Our flight to New York left a little late and was a bit squashy and bumpy, but we arrived in New York safely.By the time we checked into our accommodation it was around 6pm, and we hadn't eaten since 7.30am as they didn't serve food on our flight. We set out for a food market a couple of blocks away and brought some supplies for our dinner, which we got to eat at about 8pm. By the time we showered and unpacked, etc, it turned out to be quite a late night after a long day.Our other issue was broken sleep.New York is a noisy place, even at night - we could hear sirens (some sound like foghorns and others like strangled cats), car horns and garbage trucks etc even in our 22nd floor apartment.There is an old fashioned automatic heating system in the building as well that makes all sorts of strange noises.
After our late night, we had a bit of a sleep-in this morning, and after breakfast investigated our options for tours.We decided on a 5 1/2 hour commentated tour by bus that included a ferry ride out to the Statue of Liberty as well.It was a really good tour that took us right around Manhattan Island, and the commentary was informative .It turned out to be a beautiful day, after a foggy start, and our cruise on the Hudson River, with commentary, was lovely.After the tour ended, we walked back down 7th Avenue through Time Square to our apartment, picking up some dinner on our way.
On my birthday we explored the New York subway.Lynne is the subway aficionado and got us from the 28th Street station to Grand Central Station.Grand Central Station is wonderful and surprising.There are swish clothing shops and restaurants, along with the usual deli and sandwich shops, newspaper shops, etc.The foyer of the station is beautiful with a very high domed ceiling and sweeping staircases.It is such a shock to leave the foyer to go down to the platforms which are grimy and a bit smelly.After another subway ride and a bit of a walk, we arrived at the Guggenheim Museum which featured an exhibition named "The Great Upheaval" - modern art from 1910-1918 Guggenheim Collection.It was very crowded, but the queue moved quickly and it wasn't long before we were armed with our audio sets and on our way.The inside of the museum is spiral-shaped, so we wound our way from bottom to top.It was wonderful to see original artworks by Picasso, Monet, Kandinsky, Gauguin and others. We then made our way to a cafe for a late lunch, and caught a bus back to our apartment.After a rest and a change of clothes, we made our way to Le Petit Auberge for my birthday dinner. It is a quaint little French restaurant on Lexington Avenue with great food, nice ambiance and excellent service.Thank you to Lynne for this wonderful birthday dinner.
After a stormy and rainy night, the next morning was still rainy and cold, and we walked up to Times Square to the Discovery Museum, where I saw the Harry Potter Exhibition.This exhibition showed lots of costumes and props used in the Harry Potter films, explained how they were used in the films and how they were made and operated. Some of the costumes were beautifully embroidered and made from fantastic fabrics. There were full-sized characters such as Buckbeak (hippergrif - half bird half horse), a big spider from the Forbidden Forest, Dobbie the house elf, Fawkes the Phoenix, and others.Other props shown were quidditch equipment (brooms, a snitch, bludgers, etc.), the text books from Hogwarts, wands, crystal ball, and lots of other things.We went to lunch then back to the Discovery Museum where I saw the Pompeii Exhibition.This exhibition explained what life was like in Pompeii in 79AD, before and after the destructive eruption of the Mt Vesuvius volcano.We were shown wall friezes and all sorts of pottery and jewelry that was retrieved many years after the eruption.There were bodies of adults, children and animals that perished.These bodies were buried under 12 foot of volcano ash, and the ash hardened around their skeletons over time.When the bodies were excavated, it was found that if the shell of the body was filled with cement, the person's or animal's position in death could be discerned.The area of Pompeii, now Italy, has been populated again, and although they know they live in the shadow of a volcano that could erupt again, they are philosophical and will cope with it if it happens.
We went out to dinner at the Olive Garden in Times Square with Peta and Mel, before we went to the Addams Family musical. We had a very nice meal, and caught up with each others' news since we have been apart.We all loved the Addams Family musical - it was funny and silly, like the TV show.We said a final farewell to Peta and Mel, then back to our apartment to pack ready for our 5.30am departure to the airport tomorrow morning for our flight to London.
New York is a dynamic place.Manhattan Island is densely populated and there are no single house-like residents here - they all live in apartments.They are also dog lovers, and we could not imagine how they coped in apartments with some of the big dogs we saw.We found New Yorkers to be friendly and helpful, but on the sidewalks they are fast and focused, used to pushing and shoving their way through crowds.New York is the jaywalking capital of the world.You can tell the locals from the tourists at traffic lights - the locals cross the road against the red light all the time, and have no respect for vehicles, and in turn the vehicles have no respect for pedestrians and often run red lights. Even emergency service vehicles with sirens blaring are disregarded. Mind you, in popular areas like Times Square, the vehicles do not build up speed due to the volume of traffic, so they have bumps rather than crashes.I did not notice any graffiti in Manhattan and the beautiful daffodils, hyacinths and tulips blooming around the base of the many sidewalk trees are left un-vandalised.Their garbage collection system is a bit ugly - each building bags its rubbish up and it is piled up on the sidewalk to await collection. There is lots to explore in New York, and we didn't get around to everything of course.We really enjoyed our time here and always felt safe.