Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

New York New York!!!

Whenever I have not posted for a few weeks, I have always made it a point to post a hugggggggggge post to compensate (How's that for a beginning argument as a lawyer? :-D). Yup, I know I have been missing for 2 weeks now from the blog world and hence as usual here's my lengthy post. Don't blame me if you get bored (as if you would. Why would you come back to my blog again and again otherwise? :-D)

Its been sometime since I posted a travel post. I think Ain't no small feat :) was the last one describing one of our trips. So here it is. An account of our trip to New York, exclusively on Dip Tea :-D

We had been planning of a trip to New York for a long time. We wanted to visit during July 4th, just so that we could see the fireworks, but due to cost factor (the prices of flight tickets were really high during that season), we could not. We had decided to plan it for the next upcoming long weekend and that was the first weekend of September. Thankfully we got tickets pretty reasonably priced (we booked them way back in July!!) and were all set :) Moreover Sri's cousin Sunitha lives in New Jersey with her hubby Raghu and they had been inviting us to visit them for sometime now :)

Friday - 2nd September 2005:

Off we went at about 6 PM in the evening to Louisville airport to catch our Delta plane to JFK, NY. Louisville is one hour drive from Lexington. We had some cheeze pizza in the airport and oranges we had carried with us. That was our dinner. The domestic flights in US don't shell out any food as such, which is probably good for them, but definitely not very good for us ;-) Yup, they did give us a soft drink and a pack of crackers/peanuts but its like "Ravana na hotte ge kaasina majjige" :-D (means a drop of buttermilk for a stomach like Ravana's). Anyways we had nothing to complain about ( as we had already eaten the pizza) :). The plane was late (common as some of my friends tell me) and we landed in NY only about 11:20 PM. The total flight time from Lousiville to NY is about 1 hour 40 min. I have to mention that the night lights of NY as seen from the plane are so beautiful that I really don't have the words to describe it :) Raghu and Sunitha drove to pick us up. We found out only then that we'd have to drive 1 hour to reach New Jersey (this was at night, without any traffic). So in total, we probably drove for more time than we flew :-o!! We crashed almost as soon as we reached their home.

Saturday - 3rd September 2005:

At about 10:30 AM in the morning, after a breakfast of Rava idlis, we started towards our destination of NY Manhattan downtown. Since the traffic between NJ and NY is heavy (to say the least), we went to a train station called Harrison. We got stuck in a traffic jam on the way!! There are 4 laned highways, yet the traffic is so terrible. The situation is same, India or US :-p Anyways there are 2 types of trains from NJ to NY. One is the NJ transit and the other is Path. We caught the Path from Harrison to the WTC path station.

I was eager to see what was left of the great WTC. It seems the station was destroyed too, but was rebuilt later after the 9/11 incident. Also, it seems the station opened directly into one of the WTC buildings. As soon as I saw the spot, the enormity of the disaster struck me. The WTC ground zero has been cleared of all debris and already there's a basement built. But its still signifies what a huge misfortune happened that day 4 years ago. Its a huge empty spot amidst several tall buildings and this is what brings home the fact that the towers were so wide and so big. Imagine there were probably 100s of people getting down that station that very day at that very time. People going to their particular floors on elevators, people having coffee, people grinning and saying Good Mornings to each other. So many people, so many... Not to mention that people drving along NJ trunpike, people in downtown, tourists on cruises to the Statue of Liberty, tourists on the top of Empire State building - all with a clear view of the WTC. Wonder what went through their minds, when they saw the planes strike the buildings, when the buildings collapsed like a pack of cards. I remember seeing it on BBC, and it was horrifying. How must it have felt to the people in New York? Larry Silverstein is already planning the Freedom Tower, despite criticisms from hoards of people and despite the fact that there are no takers for any of the properties (many people believe that its jinxed :-o). I guess right now the emptiness and later the Freedom tower will always point to what the Americans couldn't prevent that day. I really wish I could have seen the WTC towers though :-!

As usual, click on any of the photos for all our New York trip snaps. I usually take them off when I upload new photos, so hurry ;-)

The buildings in downtown Manhattan actually made my head spin. Arey baap re :) I was definitely like Jerry in the Tom & Jerry cartoon "Mouse in Manhattan". My face was almost always pointing towards the sky. Its surely a thrill to see all those huge buildings gathered together at one place :)

Our next stop was the notorious Wall street. As soon as you turn into wall street, you can see the New York Stock Exchange. It seems even the walls are painted with some chemical, so that no radio waves can pass inside/outside the building!! Mobile phones don't work inside the building and nobody is allowed to loiter for long outside the building ;-) The entry to the bulding obviously requires special card :)

We casually walked along the streets to see the Wall Street bull - a 7000 pound bronze statue of a bull :) Later went to the Battery park for the Statue of Liberty cruise, but the queue must have been about a mile long!! We had bought the tickets already, yet decided to postpone the actual cruise to Tuesday and got out of there. Had lunch at a Food court at the Seaport and later saw the Brooklyn bridge and the City Hall. Caught the Path back to Harrison.

Once back in NJ, we visited a place called Edison and this I HAVE to write about. As you enter the place, its as if you have been miraculously teleported to India!! Indian chat shops, sweet shops, jewellery and Indian clothes stores, God!! There was even litter on the streets like India ;-) And of course every damn person roaming on the streets was an Indian. No American in sight! I almost went crazy :-D I had bhel puri and sugarcane juice (sadly the prices were still in dollars and not in rupees :-p) at a shop despite the fact that my tummy was still full from the noon's lunch :-D For a moment it was as if I was back in India. It felt marvellous :) :) :)

We wrapped up the day's adventure and went back home. Watched a Robert Redford and Paul Newman movie "The Sting" (it was wonderful), had the tasty Pav bhaaji that Sunitha had made (eating chat twice, looks like it was my lucky day ;-) ) and retired for the day :)

Sunday - 4th September 2005:

Our day started late again. After a break fast of Bagels and omelettes, we were off to a day of sunshine. No traffic of NY for the day for we had planned to visit an NJ beach and another notorious place Atlantic City.

We drove to Atlantic highlands, which supposedly is the highest place in NJ from where you can view the NY skyline. These Americans sure know where to put tourist spots! The place was serene with a beautiful view. We sat there for a while enjoying the peace.

The island strip that you can see in the photo is the place we went to next, called Sandy Hook. Sandy Hook is a tiny island at the NJ shore and is connected to NJ by a bridge. Sea is all around & it has many beaches (Yup, even nude ones, though we didn't go to one ;-) ). We were surprised to see living quarters on the island. Sri even wondered at a point of time, that if a tsunami comes here, the whole island will be washed out.. But I guess they are prepared for such emergencies. We spent around 4 hours walking on the beach and then headed off to Atlantic City.

Atlantic City is a mini Las Vegas in the east coast, a mini sin city :) Of course there are hell lot of casinos. We went to Donald Trump's Taj Mahal (being an Indian, the name Taj Mahal is an instant attraction, but sadly, an American is making lots of money out of this fact ;-) ). You should see the outside and the inside to believe the amount of money spent here. Sadly, they didn't allow us to take pictures inside. Some kind of protection I guess. But Trump is definitely making billions and billions, smart guy :)

We udaoed $20 on slot machines, $11 on a game called Keno which is similar to Bingo/Housie and $10 on a dart game where Sri won a stuffed dog (which is sweet but definitely not worth 10$ :-p). Later cribbed and cribbed all the time that Trump ate away us poor people's 41 dollars. If you guys think this story is sad and want to send your contributions for the recovery of our money, you are welcome. Just comment and I'll let you know where to send it ;-) :-D Just kidding!! After we became tired of being looted, we simply went home and crashed ;-)

Monday - 5th September 2005:

This day we had planned to visit Manhattan mid town. We drove till a station called New Port and caught the Path (again :-D) to 33rd Street. One point I didn't mention about these trains is that they actually travel under the Hudson river to reach NY. There are huge tunnels built under-river for the passage!! After getting down at the 33rd street, our first stop was the Empire State Building.

Sunitha and Raghu refused to join us to the top of the ESB as they had already seen it many times before. We had to wait for an hour to cross the queues, but the sight at the top was worth it. The cars and the vehicles are so small they are like toys. The people can't be seen at all. I did wonder what it'd be like to bungee jump from there ;-) :-D

Again we saw the buildings that surrounded the WTC and wondered how they'd have been. They were both taller than the ESB, so they must have been rather a powerful sight from the top. {Sighs} No point in wishing we could have seen them..

I took photos from all possible directions (no wonder our NY photos total to more than 90!! :-D). For a pigeon's eye view (or should I say Pigeon view :-D), see the photo below hehehee :))

After ESB, we walked along the streets and saw many many buildings like the NY Public Library, Chrysler Building, Grand Central station, Metlife building (supposedly the richest in NY), U.N Building, 3 of Donald Trump's towers (the man supposedly owns 13 buildings all over NY, filthy rich or what!), the Rockefeller Center etc. We also visited the Central park which is in central NY and is more than 800 acre large!! We walked and sat there for sometime until it was night. And why were we waiting for the night? To visit Times Square ofcourse :)

The Times Square is absolutely fascinating. You just don't know where to look. The whole area is such a lovely palette of colours that your mind is boggled. There is so much to see in each and every direction. Each and every building is covered with LCD boards or TVs which continously display colour advertisements. Its just amazing how the crowds throng the place. The side roads are surprisingly empty of any signs of life. We had a most amazing time walking around and taking in all the sights :) One of the building even had a huge TV that was displaying U.S Open live!! We wandered here and there until we were tired and then caught the Path back to Newport. From there back to NJ, back home, had some rotis for dinner and crashed :)

Tuesday - 6th September 2005:

As tuesday was a working day for Raghu and a school day for Sunitha, we just asked them to guide us and drop us at a station convenient to them. We packed up all our stuff and got dropped at the NJ Transit station Aberdeen-Matawan. After saying our goodbyes to Raghu and Sunitha, we caught the NJ Transit to Penn station and later the subway from Penn station to Battery Park for our cruise to the Statue of Liberty. The journey took almost 2 hours!! We were hoping to get passes to go until Lady Liberty's foot, but they had all been already issued and hence we missed that chance :(

Luckily the queue wasn't as bad as it was on Saturday, sowe were able to make it on the ferry pretty early. The NY skyline from the ferry and later the Liberty island was amazing. More amazing was the statue itself. God!! Its so huge. As most of you would know that statue was a gift from France to US and it was sculpted by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. But wonder who posed for it. Not very surprisingly, I took lots of photos from all possible angles. The name of the statue is "Liberty enlightening the world" . How many of us know that? :-D Here are some of the snaps:

Bechaara Sri had to carry our luggage on the ferry too, as we had no other place to keep the bag. Thankfully it was only one bag :) We had plans for some shopping that day, but the cruise ate away our shopping time :( We had to hurry to catch a subway train to a place called Chamber street and from there had to switch to another subway train to JFK. We were able to reach the airport well within time and were glad to see that the plane was also on time. But our joy was short-lived :( The plane left the airport but while taxi-ing to the runway, there was a delay of 2 hours!! Its due to all the air traffic in JFK (its supposedly the busiest airport in NY. Finally after all the delay, we said Good bye to NY. Funnily the 40-seater plane had only 7 passengers + 1 air hostess + 2 pilots, only 10 people in all :-D :)). Anyways we were glad that they didn't cancel the flight and later drove from Louisville airport to Lexington. Were back in home sweet home in no time :) That's the end of another satisfying trip :) More later, folks!! :)


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Deeps retorted...


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Amit retorted...

Wow that was some New York! Good Work..

Deeps retorted...

Thanks Amit. BTW you were right about the "Flight Schedule Syndrome" :-D

on9thcloud retorted...

Wow! Great insight on Newyork trip..loved your pictures.

Deeps retorted...

Click on any of them to see the whole set. Phew, I never shot so many pictures :)