Well New York was as awesome as expected!
We were up at an ungodly hour to catch three buses from Putney Heath to Heathrow and make our flight. Luckily we managed to get our two years plus 26 days for free. Phew. We had been a bit worried about our holiday in Scotland putting us over! And with no ash clouds from Iceland and no BA cabin crew strikes we were green to go!
A couple of meals, movies and mini naps and 7.5 hours later we were touching down at JFK where some super helpful-friendly-nothing is too much trouble American airport staff helped us buy airtrain/subway tickets to central Manhatten. Helpful subway riders told us what stop to get off at and how many blocks to walk to our basic but SUPERBLY located accommodation at the West Side YMCA. These helpful friendly American's with their fabulous customer service are throwing us a bit to be honest after two years of living in the UK where the customer service tends to lack in well...service. Sorry but tis true.
Anyways. By the time we reach the Y, its mid afternoon, so we stroll across the street...into Central Park. Yup that close! We spend the afternoon exploring the park with its baseball cages, hot dog vendors (I'm struggling to shake thinking of a hot dog as a battered sausage that you order at the fish n chip store), lakes with couples and families rowing in dingies, lakes with remote control sailing boats (yup just like in the movies) and more. See the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, the Imagine mosaic and sit in Sheep Meadow with skyscapers on the not so distant skyline. Hard to believe we are in New York, New York!
The following day we subway downtown and take the clunky orange Staten Island Ferry over to Staten Island (where else?) and back, to take in the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and the downtown Manhatten skyline. We find our way to Wall Street to see the NY Stock Exchange and drink homemade lemonade for $1 from some school kids.
We pass hot dog vendors on every corner and cant' stop photographing yellow taxi's zipping by. It's similar to our fascination with double decker red buses and smart black cabs that we had when we arrived in London. Though to be honest we still loved those London icons two years later. We find Ground Zero where we read that the US Navy spent 7 years making a new Navy frigate out of the steel that came out of the wreckage of the Twin Towers. We lunch in City Hall Park and trek across Brooklyn Bridge which has Ryan in his element. He's got a thing for bridges. Back across the bridge and its up to Macy's (not a patch on the elegant Harrods) and Madison Square Gardens before finishing in Times Square which is an intense overload of Broadway shows, giant TV screens, flashing adverts and mega sized billboards. Everywhere. We walk from Times Square back to the hostel and rest our weary feet!
We pop downtown the next day to see the old school glamour and granduer of Grand Central Station before catching the subway up to the Bronx for the Yankees game. The Yankees Stadium is a modern day colusseum. We get some hot dogs and beers before taking some seats in the sun on the third tier up in the gods. The Yankees get the first run early on and things look rosy until the Blue Jay's from Toronto get a equalising run in the 8th innings. Suffice to say the crowd aren't the polite American's we know so far when the other team gets that run. In fact the crowd gets a bit feral and rather unsporting like. Bored stupid by baseball we take our leave when we realise that another 9 innings are on the cards and the first 9 have already taken 3 hours! In hindsight with the Yankees losing by 6-1, leaving when we did was probably a good thing!
Another bright blue day in the early 30's greets us and we head up the Empire State Building. Back down on the pavement we feel that we should do as a New Yorker does. Minutes later we are popping out of Starbucks with an Iced Coffee Frappacino. Mmm. We pop into a bar to catch a bit of soccer and down a cosmopolitan while we're in there. Mmm again. For lunch we have McDonalds, but Ryan is disappointed to find out that the supersize option has been stopped. Nothing to do with the movie 'Supersize Me' and the negative publicity that followed. Yeah right. We try and find the High Line Park - an elevated railway line that has been converted into a park. But my written directions were a bit off, so defeated we call it a day. After dark we walk back down to Times Square, which seems to become party central at night! We see a quartet of skimply dressed girls playing 'The Thong Song' on trumpets. One of the more unusual sights! We spend a few hours there, enjoying an impromptu piano and sing along session at one of 60 pianos placed around NYC for people to play. Fun times!
The following day its mid 30's again so we lie about in Sheep Meadow in Central Park for the day before heading to the Hudson River in the evening to see the Macy's 4th of July fireworks over the river - very cool!
Our last day is another 36 degree day in heat wave hit New York. We head up to 80th and Broadway to Zabar's - a NY institution in terms of all things bagel and breakfasty. We line up a bagel with cream cheese, mmm. Even sceptical Ryan, who wonders why he has been made to walk all the way to this Zabar's place, likes the bagel.
We head back downtown after that, to Battery Park, full of vendors selling icon images of NY and artists offering to draw caricatures of you. We then walk uptown to Little Italy and Mulberry Street - a gangster hang out back in the day. Its ridicuously hot and back at our hostel I head off to seek the air conditioning of a movie theatre in the hope I can catch a screening of Sex and the City. I strike it lucky with a screening starting 10 minutes after I join the ticket queue! It's pretty cool to see the NYC landmarks on the big screen that we've just taken in over the past 5 days!
And that bought to an end our time in NYC! New York, New York, we loved you!