Friday, September 15, 2006

Albert Goes to New York

Out of habit, we woke up late again. As usual, we have our late breakfast of cereals, donuts, and fruit juices. Ah, breakfast of champions. Went down to Alamo Union Square to pick up a rental car for our trip to New York. For $40, we have a choice between the PT Cruiser and the Pontiac G6 GT coupe. If you've seen a PT Cruiser before, you would know that this is an easy decision.

Drove down to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial for a quick visit. It's a nice, quiet little place with lots of sculptures, engravings on walls, and water features. The 7.4-acre park is dedicated to the memory of FDR, who served four terms as President from 1933 - 1945. Those are not easy years to be a President - what with the Great Depression and the Second World War, but I guess FDR did ok. I quite like the sculpture of a caped FDR with his dog Fala. And also the sculpture of 4 guys depicting a Great Depression bread line. People would fall in line and have their pictures taken.

With no time to lose, we drove to the other side of the Tidal Basin to visit Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Designed by John Russell Pope, and dedicated on April 13, 1943 (Jefferson's 200th birthday), the neoclassical building is defined by some marble steps, a portico, and a dome. Inside the open-air memorial is a 19-foot tall, 5-ton bronze sculpture of Thomas Jefferson done by Rudulph Evans. On the walls, are selected passages from Jefferson's writings. From the memorial, one gets a nice view of the Washington Monument.

Again, due to lack of time, we have to content ourselves with a drive-by of the National Mall, and off to NY we go. It's a good thing the state highways are wide, and there are not too many cars on the road. Having left Manila for almost three years, I've grown accustomed to Sydney's right-hand drive on the left side of the street. It's not really a big problem, just that I tend to drift over to the right side of the lane. After an hour's driving, I'm doing 80-90 mph and straight as an arrow. The drive is long and boring. Even with my shades and the sun visor down, the glare is still too much, making me tired and sleepy. Good thing the Pontiac G6 has wheel-mounted radio controls, so I was switching stations every 5 minutes to keep me awake.

As we were nearing New York, it started raining cats and dogs. By the time we reached Lincoln Tunnel around 5pm, traffic is at a standstill. By the time we hit 42nd Street at 6pm, all the cars and cabs are out (and stuck), horns are blaring, and people with umbrellas are jaywalking everywhere. The traffic police in their orange raincoats are out in force, but it's not helping much. For some crazy reason, this chaotic scene has a calming effect on me. Ah, reminds me what I have to go through every night in Manila. The only difference is that here, people actually use the turn signal (for a couple of seconds) before cutting in front of you. Despite the music halls, the theaters, and Times Square, all we want is a cheap place to park the car. We would've spent a few more minutes joyriding if not for the fact that one of us really have to go after being stuck in the car for one whole afternoon. So the next blue P sign we saw, we just swung the car in. Judging by the cars already parked, this is not a cheapo place. Yup, $15 for half an hour, $25 for an hour, and $30 for 2 hours. To add insult to injury, its washroom is not as clean was we wanted. We grabbed some quick bite from a nearby coffee shop, and away we go. Going north to south and back, we travelled along First, Second, and Third Streets, checking out New York's nightscapes. As it is still drizzling, we decided to head back for Flushing and check in Comfort Inn. Given its distance from New York central, I'm surprised we're still paying $170 per night. You get free off-street parking though. Fortunately for us, it's off-season for the nearby Flushing Meadows, or else. At this time of night, our only food choices are the Chinese/Taiwanese restaurants down the road. As I've mentioned before, if you're hungry, everything tastes superb.

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