In preparation for my fourth trip to NY with my sister-in-law, I once again stalked this forum and got so many helpful hints and ideas. It seems only fair, then, to write a trip report in case any of the information is useful to other travellers.
I will post each day as a reply as sometimes I get a little longwinded!
Background - we are two forty-somethings who enjoy theatre, good food, cocktails and shopping. We try not to repeat too much from past visits and so get to know NY a bit better each time we visit.
DAY 1 - Thurs 4th July
Our day started early with a flight at 8.30 am from London. We arrived at JFK and were quickly through immigration. I had booked a car with Dial 7 (excellent service both ways - prompt, efficient & clean car) so we were quickly underway and within just 1 hour of landing, we arrived at our hotel - 70 Park Avenue. We picked this hotel for the location and because i am a Kimpton in-touch member. The hotel was perfect for us - 2 double beds, free wi-fi (if you're an in-touch member) and very clean. It is not the most up-to-date in terms of furnishings etc but it was clean and convenient and the staff were excellent. The hotel issued us with complimentary vouchers for breakfast each day, which was a great perk, and a $30 voucher for the mini-bar (which bought us a half bottle of white wine!!) There is also a complimentary wine reception each evening from 5-6 but we only made that once. We were only 3 blocks from grand central so that was where we caught the subway from each day.
When we arrived, our room was ready (hurray!). We got unpacked and rested for an hour and then set out to explore. we quickly discovered that the heat was brutal (and would be for our entire stay), so we had to keep popping into shops to cool down. We wandered over to Hell's Kitchen, to a restaurant that we have visited before El Centro. It is a really fun, popular Mexican restaurant that has the best margheritas ever! After two of those each and plenty of food, we were fully restored and ready to carry on. We made our way back to the hotel to drop off packages and from there over to the Empire State building as we had tickets to watch the fireworks. We had never actually been up the Empire State building before so were looking forward to that. There were only 300 tickets issued for the fireworks viewing so it wasn't too busy but the queuing was dreadful. I think we queued 4 or 5 times at various points and the last queue - to get to the observation deck- didn't move for at least 25 minutes and with no information as to why ( I still don't know!) Everyone was getting a little frustrated with this but eventually, around 9pm, we started moving. We had a good vantage point to see the barges on the river and it was really interesting to see all the cruise boats lined up as near as they could get to the barges. It was amazing to be able to see all four barges and the lower fireworks as well as the higher ones and to hear the accompanying soundtrack. It was, however, strange not hearing the noise of the fireworks and to be above them but, all in all, we enjoyed the experience. After the fireworks were over, we had a quick walk round the rest of the observation deck but 23 hours on the go was taking its toll and so we walked the few blocks back to the hotel and fell into bed.
Day 2 to follow.........