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

Continuing my previous entry.

Monday, July 3

Passport renewal at the Philippine Consulate General, New York

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My passport is about to expire this December, so I had to get it renewed. The nearest embassy from Rochester is in NYC, and since passport renewal requires personal appearance, we had to travel to the city for this errand. Actually, this was the whole point of our NYC trip. All tourist-y activities were just made para sulit 'yung biyahe.

Quick tips for passport renewal (for US non-immigrants/ non-citizens ONLY):

  • Download the application form and accomplish it beforehand to save time
  • No need to bring a 2x2 ID picture; your picture will be taken on the spot
  • Acceptance of applications start at 9AM. To ensure a short queue, be early
  • There is a photocopy machine at the venue, but should you be able to do so beforehand, photocopy the following:
    • Current passport - Data Page
    • Current passport - US Visa Page + Entry Stamp Page
    • Current passport - Emergency Contact Page
    • (If married in the Philippines) Spouse's passport - Data Page
  • You may opt to submit your NSO copy Birth Certificate/ (if married in the Philippines) Marriage Certificate, but they also accept photocopies of it.
  • To date, the passport renewal fee is 60 USD
  • The new passport is received at the embassy as well (which takes eight (8) weeks to process). For those who cannot make a personal appearance for pick up, you may either:
    • An authorized representative can pick up the passport, provided that s/he has a Letter of Authority signed by the applicant  (where signature should be the same as in PCG's file), accompanied by the original and the photocopy of his/her valid ID.
    • Submit a pre-paid postal envelope, addressed to the PCG. This will be used to mail the new passport back to you.
  • You will be allowed to bring home your current passport without cancelling it, but you have to mail the passport back for cancellation before they can release your new passport. Best to send it back one (1) week before releasing date.

A stroll around Greenwich Village on the Lower West Side

It took me about a couple of hours to finish renewing my passport, and after that we continued our tour of the city. We wanted to see more landmarks (and a few more famous facades), and our area for that morning is the Lower West Side.

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This part of NYC is known as the artsy side of the city, with its hip shops and scenic buildings. New York University is located in this area. Walking around this district made me feel transported into Hollywood movies like When Harry Met Sally, or TV Series like Sex and the City, and of course, Friends.

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Exploring the MET until closing time

The MET Fifth Avenue Business Hours: Sunday–Thursday: 10AM–5:30PM | Friday and Saturday: 10 am–9 pm | Galleries are cleared 15 minutes before closing

The MET Fifth Avenue Ticket Prices: When buying at the ticket counter--suggested admission is $25 for adults; $17 for seniors; $12 for students; and free for Members, Patrons, and children under 12. Group Tours, Special Tours, and Online Ticket Purchase are available. The MET entrance is also free/ discounted with certain city tour passes.


 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located at the Upper East Side, in Central Park East. It is the largest museum in the United States, with over two million permanent exhibits divided over seventeen curatorial departments.

We immediately proceeded to the gallery of European Paintings, as I remembered being in awe of the classical artworks featured in the Vatican Museum when I visited Italy.

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After which, we were only able to view the gallery of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, and the gallery Egyptian Art, before we were ushered out of the museum as it was about to close.

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I mean, just look at that attention to detail. Amazing.

 

 

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Merienda with a friend from Zobel, then Miss Saigon for dinner

We were scheduled to watch a Broadway play that evening, but still had a couple of hours for me to meet up with a friend from high school, who is currently residing in NYC. We haven't seen each other since graduation, actually, but I'm really happy to see that nothing much has changed between us (except our age, obviously). We're still able to talk about all sorts of kababawan with nary the awkwardness. Miss you, Pammu!

 

Then, I met up with Ge at the Broadway Theater to watch the play. My mom claimed that we watched Miss Saigon back when we visited the US in '94, but of course I was so young back then. Except for the songs and that helicopter scene, I can hardly remember what happened during the show.

 

Now that I'm older, I am able to appreciate the play more, and can see how each actor interprets his/her character. I loved how Eva Noblezada interprets Kim; before I thought that Kim was just a weak girl who fell in love with Chris, but Eva's interpretation of the character transformed Kim as a fierce and driven woman determined to make the best out of her situation. Astig!

Tuesday, July 4

Grand Central Terminal and the Top of the Rock

For our last day, we spent the day going around the cite while waiting to watch the fireworks at night. The 7 train has a stop at the Grand Central Terminal, so we decided to take a picture there before heading out to 5th Avenue for more sightseeing.

 
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For the obligatory observatory photo-op, we wanted a view of the Empire State Building, so we chose the Top of The Rock, which is the viewing deck on top of the Rockefeller Plaza.

Top of The Rock Business Hours: Sunday–Saturday 8AM - Midnight | Last elevator up at 11:15PM

Top of The Rock Ticket Prices (General Admission): Adult $34 | Child (6–12) $28 | Senior (62+) $32 | Children Under 6 are Admitted Free. Online Ticket Purchase is available. The Top of The Rock is also free/ discounted with certain city tour passes.

There are three levels of observation decks, with a 360-degree view of New York City. You can easily see the Empire State Building and Central Park from this height.

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Brooklyn Bridge and a (sort-of) failed attempt to meet up with a friend from UPLB

After which, Ge and I parted ways for a couple of hours so I can meet up with another friend from the Philippines. My orgmate, ate Faith, and I last met up when I was onsite in Perth, Australia, last 2008. Since then she and her husband moved to the US, and this was a chance for us to see each other again. We planned to have a quick bite without interrupting our city tour, so I suggested that we meet up by the Brooklyn Bridge.

So I made my way to Dumbo, Brooklyn, for a view of the bridge...

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...as well as a shot of the Humphrey's Loft from Gossip Girl...

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...only to discover that we were on opposite ends of the Brooklyn Bridge--me at the Brooklyn side and ate Faith at the Manhattan side. LOL.

So we resolved to meet up in Chinatown, where ate Faith accompanied me to Hop Kee to met up with Ge, my uncle, and my aunt for dinner. Catching up was done during the walk instead. Sorry ate Faith! Next time bawi tayo.

 

4th of July Fireworks

My uncle suggested viewing the fireworks from the Queens side of the river, so we can have a view of the Manhattan skyline while watching the fireworks. Sounds good in theory, but when we got to the venue the park was packed with people that we cannot even get to the riverside.


Streets near the park were closed off to only allow foot traffic, and each checkpoint had police checking people's bags before allowing them to enter the vicinity. Despite the crowd and the inconvenience of the added security measure, everything was relatively organized. People aren't as siksikan compared to crowds back in the Philippines; people here value personal space--so much so that we can still squeeze through some gaps while trying to get near the riverside.

The fireworks itself took around 20 minutes or so, which was nice, but syempre you cannot compare it to the pyrotechnics we have back in the Philippines. Of course, the people here had a blast because this was the only fireworks they know, haha.

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After the fireworks, it took us a long walk to dislodge ourselves from the crowd and to get to the nearest station, before finally arriving at our uncle's apartment. We cleaned ourselves up and we organized our things, and readied ourselves for the long ride back to Rochester, first thing the following morning.

Our trip was short but sweet; hoping that we could visit the city again.

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