New York City: Enjoying a bite of the Big Apple

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October 22nd 2012
Published: October 26th 2012
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Despite arriving at our hotel in midtown after a hair curling taxi ride across Manhattan, after 10.30pm Lauren still dragged Ben out to see Times Square in all its glory! The initial streets were quiet but as Times Sq came into view so did the crowds! Amongst them, Spider-Man, Batman, Spongebob and Mickey were amongst the stars wanting to steal your money for a photo in a less than convincing outfit. Too busy for Ben we grabbed a late night bite and a frozen yoghurt treat before a retreat to bed.

Rain had correctly been predicted for Friday so our initial plan for museums meant the rest of the visitors changed their plans accordingly and joined us. Buying a city pass we made our way North after a breakfast stop at a singing waiter cafe, Ellen's Stardust Diner. Lauren had a divine milkshake some six years ago and tried to recreate this, it wasn't as good but still worth it as she munched on chocolate chip pancakes, Sheila blueberry and Ben, peanut butter and jelly French toast! It was a good thirty block walk passing the entrance to Central Park and a visit to the best designed Apple store and the Big Piano in the toy store FAO Schwarz. Lauren and Ben departed Sheila in torrential rain, at this point, for The Natural History Museum as Sheila having done this, left for an extended visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We wandered around dinosaur exhibits wandering if each bone and exhibit was genuine before seeing model animals- most we had encountered in the wild upon this trip, before learning about our heritage as apes and watching a very interesting documentary narrated by Whoopi Goldberg about our stars and the galaxy. We then joined Sheila at The Met for a view of Renaissance art, a fascinating Andy Warhol exhibit and classic British and Greek art. The rain had ceased upon our mid afternoon departure so we slowly made our way back to the hotel to rest before our evening meal.

The meal was at the city's only revolving restaurant, in Times Sq, 48 floors high. We had a lovely meal with stunning vistas of the city but the Empire State stayed invisible in fog as it had for the entire day. We sung happy birthday to Ben with a chocolate cake, despite three individual desserts- the first three course meal any of us had had in a while! We didn't hover too long afterward as sleep was needed. The walking and constant energy of the city really does take its toll.

Saturday returned us to familiar blue skies so we braved the subway, home to some unfortunate soles and made our way South to the tip of Manhattan Island to take a boat to Liberty and Ellis Islands. Before we could reach the Lady we had to endure over an hours wait as thousands of other visitors had the same plan on this fine sunny morning! We boarded after hearing a quirky NY singer and enjoyed the short journey to see Liberty soar over us. We had a great walk around the island and got obligatory shots but unable to go and climb inside due to maintenance work. We had brunch before taking the next boat to the immigrants museum at Ellis. We learnt a huge amount in the three storey museum, unaware of the tests and medicals each hopeful of entering the New World endured, sometimes kept here in limbo for weeks. We could not access the books of names as films make out! We could book a session to research but we are all fairly confident we do not have any relations that came through the island.

We returned to Manhattan and wandered around Wall Street and attempted to get tickets to view the 9/11 memorial, they had been sold out online and we arrived too late to pick up on the day admission so we saw the new World Trade Centre buildings (you can't miss it as One WTC is the tallest building in North America- the structure already built) and took the subway north to Grand Central Station, something most visitors will come and see so was quite novel to actually arrive there! We marvelled at the restored ceiling and pondered at a wandering panda (!) Ben delighted in the Apple store within the station and Lauren tried to find a deli market as Sheila got excited seeing the cafe from "Friends with Benefits". We took in more sights as we made our way back to the hotel; New York Public Library, 5th Ave, St Patricks Cathedral, Bryant Park and Broadway.

We had no dinner plans set although we were meeting a friend of Lauren's from work, here on a business trip,; which in a city of roughly 19,000 restaurants is quite a problem to find somewhere- where do you begin! We searched online and spoke to the concierge and Lauren found a place a few blocks away with a hugely varied menu suiting all our tastes that actually had availability nights saturday night! We met Sioned and enjoyed the evening meal with cocktails. We walked Sioned most of the way back before us three took in the heights of Empire State Building. It was certainly windy up there but the jazz player made it enjoyable as we hit level 86, Ben conquering his fear once again wandered outside holding Lauren's dress down as she snapped away! Stunning views uncurled before our eyes as New York dazzled in all its lights and beauty. We walked back to the hotel before Lauren and Ben walked five avenues to the harbour hoping to catch another point of view. The problem was the front apartment blocks covered the interesting buildings we wanted a landscape of- the only way to see the view we wanted was upon a boat so we went back to the hotel passing a street rat!

Sunday saw more blue skies but we still had one museum left on our city pass, The Museum of Modern Art. After a pit stop at Starbucks we spent a little over an hour in the small museum with a minimal collection of art compared to The Met. The modern art since the 1980's was interesting but also had us question exactly what art was- seeing an iron and telephone - a lot appeared to be technology captured on its own. Other interesting items was a huge collection of TVs showing constant footage of filming a man in different areas of his home over two years. We progressed back along 5th Ave taking in northern area sights of Trump Tower, Tiffany, The Plaza and their food court and Central Park.

We headed to the zoo within the park and caught the seal feeding that involved many a trick from seals jumping up and catching balls and frisbee! Sioned joined us as we wandered around the rest of the park, especially impressive was the red pandas and the tropical indoor area featuring tropical birds and monkeys. After this we wandered more around the park seeing the ice rink (although not open yet) and scenes from the film "Limitless". We headed to Rockefeller Centre, heading to the 70th floor for unrestricted 360 degree views of the island and beyond seeing to New Jersey and the other boroughs of NYC. More obligatory shots before heading down to the plaza watching professional ice skaters practice their shimmies and twists! Lauren and Ben dropped Sheila off after amazing milk shakes to walk Sioned back and figure out where we were getting the train the next morning. We went to Madison Square Gardens and saw the Empire State as the sun set and the huge Macy's. Back at the hotel we were all pretty pooped so we decided to grab a dominos pizza before getting an early night.

Monday, and the 5am alarm sounded too early as we wearily packed and left for Penn Station, the street still busy at this time! We boarded our train for a nine hour journey North to Niagara Falls, Canada. The journey was very easy, with huge reclining chairs complete with foot rests. The autumn was on full colourful display passing amazing forests with a kaleidoscope of colours. We had snacks aboard and we all caught a bit of shut eye ahead of visiting a new place.

Things of note:

The streets are never quiet so prepare to people dodge.

Restaurants tend to be a bit quieter around 8pm as shows start in the Broadway area.

You can get many last minute tickets off streets for most shows.

Be prepared to see every type of dressed up person but don't have photos with them if you don't want to part with cash!

The city pass was a great purchase, to use all six attractions you save almost 50%.

What would do differently:

Obviously we would love Mike to have still been with us. There are still a few things we haven't seen, you could easily spend a whole day in Central Park to really see everything which we didn't do, also there is a free return ferry to Staten Island that would be a good trip.

Thefts: 0

Near Misses: 1 a truck was pulled up as we crossed the road and a bus roared passed nearly running us over!

Fallouts: 0

Additional photos below
Photos: 23, Displayed: 23


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