New York Day 3: Staten Island and 5th Avenue

Reflections of skyscrapers in NYC

On my third day in New York, I was due to check out and move to the second Andaz in town at 5th Avenue as their rates for weekdays were lower than that of the 5th Avenue. Since I would still be spending my morning in the downtown area, I decided to head out to Battery Park but not before checking out the famous ‘Bull’ monument in downtown New York which has become a synonymous symbol with Wall Street.

The Bull in New York City

Contrary to perceptions, New York City has numerous sights in its downtown which also happens to be the financial centre. And it is not just the landmarks like Wall Street or the NYSE building that shines here but Battery and City Hall Park are a delight to stroll around in. Then there’s also the various gourmet options in the financial district like Megu which I will review in the later sections of my trip journal. Battery Park in itself is worth a walk considering the numerous monuments and sculptures scattered in the park and the cruises for Statue of Liberty departs from this location. I chose instead to take a walk along the waterfront promenade to reach the Staten Island Ferry Terminal where I boarded the free ferry ride to Staten Island. It seems that it wasn’t just me that was vying for this complimentary attraction as there were hordes of other passengers coming along for the ride. The ferry route would pass by the Statue of Liberty in addition to other notable landmarks like Brooklyn Bridge and the elegant Verazano Narrows Bridge.

Statue of Liberty as seen from the Staten Island ferry
Landscape in Staten Island

Staten Island is like a residential community which offers its residents easy access to New York City’s downtown through the Staten Island Ferry and a monument has been erected along the promenade for its residents who fell victim to the 9/11 terrorist incident. The village like setting of the island makes me realize that New Yorkers have a choice of keeping their work and living space separate and it is possible to get away from the hustle and bustle of big city life just minutes away! Another landmark along the promenade is the ballpark and the Staten Island City Hall. Though due to the winds that day, I didn’t spend much time in the island and took the ferry back to Manhattan, where I had my lunch at the Original Soup Man close by the Andaz. I thoroughly enjoyed the lobster bisque that I had that came along with a sliced baguette, and definitely recommend this place for a quick lunch or snack during the day.

Staten Island Ferry
Downtown NYC Skyscrapers

After my lunch, I took another leisurely walk back to the hotel and being a Monday afternoon, there were crowds of businessmen in suits walking along Wall Street, a change from the quiet walkways in the same spot over the weekends. Upon reaching the hotel, I packed my bags and proceeded to check out of the hotel, and hailed a cab from the entrance of the hotel to bring me towards Andaz at 5th Avenue. The taxi ride was a scenic one as the driver drove by the eastern side of Manhattan which afforded clear views of Brooklyn and Queens as well as passing by the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. Once we reached the UN headquarters, we took left to enter Midtown proper. Somehow Midtown Manhattan seems busier than Downtown and there were definitely more people out in the streets. The driver dropped me off along 5th Avenue and I had to walk a short distance to the corner of  41st Street to enter the Andaz at 5th Avenue.

Wall Street road signs

Check in at this Andaz was similar to the previous one without a check in desk but with the host leading the way to a seating area and providing me with drinks before she proceeded to check me in. No mention of upgrades here and I got a room in the other wing of the hotel which meant a transfer of elevators on the 2nd floor. The room was brighter in the day compared to the one at Wall Street, though it is smaller. Overall the same standard of service and room amenities which made me very pleased indeed. After settling into the room, I headed out for a walk along 5th Avenue for some shopping at Abercombie & Fitch and Hollister.

500 5th Avenue

The shopping and walking along 5th Avenue meant I was quite tired and had lots of bags which I had to bring back to the hotel first before heading out again to the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Centre as I wanted to capture time when night falls over NYC. I remembered to bring along my tripod before leaving the hotel once again. Visitors to the Top of the Rock had to enter via a separate entrance and I had the chance to pass by the renowned ice skating ring beneath the Rockefeller Centre. I queued up for tickets and decided to purchase a 2 day pass which could be used over 2 days for 2 entries into the observation deck. I arrived at the top just in time to capture some of the nicest views of the day when the sun begins to disappear from the horizon, casting with it a bluish tinge on the skies. With the disappearing light, the office lights of Mnahattan begins to form a sparkle across the landscape, making it seem like millions of fireflies across Manhattan.

Rockefeller Ice Skating Rink

The Top of the Rock is perhaps one of the best observation decks to view the New York skyline due to the ability to get a horizon view of Empire State and Chrysler Building along with gorgeous views of Central Park. The lower altitude also meant that views are more or less at eye-level compared to a bird’s eye view from the Empire State Building.

View of Central Park from Top of the Rock
Chrysler Building and Empire State Building from Top of the Rock

After taking numerous shots from the Top of the Rock, I grabbed some snack of cinnamon bagels from the shops underneath the Rockefeller but chose to have my dinner at Babboo’s, an Italian restaurant that was recommended before I headed to New York. When I returned to the hotel, I gave the restaurant a call with regards to availability and was told to just come down for dinner as it wasn’t too packed on that Monday evening. Reaching there via subway again, I was able to get a seat shortly by the bar counter.

Bar Counter at Babbo

For starters, diners in Babbo are served an amuse bouche and for that day, it was a small serving of peas on top of a toasted brioche before my first dish of steamed cockles with red chilli and basil was served. The steamed cockles were so delicious that I even used the bread they served to scoop up the leftover gravy. While it was a bit spicy, I loved the flavour of this particular dish and was glad I ordered it. My next dish was beef cheek ravioli with crushed squab liver and black truffles. The dish didn’t have a strong taste of the truffles but the beef cheek was very tender and wrapped in a smooth ravioli that was truly delicious and made me change the way of how I looked at ravioli ever again! For desserts, I got the recommendation from the bar tender and got the warm date and walnut budino served with caramel and buttermilk gelato. Both the cake and gelato exceeded expectations once again and it was a fresh combination of flavours which was truly amazing. The cake wasn’t too sweet and paired very well with the creamy gelato and the caramel sauce on the plate. Overall, this has got to be the best Italian cuisine I ever tried before and it is definitely a destination in itself.

Beef cheek ravioli with crushed squab liver and black truffles
Warm date and walnut budino with caramel and buttermilk gelato

With the magnificent meal, this day in New York was really one of my most memorable in the city due to the excellent cruise to Staten Island, the shopping at 5th Avenue, the panorama from the Top of the Rock and the delicious Italian food at Babbo in Waverly Place. For someone with just 24 hours to spend in the city, this has got to be the quintessential day in New York!

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