We got up early on this day again. Today's program had to be changed a bit due to the expected rain.
The original plan was to go to the nearby Hudson Yards shopping center.
According to the weather forecast, it was supposed to rain starting at 3 PM, but that was changed to 1 PM. So as long as it wasn't raining, we would do an outdoor activity, and since we had seen very little of Central Park so far but really wanted to see more, we would go there.
We knew we would need more energy or time to walk around because the area is enormous.
We definitely want to come back here someday when everything is green and beautiful because it's extraordinary to walk around here.
We went down to have breakfast; we were going to have another "Christmas muffin," but it was too big, so we skipped it.
You could leave the room until noon, but since we didn't want to commit to a time limit to be back by then, we checked out in the morning but left the suitcase for safekeeping.
We were given a small tag and told to take a picture of it to get our stuff back if we accidentally lost it.
Unfortunately, the sun didn't shine at all that day; the weather was overcast and cold. (But I say we have no reason to complain because the last two days were cold, but at least with super sunshine).
We walked to the corner and from there down 8th Ave directly to the entrance of Central Park. It's almost a 30-minute walk.
Along the way, it seemed difficult to find a restroom. Generally, we have no problems with that.
We slowly made our way to Columbus Circle, a traffic circle and busy intersection. The southwest corner of Central Park. This circle is the point from which New York City's official freeway distances are measured.
The name comes from the Christopher Columbus monument in the circle's center.
Of course, there is now a Christmas market at the entrance to the park. We drove to a small lake called The Lake (about 20 minutes away), walked around it, and returned.
It's a great park with winding paths, lots of benches everywhere, statues, monuments, small streams, and waterfalls, so there's everything. We like best the romantic bridge called Bow and the view.
After we walked around the lake, Csibi looked at the map to see how long it would take to get back to Hudson Yards (which is close to the hotel).
By this time, we were exhausted anyway. It was hard to imagine going back from here. But I thought, okay, let's go… Until Csibi told me it would take 59 minutes to go back, according to the map.
So we went to the next subway station (72nd street), and this time Csibi used his credit card to pay for the subway ticket. Totally easy and convenient.
We got back on the subway very quickly, but even from there, it was still a 12-minute walk.
Hudson Yards, by the way, is the name of a part of town that has a shopping center of the same name with beautiful Christmas decorations. That's the real reason we came here.
We looked at the decorations and thought we'd have lunch here because we couldn't do that anywhere else.
We found a "restaurant" - I write it that way because it's not a restaurant. Still, there's a café, a pizzeria, I don't remember what else, and there's some kind of buffet in the middle. We chose that. You take what you want: rice, meat, salads, sweet potatoes… everything. $20/lb (~0.45 kg). There is a self-service cash register. You put your plate on the scale, and the machine tells you how much to pay. In the end, you put the receipt on a small table.
We ate, and then bought a coffee and a cake at the cafe. While we were here, we had to try a New York cheesecake (a traditional cheesecake uses cream and sour cream to thin the batter and give it a silkier, creamier texture). On the other hand, New York cheesecake uses cream cheese, which is why it's so dense and rich.
This cheesecake was the best we've had here in the US.
ANA Bar and Eatery is the name of the place.
After lunch, we took one last look at the Christmas decorations and left. In front of the building is a 16-story tourist attraction called "Vessel." It was designed by a British architect, and it is an intricate honeycomb-shaped building with 154 stairs and 2,500 steps. The final cost was about $200 million.
The pieces were made in Italy and shipped from there to the US. It opened on March 15, 2019, but closed indefinitely after 3 suicides in January 2021.
It reopened in May 2021, but each visitor had to be accompanied by at least one other person. After two months and another suicide, it was closed again indefinitely.
We don't know what will happen to it.
After looking at it, we gathered our last strength and returned to the hotel. At this point, it was only about 1 PM, but we didn't have the energy to keep going because it was freezing. But at least it wasn't raining at this time.
The hotel was not far away; we waited in the lobby and had a coffee at the bar. Later, the wet clothes of some arriving guests revealed that the rain had arrived. It was raining a lot. So it was a good thing we got back in time.
Time passed slowly, and at 3:30 PM, we went to the meeting place. There was no one there because the woman was looking for us.
But we had to wait another 15 minutes until the shuttle bus came. It was a kind of small minibus with many people already seated, and there were only two seats left for us. We couldn't sit next to each other, but that wasn't a problem.
The bus arrived around 3:50 PM, and we knew there would be a traffic jam. And it was raining cats and dogs.
As I mentioned earlier, our return flight was from La Guardia airport. The trip takes 55-60 minutes in the afternoon - during weekday rush hour. (As I write this post, it's 11 PM on Sunday night. The map now says the ride is only 24 minutes.)
For me, it was like a nightmare. In my opinion, the driver was a total basket case (which doesn't surprise me, given the traffic, especially since he does this every day).
By the way, the driver was an older man, but seriously, he was honking his horn, shaking his head, and constantly tapping his cell phone. It was terrifying. Because it became clear that people in New York can't drive either.
The driver honked the horn immediately when the light turned green. He tailgated and passed everyone.
And if that wasn't enough, I noticed a note on the window saying that the tip was not included in the price. But that wasn't the most surprising thing, it was the fact that the note said how much to give… One of the contributions had already been taped off, and obviously, a higher number had been put in its place…
This time we didn't give anything…
I couldn't wait to get out of this car.
At La Guardia airport, we were taken to the Delta Airlines terminal. We quickly printed our boarding passes and got in line for security.
Here we had to wait because there were quite a few of us.
It was a very interesting checkpoint because the baggage check had the shape of an airplane turbine. We had never seen anything like that before!
Fortunately, we got through quickly and without any problems. We sat down and put our shoes back on. Christmas trees in the middle were in the Delta colors (red and blue). Then as we walked to the gate, we saw many similar Christmas trees all along the way at specific intervals.
The airport is very clearly arranged, and we found gate 97 quickly. There was a 9-minute delay announced, but there was no delay in the end, and we could leave a little earlier.
The pilot announced that the first 20 minutes might be bumpy because the storm had just hit New York.
We rolled around the airport for a long time before takeoff, then luckily, the first 20 minutes were not as wild as advertised! It was very cloudy and raining for a long time, but later it cleared up. It was a stunning starry sky.
We arrived in Charlotte a little earlier than planned. Actually, we could have been there 20 minutes earlier, but for some reason, we flew through the airport and then turned south back to the runway (we always check the map to see where we are).
Other than that, everything was fine. Our bags weren't taken this time, but since we were in the second to last row, we were almost the last to leave the plane.
Here we thought we should eat something since we didn't have much at home, but there were so many people in line at both places we looked that we let it go.
The Charlotte airport also has two decorated deer named Wilbur and Orville (after the Wright brothers). This is also because the brothers made their first successful flight in North Carolina on December 17, 1903.
Afterward, we ordered an Uber, which fortunately didn't take long, and we were home 15 minutes later (around 10 PM).
After a quick bath, we went to bed since we still had to work on Friday.