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Published: September 15th 2017
We'd not had long enough in either Baltimore or Philadelphia really. But we didn't have any flexibility. We'd booked our hotel in New York months ago. It was still eye-wateringly expensive, as New York always is, but a slightly better rate than booking last minute.
Amtrak was more comfortable than the Greyhound. The journey passed smoothly and before long we were at Penn Station. On the way to the metro station, David patiently waited outside Sephora for me while I did a bit of shopping. The branch in Phily had been closed and I'd long ago decided to treat myself before we left the States. Very unlike me, I'm far from a make-up addict. But sometimes it's nice to try new things and overall I've not bought much on this trip.
We bought metro cards and took the F train to Brooklyn. I find Manhattan a bit full-on if I'm honest, but Brooklyn we love. Particularly the Park Slope area where we'd stayed last time. This time were in the same area but a new hotel - Hotel le Bleu. It was nicer than the La Quinta, and a similar price (i.e. so expensive I could
cry, but a bit better than a Manhattan hotel).
We were knackered by this point after our late night the previous day and the travelling. So we gave up on any idea of sightseeing. Instead we relaxed in the room before going out to Freddy's Bar (one of our favourite 'non-rock' bars) in time for happy hour and some food. We then headed straight up to Williamsburg and Duff's. A long-established metal bar, it's pretty much unthinkable for any metal fan to visit NYC and not pay Duff's a visit. Especially with $1 PBR's before 9pm. We stayed for a few, and a couple of JD's.
The next day a light boxed breakfast was delivered to our room. We fannied about a bit, still feeling tired even though it had not been a very late night. In the end the noise of the hallway carpet being replaced drove us out. We caught the metro into Manhattan and stopped off at John's of Bleeker Street for pizza and a pitcher of beer. Then we walked the High Line park from beginning to end. It was still early, but we didn't really have the budget left for New York's more
expensive attractions. Besides, we'd seen the key sights last time we were here. So instead we fought our way through the chaos of Manhattan and spent a while in Central Park.
We got back to the hotel at nearly 5pm, but our room had not been cleaned. Probably the carpet fitting had held them up. So we went straight out again into Park Slope for a little bit of shopping and a couple of happy hour pints at the Dram Shop. By the time we got back the room was done and we could relax for a couple of hours before going out again.
Last time we were in New York we'd fallen in love with a 'posh Mexican' restaurant called Fonda. Although a bit pricey, we couldn't not go so David had booked a table. It was as good as we remembered and even though it was the most expensive meal of our whole trip it was worth it. David's parents had given us some Christmas money before we left the UK last year. We'd held on to it all this time so we could have a real treat. This was worth the wait and a good
use of the money.
The plan had been to continue to a local metal bar called Lucky 13. Normally I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to go to a metal bar. Especially one within walking distance of the hotel. But I was absolutely shattered, and not in the mood to drink more. So we called it a night. I put it down to knowing that our trip is ending. I couldn't exactly say I'm ready to go home. I always want just a little bit more. But on the other hand, knowing it is the end of the trip does put you into wind-down mode. In any case, I could barely stay awake so I'm glad we went back to the hotel.
The following day we were still looking for free things to do. Our poor credit card needed a break. We decided to explore the East Village area. It was nice to stroll around. For lunch we choose a New York classic, meatball subs from The Meatball Shop. Very tasty. By this time we'd kind of run out of steam (that end of trip fatigue again) so popped into the Double Down Saloon for a couple of
2 for 1 drinks. Then to atone for all the eating and drinking we walked back. The walk took us over Manhattan Bridge and took about an hour and a half.
We were nearing our hotel when we realised we were going to pass Lucky 13. It seemed rude not to pop in. It had moved to new premises since our last visit and was much better. Two pitchers of beer and two JD and cokes later we finally dragged ourselves out again.
It was our last night so pehaps we should have returned to Duff's, but given we were still flagging, and had been to two rock bars already that day, we decided to give it a miss. Instead we went to a nearby pub called the Park Slope Ale House for a burger and a pint. It was fine, if not particularly special.
It was very odd waking up knowing that after nearly a year away we would be flying home. We packed up, with the satisfaction of throwing away our scruffier clothes. Our flight wasn't until 11pm so we left our luggage at the hotel and went to the Brooklyn Museum. Well worth a
visit, with some great art and artifacts on display. After one last New York pizza at Peppinos (pretty good) it was time to pick up our packs and head to the airport.
The flight was a very cheap Norwegian Airlines job. We expected Ryanair type hell. But actually it was rather pleasant. Better than our last British Airways flight. There were of course no free drinks. But we did bring a couple of *cough* cokes onboard. Although I was mortified when I opened one that had somehow got shaken up, soaking, me, David, and worse the woman next to me. She was NOT happy. She'd already been rather grumpy with us for no reason. Still, I felt bad, but could do no more but apologise profusely really.
We landed at Gatwick. It felt incredibly weird being back in the UK. We had ages to wait for our coach, so walked the 20 minutes or so to a nearby pub. Once we'd worked out how to get out of the right side of the airport, which was harder than it sounds. Ye Olde Six Bells in Horley is a lovely, typically English pub. I was over the moon to
have English cider and David was happy to have English ale. I was also very happy with my pie and David with his roast. Yes, we've had some wonderful food over the year. But traditional British fare is very comforting. The coach journey to Nottingham was long but comfortable. Being back in Notts was very odd. Not helped by a downpour totally drenching us. Welcome home.
So that's it. The trip is over. We've had a fantastic year and enjoyed every single country we visited - 17 in total, 13 of them new. It's pretty much impossible to pick a favourite. But some highlights for me include Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, meeting up with friends on Palawan and Philadelphia, trekking in Myanmar, the Amazon rainforest, every rock bar we've been lucky enough to find (particularly drinking with a Colombian heavy metal band in Dynasty, Bogota), and of course the total solar eclipse. I could go on, but this blog is long enough already! Thanks for reading. I know it's been over-long a lot of the time. But I'm very glad we've got it to help us remember all the little things about the trip. It might be time for
me to start re-reading it. :-)
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