7 and 8 October 2014
Part of the elegant Art Deco reception desk and mezzanine floor at The New Yorker hotel, New York
Excited today to be heading to New York, not quite so excited about having to get up at 5.30am to get the shuttle to Chicago International O’Hare Airport. Shuttle arrived on time and we were at the airport by 7.25am in time for our 9.25am flight. Breakfast at the airport helped to pass the time after a stress-free passage through customs and screening.
It is a two hour flight from Chicago to New York, but NY is an hour ahead, so our arrival time was 12.25pm. After locating our shuttle service (the usual search for the right location) we finally arrived at The New Yorker Hotel shortly before 3pm. The hotel is a wonderful old Art Deco hotel (currently undergoing massive external restorations) in Midtown Manhatten, on the corner of 8th Avenue and 34th Street and close to the subway at Pennsylvania (“Penn”) Station. Our room was not quite ready, so we took the opportunity of having a very late lunch at Tick Tock Diner, located on the hotel’s ground floor and open 24 hours a day – not unusual for New York! When the room was ready we were “upgraded” to a nice room with two bathrooms. Apart from a short walk around the immediate area we decided to just take it easy, and unpack our clothes as we will be in New York for four days before our first coach tour to Boston.
Tonight was our first Broadway show, Phantom of the Opera. It was 22 years since I had first seen the show and was excited about the opportunity to see it on Broadway. It started at 7pm so we gave ourselves plenty of time to walk to the theatre district, had no problem converting our e-tickets and being ushered to our seats. The show did not let me down – just love the music and the cast did a great job. We have since discovered that it is usual for the New York audiences to give a standing ovation to the cast at the final bow – and this time it was certainly well deserved. Our meal pattern was”out” for the day having had a very late lunch, so once we returned to the New Yorker we again tried out the Tick Tock and had some supper before heading for bed after a long day.
The impressive One World Trade Centre (tallest building in the western hemisphere), and the memorial to the 2753 people who died on 11 September, 2001
The following day, after a nice sleep in, we organised the pre-paid for our mobile phones, then adventured to the subway at Pennsylvania Station, just across the road from our hotel, and a huge railway station. We managed to buy our correct tickets, find the Downtown line, and set off for the Battery Park area in Lower Manhattan. Firstly we visited the Memorial to the victims of the 9/11 disaster. The area has only recently been fully open to the public, so we were fortunate to be able to see the beautiful Memorial up close, as well as the One World Trade Centre building, the highest building in the western hemisphere. One World Trade Centre now stands at 1776 feet reflecting the Independence of America from Britain in 1776. It is part of a complex replacing the towers destroyed by Al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks in 2001 in which 2,753 people died.
The Robert F Wagner Jnr Park along the Hudson River (left) and the New York skyline from Battery Park City
From the Memorial we made our way to the Hudson River waterfront. It was a fairly long, scenic walk on a lovely warm and sunny day and we enjoyed the walk and the view across the river to the city centre skyline. Finally we reached the Statten Island ferry terminal for our free ride to Statten Island. It is a huge ferry that holds hundreds of passengers, and it was a great ride giving us wonderful views of the city, and the Statue of Liberty. It is necessary for all passengers to alight at Statten Island, then catch another ferry back, but we had plenty of time and while we were waiting for the return trip we enjoyed the music of a busker in the terminal.
The iconic Statue of Liberty from the Statten Island ferry
A busker entertains us at the ferry terminal (left) and the city skyline from the Statten Island ferry
On our way back to the subway, we just happened to come across the Century 21 shopping outlet, so spent about an hour there finding some winter jumpers for the anticipated colder weather. It is a huge 5-6 storey building chock-a-block with clothing, shoes, handbags and accessories – we only spent a small amount (cashmere jumper at half price!! – but only wore one jumper on one occasion) then had afternoon tea at the cafe in the building. Reluctant to leave as it was nowhere near enough time to see everything we wanted to see (yes, we will return before we leave New York) we successfully found our way back to the subway and Penn Station.
And so we were coming to the end of our first full day in New York and decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner at the Trattoria Bianca which also adjoins the hotel. We enjoyed a delicious Italian dinner, a cocktail and red wine – and only a few metres from our hotel.
Tomorrow we plan a walking tour around New York (the best way to see the city) including Times Square, 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Centre – etc etc etc!!
New York streetscapes
New York Police Department traffic observer (top left), Getting your Message Out (top right) and Rector Street Subway entrance