After several plans of going on a trip, the Cambodia trip was derailed…the Petra trip was postponed tentatively, we finally made it on this one. On the 3rd of November, Ricardo and I landed on the busiest airport in the USA—the John Fitzgerald Kennedy International Airport. And so we said, “Hello, New York!” 🙂
Living up to its reputation, the immigration and customs queue at JFK snaked its way for a number of meters. Ricardo was supposed to ride on the bus with the rest of the crew, but because it took him a long time at the queue, we had to leave him behind. That meant he had to find his way to the hotel alone. Oh, the expression on his face as I waved him goodbye, he looked like a helpless puppy. Still sorry for that, babe.
For some strange reason, yet admirable courage, but still stupid decision, and you don’t dare do that again, Ricardo hopped on a shady carlift instead of a real taxi. Yes he did exactly that, in New York, on his first time there, with a heavily accented guy that sounded very similar to the thugs in Scarface for a cab driver. It was one hell of a cab ride for sure, but in a real good way. Thank, God! Though his heart was pounding real hard the whole time, as what normal people coming from a small Asian city with a few hundred dollars on hand on his first time in New York on a random carlift would feel, the friendly Trinidadian/Tobagonian gave him a little personal tour to the streets of New York that kickstarted his NY trip. When I opened my hotel room door for him, I have never seen him that excited.
If you have only less than ten hours to explore Manhattan like we did, the first thing to do is to walk along Times Square. Times Square represents the ever fabulous caricature of New York—Manhattan, Broadway, Central Park, Grand Central Terminal, Empire State Building, the impeccably dressed men and women of Park Avenue, the bustling hordes of colorful tourists, the never ending stalls of souvenirs, the bright yellow cabs squeezed into a four-lane street and, of course, my favorite—the classic shoe box, brick buildings of New York.
My bag belongs in New York.
The charm of Times Square is just timeless. Due to the number of times we saw it on the television, our brief time of strolling felt like a scene from a movie. We saw the New Year’s Ball too on one of those huge TV screens. Ric got excited even when it was two months away from New Year. Imagine New Year’s Eve on that exact spot. It must be out of this world crazy!
I have always wanted to watch a show on Broadway. What better way to spend my first time to do it than during a vacation with Ric? The selection was extensive. I could not decide. Should I watch Chicago, Wicked, Hugh Jackman’s muscle on stage or see Brook Shields’ dance tango for me? You see what I mean? In the end, we entered the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre to see the Addams Family and bought two tickets for $127 each. Ric did feel the hemorrhage it caused on his pocket. But like what he said after that insane cab ride experience, “New York is one city I am willing to spend my money on.” It was all worth it.
I would have opted to devour a hotdog and coke in the seats that were arranged right in the middle of Times Square, but we ended up having an Italian dinner instead beside the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. It must be a pre-cursor to our first Broadway experience. The helpings were impossibly large. Good enough for three Asians for each serving. It made me wonder, do Americans have voracious appetite?
Moving on, we had to go back to the hotel because Ric left some cash outside of our locked suitcase. One important tip when traveling: Never leave anything of value outside a locked safe or outside your locked suitcase. Hotel staffs have their means of getting in your room and taking your staff. Yes, even with that Do Not Disturb sign hanging outside your door. If your things go missing, the hotel would not be responsible to any of it.
We had been awake for too long and the sight of our bed was like the apple in the garden offered by a snake. After struggling very hard to fight off the temptation to have a little nap, we managed to trudge our uncooperative legs outside and proceeded to look for the Central Park. We had only four hours left before our Broadway date. There were horse carriages, tricycle rides or bicycles for rent upon the entrance. We opted to just walk. It was a great day. The temperature was just chilly enough to feel the winter approaching. The trees were putting on their romantic shades of orange and yellow. The maple, of course, had turned red. Hopefully, in our next time, Ric would have the chance to see real snow. Even better, to catch the snowflakes with his tongue.
Next pit stop: Grand Central Station. It was a very long walk. We probably walked for a good 30 blocks. We should have felt tired. But other than a little stress on the soles of my feet, we were both fine. Our adrenaline rush helped a lot. Walking along Park Avenue would make you wonder how those fabulously rich people live. You see those posh apartments, the revolving doors and that interesting-looking doorman with a tail coat and a top hat, especially that pretty lady who just walked in through those revolving doors looking like a million dollar in heeled boots, a ridiculously expensive handbag, a seemingly permanent blow-dry and a smile that screamed, “I know I am fabulous!”
30 blocks away later of walking, we reached to the biggest train station in the world— the Grand Central Terminal. The Vanderbilt family built and owned the station, thus, the Vanderbilt Hall in the station. Their name would not be missed in the station. The Grand Central Terminal is a cavernous, classic building with a massive interior, Greek columns and a high ceiling with an elaborate astronomical painting by Giovanni Smeraldi. An American flag was hung in the Main Concourse a few days after the 9/11 attack. The most distinguished part of the Grand Central Terminal is perhaps the four-faced clock on top of the information booth in the middle of the Main Concourse. It is made entirely of opal and is estimated to be worth between $10 to $20 million dollars. With all those history and grandeur of the station, our experience at the Grand Central was almost magical. We had a Gossip Girl moment there for a few seconds. Good enough for me. 🙂
And so the day was young and we still had 2 hours left to squander. We walked farther along and found our footsteps greeting another famous but cooler landmark—the ice skating rink at the Rockefeller. I had skated on ice once before but I could not remember one damn thing about it. Therefore, I consider this time as my first time too. To get straight to the point, I looked affirmatively awkward in those ice skating shoes. But holding hands while skating felt wonderful. And we kissed right in the middle of the rink and immortalized it in a lomo photograph.
Next stop: eat New York hotdog. This is a very simple experience, but nonetheless, a must in New York. We got served by an Egyptian guy who guessed we were Sri Lankans. Whaaat?!?! Whatever, dude.
The last, but not the least—see Brooke Shields in Broadway. But before that, we had to take a photo at Times Square at night. Those LCD screens were even brighter. It felt like some fantasy land with so much colors. It had to be. I told Ric you could never feel lonely in this place. On second thought, it could be so lonely too with those too many people around you.
Every step closer to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre was another serious dose of excitement. We were too tired though. A tall glass of coke was only good for at most ten minutes. But Brooke Shields was wonderful. And she was so close I could see the lines on her face. It was another list off my Bucket List, probably on my husband’s too. 🙂
After that very long day, our beds felt like heaven. It was another amazing day in our long list of travels abroad. Long list of first times too. And thank you dear husband for that beautiful frame you bought for me.
Cheers to many more perfect days like this.