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  • Yep, New York. We have. Our hotel the Best Western Plus President on the right, which

  • we found using the Hotel Tonight app. Very helpful. We got a great deal, around a hundred

  • bucks, just a block away from Times Square. We park right across the street for around

  • 45 bucks, a night.

  • As soon as we get settled we get out and walk towards Times Square. Let get the touristy

  • thing out of the way.

  • Yep, this is New York. No other place comes close.

  • Yeah, that us!

  • Walking down Broadway we get a glimpse of the Empire State building dressed in its Christmas

  • colors. The line to go up is hours long so we keep on walking this time towards 5th Avenue.

  • This is the famous New York Public Library.

  • We turn right on 42nd towards Grand Central Terminal.

  • We walk in to take this panorama.

  • The Chrysler Building and the Met Life, formerly Pan Am, and the Get a Life in certain video

  • game.

  • We are back, I don't remember why, I think we had to pass by the hotel to pick up something.

  • We walk towards the Rockefeller Center on 6th Avenue, among the crowds of people.

  • Passing by Radio City Music Hall, the famous art deco style theater. This year the Rockettes

  • celebrating their 85th birthday.

  • We try to get e glimpse at the Rockefeller Center Skating rink but the crowds are just

  • too large. Let's get into the glass elevator, maybe we are luckier, and we are.

  • We decide to go to the Top of the Rock observation deck, since we couldn't go up to Empire State

  • Building. Some say this view is actually better because from here you can actually see the

  • Empire State. The elevator has a glass ceiling in which they project footage by NBC though

  • the decades. Welcome to Top of the Rock.

  • The view towards Central Park is breathtaking, but it is even better looking towards the

  • south. The Chrysler, the Met Life, the Empire State with the new World Trade Center under

  • construction in the distance behind it. Times Square to the right.

  • In this room called the Breezeway, supposedly the lights of a certain color follow you around,

  • I don't know, let's get out of here before I go nuts. This is strange.

  • Back at the ground level the crowds are still enjoying the magic of Christmas.

  • We were all the way upthere. This very photogenic and iconic steam you've

  • been seeing coming from under the streets is actually a byproduct of the city's heating

  • system, which uses steam, naturally. And this statue of the Greek Titan Atlas dates

  • back to 1937. As the action starts to die down and the temperature

  • drops below freezing we return to the hotel, only to spy on our unsuspecting neighbors.

  • They are having some kind of get-together. After a while they go to sleep too, and so

  • do we.

  • In the morning we take the subway to downtown. It is our intention to visit the September

  • 11 Memorial. The memorial is right next to the new construction

  • site and they have a TSA style security checkpoint, with x-rays, body scanners, magnetometers,

  • the works, and of course we couldn't photograph. I don't want to get started with my opinions

  • about this security theater. Let's just say I think they are overdoing a little bit. One

  • thing is common sense safety, but this is borderline paranoia. Anyways, on a more serious

  • note, the somber memorial honors the victims of the September 11 attacks, each fountain

  • built at the exact spot where the twin towers were located.

  • This tree in the middle was recovered from the rubble and it was replanted here as a

  • symbol of hope and rebirth. Time to get back to our hotel as check out

  • time is upon us. We have lunch at this excellent Vietnamese

  • restaurant right next to the hotel called Saigon 48, and off we go.

  • We are going to do something very few tourists do in New York. We are going to drive around

  • the city. We drive east on 48th street and then turn

  • left onto 6th Avenue, surrounded by a sea of taxicabs. We once again arrive by the corner

  • of the Radio City Music Hall. We continue speeding north towards Central

  • Park. We turn left onto West 59th Street, Central Park South towards the Columbus Circle.

  • The tall towers at the end are the Time Warner center. They are home, of course, to Time

  • Warner Incorporated; as well as the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, CNN Studios, a shopping mall

  • and a theater. At the Columbus Circle we turn right onto Central Park West, and the Upper

  • West Side. On the corner of 64th street we see the Harperly Hall, formerly Madonna's

  • home. She sold it in early 2013 for almost $20 million. By 65th street we encounter the

  • Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, and continue going north, cruising along the lavish condos

  • of the rich and famous. The prominent tower a couple of blocks away to the left is the

  • San Remo, home to Demi Moore, Steve Martin and many other celebrities. Even the late

  • Steve Jobs used to own an apartment there, although he never lived in it and eventually

  • sold it to Bono. This building to our left is the Dakota, where John Lennon used to live

  • with Yoko Ono. She still lives there.

  • The New York Historical Society, The American Museum of Natural History. And this massive

  • building in front of us is the Beresford, home to Diana Ross and Jerry Seinfeld. I don't

  • know about you but I've seen enough celebrities for one day. Suffice to say that in order

  • to live in any of these buildings to the left you need to have some serious dough, seriously.

  • And as central park ends at Frederick Douglass Circle, so does the luxury, and it's time

  • for me to fill up. I mistakenly pulled up to the full service pump, we don't have those

  • where I live, it was a costly mistake. We continue onto Harlem, a major African-American

  • residential, cultural and business center. During the 1920's and 30's there was a great

  • artistic movement in theater, literature, and music called the Harlem Renaissance, and

  • ever since it has been up and down with periods of crime and great violence, and calmer periods

  • like the present. It is still mostly a poor neighborhood, with all the problems that come

  • with that. Contrary to popular believe, this was not the birthplace of the Harlem Shake.

  • As we turn right onto 135th avenue, we are going into the Spanish Harlem.

  • Sometimes it is cool just to stop and see the people crossing the street, the cars going

  • by, a train far away in the distance, a slice of life in the city, a slice, if you will,

  • of the neighborhood. We go back, back south on 5th avenue, and continue zigzagging. East

  • on 124th Street, south on Park Avenue, which in this area goes right next to the railroad

  • tracks. We turn west on 106th.

  • The red brick low income buildings, and yet another slice of the neighborhood, through

  • its people crossing the street. We have turned off the GPS so we even take a wrong turn here.

  • Sometimes though, it is good to get lost. I mean, we obviously seen the map, and know

  • the basic layout of the city, but it is good to explore its nooks and crannies sometimes.

  • South we go on 2nd Avenue, approaching the Upper West Side, one of the most affluent

  • neighborhoods. We observe the contrasts of the big city; from one of its poorest neighborhoods

  • into its most exclusive one, it is merely a couple of blocks. Look at this nice high

  • rise. Wouldn't you like to live there?

  • South we go on Lexington Avenue, and turn right onto 81st street, but oops, it is blocked

  • so we must maneuver backwards. Not the safest thing.

  • We turn right again two blocks down, on 79th. We drive west crossing famous Madison Avenue.

  • We reach Central Park. Here's another slice of the city life... a little different, wouldn't

  • you say? We turn left on 5th Avenue, going south, one of the most famous avenues in the

  • city. Fifth Avenue divides Manhattan into east and west. It has been called the most

  • expensive street in the world. Just as we start approaching the south end of Central

  • Park and the shopping section of this avenue a light snow starts to fall, as predicted

  • by the weather service. We are from south Florida, so the slightest bit of snow is a

  • major event for us. It is very exciting even if the snow melts as soon as it hits the ground.

  • And it starts to fall a little harder. We approach the corner of 59th street and 5th

  • avenue, the southeastern corner of central park. This is where the famous Plaza Hotel

  • is located, and the also famous glass cube Apple Store.

  • We enter the famous shopping district with Lois Vuitton and Tiffany's leading the way.

  • Yes it is Tiffany's from the Audrey Hepburn movie. I think that every major luxury retailer

  • has a boutique within these 10 city blocks. By the way, Frito Lay did not pay us any money

  • for the product placement. I don't even like their products.

  • We particularly admire the holiday decorations at the Fendi Store, in front of the Saint

  • Thomas Church.

  • We continue passing by Cartier and Saint Patrick's Cathedral, which is under renovation. Nothing

  • to see, unfortunately. We pass by the Rockefeller Center as we start to get a glimpse of the

  • Empire State Building to the right.

  • We continue going south along Fifth Avenue in Midtown. To our right the New York Public

  • Library.

  • Here's a view of the Empire Spate Building through the sunroof.

  • We enter the Gramercy Flatiron District, at its heart, Madison Square and the iconic Flatiron

  • Building, one of the tallest in the city at the time of its completion in 1902. Across

  • Madison Square Park, there is the Metropolitan Life Tower, which was the world's tallest

  • building between 1909 and 1913 only to be surpassed by the Woolworth building. The snow

  • starts to fall even harder now.

  • Fifth Avenue ends at Washington Square Park, in the Greenwich Village. Now lets get lost

  • under the snow, shall we? It is what we came here for after all.

  • All this area is part of the New York University, of course we didn't know that at the time.

  • We turn left onto Greene Street, and then right on 8th street, the Cooper Union Library

  • to the right. This black cube is called "Alamo", and it was sculpted in 1967 by Tony Rosenthal.

  • It is a popular meeting place here in the east village. We continue going east on 8th

  • street until we reach Tompkins Square Park.

  • This area is called Alphabet City because the avenue names are letters. For example,

  • the avenue we are turning into is Avenue B. We go further south on Avenue C, Loisaida

  • Avenue until we reach Houston, I mean Houston, which is spelled like the city of Houston

  • in Texas, but pronounced Houston. Houston Street is a boundary between several neighborhoods,

  • most notably Noho, which stands for North of Houston, and Soho, South of Houston. Ugh,

  • It is really coming down now. We go back north on 6th Avenue, also called

  • Avenue of the Americas. We turn left, or west, onto 16 street, then south on 7th and west

  • on 11th street right at the intersection with diagonal Greenwich Avenue, in order to see

  • the neighborhood away from the main streets. We make a right on Hudson and then back south

  • on Bleecker, into the heart of the Village.

  • And they have the sign to prove it. We eventually go south on Broadway towards

  • Chinatown. We get a glimpse, in the distance, of the Woolworth building, as we mentioned

  • before the tallest building in the world for several years.

  • Eventually we turn left, or east, onto Canal Street, the main drag of Chinatown. But before

  • immersing ourselves in Chinatown lets turn left right here onto Mulberry Street to see

  • a little bit of Little Italy. Little Italy is basically just a couple of blocks and perhaps

  • a little too touristy, I mean even the fire hydrants are painted in the colors of the

  • Italian flag. It is very picturesque.

  • Then we immerse ourselves into Chinatown, which feels like a different country all to

  • itself.

  • We decide to continue towards downtown under the pouring snow. The snow, however, doesn't

  • deter the tourists from taking a picture with the famous Wall Street bull sculpture. The

  • bull is a symbol of financial prosperity and sometimes just optimism, wishful thinking.

  • Ever heard of a bull market? We are actually a couple of blocks away from actual Wall Street

  • and the Stock Exchange. But it is getting late and I've been driving for hours. We are

  • tired and hungry.

  • I make a wrong turn and we end up on the Brooklyn Bridge, crossing the east river into the borough

  • of Brooklyn.

  • At this point we are not really in the mood for sightseeing so we just turn around, take

  • the bridge back to Manhattan. We have decided to sleep in New Jersey tonight , for economic

  • reasons mostly. Besides we are going to the hotel next door to where we stayed back in

  • 1994. A trip down memory lane. After getting stuck in rush hour traffic,

  • we are able to take the Holland tunnel to the New Jersey shore. I have no video of the

  • rest of the day, but lets just say that because south Florida we don't really invest a lot

  • of money in tires, I almost paid for it, as the streets in Jersey were more than a little

  • slippery due to all the snow and ice.

  • We

  • finally made it skidding all the way to the parking lot. Good night.

  • Good morning. We spend the night at the Holiday Inn Express in North Bergen New Jersey. Right

  • next door there is the Day's Inn where we stayed way back in 1994. We haven't changed

  • that much, have we? Many of my fellow Cuban-Americans, who now

  • live in Miami, called this area home when they first arrived at the United States. Many

  • recall Union City, and Bergenline Avenue with a certain sense of nostalgia. What they didn't

  • miss apparently, were the crude winters and having to shovel snow. Most of them worked

  • hard, saved some money and eventually bought a house in Miami. I want to explore this area

  • a little bit, mainly Avenida Bergenline, which is how they used to call it and the City of

  • Union City, excuse the cacophony but that is actually what the sign says. We cruise

  • around, seeing all the signs in Spanish, kind of reminds you of a little bit of little Havana,

  • they even have a "botanica". El Pollo Supremo, we used to have those in

  • Miami back in the day. Pollo Tropical put them out of business though. Another fine

  • example of marketing triumphing over quality. Before crossing states lines we drive up to

  • John F. Kennedy Boulevard East to admire this view on the Hudson River and the Island of

  • Manhattan on the other shore. Downtown and the new World Trade Center under construction.

  • The Empire State Building, and midtown, the Time Warner Towers, the Upper West Side, and

  • eventually Harlem in the distance.

  • Our next destination is a little further north. We drive into the borough of Bronx across

  • the George Washington Bridge. This is, by the way, the northernmost point in out entire

  • road trip. We take I-87 south, passing under the Aqueduct Bridge, the oldest surviving

  • bridge in the city. One of the first points of interest we want to pass by is Yankee Stadium.

  • This modern ballpark you see here was finished in 2009, and it replaced the original historic

  • 1923 Yankee Stadium. This is the Bronx ladies and gentelmen, birthplace of hip-hop music.

  • Driving under the train tracks I make a wrong turn. Oh shit it's one way.

  • We make a left on 161st street, the correct turn this time.

  • It is out intention to reach The Hub, which is the heart of the south Bronx. We turn right

  • onto Melrose Avenue for that purpose, but never make it all the way to the famous hub.

  • We decide it is getting late and we would rather visit the projects on Washington Avenue.

  • I know, I think we are a little ADD. We go north on 3rd Avenue. Until the early 70's

  • there was a train line running above this street called the El, for elevated. You may

  • have seen it in movies.

  • We make a left on 168th Street and then a right onto Park Avenue.

  • The place is somewhat deserted. It is supposed to be one of the roughest areas in town, the

  • Webster projects, according to our on-the-go research but it doesn't look all that bad

  • but we'll lock the doors just in case. Iglesia Petecostal Hijos de Sion, Inc

  • It seems to be at least partially a Latin neighborhood, based on the Spanish sign on

  • the Pentecostal Church. We continue driving along Washington Avenue in the South Bronx,

  • in this shady looking neighborhood, which happens to be the poorest Congressional district

  • in the United States. They have been trying to revitalize the neighborhood after the economic

  • collapse of the 1970's and the 80's, but as you can see, they still have a long way to

  • go. Well, maybe we should get out of here. Ever since I saw the movie "Warriors" in the

  • early 80's I have wanted to go to Coney Island, and that's where we are heading now. We take

  • I-278 towards Queens and Brooklyn. We take this bridge into Wards Island, and then the

  • Robert F. Kennedy Bridge over the east river into the borough of Queens.

  • We continue south with the Manhattan skyline to the right. Crossing the Kosciuszko we are

  • now in Brooklyn. Now on the Belt Parkway we see Staten Island

  • to the right and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in front of us. Let's stop for the scenic

  • view. The sight of the bridge pretty is pretty breathtaking. It was the longest suspension

  • bridge in the world in 1964, and it still is the longest bridge span in the Americas.

  • We finally arrive to our coveted Coney Island, and I must say it is a little bit of a disappointment.

  • Of course, we are arriving only two months after super storm Sandy. Part of the park

  • is still being used for the recovery effort. Still the area looks a little run down.