Saturday, 9 March 2013

New York! New York!

It was a little over thirty years ago at the height of winter when I first arrived in New York City. My family and I arrived from a red eye flight from London where we lived for a year. It was a brief stopover on our way to the West Coast.

I don't recall much of New York City since it was a very short visit plus I was just a little kid back then. That trip was also my first time in the US of A. Since then I have been traveling to the states every so often but never had the chance to go back to New York until recently. 

I had just retired from the corporate world and decided to take a trip visiting with friends and family particularly my siblings who are now living in the US. Too bad the big K couldn't come with me since he had to do extra work to support me now *wink*. Kidding aside, we were going on a trip to Europe later in the year so his vacation days were all tied up for that trip.


View of Central Park from the view deck of the Rockefeller Center also known as the Top of the Rock. 


So, it was my sister, the gorgeous H, who was to be my travel buddy. Here's the thing, traveling with the big K has taught me to travel light. I had to! Try carrying a bursting suitcase up and down the stairs of metro stations that don't know the the existence of elevators nor escalators. You'll be wanting to travel light after an episode or two of that. Now, my petite and lovely sister despite her size has the propensity to travel with suitcases bigger than herself, packing everything except the kitchen sink. 

Taking the plane and paying for excess baggage fees was out of the question and so was driving 8 hours and having to worry about traffic and parking when we finally got to New York City. Solution? A long and leisurely train ride (which also happens to be my sister's favorite mode of travel).


The train ride to New York City was going to take 12 hours. It had just been a few days since I arrived from a 30-hour journey that included a transfer in Hong Kong, a delayed and eventually cancelled flight in Chicago that resulted in me taking a 7-hour train ride from the Windy City into Cleveland where the gorgeous H lives. 

I wanted to make this trip to New York City as pain-free and comfortable as possible. So, we got us a roomette that came with our own folding sink and toilet. The train fare also included two meals, breakfast and lunch.
The roomette is good for two persons. The upper berth with rails on both ends can be raised so the lower berth can be converted into two seats facing each other (only if you're feeling sociable). A fold down table can be laid between the two seats.

Yup, that's the toilet and folding sink in our miniscule cabin. Good thing I always bring a lot of alcohol (not the drinking kind) with me. Definitely helped in the all-around sanitizing. 
Meals are served at the dining car where you share a table with other diners or doggy bag it and have a picnic in your room which the gorgeous H and I did for lunch after having to suffer listening to a fellow rider drone about himself at breakfast. 
Having been somewhat used to the quiet, laid-back suburbs of Cleveland the  gorgeous H's reaction when we finally arrived at busy New York-Penn Station was priceless. 
No doubt about it, we were in New York City!
The ever busy Times Square.
It was supposed to be a short cab ride from Penn Station to our hotel at the Theater District. Unfortunately for us we arrived right smack in the middle of rush hour. It would have been faster to just walk it but remember the gorgeous H had her gargantuan suitcase with her. Although this was probably one time where I really didn't mind sitting in traffic as I was busy taking in the sights and sounds of the city.  

The Theater District

When we were planning this trip we decided that we were going to stay in Manhattan where most of the famous landmarks and tourist attractions were. We wanted to maximize our time sightseeing plus we didn't want to be bothered with the commute specially late at night. Understandably the hotels in the area were a little bit pricier as compared to staying say in Brooklyn or New Jersey. 

Good thing we found a deal at a hotel in the Theater District. The hotel was relatively new, clean (bathroom was spotless!) and was just two blocks away from Times Square so it didn't get to be busy or noisy. It was also a few minutes walk to the nearest subway station. So getting around the city was no problem. And because of its close proximity to busy Times Square there were still a lot of people in the subway even late at night. Quite a relief really. I think I've been watching too much of CSI:NY. 


View from our bedroom window.
This was to be our neighborhood for the next 5 days.
Nothing compares to watching The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. If you want to get good seats be prepared to spend a little and buy the tickets way in advance. It is a pretty popular show.  
The iconic chandelier.
It had been a very long day for us so the gorgeous H and I decided to turn in early and do a take-away from the nearby pizza place. 


Be sure to visit my blog for more of New York City on my next blog post