15 Hours in The Urban Jungle

New York Travel Blog

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Exploring Times Square

Iceland had long been one of my dream destinations. Having studied geology and earth science in college, Iceland was a hot spot for many of the things I had learned. With 9 days available on this trip, we thought that might be a little too much. So we decided to leave Iceland and check out Oslo, Norway for 3 days. My usual travelling partner, Shea, and I were joined by her goddaughter, Vita.  I had never really had an opportunity to meet her prior to this trip so my hopes were that she would mix well and be willing to go with the flow. Before arriving in Iceland, we had a long layover in New York City. While booking the flights with Delta, we had the option of a 15 hour layover in New York or a 1 hour connection.

Exploring Times Square
We chose to just do the 15 hour layover since connecting in one hour would just be too risky. Vita had never been to New York City before so this 15 hour layover would give her a good taste for the city as we had planned on venturing over to Manhattan during this time.

After a long day at work, we all piled into a friend's car at 8:30pm where he was kind enough to drive us all the way to LAX. We were on a red-eye flight leaving at 11:30pm and landing in New York at approximately 8am. Since we were going to be exploring the city during our layover, it was imperative that we all got some sleep during this flight. 5 hours later and as usual, I failed to get any worthwhile amount of sleep.

Exploring Times Square
This depite even taking a sleeping pill prior to boarding. Despite the lack of sleep, I was still in high spirits because I was in New York! Since we had such a long layover, we had to re-check our luggage at the Delta ticket counter. With that out of the way, we made our way over to the public transportation system to explore Manhattan. With surprising ease, we caught the Air Train over to Sutphin Boulevard where we then connected to the New York subway system "E" line. The 45 minute ride through Queens showed us a diverse array of subway riders that captivated our interest throughout the entire duration. In almost no time, we were exiting the subway at 42nd street. By now it was almost 11am, and we were starving. We walked over to the madness that is Times Square where we soaked in all the chaos, crowds, and huge buildings.
Exploring Times Square
Planet Hollywood was where we chose to have an early lunch. There were still 12 hours remaining in our layover and we needed some food in order to recharge our spirits. We decided that the best way to explore New York in our limited amount of time would be to puchase tickets to one of those Hop on-Hop off tour buses. The salespeople selling these tickets can be found all over Times Square and they are extremely pushy. We purchased our tickets for $44 and hopped aboard.  The tour bus was packed with tourists from all over the world and we passed various New York landmarks such as Madison Square Garden, Macy's, the Empire State Building as well as some quaint streets around the Greenwich Village area. We decided to hop off the tourist bus near the World Trade Center site near Ground Zero.
Exploring Times Square
The streets around Ground Zero were innundated with tourists and it was very much a carnival like atmosphere. It was definitely a far cry from the last time I was at Ground Zero back in 2003. Back then, the events of September 11th were very fresh in everyone's mind and it was a much more somber experience. At Ground Zero, the Freedom Tower which is now known as One World Trade Center was now nearing completion. The top fourth of the building was still missing it's glass exterior and is schedule to be completed some time next year. While walking around, we saw signs for a September 11 Memorial and Museum. We thought that it was something that we should visit but after inquiring we discovered that reservations for tickets were needed. While taking a break at a nearby Starbucks, Vita called her friend Pritan and learned that he was in New York.
Exploring Times Square
We agreed to meet up at Battery Park within the hour. We hopped back on board our tourist bus and hopped back off a few minutes later at Battery Park.  Since we still had time before Pritan would meet up, we decided to check out Wall Street. We walked up to the Wall Street Bull which for reasons unknown to me is such a huge draw with tourists. On past visits, it was always fun to take a picture with the bull while tickling it's testicles. This time however, the rear of the bull was fenced off making photos with it's testicles impossible. Close to Wall Street, we encountered some NYPD who to our surprise were willing to pose for photos with us. We checked out Wall Street which was overrun with other tourists and took photos of the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall before making our way back to Battery Park.
Exploring Times Square
  We spent about an hour just relaxing at Battery Park and enjoying the cool breeze coming off the ocean. During this time we waited for Vita's friend Pritan to contact us.

After finally getting a hold of him, we learn that he is over in Brooklyn and we decided to meet up halfway on the Brooklyn Bridge. From where we were in Battery Park, it was quite the challenge to figure out how to make it over to the walkway across Brooklyn Bridge. The heat of the day combined with the fatigue that was setting in were really starting to wear me down. Walking across the bridge was not very pleasant. The crowds, heat, fatigue, and pain in my feet were beginning to be too much. However, this was Vita's moment.

Exploring Times Square
We were checking out the city because she had never been and she is reuniting with a very good friend that she hadn't seen in a year. When we finally met up with him in the middle of the bridge, it was like something out of a movie. The crowd parted, and there he was. They hugged and made small talk while Shea and I stayed in the background letting them enjoy their moment. We continued walking over into Brooklyn where Shea and I desperatelly needed to just relax our weary feet. We walked over to Cadman Plaza Park and sat down at a few benches. Vita and Pritan continued to get reacquainted while Shea and I took this time to just sit back and do nothing. Eventually, it got to a point where we needed to get something to eat. The last time I was in New York, we ate at Grimaldi's, a pizza joint which is known for being one of the best in New York.
Exploring Times Square
The only thing that I remember was that it was almost under the Brooklyn Bridge on Old Fulton Road. We asked around and figured out that it wasn't that far away so we decided to have dinner there. To my surprise, Grimaldi's was not in the same location that it was 3 years ago. There was a huge line waiting to get into the restaurant next door where we learn that Grimaldi's had moved into. We were told that the wait was about an hour and after a little hesitation, we decided to wait it out in line instead of looking elsewhere for dinner. We finally make it inside after the hour long wait and are seated upstairs. The 4 of us share 2 large pizzas which we were unable to finish. At around 8:30pm, we decided that we better start making our way over to the subway to get to the airport for our 11pm flight.
Exploring Times Square
We were directed to the closest subway station and after studying the maps we figure out the route that was needed to take us to JFK airport. Pritan's route was going in the opposite direction as us so we would not be on the same subway train. In another scene straight out of a drama movie, our two trains going in opposite directions arrived at the same time. It was a quick rush to say our goodbyes. The 3 of us boarded one train and Pritan boarded the other. The doors to both trains closed simultaneously and the 2 of them were left to waive goodbye from inside our trains. Just like that, Vita's friend was gone. For her it was a sad trip to JFK airport after leaving her friend. For me, I was glad to be leaving the urban jungle that is New York City and excited to get on the plane to relax and look forward to Iceland.

simsing says:
Congrats on the feature!
Posted on: Jan 29, 2013
Stigen says:
Congrats on the feature , nice to know you enjoyed your time in Norway.
Posted on: Jan 29, 2013
halilee says:
Congrats on your featured blog!
Posted on: Jan 29, 2013
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Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
Exploring Times Square
On the tourist bus
On the tourist bus
Vita and Shea on the tourist bus
Vita and Shea on the tourist bus
The crazy streets of Manhattan
The crazy streets of Manhattan
The crazy streets of Manhattan
The crazy streets of Manhattan
The crazy streets of Manhattan
The crazy streets of Manhattan
The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building
Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden
The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building
The Freedom Tower on the World Tra…
The Freedom Tower on the World Tr…
The Freedom Tower on the World Tra…
The Freedom Tower on the World Tr…
The Freedom Tower on the World Tra…
The Freedom Tower on the World Tr…
The Freedom Tower on the World Tra…
The Freedom Tower on the World Tr…
The Freedom Tower on the World Tra…
The Freedom Tower on the World Tr…
The Freedom Tower on the World Tra…
The Freedom Tower on the World Tr…
Vita and the Wall Street bull
Vita and the Wall Street bull
Wall Street
Wall Street
Federal Hall
Federal Hall
Federal Hall
Federal Hall
New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
NYPD
NYPD
NYPD
NYPD
The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty
Shea resting in Battery Park
Shea resting in Battery Park
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
Welcome to Brooklyn
Welcome to Brooklyn
Dinner at Grimaldis
Dinner at Grimaldi's
Grimaldis Pizza
Grimaldi's Pizza
New York
photo by: herman_munster