New York New York

We’d often looked at the offers we get sent for this amazing destination and thought abut visiting, but for one reason or another, be that kids, animals or just time, we’d never managed to fit it in, but when we had an offer pop up for this February back in October, we snapped it up and made arrangements!

The flights with JetBlue, an airline we’d not used before personally, but had always received good feed back from clients, so we headed down to Gatwick the night before, parked the car and settled in for some sleep.

At this point, let me wander, we have an EV as our primary vehicle and it was going to need some charging to make the return journey back to North Cambridgeshire. We chose to use the APH Park & Ride that is situated just outside of the main terminal area, we arrived, parked up and handed our keys to the lady behind the desk before waiting a few minute for the bus to the terminal to arrive. We selected the 60kwh charge option (you can choose to have 30kwh or 60kwh) and a short while later the car app notified us that charging had started, by the next morning the car was fully charged and parked up for the duration of our trip, ready and waiting, fully charged for us to collect.

So back to New York! The flight took off on time and to give them their due, the flight crew was very friendly and the service on board was as good as we’ve received on any flight. The seats are comfortable, and with the extra leg room option selected, we were able to sprawl out and enjoy the flight.

We landed and made our way directly to the Taxi rank where we picked up a direct cab to our hotel. The taxi’s have a fixed fee’s from the airport to Manhattan that is advertised at $77, but be aware, this doesn’t include toll charges, our total bill was around $100 plus a tip. During the course of our stay we made good use of the Yellow Cabs and the Uber app, which worked out far better value typically.

Upon arrival around 3pm we did what anyone does, ignored the bags and headed out for a walk around the area, finding a nice restaurant and just generally relaxing into the New York vibe.

We stayed at the New Yorker, an art deco hotel located on the corner of 34th Street and 8th Avenue, it’s a good central location, only a short walk from pretty much everything, but not right on top of Times Square and the additional noise that generates.

Day one:
Our first full day saw us up and out fairly early and enjoy breakfast at Andrews Diner, a very popular diner situated just a couple of blocks away, it goes without saying that the portions were enormous and that the coffee was free flowing!

After that we spent the day at various attraction points that we’d highlighted prior to arrival, Carlos Bakery, the New York Times building, Times Square etc starting with a visit to the Empire State Building and a ride to the top to experience the view that has captured so many people over the year. From there we headed to Grand Central Station for the obligatory pictures before heading up to the Rockefeller building and then onto Central Park where we enjoyed a guided ride around in a horse and carriage. By this time the day was getting on and we decided to take a walk back to the hotel before heading off to find somewhere to eat for the evening. If you’re looking for something typically New York Broadway then I’d recommend the Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway where the staff, the ‘stardusters’ routinely break into song and performance to encourage tips to help them on their way to finding fame in a show.

Empire State Building Central Park 3 Empire State Building

Day Two:
Day two started, again, at Andrews, before hopping in a taxi and heading down to the pier to pick up our cruise to go and do the most touristy of tourist things, go and see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island! The cruise took around an hour and the captain spun the boat a full 360 so it didn’t matter where you were sat, you were able to get a good look at Lady Liberty and grab that all important ‘I’ve been to New York’ photo!

Getting back to dry land we made our way to the Brooklyn Bridge (of course) but rather than just grab a few pictures, we decided to walk right the way across and then continue onward to Brooklyn itself. Why the long walk, to be honest, one reason and one reason only, Biggie! The Notorious B.I.G, Christopher Wallace. Being of a certain age and having listened to his music for years, we decided we wanted to see the murals that have been painted in tribute and see the road sign that has been rebranded in his honour. It was a long walk, a very long walk, but you know, whilst here, might as well.

Notorious B.I.G

Back to the right side of the bridge we headed to Ground Zero, what an amazingly emotional and reflective place to visit. Words cannot describe the feelings felt at this location as you look around and see the foot prints of the town towers and the quiet reflection taking place by the many visitors. Just a few steps from here is the One World Tower, also known as Freedom Tower, and at the top of this is the One World Observatory, if you do one thing when visiting New York, visit this for the amazing views alone.

Ground Zero

No trip to New York can be complete without a night time visit to Times Square, known the world over for its bright advertising boards, it really is a spectacle, and so, being good tourists, we got back from the WTC centre site, grabbed some food and headed out to experience it ourselves.

Day Three:
After walking far, far too many miles in the previous two days, we decided to cheat a bit and hopped a cab to Battery Park to start our day. We wandered back though the financial district, Tribeca, China Town (Chinese food in a box anyone?) and Little Italy taking in the changing architecture, City Hall Park and the views. As a child of the mid 70’s who’s first cinema visit was to watch Ghost Busters, there was an obvious detour to the Ghost Busters building that can be found on the corner of Varvick Street. Deciding it was time to head back to mid town, we took a leisurely stroll up through SOHO towards Washington Square Park and onto the world famous 5th Avenue passing the Flatiron building as we went towards Madison Square Park and onwards back to our hotel to get ready to meet up with some friends we’d learnt were also in New York for a few days.

Statue Of Liberty China Town One World Observatory View China Town

Tonights dinner choice was an amazing Italian restaurant near Times Square, now it must be said, that NY has some great restaurants, for a Chinese head for China Town, for Italian head for Little Italy, Korean? sure, head to West 32nd st., but for a great range in a small area, head to Hells Kitchen, not central Manhattan, but for the purpose of this evenings dining, Tony’s DiNapoli was to be the chosen location, and it didn’t disappoint. As a point of note, don’t order one item per person, the portions are HUGE and easily fed two very hungry people with spare!

Our final day was a more education day as we headed to the American Museum of Natural History (Night in the museum anyone), we only had a few hours due to the requirement to get checked out and to the airport to come home, and in hindsight, we should have allowed a full day to fully appreciate this amazing place, as it’s not only huge, but it’s also amazingly interesting with multiple floors all featuring different era’s and displays, certainly something to head back to again at another time.

American Museum of Natural History

Our time in New York was over and it was time to head to the airport for the short 5hrs 30min flight home. We’d finally visited the city that never sleep and we’d been 100% tourists visiting every single tourist trap we could think of, we walked over 50 miles during our 5 days (ouch) so a good pair of very comfortable shoes are a definite recommendation. It was a great experience and one we’re really pleased we managed to finally do and tick off our list, would we come again? Definitely, but we’d go at a different time of year and as secondary visitors, maybe for a day less if we only planned to stay in NY, or possibly for an extra day if we chose to spread out a bit further and visit some wider ranging areas.

In short, if you’re considering visiting New York, just get it booked, hop on that plane and make the most of it, you’ll certainly come back with a new view of the place from what you’ve seen on the TV.

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