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A Post Xmas Trip Report

Ireland
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A Post Xmas Trip Report

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 :-)

Melbourne, Australia
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21. Re: A Post Xmas Trip Report

Fabulous Trip Report...loving it...

The story about the creation of Brooklyn Bridge is fascinating,,,did you see the plaque dedicated to Emily Warren Roebling on the bridge? She was the daughter in law of the original designer of the bridge, and the wife of that man's son (an engineer and also involved in the construction of the bridge).

The first died during the construction and the latter was incapacitated by getting the 'bends' after diving during the construction to check the pilings. She stepped in to help her (very) unwell husband get the bridge finished (another 11 years).

There's an episode of a show called Megatructures about the creation of the bridge...good watching.

I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of your TR.

Edited: 23 January 2013, 20:19
Ireland
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22. Re: A Post Xmas Trip Report

Fascinating stuff Jenny thanks. I must track that episode down online and check it out. I did see the plaque on there.

Melbourne, Australia
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23. Re: A Post Xmas Trip Report

I hope it was Megastructures...I can't imagine what else it was!!!

What I love is that she had taken on a very 'unfeminine' field of study (for the time), then was so instrumental in having the bridge completed AND then was acknowledged for it in such a wonderful way...

Edited: 23 January 2013, 23:13
Netherlands
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24. Re: A Post Xmas Trip Report

if you do find that episode online, let us know, I'd love to watch it, too

As for the Brooklyn indoor market, I found out too late! I have since only visited in summertime ... again this year (although I'm secretly hoping to save enough money for another trip in autumn ^_^)

I wonder if you can enter that building in the summer anyway?

Melbourne, Australia
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25. Re: A Post Xmas Trip Report

What a great write up of your trip. Very much enjoying the read.

Netherlands
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26. Re: A Post Xmas Trip Report

1channel.ch/watch-2721511-National-Geographi…

I think this may be the one .... I may create an account this weekend and watch it ^_^

Leeds
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27. Re: A Post Xmas Trip Report

i was only looking at that hotel last night ,great read x

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28. Re: A Post Xmas Trip Report

Could you tell me where and how you ore booked your tickets for the Rockefeller centre ??

nireland
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29. Re: A Post Xmas Trip Report

Hey,

Really loving your report, your writing is excellent and is making me can't wait for my visit to NYC in March. We are travelling from Belfast and staying in the Wellington also, so I am reading your report with great interest as it is our first trip to New York. I have already added Cosmic Diner to my list of food places to visit.

Keep it coming..........

Linda

Ireland
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30. Re: A Post Xmas Trip Report

Thanx Lindylou! :-)

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Ashmcdn, you can prebook the Rockefeller easily on their website and print your tickets at home from your PC to take with you. Choose any time that suits and you will be guaranteed access at that time ;-)

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DAY FOUR

Dawn breaks at Fawlty Towers and after a shower (the showers at the Wellington certainly wake you up, its like being hit by a police watercannon) we head out the door once again to grab the days belly fuel at the Cosmic. Ok, so I guess we lose points for not being very adventurous with our breakfast location choices. Same place every morning? Cmon! But it all came down to it being a 5min walk away and the fact that it was pretty good. The only thing we noticed was that on weekends you dont get free orange juice and there were no specials on the menu (things were a little more expensive then) but really if youre staying around this area I would recommend you give them a try (mon-fri) and see what you think.

After wiping the crumbs and butter from our faces we headed out to the (quite cold) street and headed for The Discovery Center at Times Sq. The day Id been dreading had come...

As part of my GFs xmas present I had bought her surprise tickets for the Harry Potter exhibition at the Discovery. Now I love my movies (probably even a bit of an expert on cinema. Wanna discuss Italian horror movies of the 1970s? Im your man lol) but there are some Ive basically decided arent for me (file all rom-coms in that box) and this includes Harry Potter. Not one HP movie have I seen, not one book have I read, not one character do I know, so this was gonna be real interesting like. My better half however was jumping about like a child whos just been told theyre going to Disneyland. We arrived at the doors before the place even opened and apart from one old woman in her 60s waiting there (I wondered if she was part of the show) we stood freezing our (crystal) b*lls off in the icy cold NY street.

I was then bestowed with the task of photographing my GF underneath the big banner advertising the show outside. By now some more people had turned up and I cringed thinking how I must look like some superfan of all things Harry. Bubble bubble toil and trouble. Grrr. Yeah yeah, just call me Grumble-dore (did you see what I did there?) The doors eventually opened and a few Harry maniacs rushed in front of us to get in first. This must be what it was like when people went to see the Beatles I thought. I was happy to let it slide however as I didnt think it would look good fighting with 9yr olds. Once inside we had our tickets checked and were ushered into a darkened room.

The tickets for the show with audio handsets cost just over $80 for two. And I suppose even with not being a fan I expected a little value for money. Inside the first room some small poster sized screens lit up and scenes from the various films appeared (to get us all in the mood). We were then told to move to the next room and gather round where a girl in some kind of gown appeared asking for volunteers to sit on a small stage and profess their house or school or something like that (bear with me Im a HP noob people). One woman put her hand up and she was brought up on stage and a crown (or something) was put on her head while she declared her Harryness. A voice then filled the room re-itterating her choice of school and the process was then repeated for some more volunteers (turns out the old woman I mentioned earlier also got involved. I think she must have been Harrys oldest fan. Either that or it was a 9yr old kid who'd been struck by some awful ageing spell). After this, we were set free to explore the exhibition.

Now it would be impossible for me to tell you what the things were in the display. Robes, skulls, old books, etc. None of it meant anything to me. My GF give me a running commentary on each item however (bless her) which it took me a while to realize as I thought for a minute she'd learned to speak Klingon, based on the strange words coming out of her mouth. But alas it was all over very quickly. And therein lies the problem with the Harry Potter exhibition. You can literally walk through the displays in ten minutes. A wonderful godsend for me but a bit disappointing for everyone else. It really didnt seem to be worth the money we (I?) paid. Unfortunately my partner agreed and as we exited via the gift shop (where else?) we got back our bags and camera (no you cant take any photos in there) and Harry was over. Hmm..."Hurry" Potter more like. Anyway for you fans out there Im sure youll enjoy seeing the few items from the films etc but just dont expect to be in there very long. Me? I counted my blessings hee hee.

So off now to Washington Sq and Greenwich village. As ever our Metrocards were fished from pockets as we swiped our way through the subway turnstyles to get the train. At the end of our holiday the score stood at 2-2 for both of our mis-swipes going in. A fair enough score for the many uses we got from the cards, but I got bonus points because my GF swiped her card going through the big full sized kind of turnstyle and pushed it wrongly - effectively locking herself out and being unable to use her card to swipe again. She had to go to the machine and buy a one journey card to get in lol. Gave me a laugh (evil grin).

After the short walk to Washington Sq we started snapping with our cameras again and a guy had set up a full size piano and was playing very professional versions of many classics. As with all week the sun continued to shine and it was really nice down there. We tried to work out where the house was in I Am Legend (with Will Smith) but eventually concluded that it must have been Holywood FX as no house (with steps up to the door) actually faces the arch. Curses. Foiled again.

Afterwards we left and strolled the general area of Greenwich. Its kinda hard to know where it actually starts and ends however. Theres a lovely little street near the arch which looks very European with old Spanish style windows etc. And after walking a while we stopped for some well earned coffee. Its been quoted as quite expensive down here but some of the menus on the various eateries didnt actually look too bad.

I also grabbed some melatonin from a drugstore down there (we cant buy it at home) to help with my sleeping woes zzzzz.

Greenwich area finished then, we walked back towards Union Sq and the day drifted off into a haze of shopping and strolling from place to place grabbing a big salty bread pretzel or two and the odd coffee.

We ended up back around Herald Sq once more and visited the many floored Manhattan Mall. It didnt seem to be just as good as I had remembered it, but it was ok to kill a half an hour. Laden down with bags (and sore feet) we descended the steps once more into the train caverns and got treated to a 3 man Mexican band (with big hats) singing in our carriage on the way back to the hotel. We gave them a few dollars and it reminded me of Breaking Bad (the TV show - the GREATEST TV show ever in fact) for some reason. I wondered at the time if they still have the New York Underground performance season in the subway? I remember it being really excellent when I saw it some years ago. A brilliant idea to entertain and thrill folks while down below using the trains. Some of these people really deserved a break into show business they were that good. Truly, anyone deciding not to use the subway while in NYC is missing so much and really (IMO) hasnt seen the city properly. Safe, efficient, sometimes exciting, and always cheaper than a cab its just great. Sure its dirty, and in need of a bit of paint, but it does its job well. Thats really all that matters.

Having gotten back to our room we were done for the day. Boots off, and two pieces of NY strawberry cheesecake in hand, brought in from Fluffys next door, we inspected our purchases and were happy with our haul. One more full day left.

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We only had one more day left in New York City.

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ONE MORE DAY LEFT!

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Waaaaaa! Boo hoo hoo!

Day Five soon...