DAY ONE (of five)
After passing through immigration at Dublin airport (meaning no queues at JFK) and a nice flight across the Atlantic, we landed on American soil and went to collect our luggage at the carousel. Unfortunately it had broken down though, and it was almost an hour from leaving our plane to us being reunited again with our belongings. We immediately jumped into a yellow cab outside Terminal 2 (no waiting) and off we went for the final part of our trip to NYC. Our taxi driver was an indian guy who was pleasant and chatty, although we noticed he added the tolls to our fare eventhough he didnt go over a toll bridge (he used the Queensborough). We didnt mind as it was just $5 and we tipped him well anyway, but how many more have fallen for that scam lol? Anyway as we approached the megacity of NY (the first time for my GF) it was as wonderful as ever at seeing it rise into view. We sat in the back of the cab, heads swinging from side to side, trying to take it all in. And smiling like cheshire cats. That journey in by taxi is long though as the traffic is pretty appalling. It took us a further hour to arrive at our hotel on 7th Ave - The Wellington. I wish we had taken the airtrain + subway.
I wont go into huge detail on the hotel as Ive already posted a review on its TA page, but in a nutshell it was small, quite noisy, and sleep was a little hard to come by there. Its central location probably sells it to most, but as someone who loves the ease of the subway and has stayed at various locations in Manhattan (up and down) next time we will choose differently. It was cheapy cheap though. So after a quick enough check in, and bags unceremoniously dumped into our room, we headed straight out again to the big, bright, lights of Gotham City. Woohaa!
First things first, we popped down into the caverns of the underground and grabbed ourselves two 7 day unlimited Metrocards. These things are as essential to a tourist in NYC as a cup of hot joe to a New Yorker.
I really couldnt imagine what getting around must be like without them/the subway. $29 well spent then, and ready for our assault on the city.
We had prebooked tickets for around sunset at The Top of the Rock and with just 45mins to go we headed in the direction of there. Along the way we marvelled at the still remaining xmas decorations and lights. It was Jan 3rd but everything still seemed to be in place as before the holiday. On reaching the Rockefeller center we were taken aback by the huge crowds all jostling for a good photograph of the wonderful tree, skaters, and big wooden soldiers. You really would have thought xmas still hadnt arrived. We got our own snaps and went around to get to the entrance for the elevator up nearly 70 floors to the top. Our tickets got us in immediately with no queuing and after enjoying the in-elevator light show we arrived at the top with that icy blast of wind as the doors opened.
The view is stunning. What more can I say. It was my GFs first time there as I said and she was blown away (erm, well not literally lol). The Sun was just at setting point and I couldnt imagine a better way to start our trip. It was quite crowded (and cold) but I think everyone wanted to see the lights of the city get turned on as the day faded. An amazing brilliant orange sky reflected on one side of The Empire State Building and it was impossible not to take a great photo of it all. People swopped cameras around asking each other if they would take their pictures and even though the air around us was icy cold a warm feeling pervaded the scene as everyone was just so happy to be there. We watched the last piece of the liquidized Sun disappear and the little lights in the rooms of the cities workers and residents pop on one by one among NYCs skyscrapers. A wonderful moment. Cold freezing our bones now we returned inside for the warmth of the journey back down to street level. The Rockefeller tree looked even more amazing now that daylight was gone.
We scurried around getting the best angles to grab some more pictures and then noticed the countdown to Saks huge xmas light show nearly done. The crowd began counting down 10, 9, 8, 7.... 1.. And it started. It was marvellous. All the stores windows opening (virtually), skaters, a big monster, snowflakes, and big xmas boxes. Two full minutes of xmassyness. And all of this within 2hrs of us getting to our hotel. We left then to walk down 5th Ave (as you do). Checking out all the glitz and glamour. Finally crossing over to head for Times Square. We could see the white glow in the distance and knew we were going in the right direction. On arrival we stood like full blown tourists checking out the neon overkill that is TS after dark. More camera clicking ensued, and that was it done. We headed towards Bryant Park for part 3 of our arrival, and it was really beautiful I have to say.
Bryant Park has a huge ice rink installed for the holiday season, theres also a very nice restaurant there overlooking it all, a little merry go round, and holiday shops. These were a bit quiet as it was now Jan but they still added a nice atmosphere to the place. The ice rink was very busy, and everyone was really enjoying themselves on there. The huge buildings towering above the park lit up the sky giving it an amazing backdrop. The whole place was truly stunning. Click click click of more pix. Is it possible to take a boring picture in NYC? Im not sure it is.
We left Bryant and took a few pictures of the library and walked south towards Herald Sq. It had been a long day up to this point but we still had the thought of trying to see more and more and not waste a minute. On reaching the glow of Macys we popped inside to have a quick look. Much of their xmas stock was on sale for very cheap. We got a little jack in the box reduced from $25 to just 6. And a few other bits n bobs. Tiredness was setting in now and the cold was truly biting hard (this first night was actually the coldest of the whole trip). So we jumped onto the train back up towards TS (just one stop really) and hunted down an Irish bar just off the square. Unfortunately I cant remember the name of the bar now but inside was pretty packed. We managed to grab two bar stools and squeeze in however for some needed warmth and refreshment. The bar staff were really nice and when we asked about local beers they happily produced little sample glasses so we could try before we would buy. My GF quite liked the Brooklyn Lager and settled for that, but my favourite of the local stuff they sold was the seasonal Sam Adams Winter Lager (which actually was more like an ale to me). Wherever this bar was though they had a great selection of European beers on draught like Leffe (I love this beer), Duvel, Chimay, and many others. Of course these things dont come cheap and it was something like $16 for two pints, but hey, we needed a rest, warm, and boozy buzz so we were happy to pay it. We left after a few and walked back to our hotel (buzzz, our faces strangely a little redder now but not ftom the cold lol) and went straight up to our room to get some sleep after a very long day travelling etc. Roll on the morning then to see big old Noo Yawk with rested eyes...
Day Two soon :-)