Today I’m continuing my long overdue series on our New York itinerary.
After our first stop at the WTC memorial which you can read about here, we took the metro to our next stop – the Grand Central Terminal.
STOP 2 : Grand Central Terminal
With 45 platforms, 63 tracks and 800,000 people filtering through its halls daily it is, to say the least, a busy venue. We had a quick breakfast from the Grand Central Market where we were spoilt for choice – everything from chocolate to cheese was on display for us to feast our eyes. With happy tummies, we then started our self guided audio tour. At $9 the tour was pretty good value for money and we spent an hour or two wandering the different levels uncovering hidden facts.
The main concourse is impressive with its massive windows, marble staircases and the central information booth with its iconic clock (Madagascar flashbacks, anyone?). The audio tour highlighted some interesting features like how the star signs traipsing across the cerulean ceiling are backwards or the significance of the blackened brick near the Piscean crab or the secret in the Information Booth.
Another touristy must-do is to visit the Whispering Gallery and whisper some sweet nothings into your partner’s ear from opposite corners of the room. Also look out for the clock that marks the dawn of Eastern Standard Time.
If you’re interested in finding out some quirky facts about GCT, click here.
STOP 3 : Lunch at Xi’an Famous Foods
DH and I are particular that on every trip we sample the local favorites whenever possible. This means that come meal time you will often find us standing stock-still in a hurrying crowd, peering at our phones as we flip through online recommendations for nearby restaurants.
Based on glowing online reviews and its proximity to our route we planned to have lunch at Xi’an Famous Foods, a small Chinese joint. Unfortunately the food we had was quite disappointing. Maybe our taste buds are more attuned to the Chinese fare produced for the masses and this supposedly ‘authentic’ experience was a bit too out there for us. Or maybe we just ordered the wrong items. Suffice to say that both our dishes were practically floating in oil and we wished we had picked the nearby Portuguese place instead.
STOP 4 : New York Public Library and Bryant Park
After a rather disappointing lunch, we walked to our next destination, the New York Public Library. The very concept of a massive public library that lends out books for FREE! boggles my mind. If ever there was a reason for me to fall in love with the Big Apple this was it!
Free books, free wi-fi, free online apps and free guided tours. The building is fascinating and I could easily have spent a whole day there just wandering the halls. Oh and not to mention there are scheduled activities just outside the library. On the day we visited, a lucky group was getting a free fencing lesson!
As if the Library wasn’t jaw dropping enough, we wandered out into Bryant Park and were floored by what we saw. The gorgeous fall weather, the greenery of the park, the tables where you could read your library book, the famous carousel…
In the midst of that buzzing metropolis, Bryant Park stood suspended in time, sedately refusing to crash ahead at a frenetic pace. Here, people slowed down to smell the flowers (literally!), to sip a cup of coffee, to snatch a moment with an old friend.
If you time your visit just right you may be able to catch one of the free performances. We were regaled by live piano music as we enjoyed our coffee and soaked in the atmosphere. Had we been willing to stay longer we could even have seen an outdoor performance of Taming of the Shrew! But our next destination beckoned and so we had to bid a reluctant farewell.
To be continued…