Tiny bite from the BIG APPLE

My sketch of New York City skyline
New york, one of the most coveted places to go to, I don't know which one is a more fitting name, "The Land of Skyscrapers" or "The BIG Apple". Damn! it's grand... Since before my US trip I had been looking forward to visiting NY at least once this year. So naturally, this trip was more like my dream come true! 

On thursday morning, 29th of May, we started out from the same Allen Town bus station that we took the Philly bus from for our day trip to Philadelphia, and arrived at Port Authority Terminal, New York, after a good 2 hour bus ride. I slept almost the whole way before waking up just in time to cross the bridge. We arrived right at the central area just couple of blocks away from the famous Times square. Living up to its reputation NY is an immensely busy city jostling with tourists, street vendors, and busy folks going about doing their business, it is a real concrete jungle.  

So, the plan for the day was to go see the famous, forever bustling with life, Times Square. Then go see the Empire State Building with a small stop at the Central Park before taking a trip to the south Manhattan and beyond. Basically, considering the time scale we had we wanted to cover the most famous bits of the city around the mid- and downtown Manhattan only. So, starting off with our   plan, first stop - The Times Square

Now, Times Square was just a few blocks away from us so we made our way there, walking from Port Authority terminal up to the Square with occasional window shopping, souvenir gathering, picture taking and Starbucks coffee-ing :D, quite curious and excited to know what makes it so popular Well, once we got there we realised that Times Square truly does look just like in the movies. Colourful, busy, and fully packed, lined with impressive billboard signs and screens all over the place of gigantic vogue models catwalking, daily commercials, adverts of all sorts, and of course, movies... And then their were the well known big yellow taxis… Wow! It was a beautiful chaos… The whole area felt almost like an extravagantly clad spoilt little girl screaming for more attention! I guess that in itself is enough to draw tourists in all year round, no? Perhaps chaos is what attracts them and that in turn creates more chaos? Lol! I really lost myself there...

Time square
Anyway, coming back to the city of dreams, from Times Square we just trotted around, going from street to street, shops to shops, whatever drew our attention, making our way towards the Central park.

"888" for good fortune!
Now, for those of you who don't know, Central park is GINORMOUS! It's so big it can totally engulf the entire manhattan. Some folks have actually set up horse-cart business for tourists who wished to take an entire tour of the park in style ;) Good for them I'd say. 

Dude, where's my chariot at?

At about midday we took a quick break there, resting atop some giant rocks near the entrance of the Park, basking in the sun while we were entertained by the cackling of little children, chirping of pesky birds, and cool breeze almost chilling us with every overshadowing cloud over the sun.
City skyline from the Park
From there on we started walking towards the 5th Avenue. The way was B.Z.! But quite spectacular at the same time. Soooooo many tall and towering buildings... Oh and don't forget the shops, lots and lots and lots of high street brands... Walking might be bore at times, especially on empty stomach, but the sight-seeing, especially at a place like NYC, it can easily keep me well distracted for most of the way. BTW I'd like to mention, the street smoothie carts make some mean mixed smoothies, mmmmmm! A definite must!!

Sight seeing through the city

Then came the Empire State Building... How can a New York trip be complete without visiting the majestic skyscraper even once? So we walked all the way back to the ESB site before ensuing our plan to visit Downtown Manhattan. Must say, true to its reputation, this 103-storied tower is indeed GRAND!

Yup, that's the Empire State Building alright.
Next, the plan was to see Lady Liberty... Of course we were going to see it… I mean hell yeah, if I get to do it once, I get to do it right! No way was I going to return home from New York without seeing the giant green (bronze) statue myself! We needed to get the subway train to the Ferry pier at Battery Park, Downtown Manhattan, that would take us to the Liberty island. In total it takes about 20 minutes to get there via tube.

Battery Park is a little public park that makes the southern tip of Manhattan. Now, the southern Manhattan is well known for its most heart rending incident i.e. the collapse of the then tallest buildings in the world, the World Trade Centre (WTC), in the devastating 9/11 terrorist attack. RIP the poor souls! Since then a new WTC has been under construction.

The blue structure you see here is the new building built on the rumbles of the old WTC. It is not quite as tall but is certainly the tallest in the area for now as seen from the boat.

New WTC from the ferry
The Battery Park itself is quite beautiful and has many interesting artefacts, memorials and sculptures in it like the archeological excavation of the "oldest man-made structure still in place in Manhattan" as per wiki, and 1812 war fort Castle Clinton. 

Coming to the ferry trip to the great statue, we got our tickets from the pier till. Normally, there are tickets that give you a pass to go all the way atop in the crown, pass for both Liberty Island and the neighbouring Ellis Island, and then the cheapest one, pass that takes you to the Liberty Island but not atop the statue. Unfrotunately, by the time we got to the ticket counter, the two best options were already sold out, so, still undeterred we went for the last option left, trip till the Liberty Island alone. This did get us the audio guide giving us a verbal tour and history lessons about the island and the statue, we also got to roam all around the statue, take 100s of pictures and get till the pedestal. Beyond that, I am not that fussed either… So, off we went on the boat!!!

City skyline from the Ferry
Now, the Liberty Island itself is quite small, with the single main attraction standing tall facing away from the New York Harbour. It also contains a cafeteria and a gift shop filled with custom made Liberty mechandise. To the left of the statue were arrays of metal statues of historians related to US independence, history and the Liberty Statue itself such as that of it's designer, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi.

Well, being a geek of a kind, here are few fun facts about the Statue of Liberty I'd like to throw in just for, well, fun:

1.) so I'm sure you knew the creator and designer of this amazing statue was a French sculpture in 1886 right? Well, the idea first came into existence during an after-dinner conversation by a French law professor and politician, Éduoard René de Laboulaye way back in 1865.  It was a gift from France to the USA as a memorial to their independence. There is even a replica of lady Liberty in Paris, France, located by the Eiffel Tower. The actual name of the statue is "Liberty enlightening the world" and initial plan was to build it as a lighthouse in the form of an Egyptian female peasant, but now it represents the Roman goddess of freedom, Libertas. 

2.) Since childhood I had always thought the statue was made of some sort of green ceramic, but being a materials engineer I should have known it is in fact made from bronze that has obviously turned green with constant exposure to the sea and the general environment. Also, a small observation from my side (if you haven't ever noticed it before) if you look closely the entire statue is fabricated using several rectangular sheets of bronze.

3.) We all know that the Statue holds a torch in its right hand, and a tablet in its left, ever wondered what is written on the tablet though? It's July 4th, 1776, the date of American independence. 

4.) The original torch wasn't all gilded, it was replaced in 1984 with a 24k gold plated torch. Ooooh, that's fabuloussss! 

5.) The island itself was renamed from Bedloe Island to Liberty Island in 1956 due to the statue. 

Well, I guess that's enough for now…  I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking about the statue and island from here on:

The lovely statue of lady Liberty
Brooklyn Bridge as seen from Liberty Island
Statue of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi with his greatest design
The glorious statue
Adieu M'lady

Liberty Island and NYC from the boat
Well, that's that... We returned with the last ferry from the island back to Battery Park, and took a tube back to the bus station at 19:30 bidding the great city good bye and good night. And that was a wrap!

One last time, just bask at the vibrant colours of the liveliest city in the world… Nothing can ever change the grandeur of this amazing city... I will definitely be back!

Colour galore
Right, now that we are done with the sightseeing, time for souvenir shopping tips!!! Here's a list of things you'd want to get back as a souvenir, gift or a memory:

1. A Statue of Liberty prototype: of course you need one of those!!! Hell I bought mine the very first chance I got. Whether big or small, trust me, you will sure be glad you bought one once you return home, especially if you are a collector (hoarder rather) like me :p

2. "I heart NY" prints: be it on t-shirts, sweatshirts, metal plaques, mugs, shot glasses, whatever... designed by Milton Glaser, I Love NY logo is such a charming thing to own. 

3. Crystal apples: after all it is the big apple you are in, it is only fair that you take a symbolic little crystal apple back if not anything else.

4. Skyline prints: similar to "I love NY" the city skyline print magnets, mugs or other such goodies are quite popular and to be found plenty almost in every store. For magnet lovers this is a pretty good option I think personally.

5. Baseball team jerseys, caps and balls: am not big on them but be my guest if you love a game by New York Yankees. Pretty good collection of baseball merchandise to be found everywhere as well as the magnets and the plaques.

6. $5 caricatures: now this is my personal favourite, shame I couldn't get one myself due to the tight schedule, but New York is buzzing with talent, especially the artsy kind. And being an art lover myself I really wanted to get a quick caricature done for keepsake... May be next time.

So, with that ends my NY as well as US expedition. Follow my preceding OrlandoDallas and Phily trips too (in the exact sequence) if you'd like to get the whole picture. Hope you enjoyed reading a little something about these cities that I unravelled (in a very short span of time) from my humble perspective.

Concrete jungle - NYC

Love always...

Your eager globe-totter,