Our sixth day in New York also marked our final day in the Big Apple. It was so depressing! So, knowing that this was the last day, we planned out our itinenary the night before. The little episode the night before has not dampened my spirits and excitement for this big city.
Our flight was at 11pm, so we had to be at the airport by 7pm (why it is so early, I have absolutely no idea!). So our plans were this:
1. Reach the Empire State building by 8.30am
2. Get back to hotel for breakfast buffet
3. Walk down to Lexington Avenue for Bath and Body Works
4. Take the tube to Ground Zero
5. Proceed to Century 21 for last minute shopping
6. Back to hotel for last minute packing
7. Dinner at the hotel’s restaurant using vouchers
8. Board Super Shuttle coach to get to Newark Liberty International Airport.
9. Home sweet home!
We were really packing in as much activities as possible for our final day! We met at the hotel lobby at 8am (early by our standards) and made our way to the Empire State Building by the subway.
The Empire State Building “King Kong” as seen from one of streets while on our way there.
Flowers were in full bloom everywhere in New York, because it was spring time. While Singapore is often touted as a Garden City, we are surrounded by trees, seldom flowers. Even then, it is all tropical flowers. How often do you get to see tullips in full bloom on a street? And, you really really have to resist the temptation of plucking them! No, I didn’t do it, so I took a photo with it instead!
Because we went on a weekday, there were no queues leading up to the observatory. But it was quite a long walk, even without any queues. I can understand why some of my colleagues gave up queuing after 2 hours when they visited the last time.
After what seemed like eternity, we were really there. The observatory on the 86th floor. And I am grateful to M for reminding me to bring my coat because it was quite chilly and windy from the top!
We were like schoolgirls again the moment we were out in the open. We went around taking photos of the scenery and of each other. We were seriously contemplating enacting a scene from “Sleepless in Seattle” there. Not much of an explanation of the places we see from the top, cos there was no tour guide around. The last two photos show Wall Street and the Statue of Liberty. Also managed to capture the Chrylser Building, one of the few buildings I know.
We also got a cute Caucasian tourist to take a photo for us. He had no idea we were planning to have cute poses so just before he was about to take the photo, we posed our cute poses and he was a little taken aback! Damn! I should have taken a photo with him!
Then we made our way back to the hotel, where we had our free breakfast buffet. The spread was the usual: bacon and ham, muffins, crepes, pancakes, sausages, fruits etc.. But all these sure beats having nutrition bars, takeout sandwiches for breakfast for the past few days.
After breakfast, we made our way by foot to the Bath and Body Works store on Lexington Avenue. We passed by Grand Central Station and took a few pictures. And I had been making a silly mistake all these while! I thought the building opposite Hyatt was Grand Central Station, when it was Chrylser Building. Grand Central Station was beside Hyatt! And to think I have been walking from the hotel to the station for so many times!
After around 10 minutes of walking, we reached Bath and Body Works! Finally! My ex-colleague had requested for me to get some things for her, so now that I have finally reached the place, I was relieved. I didn’t want to have to go back to Singapore and tell her I didn’t see a single store! She would be disappointed!
Spent a good 30 minutes inside the store, considering and reconsidering which items to buy. I bought the stuff she wanted and got a few more lip glosses for my girlfriends. I didn’t get anything for myself; I was concerned about my own bulging luggage. And being the tourist, I had to take a photo outside the store. My mantra was, “If it isn’t found in Singapore, it is worth taking a picture of it!”
We went back to the hotel to store our purchases before leaving for Grand Central Station. This time, to Ground Zero.
On the subway
To say I am shocked by the magnitude of the destruction is an understatement. Initially, when I saw the fencing and the construction from across the road, I was confused. Where is all that destruction? How come the site looks like any other construction site? How come there is no dust, no mess? But as I moved closer to the site, it dawned on me. This was it. This was Ground Zero. Slowly, I managed to piece all the images gathered from newspaper reports and I could visualise the scene from that fateful day 6 years ago.
Of course, the names aren’t just restricted to this panel. It stretches across the boundaries of the location, and I gather there are lots of names that are not captured here..
The panels that described the events that happened seemed like something from a movie, so dramatic, so reel life, but it was real. All these really happened! And the photo just brought tears to my eyes instantly. Nuff’ said.
We then made our way to St Paul’s Chapel, which was just beside Ground Zero. Again, the place was so quiet and solemn. The bell was specially created after the WTC attacks. In the midst of all the anguish and sadness, by being in the chapel’s premises, you could somehow feel the solitude and determination of the Americans to be strong and united in their fight against terrorism. The lesson really taught them well, I suppose. But, it was too heavy a lesson.
We made our way to Century 21, another discount outlet for some last minute shopping. It was quite a disappointment, probably because I didn’t see anything I fancied. The racks were heavily “ransacked”, everything was in a mess. We grew tired from all the walking and rested our legs at a Starbucks outlet nearby before we reluctantly made our way back to the hotel. It was late afternoon already.
Reached Grand Central Station and we took some photos of its exterior. I watched Magadascar and I was excited at seeing something so familar.
We were off to the Grand Central Market next, and I sparked off a photo taking frenzy.
Just four of the many photos that were taken in my frenzy-ness.
Dinner was next. Mine was the beef dish.
The waitress who served us was very professional and sophisticated. She could give us good recommendations, depending on our tastes, without sounding like it was her sales pitch. I doubt waitresses in Singapore can do that. They will be like “Oh, everything on the menu is good.” Duh!
The food took some time to come and we were rushing to finish our meal before rushing back to the hotel. The Supershuttle bus arrived at 6pm and at 6.10pm, we were still in the hotel room doing frantic last minute packing. Got the porter to bring our barang barang to the lobby and the minute we were seated in the car, the reckless driver drove off! I was annoyed!
Later on in the journey, he explained that he was not allowed to stop his vehicle at the lobby for too long, so he had to drive off quickly.
While we were trying to unload the luggage at the airport, we realised we had to pay to use their trolleys. Didn’t realise that when we arrived because we didn’t have so much luggage. But, we gave it to them. We desperately needed it!
The Singapore Airlines checkout counter at the airport. This was it… 😦 We were going home…
I got a first taste of the strict US immigration when we checked in. We had to take out our shoes and socks and given a thorough examination. M forgot she packed her Victoria Secrets creams in her hand carry and nearly had them confiscated, until S offered to pack them in her hand carry and check it in. One tourist we spoke to had his Nutella confiscated.
By the time we finished all procedures and went to the boarding area, it was only eight!! I can’t remember what I did to while the time away. Remembered I slept for a while. Was really in deep sleep. For how long, I can’t remember.
We took one last group photo before boarding the plane at 10.50pm. There was a family with young children, and the baby was crying most of the time! Irritating! But I felt for the parents too, who were taking turns comforting the baby and walking up and down the aisles the whole time!
This time round, both M and I were really tired and we just slept intermittently throughout the flight. I had no energy to watch many movies, only one: “The Pursuit of Happyness” by Will Smith. I was glad I watched that show, for free! Cos it was just such a good and heartwarming movie! Only one meal was served, about an hour after takeoff, and we were all not hungry yet.
Arrived at Changi Airport around 5.15am, slightly ahead of schedule. Wanted to check out the Coach outlet to compare prices but it was too early for them to be open… Collected our perfume and made some purchases at DFS before going home.. My first meal.. Laksa!
Back in Singapore, I had some trouble adjusting back to routine. First, I was feeling jet lagged and for one week consecutively, I woke up in the middle of the night. Going back to work made it worse. For the first few weeks back at work, I found myself finding hard to concentrate at work. Now and then, I still think about New York, all the places I have been to.
I rewatched The Day After Tomorrow because it was based in the New York Library, I watched King Kong climb up the Empire State Building. I realised that Slyvester Stallone was trying to save people trapped in a tunnel in downtown Manhattan. I was pleasantly surprised that the animals in Magadascar were housed in the Central Park Zoo, and they took the subway to Grand Central Station to look for the zebra. Now I want to watch Sleepless in Seattle, Friends etc, and any movie that uses New York as a backdrop. I pay attention to travel articles in newspapers and magazines, especially if they talk about New York, or the US. I still pay attention to the weather forecast for New York, and know that it is getting real hot there. I surf the Internet for pictures and information of New York, hoping to retrace my footsteps.
I guess I am still suffering from NY withdrawal symptons…