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Published: August 1st 2009
Day 824 (01/07/09)
Having loved our time in Miami it was now time to leave so we got a taxi to the airport and made our way to the final stop of our entire trip. What better place to end it than NYC? The flight was a little longer than we had expected and unfortunately they didn't have a movie for us to watch (damn you American Airlines), but we arrived none the less into JFK airport safe and sound.
We navigated the simple subway system successfully and a couple of trains later (pretty tricky with our growing number of bags) and we arrived at the pad in Harlem we had booked for our spell in the Big Apple.
Still with the evening to enjoy our new city and, with the thought of the sights of New York re-igniting our desire to fill every minute of our days, we dumped our bags and headed straight out to get a in a little bit of shopping (our remaining budget would not stretch to much but when in New York...!) and see the some of the city at night.
With the famous Macys department store our first stop we
managed to get a 10% off card just for showing up and eventually found a pair of jeans each to bolster our wardrobe for our return home. Shopping done we walked the couple of blocks up the road and found a great seat in Times Square to sit mesmerised by the huge lighted advertisements filling the area and to watch the evening's many visitors go about their business. A great way to begin our visit.
Day 825 (02/07/09)
All sugared up with pancakes and syrup for brekkie, we had a packed day planned so hit the subway to downtown Manhattan pretty early. Our first stop was to see the area around Ground Zero. The site of the devastated World Trade Centre is now being built on as the area is filled with a memorial garden and a series of new skyscrapers but close by and well worth a visit is the lovely St Paul's Chapel. Used by the many volunteers and firemen as a refuge or place to rest during the aftermath of the attacks it contains displays and information about all that went on in the chapel at the time and for many weeks afterwards. A very
touching and thought provoking place to visit.
As we left a watery downfall sent us looking for shelter, which we found in the lovely glass structure of the Winter Gardens and made the most of as we enjoyed a muffin and a HUGE cup of coffee.
Once the sun came out again we jumped on the free shuttle bus that circles around the very southern tip of Manhattan Island and made our way to Battery Park. We'd had a tip that you could get a view of the Statue of Liberty for free by taking the Staten Island Ferry but when we arrived to Battery Park we discovered that we could visit both the Statue and Ellis Island's Immigration Museum for just 12USD which we decided to do.
We queued for tickets and then queued for hours! The line to the ferry seemed to go on for miles but in all seriousness, considering the airport style security checks carried out, it moved fairly quickly and we were on the crowded ferry before an hour had passed. Whilst on the ferry we met a lovely family who bought their son and Chrissie one of those fantastic green foam
Liberty crowns, which, as you can see from the pictures we all had great fun with.
Seeing the Statue of Liberty grow larger as we approached on the boat was one of those pinch yourself moments and as we walked onto and around the small island that she stands on we were pretty excited to be there! It was a shame that we were there just a couple of days before the crown was reopened to visitors having been closed since the terrorist attacks of 2001(although we believe the tickets are booked up until about October anyway) but it was fantastic just to wander around the base.
The heavens opened again as we were on the ferry making our way to Ellis Island so we were glad that the majority of the sights there are inside. Included in the 12USD ticket price the museum is excellent. Outlining the history of the Immigration Centre using displays, tours, films and even plays there was plenty to keep us entertained while the rain poured outside.
A brief dry spell followed as we returned to Manhattan on the ferry but as soon as we arrived the third downpour of the day
began with a vengeance. We got completely drenched as we found our way back to the shuttle bus and headed towards Wall Street. Feeling starving as we hadn't had lunch and it was now 5.30pm we dropped into the Wall St. Burger Shoppe for a traditional stateside meal and some excellent beer.
The rain on standby again we took a wander down Wall Street, the city's famous financial centre, as we passed the Trump Building (no sight of the strange haired one), Tiffany's and the New York Stock Exchange.
Beginning to feel a bit weary as we neared the end of our packed day we continued walking on up past City Hall and out onto the Brooklyn Bridge. A spectacular structure, this large suspension bridge spanning the East River is one of the iconic views of the city. Now dry from our last encounter with the day’s inclement weather, we ventured out onto the long and exposed bridge to get yet another dousing. The rain didn’t stop us appreciating the great architecture but the grand stone arches didn’t do much to protect us and it wasn’t long before our plans to stick around to see this area with
the evening lights were firmly put aside! We were treated to a lovely rainbow over the bridge as we made a quick exit though.
Despite the weather we’d had a fantastic day and were pleased with the amount of things we’d been able to tick off our New York to-do list.
Day 826 (03/07/09)
Whilst we were in New York we wanted to hit Broadway, or off Broadway and catch a show. We’d heard that you could get cut-price tickets by queuing up in Times Square at the tkts booth on the day you want to watch the show. Reading that it opened at 10am we rocked up at 9.30 to join a reasonably short queue. As the queue started moving at 10am we neared the front and realised that the tickets being sold were for matinee performances and none for any shows we wanted to see. Apparently to get evening tickets we’d have to return at 3pm - oh well!
We had another packed schedule planned for the day so made our way over to the Rockefeller Centre, stopping to admire the lights of Radio City Music Hall on the way. We went up to
the observation deck of the Rockefeller Building bravely built during the crash of the early ‘30s and site of the famous picture of the construction workers enjoying their lunchtime sarnies perched high above the city on a steel girder. We reached the observation levels, aptly named Top of the Rock and, after the cloudy skies cleared a little, enjoyed the stunning views over the city and its massive Central Park. With plenty of space to wander around and completely glass panels (with gaps for photographers) making it easy for everyone to see the views we loved it up there and stayed for over an hour.
After a brief moment at the Rockefeller Plaza, home to the Christmas ice-rink, we walked a long way down Fifth Avenue passing well known Saks and the amazing Empire State Building. We eventually reached the interesting triangular Flatiron Building shaped to fit the junction at which it sits and headed a little further down to the small food market in Union Square where we sampled as much local produce as they’d allow!
It was now time to return to Times Square and queue again for our tickets. Sadly it wasn’t to be as,
after an hour and a half waiting we reached the front to discover that tickets for the show’s we wanted, even with the discount rate, were still way too expensive for us.
To complete our day we made a visit to Grand Central Station, admiring the elegant lines of the Chrysler building on the way (everywhere you turn in this city there’s another stunning, iconic landmark) and we stood and watched the world go by in the station’s superb, open main hall. We took our train back to Harlem from Grand Central to end another incredible day.
Day 827 (04/07/09)
We’ve not managed to catch much of Wimbledon this year but we wanted to try and watch the finals of our third Wimbledon on the road. During the trip we’ve watched the finals in both Cambodia and Australia multinational tennis watchers that we are, so we started the day by watching the women’s final in another new continent before making our way out.
After our previous attempt at Brooklyn Bridge was rained off we decided to give it another go as we’d woken to a beautifully sunny day. We took the subway right over to Brooklyn,
grabbed a hotdog from one of the ubiquitous vendors and made our way across the bridge from end to end, back onto Manhattan Island. We’ve always been fans of great bridges and this elegant structure didn’t disappoint.
We’d decided to make today a wandering day so that we could experience some of the distinct areas of Manhattan. We began in Chinatown and Little Italy enjoying the street stalls and party atmosphere which we think was partly due to it being a very important day in the US, Independence Day.
It was a lovely area to visit and it took us a fair while to choose from the hundreds of restaurants on offer. We opted for a Chinese and settled in for an absolute feast which we washed down with our favourite Chinese beer, Tsingtao.
After lunch we continued our walk as it took us through the quiet, café lined streets of Tribeca and on up to Soho with it’s masses of crazy street traders trying to flog us the latest range of knock off handbags, perfumes, watches, sunglasses etc.etc.!
We were pretty shattered after our day of walking so we stopped for a huge amount of
coffee to revive us. This would turn out to bite us on the bum later but more about that in a minute. We chatted to a local lady who was one of many lovely New Yorkers who we met during our few days here.
To celebrate Independence Day every year, Macy’s department store put on a huge fireworks display which this year would be over the Hudson River. We made our way over and joined the hundreds of thousands of others who were out to see the spectacle. We’d got a good spot and then realised that there were absolutely no toilets anywhere to be seen, not one portaloo! Come on NYC! Those several litres of coffee we’d consumed didn’t want to wait until after the fireworks so we set off in search of McDonalds, always useful when you’re in need. Not so useful however when the queue is about 12 miles long. About 45 long minutes later we emerged relieved and went to find another spot to watch the fireworks.
Crammed in amongst the throngs and enjoying the atmosphere we waited as the sun set beautifully for the first fireworks to light up the just darkening sky.
Set off from several barges along the river the display was absolutely spectacular and we were so glad we’d happened to be in New York for this special day.
Day 828 (05/07/09)
Spending the morning in the hostel watching the men’s final of Wimbledon, we eventually had to drag ourselves away, even though it was going into an exciting 4th set.
It was another gorgeous, hot day so we began our day by walking from Harlem to Central Park. We stopped off to pick up the makings of a spectacular picnic before strolling through the wooded northern section of the park along with the other Sunday New Yorkians enjoying the sunny weather.
Breaking out into open ground we stumbled upon a local, but to our uneducated eyes pretty good quality, baseball game. Settling on a grassy knoll we enjoyed our lunch whilst trying to make head-or-tail of what was going on in the game.
Finishing up a monster picnic and still none the wiser as to what the rules of baseball are we continued on our merry way winding through the park.
Making our way to the park’s edge we went to visit the
iconic Guggenheim Museum. We didn’t have time in our packed itinerary to do the gallery itself justice but just taking in the architecture both on the outside and inside makes it well worth the visit. Once we’d taken in the view we headed back to the park for more Sunday strolling.
Eventually leaving the park after a lovely relaxing day we had a quick tube ride to Grand Central Station where we had spotted a superbly located bar overlooking the stunning arrivals hall. Taking a time over a Manhattan Cocktail in one of Manhattans’ most recognisable locations we whiled away an hour chatting and watching the bustle of the station’s commuters go about their business.
Dragging ourselves away we walked the streets with our next and final destination of the day arguably New York’s most famous of buildings, the Empire State Building. We wanted to get up to the top to see the city in daylight and watch it go through sunset into night-time (one of our favourite past-times as regular readers will know). We arrived what we thought was a little early and, not wanting to be waiting at the top for too long, we browsed a
couple of the many tourist tat shops before making our way to the entrance for the viewing platform.
Even though we had pre-booked our tickets we quickly realised that we were not the only tourists who had made this plan. We queued for the first lift. And then another lift, gradually seeing the horizon turn pink through the opaque windows in the hall we were waiting in.
Eventually, having spent a little over an hour in queues, we made it to the platform to catch the tail end of a lovely sunset and see the busy night time Big Apple begin to come to life. It was a superb way to finish not only our time in New York but the trip as a whole.
Day 829 (06/07/09) and 830 (07/07/09)
With the morning still to enjoy we didn’t want to roam too far so walked just down the road in Harlem to visit the Apollo Music venue with its tributes to Michel Jackson and did a bit of shopping in preparation for the weddings we had on our return to the UK.
With plenty of time in hand we made our way to JFK
on the train and got ourselves checked in before going through to departures. Looking to finish our honeymoon with some Champagne (which seemed fitting as we had started the trip with bubbly in Heathrow airport 27 months earlier) we hit a snag when it became apparent that none of the bars in the airport stocked any Champagne or fizzy wine. We decided a G+T would hit the spot instead.
On the plane and a turbulent film fuelled night of no sleep later and we arrived back into London to a pretty overcast dreary day. Collecting our bags in a zombie jet lagged fashion we came through the arrivals gate to meet the folks not even realising that our plane had arrived at the same time as the British Lions had returned home from their tour of South Africa. Mark’s Dad was excited to see us but with the Lions emerging at the same time couldn’t decide what was better, opting for both by welcoming us back and persuading us to walk a little slower to get a photo with both us and the players in the same frame!
It was great to be home to see everyone and,
albeit a little sleepy, we were excited about what lay in store for us next.
This trip has truly been the trip of a lifetime for us as we’ve seen and experienced so many amazing things and met many incredible people along the way. We have felt so lucky to be able to live many of our dreams and to share it all with each other has brought us even closer together. It is impossible to put into words what this round-the-world mother of all honeymoons has meant to us.
So, now we are home we’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone we have met on the trip around the world, anyone who has read our utter babble on the blog (we have enjoyed writing it and we hope you have enjoyed reading it) and an especially huge thank you to family and friends who have stored our stuff, received our post and helped with a multitude of things whilst we have been out of the country. We love you all heaps and are very glad to be home!
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