The American highlights

(This post follows ‘Night flight to NYC’ posted on 30 May 2017)

We had hoped to start touring from the first day of reaching New York city. The day we had landed was Thanksgiving Day. We wanted to catch a glimpse of the famous Macy’s parade. We were so enthusiastic about it that we forgot about jet lag! But it hadn’t forgotten us.

After we enjoyed looking at the crowd appreciating the inflated balloons – the star attraction of the parade, we headed to Grand Central Terminal to marvel at its architectural beauty. And it was then that the sleep wave caught me. I couldn’t rescue myself. I cruised aside and sat down leaning against a wall to catch up some sleep! We all must have some unique experiences and fond memories of our time in NYC, but mine is sleeping at Grand Central Terminal!

The jet lag was affecting me more than it was affecting Vinod. We spent half the nights planning for the next day and began touring after we woke up. We missed a stand-up comedy gig because we couldn’t get up in time. On two other occasions, when we did manage to reach the venue on time, I almost slept through the entire show. It took me almost 3 days to recover. Until then, our touring had not really begun.

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When our touring began, it was fun. Every morning, we would don our down jackets, gloves and boots and head straight to the Starbucks cafe around the corner to have breakfast. In the beginning, I found the winter attire cumbersome. However, I grew fond of it. I felt like a New Yorker!

After breakfast, we would head to the Cathedral Parkway (110 St) subway station on lines B and C. We would travel downtown to Times Square as most of the city’s attractions are located there.

We had bought Explorer Pass; it grants free access to some of the major tourist sites. We started with Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Madame Tussauds. Frankly, I was not very impressed with either because I had already seen many of the exhibits at Ripley’s on Guinness World Records TV show. As for Madame Tussauds, I didn’t know many of the personalities and I hated how everyone was touching the statues. More so, I hated how it was allowed by the management.

Anyway, we continued our tour to Rockefeller Top of the Rock and the Empire State building (on the 86th and 102nd floors). We saw amazing views of the Central Park from Rockefeller Top of the Rock. The vegetation looked like a potpourri of green and hues of yellow. Winter was announcing its impending arrival. From the Empire State building, we saw city lights as we had visited it during dusk.

Over time, we covered the other popular tourist spots as well: Statue of Liberty, Metropolitan museum, the 9/11 memorial, Wall Street and the Times Square. We visited the Times Square almost every day. We loved the liveliness there. It was so contagious. It was also fun to watch the entertainers. On one of the days, the local camera caught us live on their screen. We were celebrities for a short while. 🙂

I had many other special or memorable experiences in the US. They are:

  1. walking in the Central Park

We went twice to Central Park. The first time, we were looking for horse carriages but didn’t find any. Nor did we find the location from where we could hire one. The second time, it was unusually cold. I had not carried my gloves. I feared that my fingers would freeze. After a long walk to the southern end of the Park, we saw a man selling food on a cart. I bought hot tea from him not to drink, but to thaw my hands!

2. visiting the Museum of Natural History  

We were thrilled to see the Egyptian mummies and remnants of the Ishtar Gate. I was delighted to see the taxidermied exhibits which are unique to North America and which I had first seen in Ben Stiller’s movie, ‘A Night at the Museum’.

3. experiencing the magic and grandeur of broadway shows

We would queue up at the TKTS office to grab last-minute discounted tickets for the day’s shows and then rush to the theatres! We watched ‘Jersey Boys’, ‘Something Rotten’, ‘Wicked’, ‘Chicago’ and ‘Kinky Boots’, out of which I enjoyed ‘Something Rotten’ the most.

4. taking a helicopter ride over Manhattan 

This was Vinod’s interest. I enjoyed our movie (see below) more than the helicopter ride. That was our first and only helicopter ride yet!

5. viewing the building used in the popular and my favourite sitcom ‘Friends’ on Bedford Street

This was my interest. I wish I could go upstairs and find all the ‘friends’ at Monica’s.

6. viewing the classic icon Brooklyn bridge

I had seen this bridge in many American movies. Seeing this bridge in real life was surreal.  

7. visiting Corning Museum of Glass and seeing live glassblowing

This was my first experience ever at watching live glassblowing. Although I have been to Venice, I had not got the opportunity to visit the glass factory on its neighbouring island of Murano.

8. viewing the magnificent Niagara Falls and enjoying an adventurous jet boat ride in the Niagara gorge

9. meeting my cousin-nephew Shiv and his wife Prerana

Meeting friends and relatives abroad is indeed fun. Vinod and I had a memorable time at their apartment in New Jersey.

10. shopping

11. watching a broad and rich variety of pooches.

Pooches of all shapes, sizes and colours, dressed up for their walk, would trot happily alongside their humans.

For Vinod, I think the highlight would be eating at Hard Rock Cafe in NYC and at Niagara Falls! That trip was also different because it is the only trip in which we spent so many days in just one city – 9 to be precise.

image
The magnet that adorns our fridge

Our trip to the US was eye-opening and fulfilling in many ways. We loved the energy, the attitude and diversity of the people there. No wonder so many of us wish to settle there. It was Vinod’s dream to visit the US and an accomplishment for both of us to cross the Atlantic Ocean. We had first connected with it at the Cape of Good Hope. However, we missed out on seeing zombies, aliens and serial killers. A trip to the US without coming across one of these feels so incomplete. Maybe on our next trip…

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