New York and Niagara Falls

Since the US dollar is low right now, and we never traveled to USA for pleasure before, we decided to go to USA this summer. It became ten wounderful days in New York and Niagara Falls. Here is what happened (pictures can be found here):

Jun 20 - ARN, Heathrow, JFK, Madison Hotel:We landed at JFK at 10 in the evening and took a taxi to our hotel on 62 Madsion Avenue on Manhattan (at 27th street). It turned out the hotel was out of double rooms - even though we had one pre-booked - but they generously offered us a larger room for double room price, or a cheaper and smaller double room. After inspecting booth alternatives we decided to take the latter. We later found that the hotel is good if you want a very affordable hotel located in central Manhattan (most other affordable hotels are on the upper west Manhattan and more expensive). It is of course very simple, but with friendly staff, daily cleaning, and clean.

Jun 21 - TImes Square, Rockefeller Centre, Mid Manhattan: We started with a very American breakfast at a local diner, then walked to Broadway (which is very close from the hotel), through Korea town, and further up north to Times Square. On they way, on 6th Ave (Ave of the Americas) there was a big parade with representatives from all nationalities with immigrants in New York. We did not see any Swedes or Russians in the parade though. On Times Square we decided to not enter a sports bar to see Russia vs Netherlands in Euro 2008, which of course later turned out to be a big mistake. In Rockefeller center, we went up to the observatory deck - Top of the Rock, from where the view is spectacular (see the typical Manhattan pictures in the album). The building is famous for many other reasons, including the concept “a city in the city”, hosting NBC studios, etc. We walked home on Madison and 5th Ave, and had a nice salad in a Deli on the way back to our hotel.

Jun 22 - Sightseeing bus, Downtown Manhattan, Battery Park, Shopping, Kevin and Tipanee:We first walked to the Madison Square (very close to our hotel) where the famous triangular house is located (see the pictures). Then continued towards Union Square, but jumped on a sightseeing bus - a typical open double decked with only open air seats on the 2nd level. It took us to Greenwich Village, Little Italy, China town, Wall Street, to finally end up on the very southern tip of Manhattan. From there we walked to the Battery park, from which we viewed the statue of Liberty. We then continued to Ground zero and the outlet Century 21, where Elena found some bargains. From there we continued to J&R Music and Computer World, and then to the Brooklyn Bridge, from where we grabbed a taxi to Union Square, where we wanted to stop to shop some gifts. However, an short but intense rain changed our plans, so instead we got stuck for a while. We then had to hurry back to our hotel, and then by taxi again to the 59th street, just next to the Queens bridge, to meet Kevin, Tipanee, Kevins mother Tamara, and Jasmine. When it was bedtime for Jasmine, we went to have a very nice dinner at a Mexican restaurant on York Ave.

Jun 23 - Bryant Part, Broadway, Avenue Q:At breakfast - which was late at 11 - we decided to go to Bryant Park, to relax and to surf the free wireless internet there to make reservations. Said and done, we went there by subway, had ice coffee, and booked a two days trip to Niagara falls and bought tickets to the Broadway musical Avenue Q. We then had lunch at Pax and returned to our hotel. In the evening we subwayed to Golden Theater in the theater district close to Times Square and saw Avenue Q - a very entertaining musical where some of the main characters are played by puppets. Sounds strange? Yes it is, but it really works!

Jun 24 - Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, Times Square, Guitar Center:We decided to spend the day in Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park, so we took the subway to the museum. Since it is very big, we just saw a small part of it - but enough to get a feeling for the museum. We looked mainly on the Egyptian and Chinese part. Admittance to the museum is free, but visitors are suggested to pay USD 20 each. Unless you go through the process of paying whatever you feel like paying, you do not get a ticket, and cannot enter. So, if you do not feel like paying much, you have to admit it in the counter to get the ticket. After the museum we walked through a part of Central Park - starting from the museum and walking direction downtown. We stopped to see some remote controlled sailing boats sailing in Conservatory Water. We also saw some amateur teams playing baseball in Heckscher Playground. From Central Park we walked on Americas Ave and further to TGI Friday on Times Square where we had a very American dinner. We then took the sub to Union Square and went to Guitar Center on 14th street - a very nice store for guitars and other musical instruments. However, we decided to come back another day to shop.

Jun 25 - Subway fire, Little Italy, Chinatown, Shopping:This day started with a bit of action. We decided to see Little Italy, Chinatown, and then go downtown Manhattan. However, as we went on the subway train, we smell smoke and fire. As our fellow passengers left the train, and the driver of the train ran to checkout the source of the smoke, we realized that we had to grab a taxi instead. As we left the subway station on 28th and Park Ave. the fire department was already on place and busy blocking all entries to the station. Anyway, in Little Italy we realized the area is very small. We earlier learned that Little Italy is shrinking as the Asian population and Chinatown is growing. In Little Italy there are many nice Italian restaurants and we enjoyed a very nice lunch. We then walked through Chinatown down to Downtown Manhattan where we again did some shopping at Century 21. In the evening, we had a very nice lunch at restaurant Les Halles (Park Ave, 28th Str).

Jun 26 - Downtown, Shopping, Euro 2008, Union Square, Standup New York:We decided that we were not done with shopping so we went downtown to Century 21 and J&R Music and Computer World. After some hours of shopping, we went to a pub and watched the Euro 2008 semifinal, Russia vs Spain that ended 0-3. We then continued to Union Square and Guitar Center to do some more shopping (and guitar playing). In the evening we went Uptown to 89th Str to see standup comedy at the club Standup New York. The show was nice and varied with Jay Oakerson as headliner and a group of comedians from Comedy Central.

Jun 27 - Corning Glass Centre, Niagara Falls, Cave of the Winds, Denis and Ira:We started the two-day bus trip to Niagara Falls at 8:10 from Chinatown. The first stop the bus made was Corning Glass Centre - a museum with both very old glass items from Egypt and Venice, and modern things such as “black egg” where two people sitting on a long distance from each other can hear each others whispering. Two hours later we reached the main point of our trip - Niagara falls. We got rain coats and shoes and went down to the Cave of the Winds to get close to the lower part of the American falls. It was a great experience to see and feel the water falling down. The dinner was at China Buffet and including the food, soda, coffee, tax and tips it was only $12 per person. After the dinner we arrived at Fallside hotel where we met Denis and Ira who came from Toronto to meet us. A local wino advised us where to go to get a drink and after some searching for pubs we returned to the one that was closest to the hotel and had some beers there. We then continued the evening with wine that Denis brought with him at the hotel room and discussing everything in life.

Jun 28 - Niagara Falls, Maid of the Mist, Chinatown, Little Italy shopping: After just some few hours of sleep we stepped up of bed and directly into the bus. It drove us to the falls and we again got rain coats and took an elevator down to the water level at the bottom of the falls. After some short time waiting, the Made of the Mist IV took off and drove us as close at one can get to the falls - both the Americans and the Canadian horse shoe fall. It was a very wet boat trip and the rain coats were soaking wet when we got of the boat - a pity we did not use the disposable shoes from the day before. After recycling the rain coats we went to the Made of the Mist store to buy new coats. We then saw a 40 min movie telling the myth of the falls and some documentary clips of the falls history. Then we enjoyed the seven hour bus trip back to NYC with some short stops on the way. Apart from us and two Russians, the bus was full of Chinese and Indian people. It was a bit difficult to sleep. When the bus came back to NYC we had a very nice dinner in Chinatown and then walked to Little Italy. We learned that Saturdays and Sundays are special in Little Italy. The streets were full of people and salesmen selling fake watches, handbags, perfume, etc. Elena could not resist making some bargains.

Jun 29 - NY Mets vs. NY Yankees at Shea Stadium:At 11 in the morning we took subway to the Shea Stadium in Flushing. It was very easy to find the way – there were so many supporters on their way to see the game so we could just follow the crowd. The stadium is huge (takes 53000 spectators) and though we had the cheapest tickets (USD 35 each) and had seats high up we could see everything very well. There were mostly Mets’ supporters at the stadium, but the Yankee fans were not few either. We learned the rules of baseball but just enough to understand the game (not the details that makes the game interesting). We also learned that the US supporters are more focused on showing their disrespect for the opponent team than cheering for their own team, which we found a bit strange. Mets won with 3 to 1 and we saw some very nice home runs. After the game we went back to our hotel and relaxed until the late evening when we walked 5th Ave to Empire State Building. Up on the 86th floor the view was spectacular!

Jun 30 – Helicopter ride, JFK:We decided that we should try to make the most out of our last day in NY so we booked a helicopter ride over Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty Island. The helicopters take of form Pire 6 downtown. It was a very nice experience! The ride started with a short turn around downtown Manhattan and then continued up west of Manhattan – over water - on the border of NY and NJ. North of Central Park it u-turned and went back, this time with a more extensive view of the Statue of Liberty. It took only 15 minutes but was a truly amazing experience. The helicopter felt very stable so we could just sit back and relax – however, we were extremely busy making videos and photos! On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at the American Indian Museum, which turned out to be rather empty, and J&R again. From the hotel we caught a cab to JFK. Our flight was a 20 pm local time.

Skrivet torsdag 10 juli, 2008, av paupet

Publicerat i:
Restaurang och bar
Reseberättelse/USA/New York
Wall Street
Empire State Building
Rockefeller Center
stand up comedy

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