1 In 2012/ Our Story

Our week in New York: a concrete jungle where dreams are made of

Jacqui and Dan in Times Square, New York City

Our three days in San Francisco were awesome… but I think I’ve just found my new favourite place!

On our first full day in New York City we strolled 25 blocks north on Broadway to Times Square where we jumped on another hop-on hop-off tour bus and enjoyed the sights of downtown New York.

We stopped off in the Financial District to enjoy a spot of shopping at outlet store Century 21. All of the guilt I was feeling after purchasing a new Guess bag dissolved once I eventually found Dan carrying a bag with two pairs of new shoes.

We hitched a ride on the tour bus to 30 Rockefeller Plaza and enjoyed the spectacular panoramic views of NYC and the surrounding boroughs from the Top of the Rock on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors.

IMG_2756 New York Central Park

That evening we enjoyed a meal at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station and tried to find a local bar to have a quiet drink at.

IMG_2764 New York Oyster Bar

The first local bar we visited was Jay-Z’s exclusive 40/40 Sports Bar (which was pretty much empty on a Wednesday night), just around the corner from our apartment. After paying US$26 (not including the 15-20% tip) for our first two drinks, we decided that this was not the bar for us and elected to pop into the Irish bar a few block away.

In NYC there is no such thing as bartenders being required to measure out drinks. Dan ordered a Glenlivet on the rocks and we were both quite surprised when the bartender filled a standard sized scotch glass with ice then proceeded to fill the glass to the brim with Glenlivet. And, we found out that $20 can go a long way if you’re also buying the barman drinks! Needless to say we stayed at this bar for a few more drinks, making friends with the local bar flies and pretending we were in our own little New York version of Cheers.

On day two the hop-on hop-off bus took us on a tour of uptown New York, including Central Park, the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side and Harlem.

In Times Square we lined up in the TKTS line and scored half price tickets to the musical Rock of Ages on Broadway that evening. It was incredible! We are still hoping that we will be able to score tickets in a lottery for The Book of Mormon which is a musical by Trey Parker and Matt Stone who are the creators of South Park. After Rock of Ages we decided to call it a night as it has now become clear that we are too old to handle two nights of drinking in a row.

Day three: we saw the Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey skylines from a boat cruise on the East and Hudson Rivers, which also provided superb views of Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge.

Then we hopped on a bus tour to Brooklyn and enjoyed some pizza before attempting our first trip on the New York Subway. Despite not really knowing what train we needed, we successfully navigated our way back to our apartment after asking some directions from other commuters who were most helpful.

IMG_2776

That night we went down to Greenwich Village for dinner at a restaurant called The Mussel Pot which has around 20 different mussel dishes (along with many other non-mussel dishes). The food was really nice as was the Californian sauvignon blanc wine we chose.

After dinner we attempted to find a jazz bar called Fat Cat that had been recommended to us by a tour guide. Our waiter at The Mussel Pot had given us some directions to the bar that subsequently turned out to be horribly incorrect. After 30 mins or so of wandering around Greenwich Village we got some correct directions from a couple of guys with iPhones and made it to our destination. Once we arrived at the Fat Cat we were glad we didn’t give up the search. The bar is located in the basement of a building in Greenwich Village and has around 15 or so pool tables, around 20 or so ping pong tables, four shuffleboard tables and three foosball tables along with some quality live jazz. The place was really cool and not at all pretentious, just the kind of place I’d be happy to make a regular haunt.

IMG_2787 New York Pool Tables

Day four: after a much needed sleep in we jumped on the Subway and stopped off at Katz’s Deli in the Lower East Side for an early lunch. It was recommended by Rory and Annabelle, who had boasted about sandwiches overflowing with pastrami. It was incredible! And, during our meal I noticed a sign above Dan’s head which read “Where Harry met Sally… hope you have what she had! Enjoy”. This was the exact location of “that scene” from the movie – what a bonus!

The over-flowing sandwich (with a standard pickle on the side) was exactly what we needed for the Subway trip out to Coney Island, where we enjoyed some rides at the famous Luna Park, right on the beach. The area was full of cool locals, dancers and many families enjoying the beautiful sunny weekend. We had fun on a few rides before Dan decided to go it alone on the Cyclone.

The Cyclone is a terrifying wooden roller coaster (complete with what may be the scariest first drop in the universe), which remains the area’s centerpiece after being built in 1927. I knew it was not my cup of tea when our tour guide mentioned that the gentleman who has been maintaining the roller coaster for the last 20 years will not ride it. I enjoyed some cotton candy while Dan survived the roller coaster that thankfully did not fall apart while we were there (despite the way it creaked and rocked).

On the way home we stopped in at the Empire State Building and made it up to the 86th floor observation desk just after the sun went down. The view was stunning, and we got some beautiful photos of the pink and purple skyline above New Jersey.

Traveler Tip: the lines are close to two hours long to get in and almost 30mins long to get out of the observation deck about this time of night, but the observation deck is open until 2am every night and is apparently much less crowded after 9pm.

Day 5: This morning we woke to another sunny and warm day in NYC and took the subway to the 9/11 Memorial. The quiet and peaceful memorial is a place of remembrance honouring those who perished in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993. The 9/11 Memorial consists of two massive pools set within the original footprints of the Twin Towers with 30-foot waterfalls cascading down their sides. The nearly 3,000 names of the men, women, and children killed in the attacks are inscribed into bronze parapets surrounding the twin Memorial pools.

Despite its origins, it’s a peaceful and hopeful place.

This afternoon we attended the New York Yankees Vs. Cincinnati Reds baseball game at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. It was my birthday present to Dan and I am sad to report that the Yankees lost by three runs. This was mainly due to the two amazing home runs hit by the visiting team in the 7th inning. While we were supporting the losing side, the game was still lots of fun, with heaps of crowd participation and entertaining chants.

We are now chilling in our studio apartment, enjoying new episodes of Law & Order before we head out to a local bar that has a large range of draught beers. The next few days we plan to spend museum hoping through NYC, and perhaps a boat cruise to the Statue of Liberty.

I have fallen in love with this city, its attractions and its lovely people. Every person we have met has been nothing but generous and helpful.

I think that this city is best described in the words of Alicia Keys from Jay-Z’s Empire State Of Mind:

“New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing’ you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let’s hear it for New York”

Here are my tips for exploring New York.

J & D

First Published on: May 21, 2012 @ 0:48 #12monthhoneymoon

 

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