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Published: June 20th 2018
First day in New York City, we have our Sightseeing Pass, weather forecast is good (except for a possible storm later tonight), and we are off!
Called in to the Hop On Hop Off Bus/Sightseeing Pass Office (which is conveniently across the street and 1/2 block down from our hotel) to book ourselves on the night Sightseeing Tour. Then over to the bus stop to start on the Uptown Tour on the Hop On Hop Off Bus.
Bus travelled down 8th Ave, through the theatre district, and was supposed to go all the way down the western side of Central Park. Did not realise Central Park is nearly 60 blocks long! It appeared we had a bit of a renegade driver, who thought going down the side of the park wasn't that interesting, so took a few detours. Saw many famous New York landmarks, buildings, museums, churches etc, and our driver was full of information about who lived where and how much they cost. Then into Harlem, and back up the Eastern side of Central Park. Again, more residential buildings, and many museums. We got off at the end of Central Park, but could not have a horse and
carriage ride through the park, as the horses had all been sent back to the stables, because it was too hot! So we walked around the park ourselves, very large, and quite peaceful, although you could still hear some traffic noise. Found Strawberry Fields (eventually) and the Imagine Mosaic (John Lennon Memorial). Had a cold drink at The Boatshed in the park, then back on the bus and back to the hotel (got a late lunch at Pret (yayy) on the way.
Also walked past a midtown fire station on 8th Ave, across 48th street from our hotel, Engine 54/Ladder 4/Battalion 9. This firehouse lost the most members (15 - the entire shift) on 9/11.
A break in the air conditioned hotel room for what was left of the afternoon (was very hot by then, unusual for us) and then walked down to Times Square for our night tour. Had dinner at Dos Caminos (Mexican), very nice guacamole and fish tacos, then found the bus stop, but since the buses supposedly went every half hour from 6pm till 8pm, we decided to wait a little, so we would get some of the tour in the dark, and wandered
around Times Square - billboards were amazing and people everywhere!
Then back to the bus stop, only to realise there was a huge queue that we had to join, not sure how many buses left before we got on, but we didn't wait too long. Tour went past the Empire State Buliding, the Flatiron buliding and through various New York districts, before going across the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn. Driving around Brooklyn, we felt a few spots of rain, heard some thunder, then the heavens opened - not the best thing when you are on an open top bus! The tour guide did ask if we wanted to turn around, but everybody said to keep going. He got rain ponchos for everyone, but not really any use, rain just dripped down the ponchos onto our legs and the seat, and we ended up soaked! All we could do was laugh (and try to keep the cameras dry) - it was absolutely pouring and we couldn't see a thing. The bus eventually stopped under an overpass until the worst of the rain had stopped, then finished our tour of Brooklyn, then back over to Manhattan, it had stopped raining by
then. And a very soggy walk back to the hotel - clothes, shoes, hair and bags - all wet!
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