A city so nice they named it twice – Part IV

The following day was a Sunday so we slept a bit longer. Coming to think of it, it would not have mattered what day of the week it was since we would have slept anyway. Finally, as the clock struck 12, we lazily got off our beds and freshened up. Atit had booked our tickets for the cruise to the Statue of Liberty and we had to board at 1:00 pm. We left quickly without anything to eat and took an Uber to reach Liberty Park from where we were to board the cruise. To our dismay, there was traffic and the driver suggested we would reach quicker by walking. So, we got out and began our 30 min walk to the ticket counter. This was then followed by a 2-hour wait in the queue to get into the cruise. By the time I boarded the cruise, I was going through a plethora of emotions, none of them good. Hunger, impatience, and annoyance to name a few.

We got off at Liberty Island and did not wait for second opinions as we made our way to the nearest cafeteria. Call it bad luck or whatever, we had to wait another hour before placing our orders due to the extremely long queues at each counter. By this time, we were famished. Luckily though we found a table, albeit with no seats to sit on, and we ravenously ate our foods without as much as a second glance at each other. After our ridiculously quick meal, we made our way to see the Statue of Liberty. I don’t know why we decided to head back home after an hour. I guess the hunger and the irritation of waiting in the queues weighed on our minds. We took the cruise and headed back to New Jersey.

By the time we reached home it was already 6:00 pm and so we decided to take a quick nap before going out to see Times Square. The wiser heads in the group suggested that we have an early dinner and then make our way to Times Square. So, we visited the hotel on Indian Street where we had gone for dinner on the first night in NJ. This time though we had a couple of additions to the group present that night. After a filling meal exemplified by our burps, we headed out to witness the New York nightlife first hand.

Sanket suggested that we should totally check out the rooftop bar on 5th Avenue. So, we all headed over to check it out. The rooftop was amazing and the Empire State looked majestic so close. We could not have been more underdressed for the club. Smart looking guys strolled about wearing chic blazers, while beautiful girls flitted in and out of our visions. Our rapidly dropping self-esteem got the better of us and we quickly made our way out again. We decided to check out another rooftop bar further ahead but rejected it since the music was turned off. Next, we took the route to Times Square on which the Grand Central Station was located. This route again proposed by Sanket.

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As I walked towards the Grand Central, I saw the Chrysler building where the movie SpiderMan 2 was shot. It is the fifth tallest building in the city after One World Observatory, Empire State Building, Bank of America Tower, and joint fifth with The New York Times Tower. As we approached the station, it reminded me of the beautiful architecture of Mumbai’s iconic railway station.  The Grand Central station has 44 platforms, which is the most for any railway station. It was 1:55 am by the time we reached the station and seeing it deserted, we thought it might have been closed for the night. But a small notice on the main door stated that the station was open until 2:00 am, which meant we had about 4 minutes to check it out. In the 4 minutes that remained, I had my mind blown by the sheer beauty and magnitude. The design, architecture of the dome and the beautiful chandeliers were a sight to behold. I felt a slight pang of disappointment since we could not stay for longer. Finally, we made our way to Times Square at well past 2:00.

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The increased intensity of the lights as we walked by indicated that we had reached Times Square. I was amazed at the huge billboards and the glittering lights that made me feel like a movie star. Not exactly the cliched notion of a small town boy coming to a big city but I could relate somewhat. It was really appealing and I felt kind of happy being there. And to top it all, it was the perfect ending to our almost perfect trip (that wait in the queue in the morning took away some sheen, but that seems a distant memory now). There were people buzzing about here and there but I am sure it might have been 1/100th of what would have been during the peak evening hours. As we were busy clicking pictures, out of nowhere, it started raining and we had to take shelter. I saw a food truck across the street and as soon as the rain stopped I ran across with Sanket to see what it offered. It offered waffles and crepes and donuts, but the sleep-deprived owner told us that only waffles were available. So, I took the Belgian waffle with Nutella and whipped cream while Sanket took the fruity one. I managed to get eat-from-a-food-truck-in-NYC-at-night ticked off from my checklist. Wohoooo.

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It was almost 3 by the time we made our way back to the 33rd Street station. We took the train. Tired and exhausted, we got off at the Journal Square station to which we now had gotten used to. We reached Sanket’s house and for the third time in three nights, I fell asleep before the lights were turned off. The next morning arrived pretty quickly and having covered all places on our checklist, we concluded that even getting out of bed was not worth the effort. Finally, the hungry jingle of my tummy got us up and we chose a place called Eggomania as our final lunch destination. The place though small was completely packed and no wonder why. The food arrived promptly and was delicious albeit a bit spicy for my liking. I finished off my meal with a Cold Cocoa while others indulged in Mango Lassi.

Our ride arrived shortly past 6 in the evening and as we loaded our bags into the car, we all were a little sad that the trip was finally over. Once again a special note of thanks to Sanket Gandhi, without whose guidance and knowledge of NYC, the trip would not have been as successful as it was. Our insider man delivered and how. It was a 5-hour drive from NYC to Rochester punctuated by the small stop we made for the dinner at a Subway. At 11:30, as we neared our area, it was the same quiet neighborhood that we had left behind three nights ago, that greeted us. 24 hours earlier we were on top of a rooftop bar overlooking the Empire State Building in one of the liveliest cities in the world and here we were in Rochester surrounded by the noise of silence. As I unlocked the door to our apartment, I felt a sense of homeliness. Which one is better you ask? Who is to say.

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