Wednesday, 29 April 2015

New York part 2!

Saturday 4th April

We walked onto 8th Avenue to catch the Hop on Hop off bus down to Soho where we were heading for the Vans shop (present purchase for Dominique's friend Mia). First we had breakfast! 

And watched them make pizzas!!

We hopped on the bus downtown to Soho. Hopped off and got just couldn't find the Vans shop....for ages! After eventually seeking help (and warmth - it was windy and chilly) in a very friendly store we were pointed in the right direction and eventually found it and made a succesful purchase!!!

We then decided to walk downtown to Ground Zero. The last time i was in NYC the visitor's centre was under construction and the area was fenced in. Now One World Trade Centre is completed the Ground Zero's waterfalls are accessible from the street. It is not an easy place to visit and the names of all those who died are engraved around the waterfalls where the footprints of the twin towers were. A sad place. 

We decided to walk to Battery Park and catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. The queue was huge and I mean we kind of found ourselves accidently (!!!!!) in the VIP queue with a load of English school kids and their teachers...and a 2 hour wait became 10  minutes!!!! Big tip - if you plan to go to the Statue of Liberty go early!!!!!

The ferry trip gives you a great view of the NY skyline and Lady Liberty. We decided not to visit Ellis Island but go straight to the Statue. The weather was windy but sunny and we spent an enjoyable hour or so wandering around taking selfies!! Then we ate cheesy chips. As you do. (Note - this was the last time we ate cheesy chips - there is only so much of that orange plastic stuff called 'cheese' in America one can take.... It was becoming a cheesy chip too far!)


We then made our way back to the ferry and before we knew it were back in Battery Park. We hopped on a bus and made our way back uptown.

Dominique had decided that she wanted to go up the Top of the Rock on her birthday the next day so we got off at the Rockafellar centre stop to get tickets for the next evening.

The ice rink was still going!
Before heading back to the Hotel Dominique bought the world's biggest gherkin!!!!

Next to her phone for scale!!!!

After a shower and a rest at the Hotel (read here...a few hours of American TV!) we went to Ruby Tuesdays for our evening meal for Dominique's birthday. It was packed so we had to wait by the bar for a while and people watch!! The food was delicious - prawn starter, steak main and cheesecake pudding!! Yummmmmmy

Sunday 5th April - Dominique turns 19 

After a great breakfast at our favourite cafe oliviero we jumped on the tour around Central Park again! Today's weather was a lot better than last time we tried this!

Central Park

We decided to have a walk around the park before heading to 5th Avenue for the Easter Day parade and jumped off the bus outside the Guggenheim.

And a lovely Sunday morning stroll through Central Park with a visit to Strawberry Fields.

We then hit 5th Avenue where the annual Easter Day parade was in full flow. Loved some of the outfits but my favourites had to be the dogs!!

Just brilliant!

By this time we were peckish so decided to head down to Grand Central Terminal (built in 1913 and on E 42nd Str and Vanderbilt Ave) - not only is it absolutely beautful but there is a food hall underneath! 

The ceiling of the main concourse has a beautiful celestial mural painted on it - excuse my rubbish picture. 

After filling up on hotdog/burger/chips and milkshakes we headed back to the hotel for a rest! 

We had tickets for the Rockafellar Centre Top of the Rock for 6.45 and as it was only a short walk from the hotel headed there just before - the aim was to get sunset picture of NYC. You have to go through security before being herded into the lifts. Some Swiss tourists had left rather a fancy army knife in their rucksak which they were extremely upset to have confiscated. I couldn't quite believe their stupidity.

The lift is fast but the lights and effects happening around you take your mind off it if you are a little bit claustraphobic like me!

The views are amazing of downtown Manhatten and of Central Park and of course of the Empire State building!

Trying to get all that in on a selfie was interesting!!!!

After staying at the top until the sun had set we headed down to earth and had a wander around the Rockafellar Centre itself which had a lovely display of flowers to celebrate Easter.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Our trip to New York (with Washington DC as a bonus!) Part 1!!


Who: me and my daughter (her 19th birthday present!)

When: Thursday 2nd April - Wednesday 8th April

Where: NYC and a day in Washington DC. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Times Square for 5 nights.

Flights: Delta from Heathrow Terminal 3 to JFK (in the borough of Queens) and back with Virgin Atlantic JFK to Heathrow. Both excellent though Virgin get a massive shout out for amazing leg room and entertainment!

Sights seen: you name it we saw it!!!!!

Travel agent: Heather from Trailfinders (best travel agents around in my opinion!)

Excursions/Transport: hop-on/hop- off bus booked through Viator and tickets to the Top of the Rock and the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, day trip to Washington DC and the Sex and the City Tour of NYC - all booked through Viator

Transfers from airport and back- once arrived and after passport and baggage claim go through into the airport where you can book a shared shuttle bus to your hotel. Highly recommended cost $50 including the obligatory tip. Waited about 20 mins then shared a minibus with some French/Dutch and Belgian tourists into NYC. On the way back I ordered a taxi from the hotel a few days before. This was more expensive at $93 but was worth it for peace of mind getting to the airport during a busy rush hour!!! Plus the driver was excellent pointing out places of interest in Queens on the way!

Weather: cool (10 degrees) to warm (21 degrees)with some rain on the Friday morning. Typical for the first week of April apparently (though i will confess the 21 degrees was in Washington!!!)


The 72 hour hop on hop off bus came with a complimentary night tour so our plan was to get the tickets, go on the tour then find somewhere to eat!

Big tip here!!! Don't just assume you know where Madame Tussauds is from your previous visit.....Anyhoo....If you have bought tickets off Viator for the bus you need to swop your bit of paper for your after a quick shower and change of clothes we exited the hotel into the noise, crowds and general busy mahem of Times Square!!! And wow how amazing is the place!!! Your senses are bombarded with sights, noises, smells and.....leaflets being shoved at you outside the many theatres on Broadway.

So Madame Tussauds! Its on 42nd Street so from Times Square walk south on Broadway or 7th Avenue and you will see Madame Tussauds on your right. There is a desk at the entrance and you can swop your paper for tickets there!

We decided to get onto the next night tour which left at 6.45 at the corner of 42nd/7th. 

Crossing Brooklyn Bridge

Skyline with big pole in the middle of the photo?!?

I have to say we thoroughly enjoyed the tour though there was a moment whilst crossing on the Brooklyn Bridge when we both thought we may freeze to death!!! Soooo if its not 30 degrees plus i suggest you take a cardigan/fleece/hotwater bottle!!

The tour ended by driving through Times was dark...all the billboards were flashing...there was at least a million people milling around and horns blowing etc etc...the atmosphere is unlike anywhere on earth!!

Times Square!! 

After the night tour we decided to get some food...what we didn't know at that point was there was an amazing pizza take away/eat in across the road from the hotel or that 8th Avenue has loads of places to get food.... So we went to TGI Fridays..which was ....shall we say...interesting!!!! Mainly due to a few staff running around like headless chickens! Nevertheless the burger, sweet potato fries and large Coke hit the spot so we retired to our hotel full, knackered and looking forward to exploring more the next day!


This was the weather forecast!!!!😱😱😱😱
So what to do?!?!
First of all we decided to head out and find somewhere for breakfast. We headed north towards Central Park on 7th Avenue and that's where we found Cafe Oliviero!!

I cannot recommend this place higly enough for breakfast and we ate here 3 mornings....check out those pancakes!!! I cannot describe the deliciousness that is a breakfast of fresh pancakes, bacon and breakfast syrup!!
Oh yummmmmmm
Dominique enjoying her breakfast!!
Place your order and wait while your pancakes are cooked for you!!
After this hearty breakfast we decided to walk up to Central Park and catch one of the hop-on hop-off bus tours. The rain at this point was holding off so we decided to do the tour around Central Park taking in Upper West side, Mornington Heights Harlem, East Harlem and the Upper East Side. So after half an hour on the open top bus...yes...the heavens opened....So we sat there with our raincoats on and the plastic coats provided by the tour guide and saw nothing!!!! Eventually by the time we arrived outside the Guggenheim Museum the rain had stopped and we had had enough! The sun came out and off we hopped!

We decided to walk down 5th Avenue and hit the shops! After a good hour in Hollister where Dominique tried on most of the clothes then an hour or two in a shop selling trainers (hundreds of trainers)we headed back to the hotel for a rest!!

We decided that that night would be perfect to have a take-away and watch some US TV.

As we had discovered on our travels that day 8th Avenue has a lot of great places to eat so off we went! Shake Shack was the destination! With hot dogs, burgers, cheesy chips and milk shakes (we LOVE milk shakes) on offer it was a must! We had to queue outside it is that popular...but check out the milkshake menu!!!! Peanut butter milk shake like yessssss!

This is what we ordered and took back to the hotel for a chill out evening!
And how yummy it was!!!

In my next blog entry I will be detailing our adventures on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th April! Highlights include the Statue of Liberty, a trek around Soho looking for the Vans shop, and a lovely birthday meal with Dominique at Ruby Tuesdays!!