Thursday, June 12, 2008

NY - 25 May 08

After a disastrous Saturday, I had to salvage the rest of the days now. So we started off early on Sunday too and after a quick breakfast, we headed off to the Empire State Building by a taxi. First in this awesome tower, we took a ride called 'New York City Sky Ride'. This is a simulated helicopter ride that takes you on a virtual tour over the skies of New York. You enter a dark auditorium with a giant screen ahead of you. Looks like any other cinema hall - albeit a private kind since its much smaller - but the excitement is a big difference. It's a simulated copter ride, so it feels like you're sitting in a roller-coaster-like helicopter; your seat begins to move up, down, right and left, and you experience as if you're really sitting in a helicopter. of course there are seat belts like in a roller coaster so you don't fall off. Nice fun! Then, we headed for the Observation Deck on the 80th floor from where we are treated to magnificent views of NY. If you want to go further up on the 101st floor, there's an additional charge of $10; we didn't take that.

Since mom likes bus and boat tours more than walking, we headed straight to the Battery Park and took the Brooklyn tour. We saw the historic Brooklyn bridge but didn't go over it to Brooklyn because no heavy vehicles like buses and trucks are allowed. Coincidentally, Brooklyn Bridge celebrated its 125th anniversary a day before that (we were at Liberty island that day), so it was nice to see the bridge to lit up later that day when we took the Night Tour (more of that later). But NY bridges, that cross over the rivers there are so tall that when starting to go on top of them, you feel as if you're sitting in a airplane and are taking off. Their pinnacles are as high as 10-15 stories of a common residential building. It was a 2-hour Brooklyn tour; the suburb was nothing spectacular; the guide though spoke very highly of it though. Partly because she was paid for that job and partly because that was her home! Nevertheless, I thought she was amongst the best tour guides though.

One of the best things about US tour guides is the fact that they are very engaging. They intersperse their talk with a lot of their own personal experiences, like and dislikes. You get a feeling that its not just a guide talking, but someone telling you a story.

We returned to Times Square that evening and had dinner at an Italian cafe. Portions in US is in abundance and one sandwich can be consumed by two people if they have an average appetite. Since I wanted to take the Night Tour that same day, we had to spend at least an hour there since summers in US have long days and there's sunlight till about 8.00 pm and light till about 8.30 pm! Finally I lost patience and day light or no day light, I took a tour that started at 7.30 pm, even though there was daylight.

We meandered the same streets for the second time in the day (and third, overall), as the Night Tour again took us to and through their downtown, all the way up the American bridge, to Brooklyn.
The view of the NY city (Manhattan) skyline and the lit up Brooklyn bridge was just awesome. One of the best views of NY city is at night under the lights. End of a very profitable day.

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