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Surprise trip report 17-20 Sept

North Wales, United...
9 posts
1 review
Surprise trip report 17-20 Sept

I booked a few days in New York as a surprise for my husband's 40th birthday. We left the UK on Monday 17th Sept which was his actual birthday, and up until the Friday he thought we were going to Scotland so he only had the weekend to let it sink in! I got so much advice from reading trip reports, especially as due to the surprise I couldn't ask or discuss anything with my husband! So I thought I'd write my own and hopefully it will provide some ideas for others!

We stayed at the Washington Square Hotel in Greenwich Village, arriving around 3pm on Monday. Such a great hotel in a fantastic location next to Washington Square Park. I felt pretty rubbish when we arrived (I'd been ill over the weekend and was still pretty drained) so I had a nap while my husband went out to explore the neighbourhood, finding a pub that did cask ales. It was his birthday after all! He returned to the hotel later with warm sandwiches and cookies from a shop he'd found, and by Tuesday I was fit and ready to go!


Enjoyed a great breakfast at the hotel which is included in the room rate. Gorgeous blueberry Greek yoghurt, granola, cinnamon bagels and orange juice. There was a small breakfast area just off the lobby but we went downstairs to the hotel restaurant which was much nicer and still included (North Square Restaurant).

We set off walking down Broadway on a warm but drizzly day and got down to the financial district. We spent some time at the 9/11 Memorial which we both found incredibly emotional. Especially the flowers that were placed on individual names on their birthdays. It was important to us to go and show our respects but we didn't stay too long. To be honest I found the smiling people taking selfies a little uncomfortable but maybe that's just me.

After leaving we went past the charging bull. Lots of people crowded round for photos. Hardly anyone by the fearless girl though! Almost as many getting photos at the back end of the bull as the front, mostly of them kneeled down grabbing a testicle!

From there we walked to Battery Park where we had a great view of the Statue of Liberty, before walking towards Brooklyn Bridge, stopping to buy an umbrella on the way as the rain was getting heavier but it was too warm for jackets! Made it to the bridge and walked over just as an awesome thunder storm hit! Quite an experience walking the bridge in that!!

Over in Brooklyn we explored DUMBO for a while before stopping for pizza at Juliana's. Amazing pizza, which we ate outside the front of the restaurant in the storm with rain dripping off the canopy above us.

Our plan was to walk back over the bridge but as it was still raining heavily we got the subway back to the hotel. Although the trains were air conditioned the stations were incredibly hot, like stepping into an oven! Although convenient we decided to try and walk as much as possible to avoid that heat again.

Had a bit of a rest when we got back to the hotel while my husband went back out to spend some birthday money in a Converse shop he had seen earlier in the day. Then freshened up to go out for his treat meal at Keen's Chophouse. Wow - this place was amazing. They squeeze a lot of people in so you're very close to the people on the next table, but there was a fantastic atmosphere and the steak was out of this world. Pretty expensive - we only had one course, a sirloin each, shared two sides (fries and mushrooms) and my husband had two beers and I had water, and the bill came to $175 before tip. Worth it for a special treat though.

We left the restaurant before 10pm so wandered over to Times Square which was absolutely buzzing with street entertainers, lights and music. Just amazing.

Walked for around 40 minutes back to our hotel and fell into bed exhausted but happy!

More to follow!

16 replies to this topic
Level Contributor
9,462 posts
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1. Re: Surprise trip report 17-20 Sept

Great start!

United States
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for Puerto Vallarta
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2. Re: Surprise trip report 17-20 Sept

Ohhhh that sounds like a great start. So fun to surprise him! I like Keens too. Can’t wait for the next installment.

Any Beach
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for Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, West Virginia
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3. Re: Surprise trip report 17-20 Sept

Love this! Looking forward to more!

North Wales, United...
9 posts
1 review
4. Re: Surprise trip report 17-20 Sept

Wednesday -

Enjoyed another great breakfast in the hotel before heading out and walking up 5th Avenue from Washington Square Park right up the the Rockefeller Centre. Bit of a speed walk in the end as we had booked a time to go to the Top of the Rock, but we made it on time. We were able to go right past the queue as we had booked online the previous night, and headed straight up. The left took us up to the 67th floor in 40 seconds. It was amazing, and if you look up there a lights and a film playing in the glass ceiling of the lift. We then walked up to the very top viewing area for a fantastic view of Central Park in one direction and the Empire State Building and the rest of Manhattan in the other direction. Incredible! Lots of photos taken at the top. Unfortunately a lady became unwell at the top but the staff seemed to be taking care of her well and discreetly. It was a hot day so that may have had something to do with it. It did remind us to buy some bottles of water when we got down to ground level!

From there we walked to Juniors and bought two cheesecake slices which we took to eat in Central Park. Just yum!!

Had a wander around Central Park for a while before heading over to Hudson Yards which is a new development of buildings, and the start of the High Line. We loved the High Line, although it was very busy as it was such a beautiful day, and we did seem to be in the minority headline downtown as most people were walking the opposite direction to us. It was great to be off street level, not having to cross the road every couple of minutes! We came off the High Line at Chelsea Market and popped in there. Loved loved loved it there! Sat down for a crepe (nutella and banana for me, brie and apple for the husband), and then found that because of all the walking we struggled to stand back up again! Nevertheless we made the walk back to the hotel at Washington Square Park, ready for a rest! Didn't fancy going far for dinner so we headed to a local sports bar, Amity Hall. Food wasn't anything special but was just what we needed after such a long day, and there was a great atmosphere. Mind you I was so exhausted we weren't there long before we staggered back to the hotel on very weary legs!

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
166 posts
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5. Re: Surprise trip report 17-20 Sept

Sounds like a great trip, thank you for sharing.

> To be honest I found the smiling people taking selfies a little uncomfortable but maybe that's just me.

It's not just you, and it's not just the 9/11 Memorial where this happens, unfortunately.

North Wales, United...
9 posts
1 review
6. Re: Surprise trip report 17-20 Sept

Thursday -

Our last day in New York! We checked out of the hotel in the morning and stored our bags, and decided to take it easy and not do another mammoth walk. We spent some time wandering around Greenwich Village which we loved. The hotel is right by NYU and it was great to see all the students around. We ended up at the Friends apartment quite by accident but decided to stop for some photos anyway! Then we walked over to the Hudson to walk up to The Whitney along the river. Such a great walk and felt very relaxed after the previous couple of days.

The queue was long at The Whitney and we decided that we weren't too fussed about it so we looked around the gallery shop instead. Then walked over to Gansevoort Market which I actually preferred to Chelsea Market. It was smaller, but very cool. Had scrambled egg on toast with avocado from the Avocado Man which was delicious, and bought some amazing blueberry and white chocolate cheesecake cookies which were still warm. We took these with us and headed back to the Hudson where we stopped to eat them while watching the boats.

Decided to wander back through Greenwich Village and got a bit lost, doing a full circle back to where we started despite using a paper map and 2 phones! Bit embarrassing for my husband who is a cartographer so makes maps for a living!

Finally made it back to Washington Square Park where we sat and read a book for an hour or so before heading back to the hotel to collect our bags and head to JFK.

We had such a fabulous time. Thank you NYC for being so welcoming, exciting and awesome! If I could give any tips I'd say wear super comfy shoes, stock up on bottles of water when you can especially if its hot weather (I always had 2 in my handbag!) Ignore bad weather if you're able to - just get out and enjoy it! And although it's good to have a plan so you don't miss things you want to do, it's also good to be flexible and see where the day takes you. We knew that on one day we wanted to head down from the hotel and on another day we wanted so head up, and we did have an idea of the things we wanted to see, but we were also happy to just see where the day took us, see how we felt etc.

We loved every minute. Thanks to all those who are part of this forum - reading your posts over the last year has kept me excited when I couldn't talk about the trip so as not to ruin the surprise for my husband!

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for New York City
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7. Re: Surprise trip report 17-20 Sept

Great report, I loved the " just wandering" factor at some points.

I agree with you and Ali about this: "To be honest I found the smiling people taking selfies a little uncomfortable but maybe that's just me." I've taken a lot of friends to the Memorial. When I was there in June with one friend, she reflexively took out her phone for a selfie and I stopped her. She paused and said "you're absolutely right." She was surprised at herself. People have become so used to taking a selfie everywhere that they lose the experience. We have to be aware of our behaviors, especially in places like that.

Norwich, United...
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for Disneyland Paris
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8. Re: Surprise trip report 17-20 Sept

Wow! Such an incredible surprise for your husband, how on Earth did you manage to keep it a secret for so long? well done for that lol.

Enjoyed reading this, absolutely loved the fact your husband got lost despite being a cartographer!

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for New York City
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9. Re: Surprise trip report 17-20 Sept

Thank you so much for reporting. Was it your first time to NYC ?

Level Contributor
6,724 posts
219 reviews
10. Re: Surprise trip report 17-20 Sept

I loved your fabulous, easy, breezy approach to your trip. I need to take a page from your book! Haha

This summer we were in Dachua and saw the 'selfie' takers. We are guilty of taking selfies too, but not in such sober places, where respect and quiet reflection is more important then documentaiton of the trip. I like to think it's just something people do without thinking.

Thank you for your wonderful trip report. Tell your Mr. happy belated birthday!

Edited: 24 September 2018, 22:46
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