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3 Brummies in the Big Apple - A trip report.

Birmingham, United...
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3 Brummies in the Big Apple - A trip report.

On a New York high, having just returned. Thought I would write all this before I forget!

Firstly thank you to everyone for all the advice. I didn't post much but I did a lot of searches on this forum to help with the itinerary. Apologies in advance, I am a former backpacker, so I always put prices in where possible to help people budget should they read this!

This trip was part of a longer trip to the USA and Canada, but we flew into NYC as it was quicker and cheaper, so we book ended our holiday with 3 nights at the start and 2 nights at the end. It was me, my mum and my aunt (early 30s to early 60s).

The Journey

We flew from Birmingham to JFK with Aer Lingus via Shannon. I admit I was a bit nervous, as usually when flying from Brum we change in one of the larger hubs (Paris or Amsterdam) safe in the knowledge that should we miss our connections due to delay there are later flights to New York that we could get on. This wasn't the case with Shannon as there was just one flight. It was the cheapest route for us (£700 per person return) so we went for it.

Anyhow, it worked out fine as the flight was on time. Do note though, if you are thinking of flying this route and are a nervous traveller, the plane from Birmingham to Shannon is a tiny 20 seater plane (the type with propellers, where you can feel the wheels drop and everything!). You might want to go via Dublin as that is a full sized plane.

We got to Shannon at 10.45, and as we entered the terminal building a man was asking if we were transferring to the USA. He kept all of us that were to the side and then lead us upstairs to go through United States pre-clearance. There was a bit of a queue as there were around 3 flights leaving all at the same time, I think it took about 25 minutes from start to finish. We basically just had time to go through pre clearance, go to the loo and buy a bottle of water and then it was time to board our flight to JFK.

The flight itself didn't get off to a great start. It wasn't actually an Aer Lingus plane it was 'air contractors'. When we booked the tickets it was on the basis of it being an A330 air bus, but the actual plane in the end was a 747. For us, that meant that even though we checked in 24 hours before hand, we didn't get given our allocated seats and we were split up accross the plane ( I was in row 5, my mother in row 14, my aunt in row 28)We weren't the only ones it was chaos to start with people trying to do swapsies all of the place. This happened to us again on the flight home. Equally several people found that their inflight entertainment wasn't working and there was no alternative. The guy in front of me was not happy!

All that aside, I would fly Aer Lingus again for short hops to NYC/Boston/East Coast as the preclearence in Shannon was excellent. We landed in JFK at 2.10 and were stood at the luggage carrousel within 15 minutes.

We got the air train to Jamaica station and got the LiRR into Penn station. It seemed a lot quicker than getting the subway, though it took longer to get organised with the tickets. ($12.50 per person). After a stop to get 7 day metro cards, we got the 2 train up to w 96th street and to our hotel.

The hotel.

We have stayed at the Days hotel on w 96th street several times, but I think this might be the last. I love the location, it's 10 mins to Times Square on the express train ( I lived in London for 10 years, so the idea of staying in midtown, akin to Leicester square/Piccadilly Circus does not appeal, I'd rather get the train to the party than sleep in it) it has restaurants close by and is near the park, its a very walkable area.

We aren't fussy travellers, as long as the bed linen is clean, the bathroom is clean and the room is quiet at night, we aren't too fussed about the rest. The place has its quirks, (lifts are very very long time coming, corridors like a rabbit warren) but even this time it seemed to try our patience. Though at $150 a night for a triple room, you can't complain about the price. I think if you can get one of the refurbished rooms (minus the holes in the ceiling and lose wiring) then you are on to a winner. These are on the 11th and 12th floors, but its russion roulette in getting one of these.

First night.

Having dumped our bags and freshened up, we caught the subway down 1 stop to 72nd street. We wanted some food but nothing too heavy, so we grabbed a grays papaya 'recession special' of 2 hotdogs and a drink for $4.95. I really liked the selection of fresh fruit juices, I had the piña colada.

My friend knowing that I am a chocoholic recommended the Levain Bakery on 74th street, so we popped up there to get 2 cookies at $4 each. I had double chocolate and my mum had milk chocolate and walnut and they were quite frankly the tastiest cookies I've ever had. My waist line would be in trouble if these excited at home!

We took them across to Central Park to eat, and sat at Strawberry Fields, while a young lad massacred a Beatles song or two. We meandered down through the park, past the baseball diamond which I had never noticed before. Coming out opposite trump plaza, and Park Avenue. We went down 6th ave to find the ':ove' statue and dutifully lined up to take some photos. By this point it was midnight in the Uk and we had been awake since 5am so we headed back to the hotel to relax and get ready for a day of sight seeing.

Edited: 08 August 2014, 18:59
Los Angeles, CA
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1. Re: 3 Brummies in the Big Apple - A trip report.

Great detail so far - keep 'em up!

Birmingham, United...
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2. Re: 3 Brummies in the Big Apple - A trip report.

Day 1

We woke up early due to the time difference and we were on our way to breakfast by 7.30. The Manhattan Diner is opposite w 96 the station and their breakfast specials ( eggs, bacon, home frites, toast, juice, coffee) are $7 a person, it's not gourmet but it's fresh and filling and sets you up for the day, and service is good.

We got the subway to grand central station at 8.45 and I think we caught the tail end of rush hour. It doesn't bother me as thanks to years of catching the 8.08 to London bridge I can barge my way on the train with the best of them, elbows out and city stride on, but again, if crowded subways amd standing in someones arm pitt aren't your thing, give it till after 9.15.

At grand central we had a look around the market and attempted to make the whispering wall whisper, but it didn't quite work, perhaps we were doing it wrong. We have visited the main concourse several times, but this time I had a panoramic camera so I tried to get a photo of it all, plus there are new little details I notice each time.

After that we walked the length of 42nd street west to 11th avenue to see the Tom Otnes statue in the Silver towers park, and also to visit Gotham West Market. I was a little disappointed in Gotham market, I knew it was a foodie place, but I thought there might have been a bit more to it, perhaps A few more stalls or shops, a bit more like Chelsea Market or Reading Terminal market. Any how we stopped for a drink to cool down and use the free wifi.

We then headed south on foot and walked down the highline, through Chelsea and into the west village. My aunt wanted to find the pub where the welsh writer Dylan Thomas used to drink. We found it, ( looked a bit tacky from the outside tbh) and stopped for a pint.

Back out into the blazing sun, we strolled down bleecker street, before deciding to give our legs a rest and jump on the subway. Enroute to the Christopher sq station we stumbled across the Big Gay Ice cream parlour, where 3 salty pimps were had ( vanilla ice cream, salted caramel, hot fudge sauce -yum!). Very nice indeed($5 - per person for a cone).

We got on the 1 train and headed down to chambers street and got off the subway. We walked a coulple of blocks east to the Nelson A. Rockefeller park. The purpose was to see all the Tom Otnes statues, which were really cute. It was a really nice park, with a lovely promenade looking out over the water and view of New Jersey skyline, and lots of leafy green spots for when it got too hot.

We came out out of the park at the Irish hunger memorial ( we didn't know what it was originally, we were wondering why there appeared to a tumbledown field complete with ye olde stone walling in the middle of the city!).

From there we headed to the world trade centre memorial. Between the 3 of us we have been to NYC several times since 2001 ( not including the rather hair raising visit my mum made in 1976 when the city wasn't quite as safe as it is today). So we have seen ground zero in several different stages from when they were clearing the rubble, through to laying the foundations, and now to it all being open. It was nice to see the end of its journey so to speak. We didn't go to the museum, we went to the 9/11 tribute centre ( the small place, near the fire station) a few years ago, and I cried the whole way round, so didn't really feel up to going to the museum..

Walking up past the tribute centre, we were stopped on the corner by some people flogging what looked like unofficial picture books, with the pictures of the towers on fire, before they collapsed. I thought this was a bit bad form, as I very very clearly remember those images (I was in the unusual position of being home that particular day, and watched horrified as the whole thing was broadcast in realtime live on BBC 1 and I will never NOT be able to forget those images) so it put me in a bit of a bad mood to be accosted by someone throwing a book in my face and wanting to charge me $10 for it.

To cheer ourselves up, we decided to stick our heads into Century 21. At 4pm in the afternoon. It was madness! Of all our trips to New York, we had never been in here. It was like TK Max combined with the after math of the Next Boxing Day Sale. Insanity! We quite fancied looking at the handbags, but you couldn't get within 2 feet of them, for women just throwing them in their baskets. We resolved to return on a later date when it was a bit quieter.

Tired, we poodled down Wall St for a bit, and then headed back to the hotel. Having foregone lunch for ice cream, we wanted something decent for dinner. We turned left out of our hotel, walked about 50 metres and found a Peruvian restaurant called Pio Pio on the corner of W 94th and Amssterdam. No guninea pig on the menu, but plenty of sea food and chicken. I had the shrimp and my mum and aunt had the salmon. It was excellent. Mains meals ran at about $16 to $20 a dish. We were piggy and had starters too, which were around "$5 to 10$) each.

Absolutely stuffed, we waddled back to the hotel, and got ready for day 2.

Flushing, New York
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3. Re: 3 Brummies in the Big Apple - A trip report.

The trick with the whispering hall outside the Oyster Bar at Grand Central is to face the wall at diagonal corners. The place can be fairly noisy and perhaps it was hard to hear.

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4. Re: 3 Brummies in the Big Apple - A trip report.

Lovin' your report!! We are off in October. We live in Brum too, but are flying from Heathrow, those flights a bit too expensive for us!! Please write some more about your trip!! Thanks.

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5. Re: 3 Brummies in the Big Apple - A trip report.

I'm loving your details. You are funny! :)

The Mr and I visited London this summer and were DEAD on our feet when we arrived, so I'm impressed with all you managed to do your first day!

If our in flight entertainment had not worked I think we'd been a bit disappointed too. What a long boring flight it would have been.

Looking forward to more! :)

Edited: 08 August 2014, 22:16
Sydney, Australia
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6. Re: 3 Brummies in the Big Apple - A trip report.

Thanks for reporting, shame you were disappointed with Gotham West Market though.

Melbourne, Australia
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7. Re: 3 Brummies in the Big Apple - A trip report.

Thanks for putting down your thoughts in such detail. Love TRs like this.

Hervey Bay...
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8. Re: 3 Brummies in the Big Apple - A trip report.

Yay! A new and very detailed TR. These are my absolute favourites. I hope you keep going in such great detail.

Very excited to read that you made it Silver Towers playground, it's a fantastic place.

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9. Re: 3 Brummies in the Big Apple - A trip report.

Oh M Gee!

I just looked at your name!!

Hi TravelingmOuse! I remember you from the London forum! :)

Can't wait for the next installment! :)

Tralee, Ireland
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10. Re: 3 Brummies in the Big Apple - A trip report.

Looking forward to reading more!