Travel Log – March 08

Wednesday 5th

Ugh! The alarm went off at 04.15 and where normally we’d be pulling the covers over our head we were up and showered and ready in half an hour.

Wright’s taxis didn’t let us down and just after 06.00 we were checked in for our flights (with extra legroom!) and ready to grab a bite to eat.

We spent our waiting time having breakfast, buying magazines and giggling about how cool it was going to be to spend four days together in New York, no phones, no work, no chores and a whole new city to explore!

The flight took off as scheduled and seemed much longer than the seven hours that it actually lasted but that was mainly down to us wishing that we were already there and impatiently wanting to start exploring.

We had thought it would be a pain getting through passport control and customs in the US but it was fab, all the staff were smiley and friendly contrary to what we had been told to expect in the post 9/11 US.

We cruised through the arrivals lounge and took the shuttle bus into Manhattan. The bus ride provided us with our first view of what has to be the world’s most famous skyline.

We walked the few blocks from the Port Authority bus terminal to our hotel with is a stones throw from Madison Square gardens and as it turns out two blocks from the Empire State Building – Cool location!

Once we had checked in and dumped our bags in our 32nd floor room we walked over to 5th Ave and headed for Tiffany’s.

We arrived at Tiffany’s and it is exactly like the film all plush and spacious with polite attentive staff and an astounding sense of history and occasion (oh and it’s true – there are no price tags on anything!!)

We met out personal shopper who introduced us to a selection of rings and explained the 3 Cs. After much trying on and soul searching Michelle found the ring for her and a matching wedding band they were then whisked away to be re-sized perfectly to fit Michelle.

We then sat and drank Champagne together in a private room in the most famous jewellery shop in the world! What a fantastic experience!

After Tiffany’s we went for a quick walk in Central Park and then headed to the Empire State Building for a night view of New York. It was breathtaking both in the beauty and in the fact that it was about freezing and there was a (very) stiff breeze.

We grabbed dinner in a local diner to warm up and then headed to bed – well, we had been awake for about 20 hours!!


 

Thursday 6th

We woke up at 7 and then dozed until 8 when the desire to continue our exploration dragged us out of bed, 30 mins later we were showered dressed and sat in a diner waiting for breakfast!

After breakfast we bought some multi-day tour bus passes and decided to spend the morning shopping and the afternoon sightseeing.

First stop Macys, biggest department store in the world apparently – they aren’t kidding, it’s huge it covers a whole block and is truly impressive, it is the only department store we know of that has 6 restaurants, this isn’t a mall, it is just one store!

From Macys we went to the Rockafeller centre to check out their newly re-opened observation deck to get a daytime birds-eye view of New York. This turned out to be even more breathtaking than night views. It was easier to orientate yourself and realise what you were seeing.

Manhattan is an incredibly densely packed urban area but manages a topsy turvy yet organised beauty. No two buildings are the same height width or shape yet all are arranged on the very handy grid and the whole island seems to support it’s own jewel, central park.

After gawping at the view we strolled over to Tiffany’s to collect Michelle’s ring. Once again we were ushered into a private room with huge comfy chairs, swanky 1920’s style decor and a drink. Our personal shopper returned with the rings, re-sized, polished and packaged in the famous blue boxes. Treasure in hand we moved on.

From Tiffany’s we walked over to Bloomingdales where we strolled around and made a few purchases whilst trying to avoid the over-zealous perfume sprayers! (Brought to mind an episode of friends, ‘hombre for men’ anyone??).

We had decided to take a bus trip in the afternoon and after a quick trip into Central Park for an opportunity to put Michelle’s ring where it belongs, we caught the first bus of the day and sat back to take in the views of Uptown New York.

Every new Avenue and street brought new and classic views of New York, as such a filmed and photographed city almost every view seems familiar if only in it’s style. After this trip we had time to warm up with a hot chocolate (it was an open top bus . . . .in March) before our tour started.

The night tour was a longer and more varied tour taking in more of the residential districts and giving a superb night-time view of the city that never sleeps.


 

Friday 7th

With another day of exploration planned we left the hotel and went hunting a diner for breakfast, we found an all you can eat buffet breakfast and given that the plan was to be on the go all day we piled our plates high.

Armed with our increasing knowledge of the New York grid system and a rudimentary map of the bus pickup points we took the downtown tour bus to take us to battery park where we would be getting on the water-taxi tour to do a loop of the harbour and take in the views of Manhattan from the water and also see the statue of liberty up close.

Initially catching the bus was difficult as each of the tour company’s representatives helpfully pointed us in a different direction, we resorted to going native and walking out into the middle of the road and sticking out a hand – it worked and we were soon on the bus heading to the waterfront.

Once off the bus we walked through Battery Park and on to Pier 17 where the taxi tour would depart.

The water taxi tour was superb, initially a little cold but this was soon forgotten as the views appeared and as we got further out into the harbour the all pervading beeping and sirens that are like the crickets of New York faded and were replaced by the breeze and the views. Manhattan totally dominates the skyline and is all the more impressive from out on the water where it’s true scale can be appreciated, it only has a small base but appears almost as tall as it is wide.

The boat took us onwards past Ellis Island and towards the statue of liberty. Once up close to the statue you can really see its beauty and see how big it is. From the viewing towers in Manhattan the statue appears small and even when viewed from the water it is dwarfed by the Manhattan skyscrapers than have become the normal view.

When you see the people on the observation deck of the statue you realise how huge the statue is and appreciate it as both a feat of engineering and a beautiful piece of art.

The taxi took us back towards Manhattan and under the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges then back to the pier where we grabbed a doughnut for sustenance and headed back into town on another of the open top busses.

We walked back to the hotel from Times Square and found the theatre that we would be going to later to see Hairspray, we also had a good look around to find somewhere nice for our last night dinner.

Back at the Hotel we snoozed and then showered and dressed ourselves up for the evening at the theatre.

We got back to the lobby to be confronted with torrential rain, right Taxi it is then, or not! In films New York is the easiest place to catch a cab. In reality they ignore you or beep at you and then drive past leaving you in the rain.

As we were waiting for a taxi or hypothermia a stretch limo arrived at the hotel, the driver got out and casually asked us where we were going, we told him and he agreed to be our taxi!!

This trip was going from strength to strength, champagne at Tiffany’s and now a ride to a Broadway show in a stretch Limo! Check us out!

The show was fantastic, and the atmosphere was incredible the American crowd were much more vocal that the more reserved British theatre goers and each song was met with cheers, whoops and thunderous applause. The cast seemed to respond and the more the crowd got behind them, the more they lifted their already superb performance to greater heights.

After the show we went to the steak restaurant that we had earmarked for our last night and enjoyed a fantastic meal all the while giggling and humming tunes from the show.

We took our first yellow cab ride back to the hotel to avoid the still pouring rain and decided that we should go to the diner next door for a late night beer and cake, the diner was open 24/7 and we were not the only people who seemed to be enjoying a beer and  dessert.

It was a lot of fun to chat through the trip over a cake and beer, in a busy diner at midnight. In a way it summed up New York, always something going on, always something to do and always something to talk about.

 

Saturday 8th

Knowing that this was going to be a long day we treated ourselves to a lie in!

Today was mainly going to be about travel but that never deters us from a bit extra exploring! We set off at a brisk pace in the pouring rain to see Grand central station, the name is apt but doesn’t do it justice.

It is very central and it is a station however its grand-ness is the most impressive feature. The halls are high and airy its floors and walls are marble and it has the feeling of a busy and noisy cathedral rather than a train station. The food hall in the station makes the one at the Trafford centre look positively inadequate but it was not enough to tempt us – we had seen a diner across the road which advertised itself as the best and busiest breakfast diner in New York.

Well we couldn’t honestly say if it was or wasn’t but it was very very good!

Full of breakfast and now partially dried out we went to do a bit of shopping on 5th Avenue and then decided to take in a movie.

After the film we ended our time in New York at a bar with a beer and a plate of nachos. We picked up our bags and strolled back up to the Port Authority Bus Station.

Once again the very efficient shuttle bus whisked us to the airport, where the efficiency stalled a little. The weather was closing in and all flights were either delayed or cancelled.

Many people were becoming annoyed or crotchety but we managed to stay calm and spent the delay reading, exploring and eating ‘New York’s finest pizza’.  We embarked on our flight home, after an amazing trip, which will be remembered forever.

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