Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Trip to New York - part 4

On May 2nd at about 8 am, hubby, his cousin, and I had breakfast at my relative’s home in New Jersey. Then we packed our baggage and left my relative’s home to stay at a hotel in New York City for the rest of our stay in New York. At about 10 am, my relative dropped us by his car to a railway station named Princeton Junction. From there we took NJ transit train and after about 1.5 hours of train ride, we reached Penn Station. We hired a taxi and reached Marrakech Hotel after another 15 minutes or so. We had already reserved our rooms at the hotel, so we had to just check-in.

Hubby’s cousin and I at Princeton Junction station

Marrakech Hotel is located in Upper West Side of New York City, and is situated at one of the trendiest emerging neighborhood of Manhattan. The hotel is set into the style and colors of Morocco. We paid 720 dollars for two rooms for two nights, which seems to be reasonable as the hotel is located in the middle of New York City and is within walking distance to several sightseeing attractions, stores, restaurants, and night spots. The lobby of the hotel was vibrant and colorful. But hubby and I were a bit shocked to see the rooms. Although the hotel has been recently renovated, the rooms were not so clean, window curtains were not washed for a very long time, and the lighting of the rooms was rather poor. I guess hubby and I are used to ultraclean rooms of Japanese hotels (even inexpensive ones; less than 70 dollars per night). Well, we were very busy sightseeing the whole day and went to the hotel only to sleep. So it was ok, I guess.

One of our rooms at Marrakech Hotel

After check-in and keeping our baggage at the hotel, we left the hotel and took a New York City transit bus to downtown. After about 20 minutes of bus ride, we reached near Times Square, which was about five kilometers away from the hotel. We got down the bus and started walking towards Times Square.
New York City transit bus

Times Square
Manhattan's Times Square is undoubtedly the heart of New York City. ‘The Crossroads of the World’ has achieved the status of an iconic world landmark and is a symbol of New York City and Unites States. Times Square is a commercial intersection in Manhattan at the junction of Broadway avenue and Seventh Avenue and stretches from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. Although the entire extended Times Square area may officially consist of blocks between Sixth and Eighth Avenues, and West 40th and West 53rd Streets, the triangle created at Broadway and 7th is the whirlpool that attracts more than one million visitors each year. Times Square was formerly named as Longacre Square but was renamed in April 1904 after the New York Times moved its headquarters to the newly built Times Building, which is now called One Times Square. The X-shaped area created by the intersection of two famous avenues is the area where thousands enjoy the legendary ‘New Year's Eve’ celebration when the famous, sparkling, Waterford Crystal ball is lowered atop One Times Square building. Times Square radiates vibrant energy because of innumerable electronic neon displays and digital screens. The huge animated neon and LED signs and digital advertisements are iconic images of Times Square, and a symbol of the intensely urban aspects of Manhattan. These neon signs and billboards contribute to the immense excitement and popularity of Times Square amongst tourists as well as the locals. Times Square is a cultural hub that features music, nightlife, and limitless shopping options. Upscale hotels, theaters, music halls, stores, restaurants, quality shops, and many attractions are located in Times Square.

After getting down the NYC transit bus at 50th Street and Broadway Avenue, we walked up to the southern end of Times Square just in front of One Times Square building which is a 25 story, 110.6 meters high skyscraper at 42nd and Broadway. It was originally built to be the headquarters of The New York Times. The famous New Year's Eve Ball drop tradition at this building began in 1907 and is continued till date. Because of the extensive cost of renovating the building, in recent times the building has been vacant except for occasional tenants in the retail space, and is only used to hold dozens of colorful advertisements. It seems that the building makes more revenue as a collection of advertisements billboards than it would if it was full of tenants. The digital signs on the building are considered to be the most valuable and the rental rates of these billboards are most expensive in the world. We took a few photos of the building along with the billboards. However, it was an extremely bright and shiny day and we had some difficulty to take photo of the building as it looked rather hazy.
Hubby at Times Square with One Times Square building in the background

One Times Square Building and digital advertisements

Me along with One Times Square building in the background

Afterwards we started walking back towards the northern part of Times Square. On both sides of the street, there were huge displays of colorful billboards. Traffic lanes along Broadway from 42nd Street to 47th Street are nowadays transformed into pedestrian plazas, and so it was really fun and exciting to walk in this area. After walking for about ten minutes, we got a wonderful view of the northern part of Times Square along with the Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel (also called Two Times Square) in the center. There were many tourists enjoying the amazing views of Times Square. Many colorful billboards of Broadway musicals were on display. Times Square is simply exciting. We enjoyed the views of the northern part of Times Square for about fifteen minutes, and then had lunch at a nearby restaurant.
One Times Square Building and surrounding area

Huge advertisements at Times Square

Northern part of Times Square along with Two Times Square building in the center

Northern part of Times Square along with Two Times Square building in the center

Times Square

Billboards at Times Square

Hubby in front of Two Times Square building

Colorful billboards of Broadway musicals

People enjoying at pedestrian plaza of Times Square

Lunch at Sbarro restaurant
We had lunch at an Italian restaurant named Sbarro. It is a must-visit location to enjoy the freshest and affordable Italian food in New York City. There was a wide variety of salads, hot pastas, deliciously cooked meats, rice recipe, fruits, and several kinds of pizzas to choose from. We had a hearty meal and loved the food here.
Huge advertisement billboards above Sbarro restaurant

Sbarro restaurant

Our lunch

Hubby having pizza

Hubby’s cousin having pizza

After lunch, we walked up north along Broadway for about five minutes and reached between West 50th and 51st Street where Winter Garden Theater is located.

Broadway musical at Winter Garden Theater
Broadway theater (or Broadway) is theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 large professional theaters with 500 seats or more located in the Theater District of New York. The Broadway Theater district is very popular tourist attraction in New York City. We saw Broadway musical Mamma Mia at Winter Garden Theater. This theater is located in midtown Manhattan, and is owned by Shubert organization. The main entrance of the theater is located on Broadway which is connected via a long hallway to the 1526-seat Seventh Avenue auditorium. We took a few photos at the entrance of the theater.
On our way to Winter Garden Theater

Broadway musical Mamma Mia at Winter Garden Theater

Hubby’s cousin and I in front of Winter Garden Theater

Winter Garden Theater

Another view of Winter Garden Theater

We had already purchased online tickets for the 2 pm show. The tickets cost 165 dollars each as we reserved seats in the Orchestra section very near to the stage. We were right in front of the stage and enjoyed the musical to the fullest. The inside of the auditorium was very gorgeous and glittering. We took a few photos of us sitting inside the theater auditorium before the start of the musical show and at intermission, as photography during the show was not allowed.
Curtained stage inside the auditorium of Winter Garden Theater

Hubby’s cousin and I at our seats inside the auditorium

Beautiful roof of the auditorium

The original Broadway musical production Mamma Mia opened on 5th October 2001 and was directed by Phyllida Lloyd and choreographed by Anthony van Laast. Mamma Mia has over 20 of the Swedish super group Abba’s greatest hit songs woven into a plot set on a Greek island. On the eve of her wedding, a bride wished to discover her father's identity, which brings three men from her mother's past back to the place they last visited 20 years ago. Hubby, his cousin, and I are all Abba fans and we loved the musical performance. The show was full of high-energy enthusiastic performance by the starring actors and had lots of ballads and drama. The musical performance was for 2.5 hours with one intermission. The musical was really fun and we enjoyed it so much that as the show came to an end, hubby and I had tears of joy and happiness in our eyes. It was almost 5 pm when we left the theater.

Walking and shopping at Times Square
After seeing the Broadway musical, we returned back to Times Square. Hubby’s cousin wished to do shopping in Times Square, which seemed to be limitless in that area. A large variety of shops and stores offer clothing, toys, sweet products, electronics, and every sort of consumer good imaginable. The different and varied merchandise available can fit any sort of budget. At about 5.15 pm, hubby’s cousin started shopping with full enthusiasm. Since hubby and I are not much into shopping, we decided to meet up with hubby’s cousin again later that evening at a certain time and location in Times Square. After that hubby and I started enjoying the evening views of Times Square and its surroundings. We again walked the entire way from the northern end to the southern end of Times Square, and back. The sun was not so bright in the evening, and so we again took a few photos of Times Square along with its neon lights, digital billboards, crowds, and energy. Hubby compiled a video of our walk.
Walking back towards Times Square

Huge advertisement billboards at Times Square

Times Square with One Times Square building at the center

Me at Times Square with One Times Square building in the background

Hubby at Times Square with One Times Square building in the background

One Times Square building with advertisement billboards of Toshiba and TDK companies

Another view of advertisement billboards at One Times Square building

Yet another view of advertisement billboards at One Times Square building

Times Square

Police officers on horseback at Times Square

A compiled video of our walk at Times Square

While walking in Times Square, I saw a cosmetic shop named Bare Escentuals, and entered the shop as I wished to buy a few cosmetic products. In Japan, I have a big problem of finding makeup and foundation base for my skin color and texture, and I often end up with a completely wrong face makeup kit. So it was really a pleasant surprise and great relief to see so many varieties of makeup shades at Bare Escentuals shop. A staff at the shop helped me in finding foundation and makeup that matches exactly my skin color and tone. It feels unbelievable. I have fallen in love with these products!
Bare Escentuals shop

A shop staff trying a foundation makeup on my face

At about 7.30 pm, we met hubby’s cousin who was very happy after a lot of shopping in Times Square. After that we all took a taxi and went to a shop in SoHo where hubby’s cousin wished to shop for something. Unfortunately the shop had closed for the day, and so we decided to return again the next morning. It was almost 8 pm and we all were hungry. So we had dinner at a restaurant named Hooters.

Dinner at Hooters
From SoHo, we walked for about five minutes and reached Prince Street railway station. At this station, we took a subway and after 12 minutes of train ride, arrived at 57th Street Station. After walking for another two minutes or so, we reached the restaurant Hooters located at 211 West 56th Street.

Hooters of America is an Atlanta-based international franchise restaurant chain with a casual beach theme establishment that feature oldies jukebox music, sports on television, and a menu that includes seafood, sandwiches, burgers, salads, and spicy chicken wings. An element of female sex appeal is prevalent in the restaurants, and the Hooters Girl uniform consists of orange shorts (scandalously short) and a white tank top. Hooters chain is considered to be a neighborhood place and not a typical family restaurant. But we did see a few children around.
Inside Hooters restaurant

Menu of Hooters restaurant

We ordered several kinds of burgers and sandwiches along with a side dish of curly fries. We also ordered cold drinks and beer. The food was ok but the portions were too big. The service was ok and the price of the food was reasonable. We enjoyed having typical moderate American food in a relaxed atmosphere and hubby enjoyed watching the cleavage of the Hooters Girls! The restaurant chain is rightly billed as ‘delightfully tacky yet unrefined’.
Our drinks and a Hooters Girl in the background

Our dinner

Me having dinner

Hubby having dinner

Hubby’s cousin having dinner

We left the restaurant at about 10 pm, and after walking or about five minutes we reached 59th Street Columbus Circle Station. We took No. 1 subway train at this station and after about 8 minutes of train ride, we reached 103rd Street Station. After coming out of this station, we saw Marrakech Hotel right in front of us. We were all tired due to sightseeing the whole day, and so we retired for the day soon after reaching our rooms. The next day we visited Ground Zero and Central Park about which I will write in the next post.


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Kazuo Nagata said...

Times Square nigiyaka deshita.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks for your comment Kazuo. Times Square was really cheerful. I loved visiting New York.