Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Trip to USA - Home sweet home


After hearing horror stories of the traffic jams leading to JFK International Airport, we decided to make our way there as early as possible. So after we got back from Brooklyn, we checked out and headed out in a cab. The trip to the airport went without a hitch, no traffic jam at all. We had tons of time to kill though.

Here's Ryan doing some exercise as we waited to check in.










After we checked in our luggage and got our boarding passes, we decided to explore the airport. Rode the AirTrain (which is like the skytrain in Changi International Airport) to see the rest of the terminals.



JFK has eight terminals containing 151 gates, seven terminals are currently in use. Over ninety airlines operate out of JFK. It is the busiest international air passenger and freight gateway to the United States.

To be frank, there isn't much to see at the airport. The terminals are very business-like - they just focus on getting the people on and off the planes. Some terminals don't have food outlets or shops. All of them don't provide a lot of seating around the terminal for waiting passengers. It is definitely not a place to hang out, unlike Changi International Airport in Singapore.


Our flight was on time and everything went smoothly. Ryan was happy and in good spirits.




We stopped in Frankfurt and the flight from Frankfurt was slightly delayed. Arrived in Singapore safe and sound. It was a fantastic trip!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Weekend update

We've been having a few lazy weekends now. The weekend before last, we were in Vietnam, and we spent half the time in the hotel room, just lazing about. Last weekend was not very different! Ryan went for all his classes and in between we lazed about at home and took long naps.

We were up late with friends on Friday night, and only got to bed close to 2 am. Woke up early on Saturday for Edudrama and in the afternoon, the three of us napped for three hours, before dragging ourselves out of the house. We met up with some friends at Wild Oats in Punggol Park for dinner. Sunday was more of the same - there was swimming and Shichida, and Ryan and I went to bed at 9 pm. Glorious.




One piece of bad news - our cat Tiger was hospitalised for a bladder blockage. He went in last Thursday. His condition has been improving steadily, and hopefully he can come home today.  We miss that grumpy grouch!

In other news, here's something that Ryan did recently - a weaving activity with strips of paper. This is the first time Ryan attempted weaving and Richard and I helped out a lot. Not bad for a first attempt and I'm sure he'll get better at it!


My mum is here for about a week, which is one reason why the blog has recently been all about our trip to USA - no time to write proper posts! I've also been trying to get all the posts on the trip done so that I can move on to other stuff. Just one more post to go and normal transmission will resume!

Hope you lovelies had a lovely weekend.

Before we went to Rockefeller Center on Friday, 6 May 2011, we actually made a detour to SoHo. SoHo is a district in Lower Manhattan, notable for being the location of many artists' lofts and art galleries, and also, more recently, for the wide variety of stores and shops ranging from trendy boutiques to outlets of upscale national and international chain stores. SoHo also boasts the greatest collection of cast-iron architecture in the world. Approximately 250 cast iron buildings stand in New York City and the majority of them are in SoHo.

SoHo's name comes from being "SOuth of HOuston Street".

We wandered around SoHo for a couple of hours. We were pleased to be able to pop into shops like purl Soho, Dean & Deluca, Anthropologie, etc. Had a bite at a quaint Japanese specialty grocery store/cafe. We didn't take any photos, unfortunately.

Anyway, that completes our Friday. 

On Saturday morning, 7 May 2011, we took the subway to Brooklyn. Here's Ryan, enjoying his morning walk in Brooklyn. Elmo came along too.






Look at this - guerilla knitting! Wonder what the owner of the bicycle thought when he came back to find his bicycle all cozy and warm!


We were actually in an area called "DUMBO" which stands for "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass". We were going to Grimaldi's Pizzeria and if you look closely at this map, you can see two white spots - people have pointed to these spots so often that the colour has worn off - these two spots correspond to where you are now (at the sign) and where Grimaldi's Pizzeria is!


There's Grimaldi's - the one with the green top, under the Brooklyn Bridge.





The pizzeria wasn't open yet so we had some time to look around and take some photos. We couldn't wander off though because a queue was forming outside the pizzeria! The restaurant does not accept reservations, does not accept credit cards, does not sell by the slice and does not do deliveries.


Photo of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge in the distance.



This is what we were waiting for! Yums! Pizza from a coal-fired brick oven. Actually, Grimaldi's Pizzeria has several outlets, including one in Manhattan, but the one in Brooklyn is the original and the most famous.



The pizza is served on a stand. Half of our pizza actually fell off! Ryan was helping to ladle the slices off the pan but the pieces were still stuck together with all the cheese on the pizza and, with all that pushing and shoving, the pan slid off the stand with half of the pizza still on it. And you know what - they replaced the whole pizza for us straightaway! We didn't ask them to and they didn't make any comments, they just said, "We'll replace that for you" and they did. They also did not charge us for the second pizza (we made up for the price of the pizza in our tip, which they were surprised to see). Such great people.

We didn't do much else in Brooklyn, we wanted to get back to Manhattan to check out of the hotel and head over to the airport, so it was back to the subway after our pizza.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Trip to USA - Rockefeller Center

Built by the Rockefeller family, Rockefeller Center is a complex of 19 commercial buildings covering 22 acres (89000 m2) between 48th and 51st streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

The centrepiece of Rockefeller Centre is 30 Rockefeller Centre, which is the GE building, also known as "30 Rock". The building is 70 floors high and the famous Rainbow Room (restaurant) is on the 65th floor. There is an observation deck spanning the 67-70 floors and from the 70th floor you can have a 360-degree view of the city.


We were wandering about for a long time looking for Rockefeller Center - we didn't realise that we were right in the middle of it. There is no sign that says this or that particular building is part of Rockefeller Center. Also, the thing about Manhattan, which is different from Singapore, is that the buildings rise straight up from the sidewalk. In Singapore, there is usually a setback from the path, or a compound surrounding the building. In Manhattan, you're walking right next to 70-storey buildings without realising it. 




30 Rock is the headquarters of NBC and houses most of the network's New York studios.


At the front of 30 Rock is a sunken plaza, where the bronze gilded statue of Prometheus is found. This plaza is turned into an ice-skating rink in winter. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is erected here every year.



In 1962, a plaque was placed at the plaza with a list of principles in which John D. Rockefeller Jr. believed. This is what it says:


I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.
I believe that the law was made for man and not man for the law; that government is the servant of the people and not their master.
I believe in the Dignity of labour, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.
I believe that thrift is essential to well ordered living and that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether in government, business or personal affairs.
I believe that truth and justice are fundamental to an enduring social order.
I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man's word should be as good as his bond; that character not wealth or power or position - is of supreme worth.
I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free.
I believe in an all-wise and all-loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individuals highest fulfilment, greatest happiness, and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with His Will.
I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might.




At street level, the plaza has about 200 flagpoles. 



These are the Channel Gardens, opposite the plaza.


Along the Channel Gardens was this huge Lego store! Popped in and picked up Ryan's first Lego set (three sets, actually - they were on sale!).


Inside the store, there is a Lego replica of Rockefeller Center.



Darth Vader and a stormtrooper fighting on top one of the buildings


There is an underground Concourse which stretches from 47th to 51st street and from Fifth to Seventh Avenue. There are various shops in the Concourse, including restaurants and a post office.


We were pretty tired by then, so we had a quick dinner and went back to the hotel. We passed the famous Carnegie Hall on the way back but it didn't look too impressive from the outside. It probably looks very nice inside, but we didn't go in.

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