“I wanna be a part of it: NEW YORK NEW YORK!”
We touched down at John F Kennedy airport in New York after a 3 hour flight from Las Vegas and hailed a taxi to take us to Downtown Manhattan, where we were staying at the Hilton Hampton Inn on Pearl Street (again for the Hilton Honor points – think of the points! 😉 ), right next to the famous Brooklyn Bridge. It was a magnificent sight to see! After we dropped our bags off at the hotel, we went for an afternoon walk where we found a pub nearby called the Ambrose and sat down to have a beer in the late afternoon summer sunshine. It was after 5pm, the area was filled with workers finished for the day, getting a cold drink and enjoying the last of the evening sunshine like we were, so it was nice to do a little people watching and watching the world go by.
The next day we went to go find the kiosk on Pier 16 nearby to the hotel. I had found on the internet that there was a “New York Pass” which when purchased gave you access to all the sights all bundled into the cost of either a 2 day, 3 day or 5 day pass. We opted for a 3 day pass and took the ferry from Pier 16 to see some of the sights from the East River, which included sailing under the Brooklyn Bridge, sailing past the newly built One World Trade Centre (which we visited, along with Ground Zero – more on that later), the Empire State Building and sailing past the world famous and beautiful Statue of Liberty. The sky was blue and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the weather was glorious at a pleasant 26 degrees and was perfect conditions to be sailing on the East River 🙂
After we had docked back at Pier 16 we made our way up the Financial District, walking past Wall Street and the famous Stock Exchange, as we headed towards Ground Zero and to see the memorial place of the original Twin Towers.
It was a really sombre and sobering moment standing next to the place where those mighty towers once stood. I remember the event happen as clear as the blue skies above us, mirroring the beautiful clear blue skies of that fateful day, and seeing the first tower being struck, followed by the second; and watching the harrowing events occur minute by minute. I was completely dumbstruck and in shock that such an act was taking place. Standing in front of the memorials, which are graves to the thousands that died that day; I was utterly horrified to watch the insensitivity of some tourists who were standing there taking selfies in front of it, like it was some sort of tourist attraction! I felt such contempt and rage for those people that Simon had to act to calm me down. I was crying standing there reading the names of all who died that day who are engraved around the edges of the memorial, which is now a cascading waterfall in each of the original foundations of the buildings. and yet, there were those walking around as if it could have been Disneyworld to them! I was fuming to say the least!
The New York Pass also gave us access to the Memorial Museum, which was heart wrenching but at the same time you felt the same heartache as everyone else who was in the museum, giving a feel of solidarity that we all felt the same pain but also the pride for the enduring courage and determination of those left behind that work together to rebuild and to survive. It was extremely humbling and I remember Simon and I feeling that this was an experience that we would never forget. It was packed with tourists wanting to know more about the event and to share in their own way the grief that was felt worldwide for those who lost their lives that day, and for those who survived to tell the tale.
Towering above what was the original World Trade Centre, or Twin Towers as it was once known, stands a new building which now bears the name One World Trade Centre. It is bigger and bolder than it’s predecessors, standing 408 feet taller than the original towers, it is the new financial hub and is a show of strength and resilience for the people of New York. At the time we couldn’t go up the tower as it was still being worked on but it was due to be finished soon, where it will have an observation deck to view the skyline and views out across the river towards the Statue of Liberty and Staten Island.
Moving on from the Financial District and Ground Zero we walked up to the West Village and to West 14th Street which was the start of the High Line: a disused old railway line that was left derelict and in ruins for decades; now it has been reborn and is now a public park and walk trail that runs all the way up to 34th Street. It has been carefully redesigned to be a green oasis that you can walk all the way past the Hudson River and all the way through the Meat Packing District, through the upmarket district of Chelsea and up to Hell’s Kitchen. This was one of our favourite places in New York! It was great to be able to walk across the old railway route which is raised over the street and you can stop off and walk down the stairs to many of the shops along the way. On the High Line itself had street artists and performers and street cafes and vendors that you can stop off and people watch. Definitely a highlight for us!
We got to the end of the High Line and found ourselves near to the centre of it all, Midtown Manhattan. The sun was starting to go down and that meant that all the neon lights of Midtown was starting to come on and light up one of the busiest parts of the city, full of tourists wandering aimlessly about the place. It was made extra memorable for all of the famous yellow taxis that all seemed to have converged on this part of town. We made our way to the world famous Time Square and climb the steps to look down Broadway and see all the neon signs of all the Broadway Theatre shows and chaos of Midtown in it’s glory. It was a great place for people watching too!
The next day we did even more sightseeing, making the most of the New York
Pass. This time we went up to the “Top of the Rock” or the Rockefeller Centre to take a view of the skyline from up top there. Great thing about the New York Pass was the we got Priority Entry and went straight in, as the cost was covered by the pass. The view from up top the Rockefeller is extra special because you actually get to see the world famous Empire State Building on one side and Central Park on the other! Definitely worth waiting in line for (even with a Priority Entry pass there was still a queue – just not as big as the normal queue!)
Once we made our way back down from the Rockefeller we ended up on 5th Avenue, famous for its shops! We bypassed that (for now) and carried on walking towards the world famous, and utterly breathtaking, Grand Central Station. It oozed grandeur of a by-gone past and yet felt timeless in its elegance and beauty. The height of the ceiling makes you feel so small in the cavernous grand hall, and if you go at night there are lights that come on in the form of constellations in the sky and they glimmer softly as you star up and look. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the size of the place when staring up like that. Apparently, there is a section of the station where if one person stands at one of the arches and speaks into the corner, and you have another person go over to the opposite end and stands in the other corner you can hear each other speak due to the curvature of the building; the sound reverberates around the arches so you can speak to one another! Simon and I never actually got to try this out, but we’ve been told that this is true!
Afterwards we went back down the West Village because I found out on the Internet that there is a cupcake shop there where Carrie and Miranda from Sex And The City (SATC) went to and they do amazing cakes! So we went in search for them! 🙂
Afterwards we continued the SATC theme and went to go find where the programme was filmed for Carrie’s Brownstone apartment, and we found it! It was very sad, however, because there was a sign from the current owner saying that no one could stand on the steps for photos! So unfair! 😦
In the evening we went out for dinner in the Meat Packing District, which was lovely! Then afterwards, we used our New York Pass to go up the Empire State Building to go see the skyline at night and see the city twinkle and sparkle! It was very pretty indeed 🙂
The final day of using the New York Pass, we decided to take the Liberty Ferry from Battery Park, just a short walk from our hotel Downtown, and sail across to Liberty Island to go see the Statue of Liberty! Whilst we were at it, we also went to Ellis Island to learn about the mass immigration of people from all walks of life, including passengers from the ill-fated Titanic that were brought to New York after she sank in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Statue of Liberty was amazing to see up close, even better than what you see in the movies! She is an exact replica of the small statue that stands in Paris. We didn’t go up to the viewing platform that is in her crown as it was closed to the public due to safety reasons, which was a shame but was not the end of the world. It was great for us to be able to stand close up and get a great photo with her.
Afterwards, we caught the Subway to the East Village and went for dinner at a place called Via Della Pace, which was a recommendation from a good friend of mine. Then we went up into Midtown to Broadway to check out the Kinky Boots theatre show. If you’ve seen the film then you’ll know that it’s not your typical kind of Broadway show, but it was fun and fabulous and had us out of our seats dancing! Afterwards we went to a bar for after show drinks and then walked through Midtown to take in more of the neon signs and the sights before heading back on the Subway back to our hotel to bed.
The following morning we got up early to make our way up to the Port Authority Terminal to catch a coach, as we were going shopping! The coach was going to be taking us to a place called Woodbury Common, which was a retail outlet similar to Bicester Village that we have in the UK near Oxford. Given the great rate of exchange on our currency it’s no wonder why New York is the perfect place to go shopping! I was even able to pick up a pair of Converse trainers from the outlet store that has the Union Jack emblazoned on them! I had to get them! 🙂
After we returned we decided to take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a magnificent structure and a great walk across to the borough of Brooklyn and back.
We then went up to the Flatiron District to see the famous building on the corner of Flatiron, before then walking up to Central Park. I saw the cutest little dog on a skateboard!!!! SO CUTE!!!
Our day in New York was finally drawing in, and so for our last day we decide to take the Subway and head over to Brooklyn as they had a Food Flea Market festival on, Smorgasburg, and so we went to see what was on offer. We ended up having the beef brisket in a bun and it was delicious!
Afterwards it was time to start making our way back to the hotel and getting ready to head to the airport. We headed to JFK Airport to catch our return flight to London aboard British Airways’ favourite aeroplane, the “Great Lady” herself, the Boeing 747! And we had seats checked in for the Upper Deck in Club World (Business Class), which was amazing! There are fewer seats up there and they are more spaced out, so you felt like you had more room and because you were so high up, you were further away from the engines and so it was quieter! It was the first time in my life that I have EVER slept on a plane! It was amazing! Although, far too brief because we only slept for less than 5 hours! ERGH! Still, it was an amazing experience!!! 🙂
And just like that, our time in New York was over! It was so much fun though and we both really enjoyed ourselves, especially Simon, who this was all for in the first place! We’ve vowed to come back and see this great city again! 🙂
*please note – like the previous post, we are not endorsed, sponsored, paid for, or provided for free, nor is this a product placement or advertisement for British Airways or Hilton. I have been a member of the British Airways Executive Club and Hilton Honor Rewards for over a decade, and all flights and accommodation was paid for by ourselves*