New York, USA

Where: New York, New York, USA baby.

When: February 2008 and New Years Eve 2010/11.

Why? My first trip to New York was a 29th birthday trip with my mum (I was 29, not my mum). I then returned to New York for a date with my lovely Canadian boyfriend (now husband) in December 2010. We were in NYC for NYE.

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Map

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Intro

2008

New York is iconic. Every street, every building, every horizon looks familiar – because they are. You’ve seen them a million times before on TV, in the movies, in art, on posters and, sadly, also in the news.

We went to New York for my 29th birthday. We did loads of cool touristy things and missed a million more. New York is great for a city break as there is just so much to do.

I liked New York and I hope I can go back, but, it wasn’t what I was expecting. Manhattan is not the bustling, busy place I thought it would be. In some ways, I found it to be quite quiet, slightly antiseptic and mildly boring (especially the night life). Just looking at London exhausts me, but I didn’t get that with New York. Maybe it’s because we stayed in Manhattan and the real life of the city is in the ‘burbs’.

However, it might also have been quiet because all the New Yorkers were sensibly wrapped up warm inside, as it was freezing when we visited. I think New York would be a completely different city in the sunshine. I’d love to return to find out.

2010/11

And two years later I did return – though in winter again, in the middle of one of the biggest snow storms for decades, so I still haven’t seen the city in the sunshine.

Jeff (Canadian) and I (English) had been dating around the world, and it was my turn to cross the Atlantic. I would have liked to have met him in Canada, but as it was much cheaper for me to fly to New York via Canada (don’t ask), and as Jeff had not visited New York before, we decided to meet there.

I really didn’t know if I’d make it to New York as the day of my trans-Atlantic flight, New York had a huge snow storm (or a huge dump as they call it (snigger)) which closed all of the airports and pretty much shut down the city. My friends who were due to fly to New York directly, their flight was cancelled. Luckily, my flight to Canada was running, and then my flight to New York the next morning was one of the first flights into the just-cleared airport.

We also didn’t know if Jeff would get there, as he was travelling to New York by train from Montreal. Thanks to the serendipity of travel we both made it.

The snow did affect our holiday though. I have never seen snow like it! It was higher than cars. For our first few nights we were staying on Staten Island and we had a lot of problems getting to and from the hotel – so on our first day, instead of haring off round the city, we just had a nice time hanging out together in the suburbs around the hotel.

We moved to Manhattan for New Year’s Eve and stayed on Canal Street (the Ca in TriBeCa). I’ve written more about what we did and how we celebrated NYE in the What we Did section.

Again, I liked New York and thought it was a great city – but again, it was quieter than I expected and again, we missed so many sights. That’s twice I’ve been now and I’ve still not seen half of the museums, parks, shops and tourist attractions. Oh well, I’ll have to go back again!

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Getting there

2008

We flew from Heathrow to Newark Liberty Airport (which is in New Jersey) and then out of JFK. We flew with Virgin Atlantic, one of my favourite airlines. The flights were about £350 each and the flight time six hours.

As we were getting in quite late, and because Newark is about 40 minutes out of the city centre, we pre-booked our airport transfer through Opodo. This cost about £15 each.

To get to JFK we took the metro. That took about an hour from Manhatten. More info on the subways/metro (including maps) can be found at www.mta.info/nyct.

Flying in to a frozen Newark Airport, December 2010.
Flying in to a frozen Newark Airport, December 2010.

2010/11

I flew to New York Newark Liberty Airport with Air Canada. I flew there via Toronto; then I flew back via Montreal. The flight cost £400.

I had an eight-hours, overnight transfer at Toronto so I booked an airport hotel through Air Canada. It only cost me £30 for a the nice Four Points by Sheraton hotel. To get to the hotel, there was a transfer bus. This departed from the bottom floor of the terminal.

On my way back, I had a five hour transfer in Montreal and this was enough time to pop into the city. I caught Express Bus 747 from the airport to the central station (45 minutes) and this cost me $8 (about £3).

To be allowed into America you need an ESTA visa thingy. This costs £10 and is really easy to process online at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta. It lasts one year. 

Please note, for some crazy reason, when you fly from Canada to the USA you have to go through customs and immigration at the Canadian end. Why, I do not know. You’d think it would be a bit more sensible to do this when you go into the USA when you’re not rushing to do things like get flights etc. It involved a lot of queuing and seemed to take forever.

To get from Newark Airport to the city centre I caught the AirTrain to the station ($5.50/£2.50), and then an Amtrak train into the city. The Amtrak train was scary: it was so over-crowded that I was pushed into the open section between the carriages, and so was outside being snowed on, with only a loose chain to hold me onto the train. I managed to wedge my leg into the carriage end, but it was so unsafe. I don’t know why so many people thought they could get onto the train, but it was dangerous and not nice. Especially when we stopped in the tunnels under the city with the drips and the rats.

The train came into Penn Station, which is the most horrible station in the world. It’s a dark, dingy, lightless, concrete jungle with no signs, no meeting points, no maps etc. There were homeless people huddling by the fan heaters in the lower layers, as they would have frozen if they had been outside (poor things). I later had to meet Jeff at Penn Station and I had to spend a few hours there waiting for his delayed train. It was not fun. The information desk was rubbish and didn’t have a clue where the trains were. They told me Jeff’s train was going to be another two hours (it was already two hours late), and then ten minutes later it arrived. And nobody would tell me which platform, and everyone was really unhelpful and Jeff and I nearly missed each other because there are so many layers and lost corners and tunnels to this station. Luckily, he spotted my bright blue coat so we were OK, otherwise we could both still be wandering around central New York looking for each other. There are lots of good shops at Penn Station though, just in case you do get stuck here for a few hours.

To get from Penn Station to our hotel in Staten Island, we caught the Metro to the Staten Island Ferry; took the free Staten Island Ferry over to Staten Island (waving hello to Lady Liberty on the way); and then we caught bus number S62 over to our hotel on the far side of the island. The bus took over an hour to get to the hotel – but god bless their cotton socks, they still ran, despite the snow, and they ran till late at night.

You can find out all of the transport information you need at www.mta.info/nyct.

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Getting about

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We mostly got about on foot in New York, although for longer journeys we took the subway train. I didn’t actually think that the subways were that good as they were dark and grotty, and the lines didn’t seem to run where you needed them to (underground trains don’t really work in cities built on a grid pattern, not being built in a grid pattern themselves). New York – you deserve a better transport system than this.

However, the good thing about the subways is that it is like taking a movie tour: get on a train in the station from Crocodile Dundee, change at the station from Ghost, then get the A-Train uptown. Like I said in the intro – the whole city is iconic.

More info on the subways (including maps) can be found at www.mta.info/nyct.

There is a good bus system on Staten Island and the Staten Island Ferry is free and really efficient. There are shops and facilities at both ferry terminals.It ran despite the snow.

My one bug-bear about the New York transport system is that New Jersey did not connect to Staten Island even though they are right next door to each other. To get to our hotel on Staten Island I had to go via Manhattan, a journey which took me a good four hours, even though it would have only taken fifteen minutes to drive from Newark.

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What we did on our holidays

2008

Visited Times Square

Mum in Times Square, New York City, USA.
Mum in Times Square, New York City, USA.

Our hotel was just off Times Square, so the first thing we did when we arrived was head off to a diner on Times Square for huge burgers and shakes (even though it was 11 at night).

Times Square is the heart of New York. It’s where Broadway crosses 7th avenue. The illuminated signs are brilliant to see; you can get the time from the Times Clock; sign up to join the American army; watch the television and buy cheap theatre tickets. You have to go to Times Square, and you’ll probably travel through it at least once. There’s not actually that much to do at Times Square unless you are shopping, but it’s a definite must-see and a great place to spend half an hour. It’s possibly the most iconic place in the world and its like being on a movie set.

I had very strange jet-lag the first time we ventured into Times Square, and I kept thinking the floor was vibrating (maybe it was), and the noise, the crowds, the touts and the traffic, the lights, the hustle and the bustle all made for a very crazy, strange introduction to this brilliant city.

Empire State Building

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Again, another icon. In fact, the Empire State Building is possibly the most iconic building in the world! It had to be done.

You access the Empire State Building on 5th Avenue. The lobby contains a beautiful ornate, golden memorial.

You can go up to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, or if you’re really ace and cool and hard, you can pay extra to go up to go up to floor 102. We went to floor 102 and it was brilliant! There were stupendous views; you’re nearly in space at floor 102 (we had to wear oxygen masks); you can touch the clouds and see the curvature of the earth (some of this is true). It’s well worth going as high as possible, even though you do have to pay more.

Apparently there are normally huge(!) queues to go into the Empire State Building, but we were lucky and we were able to go straight to the top. We spent at least an hour at the observation platforms, just looking at the views and trying to work out what/where everything is.

The only problem with the Empire State Building, is that you can’t see the Empire State Building from it. The Empire State Building is such an integral part of the New York skyline, but you can’t see it when you’re on it. In some ways it’s better to go to the Top of the Rock at the Rockerfeller Building, so that you get to see this beautiful, art-deco skyscraper.

It cost us $20/£10 and the tour took about 2 hours in total.

www.esbnyc.com

Battery Park

Battery Park is where NY was founded, and the old Dutch fort (Castle Clinton) is still there. You can go inside and see the walls and the cannons etc. The park is named Battery Park for the battery of guns that used to stand here to defend the island.

Battery Park is a nice space at the tip of Manhattan. There are nice grounds to wander, a garden of remembrance for those who died in the September 11 tragedy and from here there are great views over the islands.

In the centre of Battery Park is a stunning monument to those who died on September 11th. The Golden Globe statue (The Sphere), which used to sit outside the Twin Towers, now sits in Battery Park – torn and broken. It is a very painful reminder of what happened. Seeing the site and being in the city, it’s hard today to comprehend the scale of the atrocity (even though we all watched it on TV). This iconic, huge, metal statue, ripped to pieces, somehow encapsulates the violence of what happened.

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The other memorials that we saw which really moved us were the memorials on the front of the fire stations; the memorials to lost colleagues. It was heart-breakingly painful to see the smiling faces of those who died on that day.

The ferry to Ennis Island and the Statue of Liberty departs from Battery Park (which is why we were there). It also normally has great views apparently – but when we were there it was snowing quite heavily so you really couldn’t see much.

www.thebattery.org

Ferry trip past the Statue of Liberty

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When we visited New York it was February and it was freezing(!) and very snowy. Whilst waiting in the huge queues to board the ferry to the Statue of Liberty at Battery Park, the wind built up, it started to snow, and we didn’t know if our ferry would run. Five minutes into the trip, it was a complete white-out and you couldn’t see New York. Fifteen minutes into the trip, it was beautifully clear and we had gorgeous blue skies and fabulous views.

However, because it was so cold and because the weather was being so temperamental and there was a chance the ferry would be stopped, we decided to stay on the boat and not actually get off at the Statue of Liberty. (I think sub-consciously we only wanted to get close anyhow to take photos,  and we were really tired, and cold and jet-lagged anyhow). We’ll have to go back to climb into her hat.

Like many celebrities, the Statue of Liberty is smaller than you expect, but very, very beautiful (and iconic).

The ferry was very busy, but we were able to get seats. There was a shop on board and the whole boat trip took one and a half to two hours.

www.nps.gov/stli.

Walked up 5th Avenue, past Wall Street

There had been ticker-tape parade at the bottom of 5th avenue and the street was littered with small pieces of paper and snow.

Wall Street does not look like you would expect it to (it’s actually quite boring and normal), though the federal reserve, which is bedecked with the huge American flag, is well cool.

Visited the American Museum of Natural History

To get to the American Museum of Natural History we walked down 8th Avenue and through Central Park. I have never been so cold in my life as when we were in Central Park. I had eight layers on and it still hurt. Central Park is colder than the rest of the city as you don’t have the skyscrapers to shield you from the biting north winds. Later on, when it had warmed up slightly, we saw a thermometer and it was minus-8 degrees celsius! I know those of you reading this in Canada will think that’s warm, but for us Brits that is freezing. (I have since writing this been in a Canadian winter when it was -39 degrees Celcius and I can laugh at my British naivety).

Anyhow, the American Museum of Natural History is the museum which stars in Night at the Museum and the Day After Tomorrow.

The American Museum of Natural History looks exactly as a museum should: it’s a wonderful stately, imposing building which sits on the edge of Central Park, and in the entrance hall there are two huge dinosaurs (one of which had two brains, dinosaur fact fans). They are huge and brilliant.

There are loads if cool things in the museum: loads of dinosaurs, crazy prehistoric animals, space stuff, some geology, and a planetarium. Mum nearly got us thrown out of the Planetarium because she was giggling so loudly at the commentary (it opened with ‘Hi. I’m Robert Redford.’) There was also an exhibition on space narrated by Maya Angelou. Now I’m one of the biggest Maya Angelou fans (I studied her for A-level English literature), but I’m not sure that she’s an expert in space travel, and so I’m not really sure what she was doing here, though she did have the most beautiful voice.

www.amnh.org

Got gridlocked in Harlem

Everywhere we went in New York, there were touts for the City Sights Bus Tours. As it was freezing and we wanted to see more of upper Manhattan, we decided to take the uptown tour.

As this was my birthday, we first went to the International Food Centre to buy a luxury picnic to eat on the bus (which included blue crisps).

We then stood in the cold for nearly an hour waiting for the right bus. We were about to give up when we were told to get on a bus, then we were told to get off that bus and to wait for another. We were just about to give up again when finally the right bus turned up and we were able to go off on our trip.

If I haven’t mentioned before, New York in February is cold and snowy. In fact it was snowing inside our glass roofed bus. Our guide was a young, bitter New Yorker who had obviously been thrown out of Columbia University (sample guiding: ‘The guy who designed Central Park was a loser’). He was trying to fend off politically sensitive questions from a crazy, French tourist (‘So, how do you think the world views America after the Gulf War’); and then we got grid-locked in Harlem.

Because NYC is built on a grid-system, if one road gets blocked, all the roads get blocked. Because of the snow and ice, the lorries and buses couldn’t get up the steep, snowy streets around Columbia University – and so we got stuck. By this point, and after all the waiting, I was bursting for a wee – but the guide wouldn’t let me get off the bus until we got to a designated stop. By the time we finally got to Harlem I was going to my mum through gritted teeth ‘get me off this ***ing bus’ (Sorry mum) – and finally we were free! It was minus-7, we were on 110th Street, and I think every single passenger escaped at this point and got the subway back (those that didn’t have probably gone feral, and are still lost in Central Park, with a rabid guide gnawing on the leg-bone of a crazy French man).

To be fair, it was actually quite funny and makes for a good story. I’m not sure I thought that at the time though.

Before we got gridlocked we saw a lot of interesting things including Central Park, John Lennon’s House, the area around Columbia University and Harlem.

Went to the Top of The Rock

My favourite part of our New York trip was our visit to the Top of the Rock at the top of the Rockerfeller Buiding.

The Rockerfeller Building has the famous ice rink outside, a huge shopping centre at the bottom, it contains the NBC studios (which you can also visit) and is right next door to MOMA and Radio City.

www.rockefellercenter.com

The viewing platform (called Top of the Rock) is on floor 70. This isn’t as high as the Empire State Building, but I thought it was better – because you get to see the Empire State Building. We visited at sunset and the top of the Empire State Building sparkled with the twinkling lights of visitor’s camera flashes. Looking down to Lower Manhattan, out over the Hudson, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, with the sunset behind them was simply, stunningly stupendous!

It was one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen.

When I could tear myself away from looking downtown, I wandered to the other side of the observation deck to gaze down over upper Manhattan, Central Park and the UN building, but then as soon as I turned and caught sight of the downtown view again, and the Empire State Building – I’d get hypnotised by the beauty and have to go back for another look. It may have been the jet-lag, it may have been the birthday cocktail, but I was simply full of wonder at this amazing city. As I say, it was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.

To visit the Top of the Rock observatory it cost us $21.

www.topoftherocknyc.com

Went to a show on Broadway

We went to see Chorus Line on Broadway on my 29th birthday. Chorus Line is a Broadway show about people auditioning to be in a Broadway show. It was good and I’m glad we went, just so that I can say ‘been there, done that’ – although to confess, the show wasn’t really my cup of tea and I had a terrible cough in the theatre. I had to mainline polo mints.

We bought our tickets from the discount ticket office just off Times Square, but they were still incredibly expensive (I think about £50 each). But like the Singapore Sling, it’s an over-priced tourist cliché which has to be done and a once in a lifetime experience. Thanks mum.

Took a downtown tour

As we only had half a day on our final day, but still had loads of stuff that we wanted to see, we took a downtown bus tour (even after the trauma of the day before). The guided bus took us through central Manhattan, past Madison Square Gardens, through Tri-be-ca, Soho and Greenwich, past Fisherman’s Wharf and Brooklyn Bridge, past the twin towers site, through China Town, through Little Italy and Hell’s Kitchen and past the UN building. It was a whistle stop tour of the places which we’d missed, and a great thing for tired, jet lagged ladies to do on a freezing, overcast day.

www.citysightsny.com

Shopped

Everybody raves about the shopping in New York, but we didn’t find it to be that good. In Manhattan, most of the shops appeared to be high-end, designer stores and very expensive. We did go in Barneys and I got a little brown bag and a big brown bag from Bloomingdales, but neither mum or I bought much. To be honest though, we were a little defeated by the torrential rain. We were soaked through to the skin and cold, and I think we were both aware we had a plane to catch, so it wasn’t as much fun as it could have been.

However, my friend Adam who has been to NY many times to visit family, says that I was just in the wrong place and that I should have gone to the Staten Island Mall, which has more normal, high street shops.

2010/11

When we returned in 2010, we spent the first day just pottering about around our hotel on Staten Island. It was too snowy to get anywhere else. However, we had a lovely day running around in the snow, sitting in warm restaurants drinking wine and eating pasta, and generally just enjoying being together.

cropped DSCF5317This was Jeff’s first visit to New York, so on our second day we caught the bus and the ferry to Manhattan where we visited Wall Street, Broadway and Times Square (which was very crowded). We ate hot dogs on street corners, and went to the Times Square diner that mum and I had previously visited. We had New York cheesecake, which defeated me again. We went to Radio City and Rockerfella, where we bought tickets to go to the Top of the Rock on New Years Eve. I had a hug off Spanish Elmo and Cookie Monster (which was very warm and cosy), and then we wandered down 5th Avenue towards Central Park.

We went in the toy shop from the film Big, FAO Schwartz, and spent a good hour playing with all of the toys. We then wandered through Central Park, through the snow and past the ice rink, to the Times Warner Building, which is where I thought the restaurant Mars 2112 is located. I’d wanted to go to this Mars themed restaurant on my first visit to New York, but hadn’t had time – so I was determined to go back this time. But we couldn’t find it, and as we had no guide book and no way of looking up the address we actually just ended up faffing about. We eventually found out that Mars 2112 is just off Times Square and that we’d probably already walked past it. Sadly, Mars 2112 closed in 2012, just in time for its minus-centenary anniversary.

Watched the sun set on 2010 (see photo at the top)

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On our third day, which was New Year’s Eve, we moved to our hotel in Soho. In the afternoon/evening we went to watch the sun set on 2010 from the Rockerfella centre. It was one of the most magical, fiery red, hazy sunsets I have ever seen and absolutely beautiful. It was a wonderful end to a wonderful year.

Celebrated NYE in NYC

We had initially thought about going to Times Square for NYE, but when we discovered that you had to get there hours before midnight, that no booze was allowed and there were no toilets – we decided that it didn’t sound like so much fun – and so instead we decided to go and find some bars in Soho.

Like on our last visit, we found it really hard to find night life in NYC. We wandered for ages down Broadway and through Soho before we finally found a bar, and they didn’t seem to be that bothered about NYE. It was nice though, and it had a wide selection of ales and boozes.

Jeff and I celebrated English New Year at 7pm, then carried on drinking until New York new year. At some point we found a new bar where people were a lot more friendly and where they were having a proper party. We were given free silly head gear and free champagne at midnight and we had a great time. We even made some friends (including Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, the owner).

Well after midnight, we headed back to our lovely hotel, and we were delighted to find the bagel shop open next door – so we bought a post-party feast of smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels and pizza. It was a great way to start the new year.

Southport Seaport and Pier 17

A colleague of mine sailed an old sailing ship from the Canary Islands to New York, and this is now harboured in the Southport Seaport museum, so I promised him that we’d go to have a look at his ship. This we did on New Year’s Day. Also, this is an interesting historical part of the city, so we thought it would be an interesting place to wander about.

First though, we needed hang-over lunch. We found a great pub opposite the wharf, which served great, stodgy, heart-warming pub food and which had a beer competition (you had to guess the type of beer).

Inside Southport Seaport is a mall and we went in here to have a look around the shops and to warm up.

www.southstreetseaport.com

Walked Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges

Brooklyn Bridge on the right; Manhattan Bridge on the left. New York, USA.
Brooklyn Bridge on the right; Manhattan Bridge on the left. We walked both of these.

We decided to walk Brooklyn Bridge as a way to see more of the city and to get some exercise and fresh air. However, New York is not really built for pedestrians and is not very good when it comes to signs, so we spent ages trying to find how to get onto the pedestrianised section of the bridge. We spent quite a while wandering around the grotty area under the bridge before we found the hidden steps up to the pathway (by City Hall).

The bridge walk however was worth it. You get amazing views of the city and it’s really exciting being up above the traffic. Also, this bridge feels old and historic, what with the wooden walkways and the memorial stones. We were there in the dark and so there were great views of the night time city scape. It took us about 20 minutes to walk the bridge.

Our initial plan had been to walk the Brooklyn Bridge and then get the metro back to our hotel – but when we got to the other side of the bridge, there were no signs and we ended up lost again. We followed random roads, jumping over huge puddles and snow drifts, heading towards train tracks, but never did find a station. Instead, totally exhausted by now, we found the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge and so we decided to walk back again. Unlike the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan was a little scary. There was a pedestrianised walkway but it was right next to the Metro Line and there were very few people about.

Anyway, by this point we decided we might as well walk all the way back to our hotel, so we wandered through China Town and had a nice walk, looking at interesting shops, markets and restaurants.

Maybe we should have had a map or a guide book – that would have helped.

For more information on how to walk the Brooklyn Bridge and how to find subways near to Brooklyn Bridge visit the About Brooklyn website. I so wish we’d read this before we went.

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Where we stayed

2008

The Milford Plaza (now called Row NYC)

Accommodation in New York is expensive. It took us a long time to find somewhere that wasn’t preposterously expensive. Eventually we found a hotel on 8th avenue and 49th street – not realising that we’d actually found one of the best located hotels, which is on the same block as Times Square and which backs onto one of the Broadway theatres (Rufus Sewell was playing there whilst we were in New Yoik, and though we often walked past the stage door at closing time – we didn’t see him. Boo.)

The Milford Plaza hotel was OK. The rooms were a bit small but were alright .There weren’t a lot of facilities (only a coffee shop and a shop on the ground floor) but as we were right in the heart of everything, this wasn’t really a problem.

The strangest thing about the Milford Plaza was the lifts. For some reason, the buttons were on the outside of the lift – not inside them, so you selected your floor, then got in the lift. This meant though, that if you missed your floor, you had to go all the way back to the ground floor to be able to press the button to go back up again – and there were 29 floors so this could take a bit of time. I saw one bunch of lovely Irish ladies go up and down five times! Very strange. Also, the doormen called my mum Grandma and asked us if we needed help using the escalators. Come on guys – my mum flies aeroplanes!

After we visited the hotel closed for a few years, they then reopened after a refurbishment, then closed again and they’re now called Row NYC.

www.rownyc.com

Jazz on the Park

If I had gone on my own, I would have stayed here. Next time.

www.jazzhostels.com/jazzonthepark

2010/11

As I said above, accommodation in New York is expensive – and at New Year it’s even worse. Jeff and I decided that we didn’t mind staying off Manhattan for the first few days, but that we did want to be on the island for new year. It took us a long time to find hotels but eventually we found the following:

Comfort Inn, Staten Island

American hotels are great. Even chain hotels are really well set up for travellers. The Comfort Inn had great, comfy, warm rooms with all the facilities we could need. There was a good, free breakfast each morning (waffles, cereal, Lucky Charms, eggs, toast etc.), free cookies in reception, and they provided a microwave and basic cooking facilities, in case we wished to bring our own food into the hotel (why can’t British hotels do that?).

My only bug-bear with the hotel was the location. It’s not in a particularly glamorous area; the hotel is located by a main highway, on an estate with a bowling alley, a gym and a Wendys, and it was a little bit far away from everything, on the other side of Staten Island to Manhattan. However, there was a nice suburb near by with a few shops and restaurants and we managed to get around, even in the heavy snow.

The room cost £40/ night and I booked it through Expedia.

www.comfortinn.com/hotel-staten_island-new_york-NY470

Sheraton Tribeca, NY Hotel, Canal Street, Manhattan

I don’t know how Jeff got such a good deal for this place, but I’m so glad he did. The Sheraton Tribeca was a newly opened hotel in the heart of Manhattan, in the Soho district.

The room was amazing! It had one of the hugest, most comfiest beds ever, a great bathroom, a living room area and it was huge! It was a warm, cosy sanctuary form the nasty cold and snow outside.

The staff were really friendly. We thought they might be a bit off with us scruff-bags, but they couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful – even when working on New Years Eve and New Years Day.

There was internet in the lobby and a Starbucks for late night hot chocolates. Also, there was a brilliant 24 hour bagel shop next door for midnight snacks. I’d definitely stay here again.

Jeff booked the hotel through Travelocity and it cost £160 per night, which may sound a lot (OK, it is), but for Manhattan on New Year, it was a good deal.

www.sheratontribeca.com

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Top Tips

  • A really useful website to find out everything you need to know about NYC is NYC Go.
  • Food portions in New York are ginormous. I have a picture of my mum with a croissant and it was bigger than her head!
  • I got freaked out by the steam coming from the top of the skyscrapers. It also comes out of the road – although that is cool and very ghost busters.
  • It is the law that if say the word downtown, you must sing it to the tune of Petula Clarke’s ‘Downtown’. And if you say the word uptown, you must sing it in the style of Billy Joel’s ‘Uptown Girl’. Americans love it when you do this and if you don’t they will poke you with sharp sticks.
  • The Avenues run up the island, the streets go across. 7th Avenue is approximately in the middle. Broadway is an awkward bugger and just goes where the hell it wants to at a 30 degree angle across the island. 42nd street to 49th street is Broadway and Times Square; 110th street is Harlem and the top of Central Park.
  • There’s not a lot of shopping at JFK, so if you want anything, get it in New York.
  • Most coffee shops and fast food stores have toilets, but you usually have to go and ask for the key.

 

Disclaimer

Please note, some, if not much of this information may not be correct, or may be out of date. All these articles show is how we found these places when we visited and what we personally thought of each place. Where possible I will include links to site which will contain more up-to-date info. All of this is my own work and any opinion expressed is that of the author only.

All photos copyright of J Clemo-Halpenny. If you would like to copy or reproduce any of these images, please email me to ask permission.

One thought on “New York, USA

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