Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles 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.