Something was different today. Maybe it was the clouds covering the sky or the late night we swore we weren’t going to subject ourselves too but this morning was slow to get going and slow going all the way. I had actually woken up early and was going to make the most of it but my body wouldn’t have any of it, pulling me back down into the sweet dream land I was struggling to leave behind. We finally woke at our usual time to make our way down to La Pain Quotidien, a local organic bakery that does a mean Belgian waffle and managed to produce a real coffee that didn’t taste like NYC swap gas. We’d figured that we could knock off 2 sights today leaving just one left for our last full day in NYC so we headed up to our first target: the Museum of Modern Art.
I’d heard of MoMA before through watching some vlogs about NYC a while back. I was interested in it primarily because of that but also hoping that it wouldn’t just be all paintings on walls or halls of sculptures. You see I’m not usually much of an art fan as much of it bores me but I thought that the modern aspect of it might ensure that a few items would pique my interest. Upon entering we were greeted with an exhibit that was part physics experiment and part magic trick with 2 fans blowing into each other with 2 loops of some material hovering between them. I’ve got a video of it which I’ll endeavour to upload later and post below because this thing is seriously cool.
Thrilled with the prospect that this wasn’t my grandma’s kind of art museum we started on the second floor. The first section we went through was an installation from a Vietnamese artist which was basically a documentary about helicopters and their use during the war. It was interesting to hear the stories of those who lived through that war but it confused me as to how the thing could be considered art. We went on to the next section which was dedicated to the modern kitchen with all kinds of appliances and designs going back over 100 years. There was also an awesome amount of wartime propaganda about eating certain foods or breeding rabbits (they’re off the ration!) to help the war effort. It was almost surreal that those kinds of posters actually existed but then again I’m several generations removed from those who experienced the last total war.
The next section was all industrial design with various products and art based on those products. Some of these exhibits were interesting mostly for the information around when the products came to be. After this we started making our way up to the next few levels and this is where we showed our total ignorance of the art world. We breezed through the next 3 levels of varying walls of paintings only stopping a few times when we recognised things like The Starry Night or a name of a long dead painter. An hour or so later we were out of there and jonesing for some grub so I found us a little french place not too far away where we could rest up before tackling our next target.
After finishing a delicious lunch we had both came to the conclusion that we’re not particularly big art fans which means we probably won’t be visiting the 2 other art museums we have in our booklet instead opting for another high rise (30 Rockefeller) and just letting the other one slide. Walking out we both felt the same tiredness that had plagued us in the morning return with a vengeance. We wandered back to the hotel where we zoned out for a good 3 hours before heading out for dinner. We shared a slab of ribs and the returned back home feeling fat and happy.
Tomorrow is our last full day here in NYC and we’re hoping to make the most of it. If we feel up to it we might hit up the last museum on our hit list but we’ve still a couple other attractions I’d like to see before we depart this giant city. That will also bring us into our final week of vacationing in the USA and into some warmer weather, preparing us for what awaits us back home. I’m not thinking about that too much as there’s going to be a lot happening between now and then and my brain is firmly in holiday mode.
Before bed last night Rebecca guaranteed me that she’d be up at 6:30am regardless of any alarms or open curtains as she had been for the past couple days. I didn’t believe her of course especially since we hadn’t managed to get out of bed any earlier than 10am and this day turned out to be no different. Still we figured that we could knock over the remaining sections of the Natural History Museum in a couple hours and then move onto one of the other museums that were close by. With that in mind we hit up a local diner for breakfast, just making it in before it was officially lunch time.
Hitting up the metro brought us right into the Natural History Museum itself, saving us the 30 minute walk that set my foot ablaze just a few days ago. Our tickets gave us access to the Journey to the Stars exhibit, basically a planetarium movie narrated by Whoopi Goldberg. We choose a session that started soon after we arrived so we could knock over the rest of the exhibits in quick succession. The show itself wasn’t too bad with the graphics and the science both been done well. The sound was perhaps a touch too loud which detracted from the experience but I still love me a good documentary about all things space and science. With that out of the way we made our way around the rest of the space exhibits, with one out of the way exhibit catching my eye:
This little rover was almost forgotten over in this lonely little corner but I had noticed it from across the room. The rest of the exhibits in this section were interesting but nothing I hadn’t seen or heard of before so we decided to make our way onto the next level. We’d already done part of this level the other day so we thought the rest wouldn’t take us too long. Probably the most memorable part of this level was the gem section with an almost unfathomable collection of precious stones on display. One of the most intriguing was the gem that had 2 security guards assigned to it, the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond which is the largest blue diamonds in the world. It was quite impressive to see up close although I found the synthetic gemstone exhibit much more enthralling, especially the chemically flawless white diamond they had.
It was at this point that we decided to grab some lunch and see how we were doing for time. It was already 3pm and we hadn’t gotten through half of the rest of the exhibits we wanted to see. For those of you considering going there it’s really a whole day experience if you take your time with everything. You could probably run around everything in under 2 hours, but that wouldn’t be doing the museum justice. Still we managed to knock over quite a few of the sections including the human evolution, sea creatures and dinosaur section before we got the announcement to get out. Before you all ask yes I did get to see my favourite dinosaur:
When we exited the museum it was already getting dark so we headed back to the hotel to figure out our next move. I ended up zoning out for a good 30 minutes on the couch before deciding that we should hit up the gym for the second time we’ve been here in NYC. Once that was out of the way I found us a nice out of the way italian restaurant that managed a decent meal. Nothing spectacular but it was differently different from everything else we had had so it was at least a refreshing chance. We then hit up a local ice cream place for a little bit of desert on the way back to the hotel, slogging our way through the late night crowds in Times Square.
Tomorrow we’re hoping that the next few attractions on our hit list aren’t quite as massive as the Natural History Museum was. Sure we could do our part by not getting up late in the day but when you’re on holiday it just seems wrong to force yourself out of bed. We’ve got another 2 full days here in the big city before we head for a warmer climate and we’re definitely looking forward to making the most of them. Maybe I should set an alarm for 8am, just to be sure 😉
I awoke from a night of extremely lucid dreams, signalling that my body had finally recognised that I was on holiday and was beginning the process of unwinding the tangled mess of my brain that I had built up over the past year. It was a good feeling and something I had been waiting for ever since I landed in the US but I had never imagined it would’ve taken this long to occur. Still flush with a small victory I roused Rebecca from our slumber and set about preparing for the day ahead. It was shaping up to be a wallet draining affair.
I hit up Yelp again to find a breakfast place that was close by. Narrowing the search down I honed in on a cafe inside a hotel not far from us, the Cafe Edison. The menu was a simple affair, a welcome change from the massive menus we’d become accustomed to over the past week or so. We ordered ourselves up a hearty breakfast whilst basking in the rustic architecture, figuring out where we’d head to first. Whilst I had always known that I wanted to visit Nintendo World when I came to New York we had past it the night before on our hunt for the dinner place I had tracked down and had to refrain from going in there prematurely, but today it we would be making a bee line for it.
A short walk later saw us at our destination, the 2 story store entirely dedicated to the world of Nintendo. The bottom floor was almost completely dedicated to the DS with dozens of the handheld consoles dotting the show room floor. I fiddled around with the comically large DSi XL for a while before catching up with Rebecca who’d started looking over the wall of Pokemon figurines plastering an entire wall. There wasn’t much more for us on this level so we headed upstairs to the Wii/merchandise/history area and instantly I knew this is what I was looking for. There was an entire section dedicated to all sorts of Nintendo memorabilia including a working Famicon (the console before the NES). I spent a good half hour ogling the various things before shifting my gaze to the merchandise, eventually leaving there $100 poorer with several bits of swag in tow:
We’d also noticed that there was a Lego store not too far away so we wandered over there to have a look. It was patently obvious that this place was far more popular than the Nintendo store we had just come from with space being at a premium as you were trying to move around it. The audience was however a generation younger with the majority of the people in there being under 12. There were some impressive Lego sculptures in every section of the store but apart from that it was pretty much just your run of the mill retail store which was a little disappointing. I left there with my wallet in tact, but with a good dozen pictures to remind me of the short time I spent in there.
Just for kicks we decided to make our way to the Apple flagship store next to Central Park. Rebecca wanted to see if she could get a new case for her iPhone but realistically we just wanted to see the spectacle that is the giant glass cube protruding out of the underbelly of gotham city. Walking up to it I was impressed by how clean they’d managed to keep it in this pollution ridden city but that was instantly overtaken by the swarm of people coming in and out of the store. We made our way down and were instantly greeted by a swarm of people the likes of which I’ve never seen before, with nearly every display item being fondled by a potential customer and every employee either helping someone or frantically running around the store. I had wondered about the lack of Apple advertising in this giant metropolis and this provided the answer, they just don’t need it. With Rebecca coming up empty for a suitable replacement case for her iPhone we left the Apple store and started ambling towards Central Park.
We were initially going to go into Central Park Zoo but it was going to close no less than an hour after we arrived there. On advice from our recently returned from the US friends, Nick and Dannae, we started making a beeline for our closest retailer of the New York City Ticket. It’s basically a collection of tickets for local attractions at a discounted rate and can be purchased at each of the attractions themselves. Since we were in Central Park the closest one was American Museum of Natural History so we headed over there. The attendant had told us that the last show for the day in the planetarium had just started so she gave us a second set of tickets to come back to catch it another day. With that in mind we did a quick tour of the 2nd level before the museum closed for the day, sending us home.
Tomorrow is set to be filled with more shopping and sight seeing although hopefully more streamlined than we did today. My foot has been giving me trouble again and whilst it was fine for most of the day the walk home flared it up to the point of being properly painful. Thankfully it seems to get better rapidly so hopefully a day of light walking won’t set it off again and I can continue to enjoy the numerous sites this metropolis has to offer.
There was a sound at the edge of my hearing, familiar yet I couldn’t quite place it. The harder I concentrated on it the more I realised it was my alarm going off which sounded like one of those alarms they use in movies for when there’s an emergency. We had an early start today as we had a plane to catch at 11:20 and didn’t want to leave anything to chance. Still it was slow going getting everything ready for our short trip over the border to the United states, our bodies not wanting to leave the sanctuary that we’d become accustomed to. We made our way there, returning the rental car and making our way to the check-in desk.
The airport was strangely deserted with only a handful of other passengers milling around. Still it took us well over an hour to get ourselves through all the checkpoints leaving us only 5 minutes to spare before the plane was scheduled to board. The plane was an interesting one being quite small (I couldn’t fully stand up in it) with only 2 rows of 2 seats but it was also a jet. Anyone who’s flown from Canberra to Sydney would know that most of the time you’re going to be flying on a turboprop plane like a Dash-8 but this was a CRJ 900. With only 80 or so seats in the craft I figured that they could be taking in, at most, $8,000 per flight which wouldn’t leave a lot of room for profit on these short hop flights. Still when we landed I saw at least another 2 of these craft decked out in the Delta colours so there must be something I’m missing here. The flight was impressively quick and smooth so I’m definitely not complaining.
Arrival at JFK brought back memories of returning home to Canberra as we were lead out onto the tarmac into a makeshift shelter. I’m guessing it was just for the short hop flights as I could see a flock of aircraft off in the distance. Finding our luggage was painless, as was getting transport into the city. No sooner had we been standing idly by the nearest road than we were offered a taxi with a flat fare into Manhattan Island. The taxi itself was pretty impressive too as it had a monitor embedded in the front seat showing the fare, live map as well as other information. We had a good fiddle with it until we hit the city line, after which we just stared slack jawed out the window at what was surrounding us.
Block by block it wasn’t really that much different than any other big city I’ve been in, with stores at the street level and high rise buildings closing around you. What impressed me though was the sheer scale of the city itself where most would have just a few blocks of high rise New York’s stretches almost as far as you can see in each direction. It took us a good 15 minutes to get to our hotel but thankfully we were able to pull up right out the front. We’d arrived early for our check-in but the room was ready for us anyway so we dumped our things and set about wandering around the nearby area. We saw shops of all kinds, street peddlers hocking all sorts of random items and being accosted no less than 10 times by people trying to get us to go to a comedy club or some other event. Rebecca wanted to check out the central park so we headed over there. It was a remarkable place to have in one of the biggest cities in the world but with my foot playing up again we cut our jaunt there short and headed back to find some dinner.
After scouring Yelp for some place cheap and delicious I came across the Tri Tip Grill, a little food joint inside 30 Rockefeller Plaza. After getting lost trying to find it we eventually tracked it down and ordered ourselves a couple sandwiches. What got me was the glass coke bottles with non-twist tops on them, which I just had to try. The food was great, even more so considering the price. Satisfied we started to amble our way back to the hotel picking up a cup of pretzel pieces to snack on. Once we were back home I started looking for places for us to visit tomorrow and was instantly overwhelmed with possibilities. Needless to say we’ll be more than able fill 7 days with just shopping if we wanted to but there’s so much more for us to see than just the inside of the stores.