Day 30: Today we enjoy, for tomorrow we leave

Posted Aug 31, 2010 under

Today is our last full day both on holiday and in New York. Five days really isn’t long enough to even scratch the surface of New York city, let alone the surrounding areas. At the very least I’d like to think I’ve managed to explore through a decent cross section and have found inspiration in the things I have seen.

Our day started with a food tour of the borough of Greenwich. This historic district, one of the few not following the traditional New York grid, dates back hundreds of years and was the centre of beatnik and bohemian culture in New York before both were priced out of the market. Now it’s home to many small and interesting food shops that serve some of the best food on Manhattan Island.

Our tour started with New York style pizza, a thin crispy crust, with a delicious fresh tomato base and delicious cheese. Very simple, but few places get it exactly right. We then sampled cheeses from Greenwich’s best known specialty cheese shop. Along the way we were given a lot of information about the history of the area beginning with the farmland origins, to the city getaway, and then to the immigrant revival and the later beatnik era.

The tour was three hours long and included enough food to forgo the need for a separate lunch. After parting ways with the group, we explored the rest of the Greenwich area and began to make plans for the rest of the day. Unfortunately our plans included visiting the New York Fire Department Museum which is closed on Monday’s, so we resorted to further exploration.

Deciding on an early and light dinner, we headed back to Joe’s Pizzeria for a slice of their epic pizza. Afterwards, craving dessert, we headed over to Milk & Cookies for an icecream sandwich - icecream sandwiched with two cookies. This place came highly recommended on our tour and we were even given a sample of their cookies, which are truly epic.

Though we had finished dinner and dessert, the night was still young. With all of our plans exhausted, we made our way back to midtown entirely without plans. Hopping off at Times Square, we found a spot to relax and enjoy the view. After a while I had the idea to finally visit the Rockerfeller center and go to their observation deck for one last look at the New York skyline - this time at night.

Finding the Rockerfeller centre is easy enough, it’s right near Radio City and has enough neon lights to make it stand out even over the glow of New York. Finding the entrance to the observation deck, on the other hand, proved to be more of a challenge. After finally discovering it’s entrance is actually one level below ground, we soon found ourselves 67 floors above street level Manhattan. This place easily has the best view of the city by far, with it’s location in midtown it is surrounded by New York in all directions.

The name observation deck is a bit ¬†of a misnomer - the observation ‘deck’ is three levels with plenty of outdoors space. Each level of balconies gives increasingly good views, with the third and final level giving the easily the best view in the whole of Manhattan. It is essentially the roof of the building with no real obstructions.

After observing the city for quite a while we decided to leave. On the way out we found a strange room full of lights that looked like it was responding to the mere presence of people in it. In fact it was, with a light show being coordinated by the very location of people tagged and tracked by a computer system. Just walking around caused the lights to change and every so often patterns would emerge and the system would respond with an impressive display.

We spent quite a while in there playing around with the light patterns, as well as watching people’s reactions as they entered and found out what the room was doing.

We finally managed to free ourselves from the light room and headed back to ground level. The lifts taking groups up and down the tower have an interesting feature - a glass ceiling. The lift shafts are full of lights and you can see the top of the building approach and disappear as you ascend and descend in the lift.

Craving more to do after this, we headed to the rink at the Rockerfeller where we found that even at 10:30pm on a Monday morning the bar was still doing good business. We stayed and had a few drinks, then a few more, all while watching people move around as well as the fountain at the statue of Prometheus.

We finally left, some time around 11pm, and I was absolutely killing for a cheese pretzel. Failing that a New York style hotdog - which is really just a beef hotdog with ketchup, mustard and onion. Fortunately, this being New York, even at 11pm the hot dog vendors were out in force. I easily located one on the way back to our hotel and got myself the greatest hot dog ever.

And that wraps up our last full day. I’ve had an epic month in the United States and really don’t want to go back to Australia. Sadly money, visa waiver requirements and airline bookings all conspire to send me back to Sydney. Hopefully I will find myself back here soon.