I did say I wasn’t too sure what my blog would be about but as I love and am lucky enough to travel a fair bit I thought I would throw in a few pages about places I have traveled to, and maybe inspire you to go visit.
I won’t make this like a travel guide suggesting sights to see etc. There are enough of those out there for you if you need that. Just a general chat about what happened, what I enjoyed, and maybe some highlights and low lights. I also enjoy photography so will drop in a few photo’s. New York is very photographic!
Well I have just arrived back from New York, my first visit there.I traveled with 3 other women all around my age (mid fifties) and we did it on a budget. We got an amazing deal back in the spring £550.00 including flights. It did mean all four of us sharing a room, it was a bit like our teenager sleepovers revisited. The only difference was when we went to bed we went to sleep, shattered!
We stayed at the Marriott East Side which we found to be very central. It had everything we needed for our short stay. One tip here, we were recommended to use the deli that was directly opposite the hotel for breakfast. We came across many of these delicatessents all over New York, they are buffet style with pretty much anything you could want to eat, fantastic fresh fruit, fried sausages bacon etc, pancakes, pastries and muffins. All sold by weight. A range of Coffee’s, English tea ‘YES’ and so much more all reasonably priced.
We flew with United Airways. Not a lot to say about them really. Just average. They seemed to have slightly older stewardesses than normal who seemed a bit grumpy. I had a really miserable Steward on the way out. The lady in the next seat to me asked if it would be possible to have a cup of coffee, he replied with “I will be back, as I can’t be expected to remember everything”. Fair enough. He later returned with the coffee so I then asked for tea for myself, Well apparently I should have asked earlier shouldn’t I?, but I thought he couldn’t remember! It was resolved by me volunteering to get my own tea, OK it gave me an excuse to stretch my legs and I guess he must have been a bit stressed with other difficult passengers……which is what he made me feel!
The only other point I would make is we flew back from Newark airport. United have their own terminal at the airport. It seemed most of the food and drink could only be purchased with United airways air-miles. So definitely worth signing up for these, something we hadn’t done. There were a few places that you could actually pay for food and drinks, but only one till which was self-service. And you really don’t need to be there 3 hours before, it’s very quiet and quick to get through all the security checks.
I think I will mention the low lights first as there are so few of them
- Sore feet. Be warned you WILL walk miles. Make sure you have thick soles and flat shoes/boots. One lady in our group had gone for fashion boots, although they were flat they had thin soles and she suffered the agonies of blisters.
- Expensive – due to the poor exchange rate we did find it expensive. But of course it is a city so its to be expected
- Heights! If you have a fear of heights like me, be prepared to overcome them or miss out. We met a few people who had not been up the Towers due to their fear.Honestly, just grab someone in the lifts, I had one particular friend who was my comfort blanket in all the lifts. Thank you Sharon. She got me to the top and once there I was fine. I even did this!
- Catching flu on the flight back – Of course it’s not normal but I have heard of it happening several times and 2 of us were unlucky enough to succumb to it, and New York flu is pretty dire! Very little you can do about it other than not scoff at the passengers wearing face masks. Note to self for next long haul flight.
So now onto some of the highlights.
- The Twin Towers memorial. To actually see the two places where the towers once stood which now have the fountains with the names of everyone lost on that terrible day is very moving. We didn’t go into the actual museum as we had been told it was too harrowing.
- But we did go up the One World Trade Center. It’s the tallest building in The Western Hemisphere. Thanks girls, great way to overcome my fear of heights. But I must say outstanding views. The elevator taking you up had graphics as though you were outside the building. I’m afraid I can’t tell you how good they were as my eyes were tight shut and buried in Sharon’s coat.
- That was a gentle introduction. The Next Tower was the Empire State, hey this will be easy! That was until we got to the top and went outside. The wind was blowing so hard I thought I was going to be blown away. We queued for a long time for this one, I would suggest getting there early.
- Last but not least was the Rock or Rockefeller Plaza. Another sky scraper. The elevator has a glass roof so you can watch your ascent up the building not that I saw it!!!. I actually enjoyed this one more as you were nearer the other buildings and you got a fabulous view of Central Park. But again there was more queuing.
- We also walked the Brooklyn bridge. Be prepared it is a long walk. But something you just have to do. There is a water taxi on the other side which we caught. It took us out to the statue of Liberty to take photos, we even saw a whale! Before dropping us back on the other side where free buses were waiting to take us to a variety of points in the city.
- We did have very nice cocktails with spectacular views one evening in the revolving restaurant called The View at the top of the Marriott Marquis Hotel. We could have chosen to have a buffet meal which did look very good but was a little expensive so just opted for the cocktails which were exceptionally good.
- Then there is Central Park with its famous ice rink. Don’t be fooled, its a big big Park, more walking! but well worth a visit even if it just to see the rock on which the city is built.Lovely colours in the trees at this time of year You can also pay quite a hefty sum to have a horse and carriage ride through the park. Nice if you are feeling romantic I guess. There is also a zoo in the Park, it didn’t look that big but as we didn’t visit I can’t comment.
- And of course there is Times Square. So very American and fascinating. Not a lot to say about it really just an amazing place to people and Neon watch. I think my photo’s will say more.
- There is the usual open top bus ride. Something I do usually enjoy but we found the second route took us nearly 3 hours. It was supposed to take us through the Bronx but we all seemed to miss it with nothing particularly interesting on route, oh we did see the Hudson river where the pilot crash landed. It was dark when we arrived back and we spent a lot of time just sat in traffic. To be fair this could have been due to the fact it was Thanksgiving. The shorter route was more interesting, showing us where John Lennon was shot and the dock and buildings built for the ill-fated Titanic. The good thing was we were sat down!
- We were lucky enough to be there for Thanksgiving so joined the crowds to watch the Parade. I have to say I felt no more threatened than I would have done in a big Parade in London. We were vigilant but it didn’t stop us enjoying it. And the Parade is something special.
- As for eating, there are so many places, just look for somewhere when you are hungry. But one place I would recommend is Ellen’s Stardust Diner. You will need to queue and the food is OK but not spectacular but the singing from the waitress and waiters will make you feel like you have gone to a Broadway show. Brilliant.
- Grand Central station. We had this on our itinerary to visit at some point but actually stumbled across it one night. What a fantastic building, truly beautiful, with a very nice cocktail bar. Definitely worth a visit.
- I think the last thing to mention is don’t be worried about using the underground, we found they were really helpful when we were buying our tickets and it’s pretty much like the London Underground just much cheaper 🙂
My lasting thoughts of New York are eating New York cheesecake when sat next to Batman, Ironman and spiderman, those never-ending honking horns of the yellow taxi’s, the cold cold wind that whips along the avenues, those magnificent sky scrapers and just the madness of the place.
There is so much more to explore and hopefully one day I will get the chance to go back and do just that.