Friday, 16 August 2019

NYC Part One

Hello there! We have been on holiday, a very special holiday, to New York City and have had the most incredible, wonderful, exhausting time. We returned late Monday night and the last few days have been a blur of jet lag and washing. But normal life must resume at some point and I have many - many! - photos to share with you all, and the energy finally to sort through them all, so here we are. It's been lovely going through all our pictures, reliving those days, and I am looking forward to sharing them with you here

We flew out from Heathrow a week last Monday. We'd been worried about the possible industrial action affecting our flights but luckily things were fine.

This trip would be the first time Bella and Angus had flown, and the first time John and I had flown since going to Copenhagen in 2013. They enjoyed the whole experience, as did I mostly, especially now that crochet hooks are permitted in hand luggage. We landed around 5.00 pm local time and experienced a hair-raising taxi journey to the hotel with minimal attention paid to road signs or other road users, which seemed to be the norm. Our hotel was in the Midtown area of Manhattan, not the buzziest of places, but we chose it for it's central location and proximity to the subway at Grand Central Terminal, and for both those things it was perfect. We all shared one room, John and I in one bed and the kids in the other, and this was the view from the window.

We spent an hour or two wandering around, getting our bearings and something to eat, before falling into bed.

On Tuesday, thanks to the jet lag and 9.00 pm bedtime the night before, we were all awake by 6.00 am and sitting in a coffee shop in Grand Central Terminal by 7.30 am, watching the commuters rush by. We bought coffee, pastries and a map, and made a plan.

We spent a little time in the terminal, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the space. It's an incredible building, and I especially love the ceiling.

We all wanted to walk after so much sitting the day before, so we made our way up Fifth avenue, which was lovely and quiet as the shops weren't open yet, towards Central Park.

It was warm and humid, but not unbearably so, and the kids loved spending some time in the park, running around and climbing the rocks, just letting off a bit of steam.

Our destination for the morning was The American Museum of Natural History which we all enjoyed, but no-one more than Angus, who read every single piece of information by every single exhibit we passed, and had to be dragged away.

"Mum! Take a photo of me by the badger!"

We walked over to Zabars on the Upper West Side for lunch. This store-deli had been recommended to me and I'm so glad we visited as it's a treasure trove of food. I stopped myself buying all the expensive oils and spices and just limited myself to a tea towel and shopping bag, very practical.

We'd hoped to picnic in Central Park but the heavens opened and so we ate our knishes and spanakopita (both unbelievably delicious) as we walked back down towards mid-town, calling into shops and stopping for snacks on the way. Angus spent some of his holiday spending money on this Mets hat, which did not leave his head for the rest of the week.

We were all pretty shattered by the end of the day so found somewhere near the hotel to get pizza and were all asleep early again.

Wednesday begun with breakfast in the Comfort Diner, a really old school type diner. Between us we ordered every pancake/waffle/French toast offering on the menu. I love breakfast in America. 

We took the subway over to the Intrepid Museum, a decommissioned aircraft carrier which is now a museum, and a very good one. It wasn't my first choice of things to do in New York but I went along with it and surprised myself.

Times Square was our next destination, and we walked there, through the hot, humid air, along 42nd Street.

I swear the heat increased in Times Square - it was just awful. I do not understand why people like that place, it's so busy and loud and full of adverts and crowds....I just wanted to leave as soon as I got there. 

The kids loved it - it does have a certain energy about it I suppose - but I was much happier escaping the downpours in Macy's later that afternoon. We ate ramen as an early dinner then walked through the rain to the Gershwin Theatre, as we'd booked tickets to see Wicked before we left.

We were up in the cheap seats (although they were not cheap!) but it was still amazing. Bella, Angus and I really enjoyed it. John fell asleep. My favourite part of this day, however, was the walk home from the theatre: the air was cool, the rain had stopped and there was a completely different feel to the city as we slowly made our way back to the hotel. 

Times Square now felt friendly and relaxed, and the neon lights reflected so prettily on the wet roads.

Thursday. Ah, this was my favourite day by a mile. We crammed in so much and I saw so many places that I'd always wanted to visit.

We were up bright and early so that we could be at the Empire State Building for 8.00 am when it opened to avoid the inevitable crowds, and I'm so glad we made the effort. The light was incredible up there - heavy cloud to begin with, and very hazy, but with bright sunshine breaking through and blue sky appearing during the hour or so we spent up on the observation deck.

This was not John or my first visit to the Empire State building, but I always find those views breathtaking, and it was wonderful to share it with Bella and Angus

We stopped in a bakery for a late breakfast of coffee and cinnamon buns before walking across town to the High Line, taking in the iconic Flat Iron building on the way.

As soon as we'd booked the flights to New York, the one of the places I most wanted to experience was The High Line, an old elevated railway line which has been repurposed into miles of public garden and walkways. 

It's a pretty magical place. You're only one or two floors up from street level but the atmosphere is completely different away from the traffic noise, quiet and relaxed. At times, the view is completely hidden by high plants so you could be anywhere, surrounded by birdsong and butterflies fluttering, but here and there a break in the planting reminds you where you are.

Bella and Angus really loved it and I could see them visibly relax in the space. Although not large, it gave them space to roam freely away from us but not too far away, still within safety.

We loved this stepped seating area and wondered what everyone was looking at.

Just a busy junction and street corner, but raised up and behind plexiglass it was so relaxing to sit there in the shade and watch New York coming and going. It looked like a pretty good spot to eat your packed lunch too.

We ate lunch in Chelsea Market (sourdough bagels for the kids and a shared turkey sandwich for John and I) before spending the afternoon walking through Greenwich Village to Soho, stopping off in shops (air conditioning!) and for ice cream or drinks along the way.  We were walking around 20,000 steps a day and needed to keep our strength up and make sure the kids were not too hot or tired. We gave Bella and Angus a lot of input into this holiday (after all, it's a once in a lifetime kind of thing) and they watched a lot of travel videos on YouTube. Angus was mainly interested in two things, pizza and ice cream, and had particularly requested we visit Do, which just does Cookie Dough ice cream. His little face!

As we approached Soho, I had somewhere I particularly wanted to visit....can you guess? Here's a clue:

That's right, the mighty Purl Soho! I couldn't come all this way and not pop in, it would be rude! I kept my spending in here to a minimum, tempting though it all was, but loved browsing and the staff were really friendly.

After going back to the hotel for a couple of hours to rest, we came back down to this area again in the evening, to eat dinner in Little Italy.

The restaurant was small and cosy, the food was really good, I had a glass of wine - it was all utterly lovely. While we were in there, the wind picked up and it started to rain. A few people sitting outside under the umbrellas came in. Then it started to really rain, and before we knew it there was a full on storm directly overhead with thunder and lightening. Then, twenty minutes later, it was all over, just like that, and we walked back to the subway with the lights shining on the wet pavements again.

I'll stop there and give you the next three days soon. I don't want to bore you. I hope you're enjoying my travel tales - there's a lot more still to come. I haven't even shown you my souvenirs yet!