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US/UK/HK Trip: New York

Part of our 2012 US/UK/HK Trip. See the explanation and summary entry.

We caught the train to New York rather than fly. It was a good choice in my opinion, as it meant that we left from Union Station in Washington and arrived at Penn Station in New York; so there was no long commute out to airports, no going through rigorous security, and no waiting for bags and alike. The train was roomy, and at just over 3 hours, it wasn't a long commute at all. Plus we got to see a few cities, like Baltimore and Philadelphia, along the way from the train at night.

It was late on Wednesday night when we arrived, so after exiting the train station I hailed my first NY taxi like a pro, and we went to our hotel which was in midtown, and just a few blocks between both Times Square and Grand Central station. The Yankees had lost another game that night, which meant they were one loss away from exiting the ALCS, and thus also ending our game 6 hopes to see a game live.

On our first day in New York we went downtown to possibly do the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but the queues for the ferry were pretty long so we decided to leave it for another day. We then went to the 9/11 memorial. We didn't know you had to preregister to gain entry, but  luckily we talked to the concierge in the hotel before we left in the morning, and he arranged it the passes for us. The memorial was very decent, but by then we were getting sick of all the airport-style security at nearly every public building/site we go to.

9/11 Memorial
9/11 Memorial

Later that day we visited Wall Street, and that night went up to the Empire State. It was freezing up there, and the arrival of the wind and rain didn't help things either. Still, it was a great view.

Times Square from the top of the Empire State Building
Times Square from the top of the Empire State Building

The next day we headed over to the UN in the pouring rain. The tour there was really great, and covered all the major areas, including the General Assembly hall. That day was actually also the day of the announcement of Australia being elected to the UN Security Council, and we also got to see the temporary Security Council chamber (the permanent one is being renovated).

Inside the UN General Assembly
Inside the UN General Assembly

Following that we went to the Guggenheim, which was showing a Picaso exhibition, and then to the FAO Schwarz toy store on the way back to the hotel. It's a big store with lots of awesome toys, however now somewhat of a lack of Star Wars stuff compared to when I was there last in 99, but they did have lots of awesome Lego.

That night we went and saw Avenue Q in an off-broadway performance. Most of the popular stuff on Broadway (like The Book of Mormon and The Lion King) was crazily expensive, even through the side-outlets. Avenue Q turned out to be great value for money and we really enjoyed it. The cast was great, and the people and puppets story in a kind of dirty real-world 'sesame street' musical was fantastic.

On the weekend we did the Statue of Liberty and the Natural History Museum. On Sunday, starting the day we went all the way out to the Bronx to acquire the new Kindle Paperwhite. These things have been selling hot online (even now almost two months after their release, it's still a 5-7 week wait to get them direct from Amazon, and they still don't officially ship them to Australia). My Dad really wanted one, and I heard that a few retail stores in New York might be getting a few in stock to satisfy some preorders, and seeing some Best Buy stores advertise a 'maybe' availability on their website, I checked around every single store in Manhattan to find that they either didn't have any, or assigned the small amount they did get (roughly only 6 per store) to fill preorders. I even went into one and unsuccessfully begged as a lowly Australian tourist who was leaving the country the next day to buy one or two. In the end we went all the way out to a Bronx store which had some in stock that were actually for public sale, and managed to get two of them (one for me too). Maybe they don't read a lot in the Bronx...

Photo from the ferry back to Manhattan
Photo from the ferry back to Manhattan

After that we went into Central Park and saw a lot more squirrels, much to Despina's delight. It was fun watching people walking their dogs only to see them being pulled by the leash when the dog saw a squirrel and started chasing after it. The park was really nice; it was getting into fall (Autumn), so there was a great mix of green, yellow, and brown throughout the trees.

Central Park
Central Park

We walked through Hells' Kitchen on our way to the Intrepid Museum. It's fantastic to see that one city can have so many unique and distinct districts within a few kilometres of each other. The museum itself was intriguing; they have recently added the Space Shuttle prototype (the Enterprise) to the main deck in it's own unique pressurised protective bubble-tent (demoting the Concorde to the pier). The Space Shuttle still had the scars on it from when they used it for testing foam debris damage in the investigations following the Columbia disaster. (As an edit: during Hurricane Sandy barely a week later, the tent was mostly destroyed when the generators keeping it inflated failed during the storm.)

Space Shuttle prototype Enterprise at the Intrepid Museum
Space Shuttle prototype Enterprise at the Intrepid Museum

Our last day in New York we started the day by going to the Rockefeller Centre. The skating rink was already going with a few people skating on it.

After that we went back out to the Bronx for the second successive day. Following the failure of the Yankees not performing in the ALCS to at least take it to 6 games for us to see a game live in Yankee stadium, we were lucky in that they did resume doing stadium tours on our last day. So while we didn't see a game, at least we got to go into the stadium for a first-hand view.

The Yankees Wall Street Journal correspondent
The Yankees Wall Street Journal correspondent

After that we went to JFK airport and flew to London.

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