Sunday, 15 June 2014
We took the American Airlines flight from Paris to New York. We left Paris CDG at 11:10AM and arrived in New York at 1:40PM local time. I was quite surprised to see we were flying in an old airplane. Given the popularity of the route, I was expecting a more recent aircraft. As we arrived in New York, I was quite concerned on the immigration and security check. I’ve heard all sorts of horror stories about how passengers are thoroughly checked and even detained due to whatever reasons. Surprisingly, it went on smoothly for me. Haha!
We took a black car from the airport to the city. Initially there was some confusion on which cab we should take. We saw 2 lines: the yellow cab, and another line with black cars. Most of the black car drivers told us we couldn’t hail them there, and that we should walk up further. As we walked along the pickup area we saw black car, this time, a big van. His vehicle was big enough to fit all of us along with our luggage. The driver was a chatty New Yorker. He gave us all sorts of tips on what to do and where to eat. In fact, he couldn’t stop talking. He even repeated “tip me good” a few times. The total trip was USD150 (USD120 for the trip, USD30 for tip).
Our hotel in New York is the Hilton Garden In, quite near to Central Park. We checked in, freshen up, and went out exploring the city. The hotel is located in Midtown, and it is walking distance to Times Square.
We had lunch at Applebees near Times Square. Somehow the quality of the food isn’t as how I remember it from my last Applebees experience in Jeddah back in 2005.
After lunch, we went to Times Square. Times Square is a major commercial intersection in New York. The massive billboards and advertisements are quite a sight, just like in the movies. There was a seating area where lots of tourists sit to take photos and admire the buildings. We managed to get a seat and joined the crowed in taking touristy photos and of course, selfies.
We found the TKTS ticket booth behind the seating area in the middle of Times Square. TKTS sells various Broadway shows at a discount, between 20%-50% off the standard price. Most of my friends wanted to watch The Lion King but it wasn’t listed on TKTS, meaning we’ll have to pay full price.
We then moved on to explore the areas nearby. We walked to 5th Avenue, and from there, walked upwards towards Central Park. Good thing the driver from the airport explained to us the difference of New York’s streets and avenues. It made it easier for us to understand the grid-system they have in NY, and the distances between streets and avenues.
Since tomorrow is a working day for us, we went back to the hotel quite early to get some rest.
Monday, 16 June 2014
Today we had a number of work-related meetings so most of us woke up early. We went to Crown Deli, a nearby cafe for breakfast. It’s quite interesting to watch New Yorkers early in the morning rushing to work.
Throughout the day we attended various meetings with our local host. After the meeting was done, around 5PM, we went back to the hotel to get some rest.
Around 6PM, we had a dinner organised by our local host at the Molyvos Restaurant. Apparently it’s a well known Greek restaurant in New York. After dinner we went out for some sightseeing. After a while, we were hungry again.
We spotted the famous Halal Guys on 5th Avenue. Despite the hype and the long queue, the food wasn’t that great. We were quite disappointed. Perhaps it’s better suited to New Yorkers taste.
We later walked around to enjoy the evening view of the city before heading back to the hotel. Tomorrow is another working day for us where the host will take us for a number of site visits.