reminded, however, that my parents aren’t very fond of leisure walking, so we ended up taking a cab back to Edison Hotel.

New York City

Right after unloading a few things, we went out of the hotel to have dinner at Friday’s in Times Square. Our orders took an unusual while, however, so while waiting, I went out of the restaurant to take my last few pictures of Times Square before we leave New York early the next day.

New York City

I do not know if it was because it was Memorial Day or if it is the norm, but there was quite a crowd in Times Square. And a lot of marines and soldiers in their duty uniforms.

New York City

I came across these pair of guys who were selling anti-government stickers a few steps from a group of policemen. Some pedestrians were heckling at them too. They didn’t seem to care, and were even heckling back. That was quite amusing. I bought a pair of stickers from them.

New York City
New York City

After satisfying my photographic thirst, I went back to the restaurant and had my dose of the typical Friday’s fare of large burgers, fries, and salad.

US Trip ’07: Empire State Building

May 28, 2007. After taking the Statue of Liberty tour, we walked around Battery Park for a while until we found ourselves buying “cheap” shirts off ambulant vendors on the pedestrian sidewalk just across the Wall Street bull.

view from atop the Empire State Building

After having our photos taken with the famed bull sculpture, we walked a few more blocks before hailing a cab that would take us to the Empire State Building.

Just the other day, the line leading to the Empire State Building observatory stretched all the way around the pedestrian sidewalk surrounding the block. Fortunately for us when we got there, the lines were pretty short and we got ourselves to the top of the building in no time, after of course, paying exorbitant tourist fees. View the rest of the pictures here.

US Trip ’07: Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

May 28, 2007. When our cab dropped us at Battery Park, we were met with a mile-long line leading to the jetty where tourists board on a ferry to Liberty Island. Normally that would discourage me from pursuing the trip. But see, western literature has conspired to make all of us feel the need to step foot on landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty. We couldn’t just go to New York and not go to the famed statue. Fortunately, there were street performers and other tourists to watch in amusement. And the line also moved steadily and surely.

Before getting to board the ferry, everyone had to go through a security check similar to the system used in airports. I guess for being such an important national symbol of America, it is vulnerable to anti-American attacks by anti-American terrorists (note the anti-American qualifier).

The ferry ride to Liberty Island took roughly ten minutes. When tourists get there, they’re free to explore the small island. We lined up for the queue that lead inside the statue and up to the torch, but apparently people had to acquire entrance tickets to the statue a week or more before. We had a quick lunch of overpriced salami sandwiches and coffee at the island. After which, we dropped by the souvenir shop to complete the tourist experience.

We boarded a ferry back to Manhattan an hour or so past noon. The ferry stopped by similarly famed Ellis Island, but we didn’t get off anymore. We got back to Manhattan a few minutes later.

Click here to view the rest of the pictures.

US Trip ’07: Night Bus Tour of NYC

May 27, 2007. After an almost two-hour loop bus tour around Manhattan’s downtown, I wanted to make most of our ride-all-you-can ticket and hop on a night loop tour around Manhattan and part of Brooklyn. My parents and my brother however, wanted us to catch up on jet lag and stay at the hotel. I was told I could go if I can handle being alone in such a foreign place. Wow, they might have not known, but that’s just my thing actually. The freedom to wander off and not be too restricted.

So hop on a bus alone I did. The tour around Manhattan and Brooklyn at night took around two hours.

The bus went through an almost-similar route as the downtown Manhattan loop tour, except that the bus eventually crossed Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn. It started drizzling in the middle of the tour, but it was okay, even though I stayed on top of the double decker bus. It got pretty cold and windy that night, in contrast to the summer heat during the day.

There was a minor thrill with taking the tour by myself. Though it would probably not happen in a guided bus tour, I would’ve wanted to get lost. I didn’t have any maps in case I do, nor a cellphone to keep in touch. By the way, you may view all the pictures here. I was able to get myself back to our hotel room eventually. My brother and my dad were, as always, already asleep. My mom, on the other hand, was watching a live telecast of Miss Universe. And I, after changing into more comfortable clothes, dropped dead asleep beside my brother.

US Trip ’07: NYC Downtown Loop Tour

May 27, 2007. We weren’t in New York City for very long. Just a day and a half, actually, to do the tourist essentials. It was quite surreal to be in New York for the first time. You know how one has never set foot in the place and yet his subconscious is saturated with its images from all the American entertainment and other such products he has consumed– from Spider-man to Superman to Friends to many many other American sitcoms, films and literature. It can make one feel artificially enthralled and fulfilled.

After having a hearty Italian fast food lunch at Sbarro’s in Times Square, we crossed the street and lined up for the quintessential double decker bus tours.

We took the downtown loop tour which took us on a few-hour tour around Manhattan’s famed downtown from Times Square to The Empire State Building to the Flatiron building and Union Square shopping districts, to Soho, to Chinatown, to Lower East Side, to East Village, to Greenwich Village to Rockefeller Center, boy I don’t remember everything.

You know that weird feeling of artificial fulfillment persists. You’ve never been here before but you’ve seen and read these places so many times in your books, in your TV, in your theaters that they have long become familiar before you set foot and they become surreal once you do. It’s like your whole entertainment world has conspired to saturate you with images of New York City to make you feel special when you actually get there–when really, if not for all the mention in thousands of literature, what makes New York City that much different from other world megacities?

View all the pictures here

US Trip ’07: Atlanta to New York

May 27, 2007. It was Memorial Day weekend. My aunt and her family brought us and saw us off from Hartfield Jackson Airport in the morning, a few hours before noon. At the security check, our boarding passes were marked with special markers, and we were brought into these special glass cubicles. It’s “SOP,” I suppose, for suspicious-looking people like us, however subjective their standards are. I don’t know. For certain, most of the other domestic passengers didn’t go through all that hassle.

Anyway. By this time, I’ve come to particularly enjoy loitering around airports while waiting for boarding time. There’s this certain leisure in watching other passengers and looking through the shops.

leaving Atlanta

Our Delta Airlines flight to New York took around five hours. New York and Atlanta are on the same time zone, so there’s no additional jet lag, though I did get to catch a few hours of sleep on the plane.

We arrived at Terminal 3 of the JFK Airport at a few hours past noon. We were stalled for a moment at the baggage claim area apparently because one of our luggages was forcibly opened and inspected. Admittedly, the particular luggage was frozen because it contained boxes and boxes of cold hopia from Binondo in Manila. None of them were missing, thankfully–though, the forced inspection of the luggage deemed it unusable. It was wrapped in meters of packaging tape when we got it.

We were picked up by a transport service that brought us from the airport to our hotel. We passed through Queensborough then across Queens Bridge to Manhattan. We arrived at Edison Hotel, just a few steps from Times Square, after some minutes of traffic through Manhattan’s streets.

After unpacking a bit, we immediately left our hotel and walked to Times Square to look for a place to have lunch. We eventually settled for something familiar, big servings of Italian fast food at Sbarro’s.