Hi, thanks to everyone for their advice, and patience, prior to our first trip to NYC. Here is a rather jumbled report on our trip. Where there seems to be very little going on it is because we like to take the time to amble, explore, people watch and enjoy - a coffee here, a cocktail there. We werent on a mission to see/do/experience everything the city has to offer. We had a wonderful time and now need a holiday to recover.
30th June: cleared customs at Dublin so very quickly out of JFK airport and into taxi, Manhattan bound. Arrived at our hotel about 7.30 pm, a quick freshen up and out to explore. Walked round to Bryant Park where we just sat and relaxed for a while. Bought some Japanese pancakes and lemonade from a vendor before heading up to Times Square. Wow! times Squaure really assaults the senses first time you see it - busy, busy, busy, colourful, loud and fun. Back to the hotel for a drink on the roof terrace (Hotel Metro roof terrace looks straight onto the Empire State Building) and then bed.
Tuesday, 1st July: up and out very early. Walked up to Central Patk. En-route and return saw St Patrick's Cathedral (currently under scaffold), Chrysler Building, 5th Avenue (shopping doesn't do it for me so I didn't) and generally wandered about soaking it all in. Had arranged to meet a friend of a friend who comes from Brooklyn in Sushi Time on 2nd Avenue East 44th St - they do a great bento box and was taken round to Grand Central Teminal where we were given a tour of the building, given some history, and taken behind the big windows. A real treat. A quick freshen up at hotel and then walked around the Hells Kitchen area and on to Mercato on W39th St for a lovely Italian meal, would definately recommend this small restaurant. Finished off the day in O'Reilly's bar on our street. This became our local.
Wednesday: Walked from our Hotel to the start of the Highline down to Greenwich Village. I liked the general feel of the Village. Had a wonderful lunch at Essen - a sort of self-service cafeteria where you fill your tub from a vast array of food and pay by weight. Almost anything was on offer here, food was cheap, well cooked and tasty. 24 dollars for 2 huge tubs of food and soft drinks. We walked from there down to the Staten Island Ferry for our Statue of Liberty pics. Taxi back to hotel to get ready for our evening show Pippin. Tried to get a pizza at Johns Pizza Place prior to the show but queue was too long so we settled for a bog standard pizza elsewhere. Loved the show, witty, fun, and a spectacle. Would go to see it again.
Thursday: pre-booked Free Tours by Foot walking tour of Soho, Little Italy and China Town. Wonderful. Our guide Catherine was informative, knowledgeable, friendly and efficient. We learned so much about the area and the history and it gave us a general feel for the place. Adter the tour we spent the rest of the day enjoying the area. Had pastries in Ferraras in Little Italy and dumplings in Chinatown. We enjoyed this tour so much we booked another one for Harlem later in the week. Walked up by the Hudson River, stopping at a riverside cafe and the Frying Pan (an old renovated boat now bar on the Hudson) for a beer/cocktail. In the evening we went to BB Kings on Times Square and watched a Doors tribute band. Great music, average food but a great night.
Friday: walked down to the East Village and Lower East Side. Loved the character of these neighbourhoods. Loved the buildings, especially the Flat Iron Building we passed. Went into McSorleys Alehouse, the oldest Irish pub and continuous-running pub in NYC (i am happy to be corrected if wrong). A very interesting pub which sells only light and dark ale in one size glass. We then went onto Katz Deli for the biggest sandwiches I have ever seen, busy place but fun to sit in, before setting off to walk to the hotel. Guess what! I rode the subway! We heard music coming from one in Canal Street. When we peeped in to look it was quiet (being a holiday weekend) and only one flight down. I bit the bullet and done it - no mean feat for me. Didnt enjoy it but an obstacle overcome nevertheless and felt proud. A few cocktails in the vicinity of our hotel before crashing into bed.
Saturday: Free Tours by Foot in Harlem. I really cant recommend these tours enough. Had another wonderful experience from a great guide (Altovisa) who was fun and informative. Oh the history we learned from these tours! Only downside was I was a tad delicate to begin with - a cocktail too many the night before methinks! I liked Harlem - liked the vibe and the slow pace. We had lunch at Sylvias where I had the tastiest chicken ever. Bought a load of pressies in Harlem, fun bags and hats for our daughters. At night we took the taxi from hotel to McDougall Street for cocktails and onto Cafe Wha. What a great, fun night we had here. Music was brilliant and the place was rocking with folk of all ages.
Sunday: water taxi round to Brooklyn. We enjoy the sea and thought this would be a nice way to see NYC from the water. A lovely trip. Got some great photos. Got off the boat at DUMBO, walked round to the Smorgasbord where we ate and ate. Walked back over the Brookly Bridge and then walked to the financial district to the Wall St bull. Had some craft ale in Fraunces Tavern (the oldest though not continuous running pub) before popping next door to the Dead Pig Grog and Grocery store to sample some more ale. Beautiful, interesting old pubs, just the way we like them. Night time we had booked Keens Steakhouse. The best meal I have had in a long time. The steak was to die for.
Monday: last day. Hang around fairly locally. Met New York friend again at Johns Pizza Place (not overwhelmed with Pizza). Up to Central Park where we had the buggy ride. Our guide was great - young, funny, and seemed to know where every New York celebrity lived. Had a good knowledge of the patk and its history and had some funny stories to tell. Well worth evey penny. I did note that not every buggy guide seemd to be as good, as some seemed to not speak to their customers at all. Went to see Newsies in the evening - last minute decision. Good show but enjoyed Pippin more.
Tuesday: entered a shop. Maces. It had to be done. Flight home.
It was very, very, hot during our entire trip - in the late 90's a lot of the time. We walked a lot and ate a lot. Drank quite a lot. Highlights of our trip were the walking tours, Pippin, Cafe Wha. Areas we enjoyed most was Harlem and East Village. What to wear? Anything, and I mean anything, goes. l have most definately gained a good few pounds with all the great food! Overall? Very very tiring but worth it.