New York: Ellis Island

After four days in Philadelphia, we left very early in the morning and headed to New York City for the last leg of our vacation. We had planned to visit the Statue of of Liberty and Ellis Island as our first order of business.

ellis-3

Driving around New Jersey is horrendous. Alright, I admit I am a small city boy. The drivers in around this area is so aggressive, if you ask me. Rather than driving around looking for a nice place to eat, we decided to just drop by the nearest fast food joint for our breakfast.

ellis-4

Coffee was so essential these days to our daily diet. I can’t seem to think of any day when we did not have a cup of coffee in the morning. BK’s coffee was quite OK.

ellis-1

I got a BK sandwich.

ellis-2

Suanne got a BK croissant.

ellis-5

t Suanne and I had to live up to being food bloggers but we unashamedly admit that we love the BK breakfast.

ellis-21

We also love the price … less than $10 bucks … and no need to leave tips too. Anyway, this is not the point of this post. This is our trip to Ellis Island.

ellis-20

One thing about visiting Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. This is a really popular tourist attraction. If this is not the #1 tourist attraction in the whole of the United States, this one is certainly on the top three. One major tip … you should never ever just decide then and there to visit this place. We booked our cruise to these islands three weeks on the web before the trip … and even then the choice times were solidly booked.

ellis-34

You can visit both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty either from New York City or from New Jersey. Since we drove from Philadelphia, we took the cruise from New Jersey’s Liberty State Park. Between NYC’s Battery Park and NJ’s Liberty State Park, going from NJ is certainly less crowded.

ellis-30

The departure point is from an old disused train terminal. (more…)

Continue ReadingNew York: Ellis Island

New York: Going Home

This is my last posting on the series on New York. I actually had only five full days in the city but did managed to squeeze in quite a lot within that short span of time. And to think of it, this had resulted in 27 individual blog entries. Frankly, I had as much time blogging about it and sharing my vacation with you as I did on the vacation.

IMG_1183

My route back to Vancouver was not without drama. Since I was traveling on staff pass, I had very little choice when it comes to the routing. I had to fly from Newark to Houston to Vancouver. That will take me the entire day traveling alone.

I knew it would be a challenge getting on a standby flight. So, without taking any chances, I attempted to get on a 2PM flight from Newark to Houston. I figured that if I could not get on this flight, there are two other hourly flights.

Guess what … the flight was full and it appears that there are more people trying to get on standby than I could imagine. There were 45 names on the standby list … and me being on what they call a SA5 (space available priority 5), that means that, well, my name is #43 on the list. Moreover, they only have 20 seats available for this flight … that sounds like real trouble to me.

I waited for the flight the next hour, and it was not much better … there were over 30 names on the standby list and as a SA5, I am always at the bottom. My last option was the 4PM flight. If I could not get on the flight, I would miss the connecting flight to Vancouver. I went to customer service for help and as much as they tried all possibilities, it appears that my only real option is to try to get on the 4PM flight and land in Houston with only SEVEN minutes to get to the connecting flight gate!

Well, I guess, I might as well take the chance since the worst thing that could happen is that I either stay one more day in New York or one more day on Houston.

IMG_1186

I finally got on to a half empty fight from Newark to Houston … it’s weird to think that just two flights earlier, the flights were absolutely full.

While on the flight, I took the time to do some research for “Plan B” … a day trip in Houston in case I missed the connecting flight.

IMG_1221

The inflight meals is good … much better than most other American domestic flights I had ever been to. (more…)

Continue ReadingNew York: Going Home

New York: Tick Tock Diner and Grill

This was my last meal in New York City. Looking back, it had been a really eventful vacation for me, especially so, when I had not really finished planning for this until I was on the plane. If there is one thing I gained most from my job, it’s the experience in traveling.

So, for this last lunch before I head off to the Newark Airport, it was nothing fancy. I just chose a diner close to the Penn Station where I am due to catch a airport shuttle bus. One last thing, I wanted to try … it’s that illusive Egg Cream … this time with chocolate syrup.

The place I went to is the Tick Tock Diner and Grille.

IMG_1168

I had Egg Cream in Katz but it was with vanilla syrup. I later read that the real deal with Egg Cream is with chocolate syrup. I like it a lot but I do also think that this is very very fattening. It’s a fizzy drink. Despite its name, there is no eggs nor cream … it is made milk. carbonated soda water and of course, chocolate syrup.

IMG_1169

The Tick Tock Diner seems like just any diner you find. It’s located in a very very busy section of midtown. I like the service. (more…)

Continue ReadingNew York: Tick Tock Diner and Grill

New York: Lindy’s World Famous Cheesecake

This is one place I know Suanne would absolutely love if she is with me in NYC. Being a cheesecake addict, I bet she will want to visit this place more than once.

There are many types of cheesecakes in the world. However, when people think about cheesecakes, they invariably think of the New York-style cheesecake. In New York, that would either mean Lindy’s or Junior’s. Each of them have a rather similar tagline. For Lindy’s, it is the “world famous cheesecake” … while, Junior’s is the “most fabulous cheesecake”. I thought I won’t go wrong with the World’s Most Famous Cheesecakes.

Lindy’s is a deli/restaurant located in Time Square. I heard they have a few other outlets too in Manhattan.

IMG_1012

When does one normally have cheesecakes anyway? I guess it’s supposed to be dessert for dinner and maybe lunch. I had it for breakfast. That kind of work for me.

IMG_1010

According to my guidebook, the NY-style cheesecake is actually made famous by both Lindy’s and Junior’s. This style of cheesecake is sometimes referred to as the Jewish-style cheesecake.

After that somewhat disappointing experience with the fancy pizza in Lombardi’s, this time I ordered the safest item and the 1st item list listed on the menu … the Lindy’s Famous Original NY Cheesecake with Strawberry. $8.29 per slice below. There are other flavours like Cherry, Blueberry, Pineapple and Brownie and of course, the plain cheesecake. Strawberry is good … brownie, I am not sure.

IMG_1005

I am not particularly fond of cheesecakes but I had never seen a more sinfully delicious looking cheesecake than this. (more…)

Continue ReadingNew York: Lindy’s World Famous Cheesecake

New York: Strawberry Fields … Forever

There is this something special about a building called The Dakota. If not because of an event that happened here 27 years ago, The Dakota would not have been that famous. The Dakota is a luxury apartment building and is over 120 years old. As a matter of fact, The Dakota is the first luxury apartment ever built in NYC.

The Dakota had attracted the rich and famous over the century. Famous residents have included Judy Garland, Roberta Flack, Rudolf Nureyev, Neil Sedaka, Leonard Bernstein, Lauren Bacall, Carson McCullers, Boris Karloff, Connie Chung, and Paul Simon.

But I guess the most famous tenant of all was … John Lennon.

It happened almost 30 years ago … even to this day, this apartment building remains a place of pilgrimage to many.

IMG_1067

John Lennon was just 40 years old when he was shot and killed … at this entrance below. John and Yoko Ono had just returned from the studio one winter night … they got off their limousine and while walking into the gated apartment, four shots rang out and hit John. John Lennon, along with the dreams of a Beatles reunion, died that day.

I was just barely into my teens when John Lennon died. Even at that age, I was a fan of the Beatles. My dad was a fan of the Beatles too because I very distinctively remember that his favourite LP was the Beatles (which he refused to let me touch!).

I remembered too the moment when I found out that John Lennon was killed. I was in a church youth camp in Port Dickson. I woke up early and read about it just before breakfast.

IMG_1063

The Dakota is located just across the street from Central Park. John and Yoko enjoyed the walks in this park and their walks had been quite documented.

IMG_1066

This section of Central Park is called Strawberry Fields. It is dedicated to the memory of John Lennon and is named after his song … “Strawberry Fields Forever”. (more…)

Continue ReadingNew York: Strawberry Fields … Forever

New York: Ghost Town Movie Shoot

I got myself a role as an extra in a movie while I was in Central Park. I can’t believe my luck! I was walking in a section call the Literary Walk. The Literary Walk is sort of like the formal side of the park where there are rows of tall elm trees which provides a cathedral like ceiling high over the wide walkway.

I was walking around that area and came across a group of people milling around two large white reflector screens. I knew it was some movie going on and decided to walk closer and have a look.

IMG_1087

I hung around just next to the screens for a few minutes. I think they were checking and re-checking the lightings. No one bothered with me. I don’t know … perhaps they think that I am a pro-photographer … he he he. They allowed me to get real close.

IMG_1089

Then I saw “him” … Ricky Gervais. That was Ricky Gervais, isn’t it … the guy in the brown jacket?

IMG_1090_edited-1

At that time I did not know what was really going on. (more…)

Continue ReadingNew York: Ghost Town Movie Shoot

New York: Central Park

A large part of my day was spent mainly in Central Park. It was a lot of ground to cover. The entire Central park covers a rectangular area of 2.5 miles by 1/2 mile. Compared to Vancouver’s Stanley Park (which to me is the most beautiful urban park in the world), it is just slightly smaller. For all intents and purposes, the Central Park is the backyard of New York City.

The area around Central Park is known for it’s expensive real estate.

IMG_1084

I started off from the Central Park South and 5th Ave. From this entrance to the park, I saw that Apple Store … the famous glass cube store on 5th Ave. I remember seeing this store on the TV when Apple launched the iPhone. Not an Apple user myself, I decided to walk over and check it out.

IMG_1046

The store was very busy with a lot of people. What I enjoyed was all the various Apple equipments put out in the open for people to try. I spent sometime with the iPhone (or was it iPod Touch?), never having handled one before. I like it … flipping over pictures with a flick of the finger and pinching to resize it. Nice. I felt like just buying one … but sanity prevailed … I think I’ll get bored with flicking and pinching once the novelty wears off in a couple of days.

I like the cylindrical elevator they had that takes the visitors to the underground store. It is so basic and bare. Pay attention to where the door is or else you might just walk into the glass.

IMG_1050

The entrance to the Central Park from this south east corner is really busy and colourful. This seems to be like the official entrance to the park.

IMG_1045

There are a lot … and I mean A LOT … (more…)

Continue ReadingNew York: Central Park