July 14, 2017

Spending the 4th of July in NYC (Part I)

Saturday, July 1

What was initially planned as an early morning road trip from Rochester to New York City (like, 6AM early) ended up in a late morning departure with ah hour-and-a-half brunch along the way.

We were cutting costs on commute, but didn't want to sacrifice space for luggage and shopping hauls, so we decided to travel by car. Travel time takes around 5 1/2 hours, which in the Filipino context sounds fairly short (because in the Philippines that's just like, Manila to Baguio inclusive of the traffic), but here it is a looooooooong drive of endless freeways running at 60 mph (one mile = 1.6 kilometers).

We left Rochester at around 10AM, and arrived in New York City at around 5:30PM. Thanks to summer, we still had daylight when we got to the city. We dropped our stuff at the Airbnb room we rented for the night, and headed out to Manhattan.

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Shopping along 5th Avenue while walking towards Times Square

Our Airbnb room is located in Astoria, Queens (we were advised to look for rooms in that area, being one of the safest neighborhoods in NYC), which is a 35-minute subway ride to Manhattan. We took the F train to its 5th Ave stop, and walked along the length of the avenue southwards to Times Square.


We visited the flagship stores of Nike, H&M, Adidas, and Uniqlo (Rochester doesn't have its own H&M and Uniqlo branches, boo), which are relatively walking distance from each other and are conveniently located along 5th Avenue.



We were also lucky enough to catch a partial view of the Manhattanhenge, which was scheduled to peak several days after our visit.


Manhattan actually reminded me of the Shibuya ward in Tokyo, due to the volume of people crammed between skyscrapers. I tell you, pedestrians easily outnumber vehicles here. A significant difference I observed, though, is that shops here in NYC close earlier than those in Tokyo. The stores we went to close at 9PM, while those in Tokyo close at 10PM.

We hung around the area until all the shops closed, and when there's nothing left to do, we headed back to Astoria for a good night's sleep.

Sunday, July 2

Sunday Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral

We checked out early to meet with my uncle, whose place we crashed for the duration of our stay. After a quick brunch at a nearby Filipino turo-turo (Woodside, Queens has a mini Filipino commercial area along the 69 St-Fisk Ave Station), we took the M train to its 5th Ave stop, and had a short walk towards St. Patrick's Cathedral.



For the longest time I thought that this was the church featured in The Devil's Advocate (1997) (the scene where Charlize Theron did full frontal) as the movie was shot in New York City, but then realized after research that the church in the movie was a different one. Nevertheless, St. Patrick's Cathedral is still a sight to behold. The facade and interior is of the Neo-Gothic style, with high ceilings, huge stained glass windows, and intricate sculptures. One needs a special level of focus to not get distracted by the decorations when attending mass.

We attended the 1PM mass, which was a mass without choir accompaniment. There are other Sunday mass schedules available; they do livestream, too.

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and The Halal Guys for merienda

MoMA Business Hours: 10:30AM to 5:30PM, Seven days a week | Summer Hours:  Open until 9:00 p.m. Thursday–Saturday (except July 15) | Member Early Hours begin at 9:30 a.m.

MoMA Ticket Prices: Adults  $25 | Seniors (65 and over with ID) $18 | Students (Full-time with ID) $14 | Children (16 and under) Free

MoMa is a 5-minute walk from St. Patrick's Cathedral. Tickets can be bought online (recommended on high-traffic days) or at the counter. This museum showcases numerous contemporary artworks made by famous artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, Pollock, Warhol, and Monet (to name a few).




Of course, this being a museum for the modern art, there are some art pieces that I just can't fathom how they can be objectively judged as a work of art. Case in point:

After a good two hours or so exploring the museum, we had a quick bite at The Halal Guys, whose carts are located just outside the museum. For those who have already tried their franchise in the Philippines, the taste is the same (but the NYC serving is WAY larger); you're in good hands back in the motherland.


A stroll around Central Park South

The south entrance of Central Park is a 9-minute walk from MoMa. This side of the park consists of a children's playground, a roller-skating rink, a zoo, a picnic lawn, the Balto statue (i.e. NYC's version of Shibuya's Hachiko statue), a playing field (for plays and other performances, I guess), a huge fountain, a lake, and a boathouse (whew!). We were already pressed for time as we need to head back to my uncle's apartment by 7:30PM for dinner, so we just took a stroll to take pictures.


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Walking around Central Park is like walking into a production set; there are so many familiar sights featured in TV series and movies.


This entry is getting long, methinks. I'll just continue making kwento about our next couple of days in my next post. 'Til then, XOXO!

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