Day 1: Driving in New York-Manhatten
Upon landing at Newark airport we immediately felt the heat of New York though as with all our luck, the city decided to greet us with a huge downpour so we quickly rushed into a famous yellow New York taxi and headed down towards Manhattan. I must admit driving, or rather watching the cabbie driving, in Manhattan is a nightmare: the traffic is chocker block, horns are beeping every 30seconds, near misses of car crashes literally inches away happened pretty regularly – all adds to the excitement though, I guess!?
After settling down at the hotel we quickly went back out into the city to explore some key places:
- Grand Central Station – an amazing place to visit. You’re truly blown away by the architecture and the size of building when you enter. A police officer told us later on, when you walk into the station “DO NOT LOOK UP” (indicating you’re a tourist) – it’s almost impossible not too! The station had old style booths for buying tickets and then a random Apple store 😀
- Times Square – spectacular place, full of lights and basically mayhem. The traffic through times square is immense, the crowds are crazy and the number of lights on buildings is mind blowing. As you walk down the street I spotted a naked cowboy, Michael Jackson look a like, smurfs and some Disney characters 😀
Day 2: Bus Tours
We started the day bright and early at 8am after our very tiring first day – I admit this was a challenge, after such a tiring first day travelling. For breakfast we went to the Pershing Square Diner which had been recommended by a close friend; this is located just in front of Grand Central Station (which we had visited yesterday) – it’s only a few minutes’ walk from the hotel. The food was superb offering things such as:
- Cereal with yoghurt with orange juice and coffee to drink
- Boiled eggs, bacon, potatoes and tea to drink
- Cheese, bacon and ham omelette with potatoes and tea to drink
- One big waffle with warm maple syrup and strawberries (mmm!!)
Next we head to the start of the bus tour in times square. Once on the tour bus we head south towards ground zero – the twin towers site. Upon arrival we queued for entry into the ground zero memorial site, due to the amount of people visiting we were given a specific visitor time. During the wait we visited a local church across the road called St. Pauls Chapel, inside was a British choir singing various songs and the walls were lined with memories of the event. A very moving experience to see the vast number of people who gave up their lives to try saving others. Our time eventually came to enter the memorial site, here now lay two deep holes with water features inside, with a number of trees and benches surrounding. At the moment, 7 new world trade centre buildings are in development with the highest already almost completed.
After leaving Ground Zero our busy day continued back on the bus towards the Staten Island ferry, a free ferry service running between across the Hudson river. Overall the crossing takes approximately 20minutes with lots of seats on board and some outdoor areas to get a view of the New York sky line – quite a good service for views considering it was free!
Day 3: Ferry Tour
Today we saw much more of the blocks around Times Square and down to the River Hudson than we bargained for. Don’t ask for directions, they mis-hear and send you the wrong way, first to 38th street to get the Ferry bus, we couldn’t find it, so turned round asked a police woman who sent us back to 42nd, only to be told there it would be quickest to walk the 6 or 7 blocks to the River. After what must have been an hour of wandering around the streets we found the ferry terminal, hot and tired! Only to have to join an enormous queue for the midday boat tour. What was that line about ‘mad dogs and Englishmen in the midday sun’?
We were all suffering from the high humidity, sweating and found the breeze on the boat refreshing. We got great views, albeit in a pollution haze, air quality in New York is very poor. We toured for about 90 mins including a close view of the Statue of Liberty. This time we got the ferry bus back to Times Square, and then got an ‘uptown tour’. A brief visit to Central Park, saw the John Lennon memorial mosaic. Then it was back on the bus for a tour past the University of Columbia, Harlem, and the posh apartments around central park. The tour guide sang to us, he was fun. However, we managed to be on the bus with a rain cover, which was unbearably hot as there was no breeze and the bus was packed. Fortunately there was a water stop – someone makes a fortune selling water at a $1 a bottle to tourists on the buses.
We finished the night with a visit up the Rockefeller for a late night view of the Manhattan sky line. I highly recommend doing so, there is a short museum about the building as you make your way to the top and then there’s 3 different viewing floor all giving amazing views (arguably better at night than in the pollution haze of the day!)