29 August 2016
Monday and it’s off to New York today, fortunately it’s a later flight so we were able to sleep in a bit and relax at the Hotel, went down to reception and checked out after breakfast and awaited the prearranged shuttle to the airport.
Shuttle arrived about 10.30 as scheduled and we headed off to the airport picking some other travelers on the way and stopping for gas. It took about half an hour to get to Orlando airport.
About 30 minutes to get through security and then we got on the cool monorail to the gate.
We had some lunch at the Airport in the food hall, very busy place but plenty of seats.
We arrived at New York Airport, it was a bit grubby compared to the airports we had seen so far and where we had to wait for the shuttle was crowded with all sorts of weird looking people. I felt a bit nervous for our bags and kept a close watch on them. No sophisticated system here like we had seen at Orlando it all looked a bit chaotic.
Eventually the shuttle turned up, I think, we waited about an hour for the damn thing, but at last we were on our way to the hotel, it wasn’t long into the journey we got our first glimpse of the New York skyline that was an experience to savoir.
We came through the Lincoln Tunnel and when we got to the other side bang there we are in NYC.
Checked into the Skyline our home for the next few days, the hotel was exactly as I expected it to be.
We took a walk a little up 10th Ave past the 123 Burger shot then turned around and headed back down it found Sal’s Pizza looked good so we went there.
Grabbed a Pizza to go, the sizes were a bit different to ours in NZ and when I ordered the large the guy was like “are you sure” he was cool and pointed out that it would have been way to much for one person. Felt pretty cool to be in a local Pizza joint ordering and watching the locals of New York come and go.
We took the Pizza back to the hotel and settled in for the remainder of the night. The Pizza was pretty good.
30 August 2016
Today’s adventures starts with a boat cruise around Manhattan Island we made our way down to the Hudson River walking through the long New York streets. The area by the cruise boats was quite nice there was a cool little takeaway bar with seats looking out over the river, perfect place to sit and have breakfast while we waited for our boat to depart.
This was also our first view of the aircraft carrier Intrepid.
Matt went to look for a Sim card for his phone while I sat and enjoyed the view. Boarding commenced so I sent Matt a text and when he got back we got on the boat.
The weather was quite nice but could feel it getting hotter and hotter as the day got older.
The views from the boat of the city and the various bridges was outstanding, as we headed away from the main part of the city and rounded the bottom part of the island it struck me that there were a lot more areas of green than I had expected, looking over the river at one point it was like being in the country, unexpected for New York.
Though soon enough the view was back to skyscrapers. Great views of some iconic buildings like Chrysler Building, Empire State, UN Building and so on as we cruised around and a great view as we passed under Brooklyn Bridge, it reaffirmed my desire to walk over it.
One of the sights that I couldn’t capture on the photos was the canyon like view as we passed streets and you could look right down the length of them with giant buildings all the way down, it was almost surreal how straight the streets were, these views came and went quickly as the boat passed by row after row of buildings.
The commentary on the boat was informative just wish I could remember more of it, but one of the things that did stick out was when we passed the cliffs which were featured in the Basketball Diaries, as well as the apartment building that was built so that all apartments had a corner balcony it was an odd looking thing.
The cruise ended back at the same spot we embarked and next to our next stop the USS Intrepid.
We had 2 tours booked on the intrepid one for the Concorde and one for the Space Shuttle, we waited for our lanyards and I got a refund as I had apparently purchased a ticket I didn’t need, really good customer service by the people on the counter, I am finding the level of service in the US great.
The Intrepid is amazing the airplanes were a bit crappy looking as they has painted over the cockpits but other than that what a fantastic place.
31 August 2016
A big walking day today we do the 9 hour walking tour of New York. We left the hotel around 8.30 and walked down to Times Square, where the meeting point for the tour is. What a crazy place loads of people milling around mostly tourists and there was some Asian celebrity being filmed, no idea who and no one seemed to take any notice. I sat up on the stairs and watched the crazies till we found our tour guide.
The New York Times building in Times Square is completely empty and covered in billboards which earn its owners millions a year in advertising revenue. Only occupant of the building is a pharmacy on the ground floor.
Once the group has all arrived we do the introductions and head off on the walking tour, the guide walks a bit camp.
We walk to Saint Patrick’s cathedral, what a magnificent building the workmanship that has gone into it is just incredible.
Next is the Rockefeller Building which is almost just across the road, here we go up the elevator to the observation decks, the guys who do the security are
really funny and help entertain the crowd as we go through, giving every group that goes through some laughs. These guys clearly love their jobs as they are so genuinely having fun.
Great views of the city up here took loads of photos views of Central Park, Empire State and in the distance One World Trade and Statue of Liberty.
We then walked back past St Pats and made our way to Grand Central Station. On the way we go through this really cool building which has a road running through it. Grand Central is as busy as I expected and it’s a really big open space. They have a food hall downstairs and I found a great hotdog place, had my first actually tasty Chili Cheese Dog, so good I went back for seconds.
One of the things that I liked was the little unassuming doors that went off to various tracks, they still had little cabinets where letters and numbers would have been kept for posting arrival and departure times. Sitting at a table for lunch there were these little doors either side of us, and you really would not have guessed they lead to entire
rail platforms each. We went and had a look at one and it was like stepping into a huge cavern through a regular door.
We caught our first NYC subway from Grand Central to Downtown. It was good to have the guide to show us the ropes but it is a pretty simple system really. Amazingly hot down in the subway stations, it was nice to get on board the air-conditioned train.
Off the subway we head over to look at Trinity Church, a quaint old building in the middle of downtown Manhattan.
From Trinity we walked over to the NY Stock Exchange and we went in and had a look at Federal Hall. This is an historic building which people used to bring commodities to and the marble floor has a groove in it from the sheer weight of people carrying in goods over
many years. Federal Hall has a slab of the balcony on which Washington stood when he was inaugurated president.
The slab is cracked as a result of the collapse of the WTC during 9/11. The shock wave was so intense it caused the slab to fall despite this building being half a mile from ground zero. It has been left unrepaired as a monument to the day.
We passed a pub which served as a headquarters for George Washington, a venue for peace negotiations with the British
Next it’s a short walk to the Stanton Island Ferry this thing is huge so many seats on it quite amazing, looking at the crowd when we lined up I thought no way are we going to make it on board for this trip yet everyone got in no trouble and there were loads of seats free. The ferry took us out to New Jersey and we basically got off and straight back on again for the return journey. It was mostly locals on board going to and from work or their daily business. The Ferry is free.
When we got off the ferry in Lower Manhattan we walked to the 9/11 memorial, we stopped along the way to look at the famous charging bull, interesting it’s not near Wall Street but on a traffic island some of the group posed with it under is balls which is quite a common thing to do.
The 9/11 memorial is pretty cool but the most memorable thing for me was the Homeland security officers, they look very bad ass. One nice touch we learned about was a white rose is placed on the plaque containing the name of those killed when it’s their birthday.
We walked back to the subway station and hopped aboard and headed for Soho. Soho is a trendy area of New York where there are loads of artsy types but the best part is the cast iron buildings, which make it quite a unique part of town. It’s full of trendy shops and boutiques.
There was a young Russian guy on the tour who was pretty interesting he lived in Canada, had lived in New Zealand and worked in IT, he was travelling the US, very young to have so much travel under his belt already.
From Soho we walked a short distance to Little Italy and a stop to buy some food from the original Italian pasta shop in the area, I got some cheese balls from Piemonte Ravioli and some Gelato from Ferrara.
After munching out on Cheese balls and ice-cream, we walked to Chinatown and the infamous Nom Wah tea parlour. We walked thought e streets of Chinatown and I was almost sick to my stomach at the gross smell of the place, absolutely stunk of rotten food and it was so dirty cluttered and filthy I just could not wait to get out of there.
Nom Wah is infamous and famous, its fame comes from being one of the oldest dim Sum places in the US it started out in 1920, the infamous part comes from the supposed secret tunnels under the street and the murders that occurred here, more people have died violently at this spot than anywhere else in the US.
We then went across the road to Columbus Park where we said goodbye to our tour guide and fellow tourists.
We caught the subway from Canal street back uptown we got a little off track and ended up walking form Lexington and 3rd the wrong direction to the far side of the island, to FDR drive the complete opposite direction to our hotel, fortunately is was only a few blocks.
To get back to the hotel we walked almost the entire length of 47th Street crossing back near Times Square which worked out well as we got to see it in the evening with all the lights on and it was even more spectacular than it had been in the morning.
We met Doris the tour director and were a little bit worried that most of the people meeting her looked pretty ancient.
After the formalities of meeting with Doris were over we called into the 123 Shot Burger bar, I got asked for ID at the bar which made my night, policy apparently lol. We had some of the little mini burgers and the cheap beers and shot, what a bloody great place to end a fantastic day in New York. $1 Burgers, $2 Shots and $3 beers I love this place.
Today we were supposed to go on a bus tour with the tour group but as most of the places we were going to see had been covered in the walking tour we decided to have a free day for us to just explore the city at our leisure today, couple of things on my agenda Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge.
Up in the morning had some breakfast and went to the local shops to grab some bits and pieces, interesting experience trying to find shampoo at the local shops, some local New Yorker hanging around outside the grocery store helped out it was hard case as he and the store owner joked back and forward finally go that I needed thanks to the guys help.
Off to the subway station grabbed a couple of new tickets and headed out we caught the subway to Brooklyn and then wandered from the station into downtown Brooklyn. Stopped to get our bearings and look for somewhere to eat, we found an Applebee’s nearby so walked down to find that. Applebee’s turns out to be the American version of Cobb and Co, they has tablets on the tables to order from, but we didn’t use them as we couldn’t find the mains. This was the first time we figured out that Entrée is the main in the USA and starters are the Entrée.
Meal was not bad good value but nothing spectacular, filled a whole.
There was a shopping district nearby so we wandered down that street looking at the shops.
The Gap had an outlet store and I have to admit they had some pretty good deals, I ended up buying a pair of trousers (which I was later informed were Chino’s arrrrgh) and a really cool white button up shirt, Matt purchased the exact same shirt as well. I was pretty chuffed with my purchase and the fact Matt also brought the same shirt affirmed it must be pretty cool ;).
So Shopping out of our systems we were off in search of Brooklyn Bridge. On the way to the bridge we found Brooklyn Heights Promenade which had some great views back over to Manhattan Island enjoyed walking around here as it gave a different perspective of the city, also Brooklyn or at least this part of it is really nice nothing like I imagined.
Eventually we found the entrance to the bridge, it’s quite a ways back from the actual bridge, the bridge itself is really old an engineering marvel of its age, very grand in its design.
So buzzy to be walking across Brooklyn Bridge we got about a third of the way across and it began to piss down with rain, nowhere to shelter so we go absolutely socked, still it was a warm day so it didn’t matter to much, added to the adventure.
We headed for the subway soaking wet and thankfully it was super-hot down there, so we dried off a little waiting for the train, actually more effective than the people dryers at Orlando.
After changing out of our wet gear we headed back out to go to Central Park. We walked to central park from the hotel and entered at Columbus Circle which looked a lot like a roundabout in London.
The park is really lovely with miles of open spaces and walkways and lakes also as you enter the park there are lots of guys offering rides on bikes or guided tours of the park.
I wanted to see umpire rock so we navigated to it using Google Maps and found it pretty easily. Took some tourist photos and climbed up on the shiest rocks & took a photo for a couple of tourists.
We caught the subway back from a different part of the park then grabbed some dinner from Uncle Mario’s Pizza and headed back to the hotel to pack tomorrow the cross country trip begins.
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