We left to go into NYC about 9.30am after rush hour. We went over the George Washington Bridge and drove down the Hudson Parkway along the river. Very pretty. It's quite exciting to see the city again, although I wasn't as excited as my first time 2 years ago, but it was nice to see Mike really excited - like a kid in a candy store!!
Jazzy parked at the Museum of Natural History carpark. You think parking expenses in Auckland is bad - but this was $27 for two hours!! Entry to the museum was free as Jazzy is a member of some sort. We decided to spend no more than two hours at the museum as we only have one day in NYC to see it all!! We decided to see the Dinosaurs, the African Animals and Great North American birds, finishing with the Ocean life.
The Dinosaurs were incredible. I have to admit I thought they would be boring - but the display was amazing, and I've never seen such complete skeletons, and so massive. Hard to believe vegetarians could get so big!! The African Animals were quite incredible too as the diaramas were over 100 years old, history bringing Africa to New York many years ago. The newer diaramas of the North American Birds were not so good, and they were not as old either, which is probably why! Ocean Life was okay - with a blue whale above at life size, making you feel small in comparison.
We left the museum at midday, and Jazzy dropped Mike and I off at B and H Camera/Video. This big shop was even bigger than last time I was there as they had added another floor. Now there are about 30 counters just for SLR digital photography, and another 25 or so for digital point and shoot. They were full too. They have a great system, you go in and tell them what you want, they order it, attach a slip of paper to a carton on a conveyor belt, which is sent round collecting the goods from each department that they order online. When finished you pay at a checkout, then proceed to the exit where you pick up your goods on the way out. Anyway - I told them of my problem with my focusing on my Canon - and it WAS the spot metering as I thought it was. The guy fixed it right there and then so I once again have a perfectly working Canon 20D, and there was no need for me to upgrade to the 40D. (Drat!!) I did buy some memory cards (2 x 4gb), and a bean bag tripod, and a gorilla pod for an SLR - smallish items that don't take too much room.
Mike bought a camera - a Sony H50 point and shoot with all the bells and whistles. Very light and compact - quite impressive. Has a zoom equivalent to a 500mm which is lovely, but still not fast enough for bird photography - so I'll stick to an SLR!
After we left B and H we bussed down to the Soho/Greenwich Village area and walked around the local shops. We heard some explosions or muffled sounds, and the ground shook, then about 3 minutes later about 25 cop cars came screaming down the street in a procession. We still have no idea what it was all about, but our thoughts did turn to 9/11. The ground shaking WAS probably a subway train underneath, but allthe cop cars did make us wonder... However, we carried on in the opposite direction, and stopped for lunch at Max Brenners. Yum. The hot chocolate was to die for!
After lunch we walked to the Empire State Building via Madison Square. We stopped for a while as we found some very tame squirrels that entertained us. I managed to take a photo of two of them having sex in the park. I'm going to call it 'Sex in the City'! A New Yorker was ignoring the signs 'Do not feed the squirrels', and feeding them Brazil Nuts, and gave us a few so we could feed them too. Very cute. Yeah Yeah - I know they're rats with tails - but they're still cute!
Carried on to Empire State building and decided to go up it. $19 (ouch), and lots of people so long queues for the lift. It went up the first 80 floors in 1 minute. My ears did not like it. More queues for the next 6 floors so they opened up the stairwell and we climbed the last 6 floors in the heat! That was actually quite tough going. Up outside - it was all push and shove - too many people and you could hardly get a spot to take photos. In that regard, the Rockefeller Centre that we went up in 2006 was much better. However, I managed to push and shove like the rest of them and got some decent photos! Back down 80 floors in 1 minute - by this time my ears really hurt!
My feet were sore too from all the walking, so we got a bicycle taxi to Times Square. It was a great way to see New York, and we forgot to tip the guy! I still can't get used to tipping and this tax they add onto everything! We wandered around Times Square for a while, it was getting dark and once again I felt this buzz, or sense of excitement that you only find in NYC. Amazing place. We did go into the M and M shop, 3 floors of M and M's and tubes and tubes of them from ceiling to floor filled with the same colours, so you can choose your favourites! I didn't get any though, it's far too hot and they would melt too quickly!
We then wandered back down to 42nd St and 8th Av to the Port Authority and caught the bus back to Jazzy's at 9.40pm. The bus driver was REAL grumpy. I got on and asked for a ticket to Little Falls.
'Where's your ticket?' he asked. 'I'm buying it now from you'. I said.
He was about to kick us off, but I calmly explained that I was from NZ, didn't know anything about pre-buying tickets as no one had told me about it, and we had been to the information centre. He grudgingly sold me a ticket on the bus. I then asked him to tell me when we were at our stop as I'm new - but when he we got there, he wasn't sure about it and couldn't help at all. Fortunately I recognised the landmark from 2006 and got off at the right place.
Came in and got online and booked the hostel at Sacramento for 16th July.