Vince and I went to New York this past Saturday. Our friend, Donn, came along with us, and the three of us drove from Lebanon, Pennsylvania to Flushing, New York. We had a quick stop at Jersey City, New Jersey to pick up another friend, Nats. Our itinerary for the day included Ground Zero, Empire State, and Central Park. If it's worthwhile mentioning, I should say that the weather was scorching hot at the time - 103°F. We were advised by our New Yorker friends that we drive instead of commute as it can get really hot in the train/subway, so we drove from Flushing to downtown New York.
First attraction was the Empire State Building. As usual, the streets in New York are crazy busy with people walking everywhere, vehicles making their own lanes, and cabs all over the place - just pure madness! Even the GPS couldn't keep up with the streets in New York; it was totally confused seemingly to have lost its sense of direction. Good thing, being 102-story high, there is no way you would miss the Empire State Building, so we didn't really have a hard time finding our way. Next challenge is to find a parking spot. Along the streets, there were line-ups of scratched, dented, fender-bendered vehicles. We circled the area a couple of times in hopes to find a street parking spot, but it was simply hopeless, so we decided to just go for garage parking. Ironically, the first garage parking we went turned out to be manned by a rude parking attendant. The unfriendly comments from this guy plus the heat wave went to my head, and so i lost my temper. We ended up leaving his garage and moving to the next one - a much cozier and safer spot - valet parking (about $15 for half-an-hour). There were lots of tourists queuing to go up the observatory deck of the Empire State Building. We didn't really bother going up. We just took some pictures and then we left.
We then walked to Madison Square Garden a.k.a. The World's Most Famous Arena, which is about two blocks away from the Empire State Building. There was nothing really much to see from outside MSG. We didn't stay long in this area as well. Again, after a few pictures, we left. When we got back to the parking garage, we found out we exceeded the half-hour limit for 3 minutes, and so we have to pay another half-hour for a total of $30+.
We were all relieved to have survived our first stop and to be going to our next stop - Ground Zero. The GPS was still confused, and sad to say, we didn't find our way this time. We sort of reached the area, however, there was a police barricade, that needed us to detour, and we thought it was just not worth it to go into circles, locate the exact address, find a parking spot, and basically repeat the experience we went through about half-an-hour ago. It was also way past lunch time and we were all getting hungry, so we agreed to just forget about Ground Zero and move on to our next destination, Central Park.
Before strolling in the Central Park, we went for lunch at The Shops at Columbus Circle - a posh mall in the middle of Manhattan. We found a good parking spot - safe, friendly attendants, valet parking - albeit expensive (monthly parking rate is between $600+ to $1000+ depending on the make/model of vehicle).
Lunch was very good and filling. It was a "marche" style restaurant. Surprisingly, our bill was only a few dollars short $100. Even the cashier was surprised as she was expecting our bill would come up around $200 (considering there was five of us), which made me wonder afterwards if she did punch in the items correctly. Too bad, Vince lost our receipt, so I didn't have the chance to verify it. With the high cost of living in New York, I couldn't help but wonder every time I would come across something cheap.
Then, off we went to Central Park. It was soooo melting hot that you'd find people either half-naked or barely clothed at all ! Funny is, there was this group of ladies and gents doing a photo shoot in the park, and you're not going to believe what they were wearing. They were dressed up in Victorian era costumes, and I could just imagine how sweaty wet their undies were. Hehe ! We burned a lot of calories walking around Central Park in that heat and finally when we had enough of dust and sweat, we decided to call it a day. We said our goodbyes-see-you-again to each other as we parted ways - Donn, Vince and I headed to Flushing, and Nats and Aids to Jersey City.
Whenever I visit New York, the Torontonian in me couldn't help but compare it to Toronto. New York and Toronto are the same with respect to the diversity of culture both cities offer. The high cost of living is also comparable. Toronto is relatively cleaner compared to New York. I find that there is a lot more order in the streets of Toronto as compared to New York. You can go to CN Tower through a nice, cool, shaded skywalk, or even if you walk on the streets, you can actually do it leisurely, without as much as hustle and bustle New York streets have. You can sit around The Rogers Centre and Air Canada Centre and do some photography in a relaxed mood. You can lazily lay on the grass of The Centre Island and get lost in your own world if you wish.
Anyway, if there is one place I discovered in my recent New York trip that I think won against Toronto, it's the Picnic Garden BBQ.
|Picnic Garden Korean BBQ - Flushing, NY|
I have yet to see a Korean BBQ Grill restaurant in Toronto that offers as much meat and side dish selection as Picnic Garden BBQ has, as well as the very prompt servers in this place. New York won this one hands down :)
Thank you for taking time to read my first Tuesday Travel post. Please come visit again next Tuesday for another escapade. Destination? The City of Fountains ;)