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).
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.
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.
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