Tuesday, August 25, 2009

NYC - Part 2

Despite a rather fitful sleep I still managed to sleep until almost 6am! Considering that my body thought it was 1pm at this time and I very seldom sleep past 9-10'ish, I think I did well :) Lars, being used to swing shifts as he is, slept until 9:30am!

I'd asked Lars to please spend the first day together with me rather than going off trainspotting on his own, as I didn't feel completely comfortable heading out by myself into a large city I didn't know at all, so at around 11am we headed down to 42nd street to see NY Public Library (my choice ;) ) and Grand Central Terminal. Unfortunately the library was completely covered in scaffolding for renovation (I think), so I couldn't get to enjoy the apparently very gorgeous building, and I completely forgot to return at a later time to see it from the inside - go figure.

Lars obviously wanted to see Grand Central for train spotting purposes, but mostly I was just interested in the main concourse because of the movie "Madagascar" ;-) And I must say it was well worth the visit. Definitely both grand and central.

I have to admit to being a bit surprised at how un-busy it was though. According to the statistics in our guide book, GCT has 550 daily trains - Copenhagen central station has 950 daily LOCAL trains alone - and that's not counting all the regional ones. I must say that GCT looks a LOT nicer than Copenhagen Central though. Everything was nice and clean, and I loved the decorations everywhere.

We had brunch at their dining concourse - they had a crepe house serving both sweet and savoury pancakes. Very yummy and the perfect way to start off a vacation.

From GCT we continued our walk down 42nd street and soon reached the UN Building. Neither Lars nor I felt like going in for one of their tours, but we did have fun trying to identify as many flags as possible! (Both the Danish and the New Zealand flag should be visible in these photos, but as there was no wind, it's kinda hard to tell.)

It had started raining at this time, so we figured it was time to find something indoor to do. Lars had read about a Transit Museum located in an old closed station (Court Street Station to be exact) out in Brooklyn, so we found the nearest subway station, bought our Metrocards* and headed out there. I thought it a brilliant idea to use the old subway station as a museum - it definitely lent a different atmosphere to the place. As transit museums go, it was interesting enough (obviously I've been to a few ;) ), and Lars just about went nuts when he discovered it had a LIVE station panel in the control tower (no, it's not a tower, but that's just what it's called - sorry). He was very, very cute in his excitement ♥ And no, he will not approve of me calling him 'cute' ;)

I'd been using my crutch all day, but wasn't yet too sure whether or not it did any good, because at this point my feet HURT, so once we felt 'done' with the museum, I sent Lars off to do some trainspotting on his own, and found my way back to the hotel (via a Starbucks - had to try out some of all the recommendations you guys gave me! ;) ) to relax with a book for awhile. I'd hoped to find a bookstore along the way, but unlike London, they don't seem to be located on just about every second corner, so to my huge disappointment I hadn't seen a single one yet! Probably just as well actually... my feet really could use the rest.

"Our" fire station - located just on the other side of 8th and 48th - turned out to be the most busy of all of Manhattan. I'll believe that! We heard sirens SO many times each day - even more so since they appeared to use the siren both when going out and returning home. Going out goes without saying, but why when coming home again??? Just like any other fire station in NYC, they too had lost people at 9/11, and a small memorial had been constructed on the other side of 48th.

Lars came back to the hotel at around 7pm and we got ready to go out for dinner shortly after. The previous evening we'd seen a TGIFridays on Times Square, and as both of us love the place, we decided to go there... only to discover that TGIFs in London are a LOT better than that particular one... at least on that evening. We got the worst service experienced on the entire trip (the waitress forgot to give us cutlery, never checked up on us for refills, and took forever to give us out check), and the food wasn't nearly as delicious as we've been used to from our visits to the chain in London. Ah well, can't win them all.

I'd asked about bookstores at the hotel and had been told there was a rather large B&N at 5th and 46th, so knowing that stores stay open later in NYC than what we're used to (=closing at 7pm at the latest), we decided it was worth a shot to see if it was still open at 9:30pm. Unfortunately not - they closed at 9pm, so I'd have to save that for another day - but at least we got to see a bit more of the city :)

* Turns out that buying Metrocards is apparently not intended for tourists - not at the machines anyway. We attempted to pay using our visa cards, and were asked to enter our 5-digit zip code!!! Ehh... Danish zip-codes are only 4 digits, and it didn't say what to do if you didn't have one, so we just ended up entering a fictitious one. Rather odd service to expect tourists either to be exclusively from the US or to use the manned booths rather than the machines. *Shrugs*. Instead we just messed up their statistics for the day ;)

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