The previous day continued into New Year’s eve early morning with a hurried walk from our checked out hotel to the Union train station in the freezing night. The sound from the rolling luggage was the only sound on the street especially at that time of the day. Having heard some not so good stories from our cruise dinner companions about taking over night buses gave us to goosebumps as we headed towards the bus station which was at the top floor of the train station. When arrived at the Greyhound counter, we proceeded to check in and get in line where there was already a queue. The place was lit up adequately and not as dangerous as described. Looking at the queue, we thought for a moment that we might not make the bus but there were in fact more than a bus going towards NYC.
After boarding the bus, everything else was a blur as we dozed, only waking up some 6hrs later. Brushed our teeth at the station’s toilet before taking the metro to our hotel on 45th Street, Room Mate Grace.
Checked in and was unexpectedly given a room. The modern reception designed was sleek and the room was nice too, except for the incredibly small area, given that it costed $780 SGD for that night alone – the steep spike due to New Year’s Eve where accommodations in the area were snapped up like hot cakes. Lazed on the bed for a while due to poor sleep on the bus the day earlier, before picking ourselves up and going for breakfast and explore NYC.
Xmas deco dotted the streets of this concrete jungle, a landscape that was familiar since we came from Singapore. Difference was the cool weather that made walking in the streets in nice jackets really pleasant.
One of the to-do list was to ice skate in Central park, easily reachable by foot. The ice skating rink was in the middle of the park and we had to queue and pay for usage. We rented the skates and left our bags in the small deposit boxes and rented the locks with keys for a fee. There weren’t a time limit for usage but the one-time fee wasn’t cheap either.
After a trip-filled ice skating experience and a walk through the park, we continued to walk the streets, for sightseeing and shopping to return to our hotel.
We packed lunch back to hotel and also sandwiches for dinner. These had to be brought along to the countdown since we would be expected to be human gridlocked in the crowd and thus unable to get food or drinks. This also meant that going to the toilet would be mission impossible, and for that, we had adult diapers on.
The hotel was actually very close to the stage, which was our main reason for getting this room. However, the side streets that the hotel was situated was blocked off from main Broadway. We had to get around the barricades by going in the opposite direction and that brought us many streets away from the stage. At 4pm, we were already stuck in the crowd as crowd controllers control human movement using steel barricades. We ended up packed in a certain section.
It was a really really long wait. Thought it would be fun, it wasn’t. People soon got tired of standing and started to sit around. That took up a lot more space and it was uncomfortable. There was even one guy who just laid on the road and sleep.
Being so far away, we couldn’t see the stage though there were some large screens. The music didn’t reach the us and thus the crowd wasn’t enthusiastic. From 6pm onwards, there were mini countdowns shown on the screen for other world cities that were going through their countdown to 2013. Soon I was just looking forward towards the hour mark to see who was countdowning next.
Ate some dinner, talked to a Mexican, watched some pre-recorded shows on ipad and soon, the party on the stage was on the way, with Gangnam style (though the crowd response was still cold like the weather). And the anticipated final hour finally came, the fireworks from the building became more frequent and soon after John Lennon’s “Imagine”, it was 3.2.1…Happy New Year! Confetti snowed and fireworks displayed on both ends of the streets. The streets were alive again with much merry making.
The electric atmosphere fizzled out pretty quickly, probably tired out by the long hours of standing out in the cold. Like the crowd, we moved quickly back to our hotel where there was a rowdier party going on at the bar. Luckily there wasn’t a need to use the diapers. Countdown in the Big Apple felt a little overrated but heck, crossed this out from our to-do list.