Thursday, 24 March 2011

New York 2011 Day 1

Before the earthquake happened I had planned to go overseas using my "use or lose" leave days.

Out of all the places I'd thought of, America seemed to have the best fares. It was between San Francisco or New York. We probably SHOULD have went to San Francisco, but there were places, and things to do that we missed last time that it was a good enough excuse to go again.

I was in New York between the 24th and 27th of March. I intended to go the week earlier and changed because of what was supposed to be the last week of the kid's classes, but now in hindsight of all the disruptions caused by "311", I'm really glad we went when we did.

Our flight was to leave Haneda airport at 6:40 am, so we decided to get there the night before and "sleep" at the airport. There were less train services going towards the airport. The Chuo line even completely lost power for the longest few minutes. We were extremely lucky to make the last service going to the airport for the night.

It's fantastic that they are doing international flights to and from Haneda now. It's far preferable than taking the long trip out to Narita. The airport is nice. While we didn't get much sleep, there are plenty of places to crash for a snooze. There is also free wifi internet available.

Leaving when we did allowed us a full day arriving in NYC at 6:15 am.

We booked into the Pod Hotel in Manhattan again. For a nice clean place with the privacy of your own room, the price is great. I thought all the rooms were the same tiny size, but this one actually had a bit more walking space around the beds. Nice.

I'm almost embarrassed to say this, but one big reason of coming back to New York was the chance to get some more Ess-A-Bagel goodness. As soon as we offloaded our baggage, we made a bee-line to get some. I once said that there was a bagel shop in Tokyo that was close to these ones, but having these again, I have to say these can't be beat.

Suffice to say, every morning we'd be having bagels for breakfast. If I stayed in America too long, I'd be filling out my bones in no time.

Although we could see the Chrysler Building from a distance near our hotel, last time we didn't go up and take a closer look. Strangely we totally forgot to check out Grand Central Station too.
I'm a fan of the original Ghostbusters movie so the New York Public Library was on my "to see" list. None of the rooms looked like the haunted rooms of the opening scene (believe me I searched), but it was a bit of deja vu to see an exhibition called, "Radioactive". That hit a little close to home.

From here we made our way to Times Square. Nearby there were fliers informing of closed streets for a film shoot. Interesting!

An unusual building not too far away from here is the Flatiron Building. From seeing it in pictures I imagined it to be a longer building. Across the road we had some cannoli from Eataly. Mmm.

A cat was behind a restaurant window that although looking nothing like Nikon (the cat, not the camera), reminded us of our little camera-shy buddy in Tokyo. At first I thought this one wasn't real. She didn't move all that much. This one didn't care much for the camera either. Bah, cats pfft!

One very interesting urban renewal project in the meatpacking district around Chelsea is the High Line, an above ground disused railway track turned into a kind of park walkway. It's not totally finished yet, but it gives an unusual perspective of NYC elevated from street level.

Nearby there are quite a few boutiques taking advantage of this location. Another surprise here was Chelsea Market, a former biscuit factory turned into food shops and restaurants. Looks great.

We were both disappointed that last time we missed out to see the broadway musical "Wicked". So to end our first day we decided to try our luck hopefully scoring a set of tickets.

Being a weekday we thought we might have a chance. Close to showtime hordes of people poured into the foyer in large groups. I thought we'd have no chance at all BUT.. we got in!

Our seats were fairly close to the stage.

What did I think of the show? The story, acting and sets were great. I was a little disappointed with the songs. There was nothing particularly memorable. These weren't songs you'd be whistling on the way home.

Still, I was totally wrapped that we got to see it and it was a great way to end our first day back in NYC!