New York – Part 1

New York was amazing! But not at all what I expected it to be like.

I did expect it to be a Winter Wonderland, with snow on the ground and people rushing from shop to shop, their arms filled with bundles of presents while being illuminated by bright, twinkling lights. There were moments that were magical, but it was mainly just people just going about their lives – plus it was too warm to snow.

The flight out there was great, we had a row of three to ourselves, and with free-flowing beer, food and films it was perfect. Due to flying West, the sunset went on for hours. It was beautiful. I also remember flying over what must have been a remote part of Canada in the dark, seeing small clusters of lights on the coastline, with nothing in between.

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Sunset lasted about four hours.

We arrived at JFK super excited, but already shattered. We took the train from the airport and then changed twice to get the subway to the Upper West Side.

The next morning, we hopped on the subway with our shiny new 7 day travel cards and got off on 42nd Street. At first we were completely overwhelmed by how huge and vibrant all the buildings were. Then we gawped at the traffic, the street signs and the yellow cabs. We caught snippets of conversations in a variety of different accents and eventually dived into Applebee’s for some relief from the assault on our senses. And breakfast.

Eventually we braved the city streets again in search of Times Square. The sheer Wattage used in that area must be enough to power a small country! All of the billboards demand your immediate attention by flashing wildly while you try to manoeuvre round crowds of people, street performers dressed as Disney characters and the ever-honking traffic. But the effect is magical, and not one that could ever fully be captured by film or photo.

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After picking our jaws off the floor, we walked to Rockefeller Plaza. This was, apparently, the place to be as there were people everywhere. The majority of them were queuing for one thing or another – the main attraction being the skating rink in the shadow of the famous Christmas Tree.

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We strolled down Fifth Avenue admiring all the wonderful window displays until we got to Macy’s. D has wanted to visit Macy’s ever since he saw Miracle on 34th Street when he was little. This year,
Macy’s infamous holiday window display has been celebrating the 50 year anniversary of Peanuts.

Later on, we headed over to the High Line, a greenway that has been planted over the top of a disused railway. We hunted down some Geocaches on the 1.5 mile walk, successfully finding 2 out of the 4 we were looking for (which is a good success rate for us!).

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The next day, we raced down to the Empire State Building early and barely queued to get past the airport style security. We picked up our audio guides which talked us through the 86th floor – an exhibition of the construction of the building and then excitedly joined the shuffling queue for the elevator to the 102nd floor.

The view from the top was breathtaking, we stood in silence at the top simply marvelling at the views all around us. We started pointing out all the famous Manhattan landmarks, then all the boroughs that we knew.

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After setting our feet back on solid ground, we visited two gorgeous buildings – Grand Central Terminal, in which we marvelled at the beauty of its constellation inspired ceiling mural and the New York Public Library, in which we wandered to our hearts content looking at things here and there.

Right behind the Library is Bryant Park – where we had decided we would go ice skating at the Winter Village. Skating here is free, you just pay for the skate hire. We skated until after the sun set, and the sky lit up with lights from trees, cars and buildings all around us.

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In the evening, we went along to a UCB Stand Up Comedy Show, which was one of my Christmas presents to D. We saw a steady stream of comedians, including a cameo, who were all hilarious. It was a perfect way to finish off such a great day.

And now here’s part 2 and part 3.

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