Arriving the Big Apple
This was the day we were waiting for, our first time in the east coast, even though we've lived in the US for so many years. Originally, we were going to book an East Coast tour, but Al thought it would be more fun and adventurous to drive around ourselves. We packed our stuff the day before, drove early to SFO, took an early shuttle to the airport, and boarded Virgin America (funny how were were there two hours early and the counter was still closed - they should changed their rules). We encountered the same bitchy lady, but she was way nicer now. Then we got our boarding passes but there were no gates yet, so we had to wait again. Finally, there was a gate on the screen, and we went there, only to move again to another gate in a few minutes when they announced a different gate. Our trip was a long 5 hours so I watched a marathon of Monk in the meantime, and did small naps in between. I was getting hungry (we didn't eat breakfast) and they didn't even serve peanuts! You can, however, order food. Hmm. At least this time, upon arrival, there were no disco balls and house music on the way out of the gate. Phew!
We finally arrived JFK, rode the Airtrain to the rent-a-car shuttle, and rode the shuttle to our car rental. We were running behind schedule, but the peeps at the car place were very nice. Weather was freezing cold, but they said it gets even colder. I reserved an economy car, but they probably don't have it, so they upgraded us to a 2008 Mitsubishi Galant! How awesome is that! I already got a good deal with the one-week rental and then an upgrade! Also, the GPS rental was a bargain too so we were happy coz I expected more (but I keep telling Al to just buy one). Our trip is starting so well.
We finally arrived at our hotel on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (close to Columbia University) and was right across a subway station. We had a small room, but it was equipped with a fridge and microwave, a flat screen TV, a mirrow dresser and private bath. The bathroom was clean but you had to pay for internet access everyday.
I can't really complain because the hotel price was cheap for a Manhattan hotel.
After checking in, we left our bags and rushed to make it to the night tour we booked. We made it to their last trip, and immediately walked up the double decker bus to sit on the top of the bus. For a night tour, it probabl wasn't too smart since the double decker top floor was open-air and we were freezing cold. But the views were spectacular. Holiday lights were still on, and times square at night looked like a night in Vegas. The night tour wasn't hop-on, hop-off, but it did give us an idea on which areas to check. We drove around three loops - an uptown loop, a Brooklyn loop, and my fave, the downtown loop. What retained in my mind was the Manhattan skyline, the Brooklyn bridge and Manhattan bridge at night. Such a beautiful picture in my mind. And of course, the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building. After the tour, we started walking in Times Square to take pics then it started to rain. My shoes and pants got wet! As soon as we got home, we crashed since we got tired, and dried up our wet clothes to get ready for the next day.