This is the last post in my USA travel diary, covering our last 2 days in Manhattan before we flew home. 😥
I had been itching to watch a Broadway musical, but was unwilling to fork out USD$200+ per ticket just to watch a show, so I dragged my parents to Times Square’s TKTS booth, a kiosk that sells musical tickets at discounted prices (generally 40-60% off), just to check if any matinee tickets were on sale. There was a matinee for Phantom of the Opera that I had hoped to get tickets for, but the booth only sells the most expensive tickets at a discount, and the cheap ones are only sold at full price, so I decided against watching it.
I went into the Hershey’s store to drown my sorrows in chocolate, and was given a kit-kat just for entering the store; I love cheap thrills. I ended up buying some smores+chocolate chips for my baking
snacking needs, and then we were off to Union Square for some thrift shopping!
When we exited the subway station, my first thought was: ‘I’m finally warm!’ It was a pleasantly sunny day at Union Square Park, and some trees had just started flowering, so New Yorkers were out in full force, just basking in the sun.
The park was mostly filled with buskers, artists and college students (since NYU is nearby). There were students sketching the park, scattered street artists, and a mime who would block pedestrians and harass them with his miming.
We stumbled upon a massive budget store called Burlington, with 4 floors of massively discounted brands. There were clothing, shoes, accessories, bags, homeware, and everything under the sun on sale in the store. Brands like Guess, Adidas, Skechers, etc. were being sold for a fraction of their retail price, so we ended up spending a few hours browsing through the sprawling store.
We explored the vicinity and visited a few thrift stores in the area, but the range of items was quite narrow so we left empty-handed.
We accidentally ended up walking to the NYU campus, so we turned around and headed back to Union Square Park.
After one last walk around the park, we took the subway for one stop to get to the Flatiron Building.
There was nothing to do there, except take pictures of the Flatiron Building.
The adjacent Madison Square Park had a dog run teeming with overexcited dogs, so I spent a while watching them
with puppy eyes.
We returned to our hotel to offload our purchases and shopped at the nearby Manhattan Mall, before commuting to the Rockefeller Center.
Flags lined the perimeter of Rockefeller Center, to the extent that I thought we were at the UN or some government building when we first approached the place. The courtyard is a cafe during summer, but is converted into a skating rink during winter (which you’ve probably seen before in movies).
We were on our way to Saks Fifth Avenue, the iconic department store that happened to be just a block away. It had an insanely wide range of designer items, but I’m more of a budget barbie, so I didn’t spend a single cent in there.
I had initially wanted to go to the Top of the Rock observatory, but given my fear of heights and the exorbitant entry fee, I decided against it. To say it was tall is a severe understatement. In order to capture the full building in one frame, I had to cross the road. It’s most beautiful at dusk, because the building seemed to be awash in a rosy glow.
I shopped at Urban Outfitters (the outlet next to Macy’s), bought some discounted nail polish, and then we called it a night. We were flying off the following night, so we had a ton of packing to do.
We were finally near the end of our vacation, and my legs were nearly on their last legs (pardon the lame pun) after walking a grand total of 100+km over the past two weeks. After checking out of our hotel and paying $7 apiece for left luggage, we took a long walk (approx. 1km) from our hotel to one side of TheHigh Line, since there was no direct train.
The High Line is an old railway track that has been repurposed as an elevated park, and we could see the Hudson River from that vantage point, since it was just a few streets away.
It was quite peaceful and relatively empty although we went there around noon, and the weather was just the right amount of chilly.
There were some sculptures and art installations dotted along the railroad; these were some of my favourites.
After stopping for lunch at the Dallas BBQ (a decent and affordable restaurant near the High Line), we took a train to Central Park, stopping at the 81st Street station.
We exited at the Museum of Natural History, located midway along Central Park, since the upper half had fewer things to see.
The park was too large to cover on foot, and we were too tired to ride bikes around the massive park, so we chose to cover less ground and just see the highlights. The route drawn in black was the path we took.
We walked past the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre (a few puppet shows are put up daily) and explored the Shakespeare Garden.
The garden was stunning, with flowers of every shade in full bloom. Everything smelled amazing and people were busy photographing every little beautiful flower.
The Belvedere Castle was unfortunately closed for renovations, so we missed out on getting to explore the 19th Century castle.
We meandered across the park, people-watching as we walked.
It was drizzling lightly for the whole time we were in Central Park, so it was bitterly cold and empty.
BTS’ song, Spring Day, was aptly playing in my head as we strolled down the empty lanes; it was a beautiful spring day, twinged with a slight sadness since it was our last day in this utterly enchanting big city.
After what seemed like endless walking, we finally reached The Loeb Boathouse. Paddle boats are available for rental on sunnier days, but it was below 10 degrees on that day, so the lake wasn’t open for boating.
After stopping for some hot chocolate, we continued the last leg of our Central Park exploration.
Our clothes were slightly damp from the rain, but all our walking in the rain was made worthwhile when we finally came across the ephemeral cherry blossoms.
Many tourists had given up braving the rain and instead hopped onto horse-drawn carriages or tricycles to take them to the other end of the park.
The Bethesda Fountain looked bleaker and less vibrant than it does in movies – I first saw this fountain in Enchanted, where the cast performed a musical number – but its Gothic design was very grand and beautiful up close.
Fun fact: The benches in and around Central Park are donated by various members of the public, and they can dedicate messages on tiny metal plaques.
Our last stop was the Strawberry Fields, a memorial for John Lennon, who was killed outside his apartment The Dakota, just a street away from Central Park.
We returned to the area near our hotel and just shopped around for a while more, grabbed some dinner and rested at our hotel’s dingy lobby (since I was feeling rather green after a bad train ride). At around 11pm, we headed to the airport via subway, to catch our 1am long-haul flight back to Taipei and then Singapore.
After nearly a full day of flying, we were finally back in Singapore. But Singapore felt even less like home this time round, maybe because I left a part of my heart in America. I don’t know when I’ll get to return to the States, but I’ll be back someday.
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If you’re interested in exploring my blog, click here for an index of all the posts I’ve ever written (travel, musings, doctoring), or check out my most read series below:
- the Chasing Dreams series: a multi-part series chronicling my thoughts, dreams & changing ideals over the years (since 2018), including burnout, quitting the rat race, migration and trying to find my path in life
- the (not-so-definitive) guide to doctoring: Getting into Med School & FAQs | Surviving your Clinical Years | MBBS Tips | Life as a M1 // M2 // M3 // M4 // M5 during COVID // Life as a Doctor (monthly series) | Chasing Careers series