USA 2016 Travel Diary: A feel of the NYC fast life at Grand Central Terminal

I was supposed to write my New York City posts sooner, but a) I got lazy, and b) some projects had to take priority. But we’re doing it now for reals, because I’m afraid that I won’t be able to convey my thoughts as eloquently the longer I drag. (Plus I still have two pending travel posts to write!)

If you’ve read my 12 Tips for First-Time Travellers to New York City post, you already have an idea on how I feel about this city. Short answer: I LOVE IT. Running on barely ANY sleep at all thanks to jet-lag, I fed off the energy of New York City and its people. To quote The Script, the energy never dies over here! I more than survived my NYC adventures, I absolutely drank it all in.

There were many things I wish I had done while here, and yet I can’t say I regret any of the things I’ve done instead. I guess I’ll just have to make time to go back and spend more than a week exploring this big city. Taking it slow while walking fast! 😀

My first day in New York began with an early morning stroll. From our hotel on 34th St., my Dad and I walked all the way to Grand Central Terminal along East 42nd St. For people who enjoy walking like myself, the walk doesn’t feel that far; and it was quite enjoyable as well since there were many things to stop and look at along the way. Like the (life-size?) cardboard cut-out of The Cake Boss. We also stopped by The Lyric Theatre to pick up our New York Passes. (More info in this post!)

Approaching Grand Central Terminal, I stopped and gaped at the Chrysler Building for a moment, remembering to snap a photo at the last second before we went in. This building is my favourite in the city, and every time I see it I get the urge to stop and look.

As I write this, I feel sad about not being able to photograph the Greek statues and the Tiffany clock at the main entrance of Grand Central Terminal. It was under maintenance and had some scaffolding ruining the view so I couldn’t take a nice picture. Le sigh.

Anyway, the Main Concourse of Grand Central Terminal is something I’ve seen over and over in films, but daaaaamn. Seeing it in person feels super surreal. You’ll have to excuse the dark quality of the gif above. I wanted to show you a hyperlapse of all the movement here.

The iconic four-sided clock in the middle of the floor is about the only immobile thing amongst the throng of bustling people. Everybody’s hurrying to get to a platform and navigate this vast terminal. I spotted groups on field trips and sightseeing tours as well. There’s generally just a lot of people so it’s easy to lose sight of your companion. Make sure you assign an area to meet up in after you’ve snapped enough photos of the Main Concourse!

TRIVIA: There is one track at Grand Central Terminal called the Waldorf Astoria Track aka Track 61. Officially it is identified as abandoned, but it used to be a means for distinguished guests of the Waldorf Astoria to enter and exit the city. Now it is used as a “secret” point of transportation for the President, in case he needs to make an emergency exit from New York.

I read this as I was doing research and thought it was so cool. 😉

Looking up towards the world-famous Grand Central Terminal ceiling was like looking up at a blue-green Greek sky. Constellations of the Zodiac from October to March are outlined in gold leaf alongside the Milky Way that stretches from southwest to northeast. Of course we also get some of the more usual constellations in the form of Pegasus and Orion.

There is some debate regarding the placement of the constellations, but thankfully I am not an astronomer so I can just stand and enjoy the sight before me without too much thought. You know how kids like to put glow in the dark stickers of constellations on their ceilings? This is kind of like that, except for adults.

This spectacle was created in 1912 by French etcher Paul Cesar Helleu and has since been repeatedly repaired due to water damages and the like. If you look closely at the photos you’ll be able to spot the repair jobs! They also replaced the light bulbs that gave a glowing effect in each constellation with energy-saving LED lights.

Honestly Grand Central Terminal is a bit dimly lit already, but I feel like I still have to come back here on an evening to get a different view of that ceiling. It should be magical. 🙂

One of the popular attractions here is the ‘Whispering Gallery’, where you can hear the voice of someone whispering against a hollow between wall and pillar even when you’re all the way across the gallery from that person. I saw some people testing this out on YouTube and decided watching them talking to the wall was enough fun for me. 😀

Instead, my Dad and I went down to the Dining Concourse. Because BREAKFAST, you know? And there’s a Shake Shack down there we were prepared to line up for!

Apparently, most people don’t find the urge to get a Shack Burger fix at 9 in the morning, because lo and behold, there was NO LINE at Shake Shack here! Lots of empty tables were calling out our names as well, and since a lot of the other establishments here were still closed this early in the morning, eating at Shake Shack was a no-brainer.

We bought some fruit smoothies at another stall and came back to get some Single SmokeShack Burgers—basically a cheeseburger topped with applewood-smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers, and their super top secret ShackSauce. They say eating here is a must while in NYC, and I always say I’ll believe it when I experience it myself.

Initially I was underwhelmed by the size of the burger, expecting it to be much bigger than this, but then I take my first bite… And immediately I understand the hype. I totally fell in love with these tasty, juicy burgers! Just packed full of flavour, with everything coming together to make you hanker for more!

And as I type this I want another one. WHYYY. Why do I live so far from New York?! I think we need to pause my Travel Diary here for a bit because I need to get up and grab a burger.

Oh! But since we are on the subject of Terminals, I wanted to squeeze this in:

We didn’t get to use Grand Central Terminal as an actual train stop because we lived close to Penn Station and made all our trips through there. Grand Central Terminal may have a Shake Shack, but Penn Station also has an iconic establishment in the form of Magnolia Bakery. Crazy to think there’s a small branch one block away form my hotel!

My Dad decided to grab a cupcake when I told him these are the ones Carrie Bradshaw likes to parade around in ‘Sex & The City’, but my eyes were all on the Banana Pudding. Every person on the web practically told me to forget about everything else, except the pudding. We ended up buying a cupcake and a pudding to go, but dude, at the sight of all these pastries how can you just forget everything else?

The Banana Pudding was actually pretty good! There were bits of bananas mixed alongside the softened vanilla wafers, and all of them were covered in a sweet milky banana-infused cream. If you eat the whole thing alone it will be very VERY sweet, so sharing is the way to go.

I definitely give the Banana Pudding a thumbs up because of the pleasant banana scent and flavour. In comparison, the very sweet chocolate frosting was all I could taste as I was eating the cupcakes. Still a nice experience overall to get a taste of the famous Magnolia Bakery!

While it was nice to get to eat some sweets to end a long day of walking, I think the burger would still be my choice. It would be nice if a Shake Shack got franchised over here! 😛



Grand Central Terminal, Dining Concourse,
49 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017, United States
Hours: 7AM to 11PM
Contact No: +1 646-517-5805
Website | Facebook | Instagram


1 Pennsylvania Plaza, Lower Concourse (near ACE Subway Lines),
New York, NY 10119, United States
Hours: 7AM to 11.30PM
Contact No: +1 212-462-2860
Website | Facebook | Instagram

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