That night we stopped midway and stayed in a nice Holiday Inn with a Jacuzzi. We arrived at the hotel around 2 Am and none of us had any energy to get into the Jacuzzi though my wife seemed to really like it. Our plan was to start very early next morning. So, we brushed and went to bed. The night passed by in moments. We were all very tired.
Next morning we ate the continental breakfast that the hotel offered and went back to the road around 7 AM. Later than we planned for but we had to live with that. There was a reason for hurrying up. I was hoping to be in a Bangla book fair in NYC. They had asked me to be there by 3 PM so that I could hand over them my two books that I wanted to be introduced. It was going to be tight but we hoped for the best. With little to no traffic things started to look pretty good.
We took highway 81 and continued all the way until we hit 380. While the route is not spectacular but the views are descent and enough to keep an onlooker entertained with beautiful hills and lakes, rivers and creeks with crystal clear water.
The worst part of the trip was when we arrived at the George Washington Bridge. It took us over three hours from there on to reach the book fair venue in Jamaica. It was already past 3 PM when we reached there. However, a quick visit to the basement of the building where the fair was taking place filled me up with shear disappointment. The place looked barren with a handful of the publishers displaying their books with little to no audience. I looked for the organizers but was unable to find them. This is when we decided to move on and concentrate on NYC. Cutting the next series of activities short only to say we ended up going to Connecticut to my sisters place that night and returned to NYC the next morning with my sister and her 7 year old son for a day long visit.
Let's see how that went.
Our first destination was the Nintendo World in Manhattan near Rockefeller center. My son had specifically requested for it. It was a Sunday and we were hoping to have less trouble finding a parking spot. Wrong! We went around and around for an empty spot but with no luck. Finally annoyed I parked the car in a garage almost next to the store for about 45 dollars for the rest of the day. For the time being the overpriced parking fee felt quite bad but later we realized it was in a way the best thing to do. With the car out of our way we could now travel much more freely using the vast underground railway system that New York City offered. It definitely added more to the cost but when you are in new York City all you really need to be thinking of is convenience and not ever never of money. If you do that mistake and if you are in a tight time frame you'll end up seeing nothing. Most of your time will go on to negotiating traffic.
This is the Nintendo World. Not a very big place but nice and neatly organized. My son seemed to enjoy his time there. He purchased a game here as a souvenir.
Next was the Lego land nearby. This place was also not very big but was nice. There are several Lego structures that are very interesting. The one in the picture is of a snake that meanders through the store. Very nice.
Our next target was the Museum of Natural history located near the central park. Once we completed our ventures into the Nintendo world and Legoland we headed for the subway station. It wasn't easy though. After looking around for a little while I finally asked somebody who showed us the way.
Admittedly I wasn't prepared for the subway having planned to go around in a car. Now that we descended into the subway station we were all a little confused. We are from Toronto, a city which has a subway system with two different lines. I picked up a subway map of New York City and was instantly baffled at the mesh like huge system. Just figuring out where was what and how to get to a particular point seemed like a puzzle that could take days to solve. Attempting to get too much information from the Black lady sitting in the ticket booth only generated some annoyance, rightfully I guess as she must be bored to death answering questions of unprepared tourists and also there were several people lining up to buy tickets. Anyway, after much examination and research of the subway map we finally boarded a train that seemed to go in the general direction of where we were planning to go. I guess we looked readily out of place and a kind lady approached us and inquired about our intentions. This turned out to be extremely helpful as we found out that the train we were riding would not stop at the station next to the Museum in a weekend. We would have to get off in a junction and take another train. She graciously invited us to simply follow her as she and her company were heading the same direction. I had bad experience in New York from my visit there in two prior occasions but this simple case of kindness felt really good. Often a little bit of help makes a sea of difference. It saved us a lot of agony. With young kids in the group getting lost is never a good option. If nothing else the kids tend to make a very big deal out of such mishaps and are bound to spread it among all friends, families and acquaintances making it sound as if their dad is the most incapable person in the whole wide world.
Anyway, the Museum was very interesting. It is a large place with several floors. Usually my kids are not big fan of Museums but they really loved it.
Back in Toronto, I had researched quite a bit about all the attractions in New York City and found out that while there are plenty of them most if not all are very expensive to visit, and I mean irrationally expensive (it is possible that the cost of maintaining an attraction in the city can be very expensive). However, there are things like New York pass and several other tour packages that may cut down the overall cost quite a bit provided you plan to stay there several days and visit several attractions because all of these passes and packages are required to be purchased before hand and are not cheap either.
Now, our plan was very short. So, we had to pick among all the choices we had. I felt one of the best way to actually see the New York City was to board the free Staten island Ferry. I read quite a bit about it in the web and after the Museum we headed for the Ferry Terminal.
This turned out to be the best time we had in New York City. The day was sunny, warm and breezy. The ferry terminal is a big facility. The kids were excited at the sight of the large ferries. While waiting along with hundreds of other people for the next ferry to come we got us some delicious ice cream from a ice cream vendor and relished on them.
Once the ferry arrived people streamed out of it and we boarded in. The whole operation went much quickly and smoothly than I thought it would go considering the huge crowd that gathered. The trip to the Staten Island took about 20 minutes. We had to get off the ferry and board another one to return. Overall, excellent experience. The views were astonishing.
After Staten Island while we were traveling back to the Rockefeller Center we took an impromptu decision to get off the train a few stations early and walk through the so famous Times Square. There was another incentive - the Disney store, which obviously was a big pull for my daughter.
The store is located in a large two storied building with very good collection of toys and kids clothing. I particularly found the spinning Mary-go-around interesting, located right inside the store.
The Times Square
The walk back to our parking spot through the downtown Manhattan was a great experience. It always feels great to visit a city and be among large crowd. It definitely gives a special significance to the overall experience. We returned to Connecticut without any incident.
We started our trip back to Toronto next afternoon. Again, it was an exceptionally beautiful day. We had a long trip ahead of us but we felt quite content with our brief visit, especially all of us enjoyed our visit to the New York City and the kids had plenty to share with their friends. I settled down in my driving seat for a nine hour long driving stopping only to get gas and pick up lunch as we ate in the car to cut down travel time.
If you are heading to New York City any time soon, have a great time there!