Today was our last full day here in New York City as tomorrow we’d be leaving bright an early for our flight over to Los Angeles. We hadn’t really had too much planned other than going to the Top of the Rock (the observation deck on the Rockefeller Tower) so after doing our usual late rising routine we wandered around looking for a breakfast place I had tracked down. After not being able to find where the hell it was we went to another only to find it was closed, wasting precious time. Giving up on my idea of not eating in the same place twice while we were here we made a beeline for Pigalle which was the first place to serve us decent coffee and a good meal only to come across a decent French place that was still serving breakfast for 10 minutes. Whilst the Belgian waffle paled in comparison to the one I had yesterday the coffee more than made up for it, leaving me with a healthy caffeine buzz.
We’d noticed the Ripley’s Believe it or Not! museum the other day when we were visiting Madam Tussauds and I made a note to come back and visit it later. Whilst the price of entry was a little steep I figured it was worth it to see something I was fascinated with some time ago. There were some choice exhibits in there including a hair lock collection which had samples from George Washington, JFK and Abe Lincoln. Since we’d lost our tolerance for standing and looking at things yesterday at MoMA we breezed through this place in around an hour and I’d hesitate to recommend it unless you can get a discounted ticket. It really did feel like a tourist trap.
One of the things I’d been meaning to do since day one was to visit Ground Zero. We’d walked past so many places with giant construction operations that I was sure we’d past it already and just not noticed but with it being far down town I couldn’t have been more wrong. A quick metro ride down saw us just a short walk from the infamous site and honestly I was expecting just to see the big hole like I had seen in countless pictures over the years. Surprisingly there’s been an awful lot of construction work and the desolate hole I was familiar with was no where to be seen. The entire site was ringed with banners of what the new Freedom Tower and corresponding monument would look like but I still managed to get a little peak of it from in between the gates. We also visited the nearby church and the 9/11 memorials they had which was an interesting insight into the event I had only experienced remotely.
It was around this time that my phone started playing up and I wasn’t able to find us a place to eat with Yelp. Undeterred we started wandering around looking for somewhere to eat, turning down many places for their lack of seating. After taking a chance down a small road we found this fantastic little Japanese place that ticked all the right boxes: soft shell crab, good beer selection and deep fried deserts. By this time it was almost 4pm and the place was pretty empty leaving nearly the entire staff catering to us. Whilst it wasn’t the cheapest meal we had here in NYC it was easily one of the best and it was found without the help of the almighty Internet.
Afterwards we headed back into midtown so we could hit up our last attraction for NYC: the Top of the Rock. When I first saw this in our ticket book I didn’t think it would be worth it, I mean realistically the skyline looks pretty similar from any of the tall buildings. The difference was today that there was a low cloud cover over Manhattan and the viewing platform was a pretty awesome arrangement of large glass panels, giving a great view over the city. There was also quite a few less people at this than the Empire State building so we were able to mill around a bit more without having to make our way through the crowds.
The upper floors were host to an art installation that tracked everyone in the room with an array of LEDs on the roof and walls. This was one of the rare occasions where you could get on the actual roof of the place with its very own viewing platform. The view from there wasn’t too different from the lower levels but the novelty wasn’t lost on me, even though my previous high rise jaunt was several levels higher.
With that done we retired to our hotel room to prepare for our early morning tomorrow. Our flight leaves at 9:00am and we have to wrestle our way out of the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world, so we’re going to be leaving quite early to make sure we don’t miss our flight. Our destination is sunny Los Angeles, California where the minimum temperatures are higher than the maximums we’ve had here. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to it, especially since the last 2 weeks made that lovely Florida weather seem like a distant memory. Still I’ll be sad to leave NYC behind, it’s a great city with so many things to see and do that I won’t say no to coming back here, even for a short while.
This morning was unlike any other. With our successful conquering of the New York metro yesterday we had successfully covered more distance in any of the previous days without the hassle of walking from one place to another. This in turn meant that my foot had ample time to recover and this morning had it feeling like it was as good as new. This made everything else look better by comparison and with our breakfast worked out thanks to a tip from Nick I was feeling good about this day, even though we hadn’t given much thought to what we would do. We went down to one of the Pret a Mangers and ordered ourselves up a couple lattes and some misc breakfast things before sitting down to plan our day.
It might’ve just been the store we went to but the coffee was unfortunately atrocious, with that distinct burn taste that has plagued many of the other places we had visited. Still the breakfast bits we had picked up were fresh and quite good so overall it wasn’t terrible. The walk to this particular store had brought us past some places we had past on a previous day whereby we had spotted Midtown Comics. We wandered over there to check out their stock and I was instantly surprised by the large collection they had, many times that I had seen in any comic store in Australia. The second floor also stocked a large collection of comics with a good selection of figurines and models. Despite their incredibly cheap prices I still didn’t end up parting with any cash to grab them as I could get them online if I really wanted. Still I was in the minority there with most people there having several comics under their arms. Had I actually read any comics in the past decade I’m sure I would have too.
After Midtown Comics we started walking back towards to the hotel when we noticed Madam Tussauds Wax Museum and decided it was well worth a look in. It’s unfortunately not a part of the New York City ticket book we had bought the previous day nor is there any deal there for having the book but I had wanted to see this place anyway so we bought ourselves some tickets. The first room was set up as a celebrity after party and there was one person in particular I wanted to get a photo with:
That particular photo got quite a few laughs from the onlookers even from those in Miley’s target demographic. We spent the next couple hours posing with dozens of the other wax figurines getting some good and not so good pictures. There was also a Wizard of Oz “4D” experience which was the old film redone to use 3D with some added effects like air jets in the seats and water jets in the roof. It was pretty mediocre and highlighted all the reasons why 2D movies should never be redone in 3D, especially if you’re going to be as half assed about it as they were. In essence most scenes had 2 planes of view with everything either being in focus or out adding little to the movie itself. Unfortunately it seems like Avatar is still the only example I can point to of where 3D can be done to add something to a movie, rather than dollars to the ticket price.
After exiting the museum (and getting a compliment on my shirt from a dreamy eyed attendant) we headed back to the hotel to figure out what our next move was going to be. It seemed like the last few days caught up with us all in one go and we spent the next hour or so lounging on the couch in our hotel room. With daylight fast disappearing most of the attractions we wanted to knock off our list would only be open for an hour or less so we decided to hit the gym before heading out for dinner. I found us a nice little Japanese restaurant only 5 minutes walk from our hotel where we enjoyed a great dinner of ramen, kimchee and gyoza.
Once we got back to the hotel I went back to fiddling with the iPhone tethering problem I had been stumped on for the past couple days. After hitting the same road blocks again I decided to jailbreak my phone to get it over and done with. A quick Google search however turned up a section of the Apple Developer Agreement that said should I decide to go down this path I could be kicked out of the program. Not wanting to put that at risk I decided against jailbreaking my iPhone and set about finding another route. A few more searches turned up a little known fact about tethering in OS X, you need to hit apply in network settings after connecting for tethering to work. Once I did that instantly I was greeted with the blue bar that I had been longing for all this time. Even though its only EDGE it’s still very usable, as I’m using it to post this (and the previous) blog post right now.
We’ve only got a few more days here before we head for better weather in Los Angeles but there’s still more than enough to keep us entertained here in NYC. Tomorrow will probably be spent knocking off 2 of the museums on our to do list with maybe a bicycle ride through central park. Who knows though it could easily end up like today where we get distracted and spend hours doing something else, but that seems to be part of the beauty of this bustling metropolis.
I have to admit whilst I admired the spectacle of New York I didn’t much care for the fast paced city. The consent hard sell from street merchants, the inattentive people on the streets that would make no attempt to give way to anyone else and the constant unpleasant smells hadn’t really endeared it to me. Couple that with constant pain and I had a rather grim view of the city, slowing my rise from slumber this morning. Still I’m not about to waste my time over here so after spending way too much time getting ready we headed out for a really late breakfast at a nice french restaurant with an art deco finish.
We were still without a proper internet connection in our hotel room even after I had found a good plan on T-Mobile that would solve all our problems. For some reason it was refusing to tether to my laptop meaning that the lovely unlimited Internet connection I had acquired was trapped inside the confines of my iPhone. One solution was to get a wireless broadband modem that I could put my SIM card into and I saw that Office Depot stocked them. We headed over there to see if they had one but all I could find were the contract ones, leaving me to try and track one down somewhere else. We hopped over to a Radioshack to see if they had one but it was pretty much the same deal so I decided to leave it for now.
Wanting to tick off a couple of the attractions we’d bought into we had set our sites on the statue of liberty. Not wanting to trek the entire way down there on foot we tried to figure out the maze that is the New York subway system. After plotting the route on Google maps I noticed that it had a train option which did both the train transfer as well as the departure times. 20 minutes later we were at our destination and heading towards the dock that would take us out to the island. Before we could board we had to go through an airport style security scan where they announced we’d be the final boat for the day. We knew we’d taken our time getting here but we thought we’d still have some time up our sleeves, obviously not. The trip over and the island itself were pretty uneventful but it’s still immensely popular with the island teaming with people even this late in the afternoon. I got some choice photos of the monument before sitting down to enjoy the sunset on our boat ride back to Manhattan island.
By the time we got back it was almost night time so we decided to go to the Empire State Building so we could see New York City lit up at night time and get some good pictures while we were at it. It didn’t take us long to find it after exiting the metro station we came out of with the building tower over everything with its electric blue luminescence. The book had told us to come back after 9pm to beat the crowds but no less than 20 minutes later we were up at the top level. From every side of the building we could see city lights stretching out to the horizon, providing a stunning canvas for me to work my camera on.
With that out of the way we set about looking for a place to have dinner. I had found a korean barbecue place on Yelp that we started walking to but no less than 2 minutes into the walk did we find a microbrewery with an attached restaurant. The prices were good and the food sounded amazing so the estimated 15 minute wait was well within our limit. Whilst we waited I grabbed us some drinks from the bar with Rebecca selecting a long island iced tea and I grabbed one of their oatmeal stouts. It was a nice thick beer with a distinctly coffee aftertaste providing an ample distraction whilst we waited for our table. The dinner that followed was well worth it too with Rebecca getting exactly what she expected (doesn’t happen often) and I enjoying a 12 oz new york strip steak with a blue cheese dressing. Our walk back to the hotel was one of satisfaction and happiness without the pain I had suffered the day before.
I opened this post saying how I hadn’t really cared much for this city but that all changed today. Whilst anything mired in pain will always have a grim look to it today proved that there were many redeeming features for all the small bothers that got to me. Once I solve the small problem of tethering my iPhone I will have worked out all those little problems that have been gnawing at me since I landed here and hopefully I can get that done early tomorrow morning. With us mastering the subway system (thanks to Google) so much more of the city has opened up for us and I can’t wait to take advantage of it.