New York

See also Gallery entitled "New York"
New York

In November 2018, with my wife Lesley, I jetted off to New York with two close friends, Mel and Janet, who had been many times before and acted as very useful tour guides. Thursday 22nd November was the coldest and snowiest Thanksgiving Day on record and we were heading out there early the following day.
Because of the time difference we arrived late in the afternoon of Friday 23rd; although cold there was little remnants of the snow. We quickly dropped our cases at our Park Lane hotel, overlooking Central Park, before racing off to a bar for a drink (beer can’t be recommended) and something to eat before heading to see the lights of Theatre Land. Times Square was packed with visitors staying over after their Thanks Giving Day celebrations.
Returning to the hotel there was just enough time to tick off one of Lesley’s Wish List items, a carriage ride in Central Park, she has expensive tastes. Because of the cold we only had the short 20 minute ride and not the 45 minutes, even so we were the only carriage out. After that I took a quick walk back into the park to get a closer look at the skating rink.
Early start on Saturday for an easy ride on the Subway to the rebuilt World Trade Centre for an early booking up the Freedom Tower, North America’s tallest building with fine views around Lower Manhattan from the One World observatory. The transport hub of the WTC is an astonishing design in the shape of a White Dove.
The memorials to 9/11 are still very evocative. Pools mark the sites of the original Twin Tower buildings with the inscribed names of all those who lost their lives.
A quick cab ride took us to the Staten Island Ferry which is a mass transit mode between Staten Island and Manhattan, it’s free so very popular with tourists.
Sunday was another opportunity for good views. Queues for the Empire State building can be long and tedious so instead we opted for the Rockefeller Building. This gave us views of Lower Manhattan including the Empire State. The Rockefeller Plaza was a lively place with the skating rink overseen by the Greek legend Prometheus.
A lot of walking needed in the afternoon to tick off a lot of boxes; Grand Central Terminal, New York’s amazing cathedral to the US railway system. The Chrysler Building, probably the world’s finest Art Deco building. The New York library. Macey’s, what a disappointment, the only thing that interested me was the original Oak panelled escalators, maybe it’s the size of the place that attracted people; in my book size isn’t everything, maybe it’s just me being allergic to shopping. The Empire State Building, for many years the World’s tallest building. We then walked across from the West to the East side of Manhattan, two of the party didn’t quite make it so we left the ladies in a bar talking girlie things leaving Mel and myself to explore the Highline, a disused railway line and sidings currently being redeveloped.
Monday was the last day and New York returned to normal. At the outset I did say that I wanted to experience New York in its normality and not as a tourist; this we did during the rush hour on the Subway back to the World Trade Centre, sardines probably had more space packed in their cosy tins. I put this down to experience, Lesley had a different view.
The 9/11 Memorial museum, which was constructed mainly in the basement of one of the destroyed buildings, was a real eye opener to the horrors of that fateful day. It showed films of the attack and a lot of memorabilia including a damaged Fire Engine and a section of the telecom mast from the top of the building.
Final activity was a Circle Line boat trip around Manhattan Island, New York’s most densely populated district, bounded by the Hudson and Harlem rivers and a chance to see the city at close quarters from the water and travel under the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan’s first bridge which was completed in 1883.
With thanks to Mel and Janet for their tour guiding, a busy and unforgettable trip.

Stafford Steed