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  • A Not-So-Accidental Tourist in New York – Part I

    Posted on June 25th, 2009 Michele Sun No comments

    Last week (6/15/2009) I went to New York for a full week to be a tourist. Though I have been to the Big Apple or The City That Never Sleeps many times because of work, but never had the chance to do anything a tourist could have done. Now I got time and plenty of mileage on my hands, I then decided to visit New York.

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    Landed in JFK airport instead of coming into LaGuardia as before, I got to see different scenes and neighborhoods coming into Manhattan. I had picked midtown to stay which would allow me easy access to subway stations and was close to most of the places that I planned to visit. Dropped off my bags and walked toward 32nd Street to get some hot food for my stomach first, I found the 32nd Street between Broadway and 5th got even more Korean shops lined up than last year. Red Mango and Pinkberry were competing directly within the same block, which I took it as good news to me – I love those sweet treat with mochi and fresh fruits toppings.

    Over the past years, I had come to New York many times on business. The days were usually penciled-in with appointments, briefings and in and out of buildings, with dinners and drinks in either Uptown or Soho. With very limited free time I could only get glimpses of New York here and there, but never got to taste what New York had to offer. So for the first two days I decided to take the famous hop-on and hop-off double decker bus tour, and don’t get me wrong: I love the subway. But it’s tough to get the lay of the land when you’re constantly underground. So for my first two days, I would see the town by bus and foot instead.

    The red double-decker started near Times Square on 47th Stree continued toward downtown, and I decided to visit Statue of Liberty on day one while the weather was promising. I got off at the Battery Park to catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. As the ferry was approaching the Liberty Island, I got more and more excited – it’s simply amazing to watch the leading lady with a torch in such up close and personal fashion. I wasn’t able to get a pass in advance to get into the crown, but just walking around on the ground was pretty interesting. Came across a marching band from Oregon and the kids were all dressed in Scottish kilt, isn’t that unique?

    In a short 10-minute ride, the ferry then took me to Ellis Island, home to an excellent museum detailing the experience of the 12 million immigrants who entered America through this port. From the photos, documents and items displayed here, I found the new comers back then were mostly young families who sailed to this land for new life and better opportunities. And that American Dream is still the same for many of immigrants today including me.

    After surf comes the turf, back from island hopping I went to South Street Seaport which was within walking distance of Wall Street. The sky was gloomy and I suddenly felt chilly as I remembered about 26,000 people had lost their jobs in one single day, 9/15/2008, when Wall Street collapsed. You could see the business in this area was obviously not doing well from the lack of patrons in restaurants and shops, and I did not see other visitor when I was admiring FDR’s collection of ships inside the South Street Seaport Museum. I talked to a street vendor selling sunglasses and he told me that business had been very bad for him thanks to the unstable weather, but I guess trade winds come in different shapes and forms.

    Hopped on the red double-decker again and this time I got off at East Village walking toward sprawling handsome complex, including the GE Building (aka 30 Rock) and the Rockefeller Center,  of course there was no sight of the Christmas tree and ice skate rink but the greatest art deco icon Atlas was still standing here. Continued walking across the street, there were more upscale stores and designers’ boutiques. Since I had come here with Anthony before, I did not spend much time window shopping except had a very nice Cookies & Creme at Chock full o’ Nuts which started as a nut shop back in 1926, and long before pricey coffee houses dotted every city block, there were Chock full o’Nuts coffee shops way back.

    The bus tour took me back to where it began – 47th and 8th, from there I walked east and entered Times Square. Iimmediately I faced the screaming billboards, the honking cabs, and the world’s largest M&M display. The M&M store here was full of colorful fun of M&M’S Chocolate and M&M branded merchandise including limited edition (special color) M&M candies. It’s so much more than just candy here and not too surprisingly I love this place!

    This city may never sleep, but I was exhausted after all the walks. Time to hit the sack…

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