New York Day 5: Driving back to NYC, and a visit to the Met

Another day of long driving awaited me as I would be driving straight from Washington D.C. all the way back to New York City. To refresh myself in the morning, I got myself a cup of coffee from the lobby, and proceeded for check-out from the hotel. It took a while for the valet to return with the car and it is perhaps due to the fact that the car isn’t parked in the hotel, but in a parkade around the hotel. This delay allowed me to take some shots of the magnificent lobby of the W Washington in the day when the lobby is pretty empty. At night, though, the lobby is a hive of activity and could be the place to be spotted in the city.

Lobby of the W Hotel

When my rental car arrived, I placed my luggage in the back with help from the bellboy and headed out towards the city. I wanted to try out the Apple stores again in Arlington, Virginia this time and it also gave me the opportunity to venture into a new state in the USA. While the drive was nice considering it was a weekend morning, I didn’t manage to procure an iPad. Thus it was off towards New York City. Luckily for me, the weather was amazing that day and the sun even came out which made for a very nice drive back. I stopped by along the way at a Popeye’s along one of the Interstate rest stops close between the border of Maryland and Delaware. On my drive back through Delaware, I stopped over at the Apple Store in Christiana Mall to get my Mac OS X Server and try my luck again at getting an iPad but to no avail. I did however get my Mac Server Computer with no sales tax! The highlight of the drive back was passing through the Delaware Memorial Bridge which was a nice piece of engineering across the Delaware River. Driving across the bridge brought me to New Jersey and the rest of the stretch was light traffic, allowing me to reach the City in no time at all.

Approaching Delaware Memorial Bridge

My first stop back in New York City was to stop by the hotel to check in and drop off my luggage. I chose to stay at the W New York in Times Square and I was able to get a grace period of say 15 minutes for my car to be parked by the curbside as I brought my luggage to check in at their reception which is located in the upper floors. The W in Times Square occupies the top storeys of the skyscraper it is based at and my room had an excellent view of the surrounding area and even that of Times Square itself. That was a huge plus for me, though I preferred the quieter and nicer lobby of the Andaz hotels in NYC. After placing my luggage back in the room, I headed out once again as I drove out to the Meatpacking District which had an Apple Store as well. The day was still early and the sunset in the area was amazing which uplifted my mood somewhat even if I did not get the iPad. I did, however consider this day to be a driving day as well as an Apple Store visiting day in New York.

Meatpacking District in Sunset

While many might find driving in this Big City complicated and terrifying, I actually managed to get a unique touring perspective of the city while driving. With many places having free parking on weekends by the curbside, it was easy for me to leave my car and walk over to the places I want to visit. In fact, parking along the East and West sides of the Central Park was free on weekends (limited to 2 or 3 hours) which was amazing. I proceeded to visit the Apple Store on Upper West Side with the convenience of driving a Prius around the city. This driving experience gave me a better idea of living in this metropolis and I thought that they have a very good traffic light system which minimizes traffic jams, since I was able to cross through 8 to 9 blocks on 8th Avenue while travelling uptown. So all in all, not a problem in driving in Manhattan. In fact even without the GPS, the numbered street system also made it easy to pinpoint where I wanted to go to, and with alternating directional traffic, making U-turns is just a matter of a short detour. In fact driving in New York might seem even to be cheaper than driving in Singapore and that’s saying something! (Note: it was a quiet weekend in the city so my opinions might have been askewed, but I had no trouble in traffic either during weekdays when I left for Washington, and no congestion charge here!)

Driving along 8th Avenue
New York Times Building

My last stop for the day was the Metropolitan Museum of Art or commonly referred to as simply the Met as it was open till late at night on the weekends, which made it a good time to visit as all the other attractions were closed. I managed to snag a parking spot close to the Guggenheim Museum, which was nicely lit at night and its modern architecture was a nice contrast to the apartment buildings in the area. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, as expected was still busy in the late evening since it was a weekend, and I was wowed at how good the exhibits were presented and how easily navigable it was. However the two and a half a hours I spent there barely allowed me enough time to complete the first floor of the exhibit. It was a huge museum, and from its exterior, I didn’t expect it to be this huge. For the diversity of its collections to the presentation of its art pieces, it has got to be one of my the best museums for art in the world, and definitely a worthy place to visit while in New York.

Guggenheim Museum

One of my favourite galleries in the museum was the area dedicated to Greek and Roman art, and I found it easier to admire the pieces in the nice quieter atmosphere within the Met rather than the hot and noisy Vatican Museums. The one that I liked the best, though, was the armour gallery which had a great collection of armour and weaponry from various civilizations. I also did enjoy the American Period Furniture gallery which had a model of various types of furnishings in old America. I didn’t have the chance to view all of the exhibits of the Egyptian artifacts which I browsed through quickly on my way out as it was closing time for the museum.

Armour Gallery in the Met

With the end of the day, I wanted to try having a late dinner at Babbo’s again, but sadly they wasn’t even able to accomodate a table for one by the bar counter. Turned down from the restaurant, I head back to Times Square, parking my car at the Crowne Plaza parkade one block down since the W doesn’t have its own parkade and wanted more for the valet parking. The beauty of living in Times Square is that there is no lack of places to eat even late at night, and the crowds are still as lively as ever, that when I settled on Olive Garden for a plate of pasta, there were still a waiting list for people on the counter. For one person though, the bar table always works fine! The drawback was that the food served in the restaurants around Times Square are mainly average fare, something one can get in many other American towns outside New York City. Not the best gourmet cuisine, but being able to feel the energy and vibrance while dining at 9pm is something different, and the only other place I can think of is Hong Kong and the hawker centres of Singapore.

W New York Times Square Bedroom

I returned to my room after dinner after a very short walk (how convenient) and was still able to admire the lights and life of Times Square from the chaise lounge by the window. That area in the bedroom has got to be my most favourite feature in the room! Fortunately my room on the 56th floor was away from all the noise so the room provided by the W in New York was the best W experience I have thus far in North America, next to only the W in Hong Kong.

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