Half a day….
That’s how long I spent sitting on a cramped coach, it’s one thing sleeping…I like sleep, sleep is good – boring – but good, dreams are good too, I have nothing against sleep, the only problem I have is sleeping in a moving vehicle with very little leg room and uncomfortable seats, consequently all of this put together – my demand for sleep and the reasons for me not to be able to sleep – means that little sleep was consumed on the journey.
The first coach driver we had was a pretty cool guy, but obviously on laws prohibit them from driving for 12 hours straight so we had to change drivers.
You would expect a person who was a coach driver to know how to drive a coach, or even how to start one, the first driver had to give the replacement a crash course in how to turn the ignition off of all things, and from what I can gather he was under the impression the first driver parked somewhere other than the ground….
Along the way we stopped off at the New Jersey Turnpike for breakfast and a rest from sitting down (we were about 30 minutes from the hotel, I don’t think anyone was in the mood to do very much else).
Our driver managed to excel even more and took about 15 minutes to find the hotel – driving down every road except the one he was supposed to and then managed to park in a place causing the maximum amount of disruption.
By the time we actually got to the West Side Y we only had about 45 minutes till the scheduled city tour, so we dumped our bags and cursed the fact that we hadn’t had any sleep.
The City Tour took a few hours and showed us some of the main parts of Manhattan, we stopped off at Greenwich Town and had a subway before starting the journey back to the hotel.
Some of you may know that on Thanksgiving Day there is a parade through Manhattan, the night before they blow up the big balloons that will be used the next morning…we found this out while wandering around and decided to ‘follow the crowd’ and take some photos of the balloon blowing ceremony.
If I haven’t mentioned it before – I like sleep…..and I didn’t get much, a combination of a late night and early morning obviously means I was tired..
The first thing on the agenda was to go and watch the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade, we were out the door by 8am and wondered around trying to find somewhere decent to watch from. The weather was nothing more than a typical Manhattan day from what I can tell, dull and pouring with rain so standing outside wasn’t the greatest thing (the result of this is that I now have a cold). We stayed for a few hours and then decided to go back inside and warm up, we were soaking and cold so it was a welcome event.
The next item on the agenda was to go into Times Square, we were warned about the amount of people that would be there but we weren’t prepared for the amount of people that actually were there, plus the weather was still an issue. We had two tasks in Time Square, the first was to find where the camera on www.earthcam.com was and the second was to find David Blaine. The first one was successful however finding David Blaine was a different matter, every cop we asked had no idea where he was and although we didn’t explore too much we still have no idea where he was hiding.
The final stop was to Ground Zero – the site of the World Trade Centre. It’s hard to believe that it’s a little over 5 years since I awoke to the breaking news, seeing it in real life after seeing it so many times on TV makes you realise just how much damage was done.
After we decided to go back and dry off and spend the rest of the evening getting over the days walking ready for another day, this time (we hoped) with better weather.
Sometimes everything goes wrong, things collude together to spoil whatever it is that was planned.
However this was not one of those days, after raining on our parade (literally) the day before, we awoke to glorious blue skies – something we’d hoped would happen but weren’t ready to play the odds game on.
Like every other day we woke up at some unearthly hour, lacking the major ingredient of sleep we managed to drag ourselves outside and get one with the day without too much resistance from our bodies.
Once we were out in the bright Manhattan sunshine we walked about taking as many photos as possible, wandering around the odd shop that we happened to walk past on the way. On the way we saw a spectacular site – a steady stream of about 50+ Santa’s walking the streets waving and ringing bells…..Don’t ask me why but it was pretty funny to watch.
This is not the first time we’ve seen a group crazy people wearing red walking the streets, in DC we saw the same thing expect they weren’t Santa’s they were just people dressed in red running a mini marathon for charity….coincidence, I think not.
NBC Studio Tour
The previous week we’d booked tickets to go to the NBC Studio’s and go on a tour in the Rockefeller Centre. Before the tour we looked around the NBC shop to see what amazing stuff was there, and of course I just had to get the Studio 60 T-shirt and Baseball hat, in fact I probably would go as far as to say I would have bought the entire shop if everything had a Studio 60 logo.
I’ve never really been in a TV studio before so it was a great first time experience, the studio’s were pretty small and although I had no idea about the shows that they were for it was still a great way to spend an hour or so.
Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos so the only ones I have are of the outside.
Empire State Building
After the NBC tour and wandering around Time Square taking photos and grabbing a quick bite to eat we decided to head on over to the Empire State Building – thinking that there wasn’t going to be that long a queue since it was about 5pm).
3 Hours of waiting later – and after missing sunset we got up to the 86th floor, the sight was possibly the most spectacular of the entire trip – overlooking the entire of New York City.
After taking nearly 200 photos from what seemed like the top of the world we went back to the hotel and dumped all the shots we’d got so far onto our laptops to clear some much needed space for the next place on the list.
New York at Night – This City never sleeps
Knowing that we didn’t have much time left we hurried out with the intention of taking photos of Time Square at night, we packed our cameras, tripods and spare equipment and hit the sidewalk.
First thing was food, we hadn’t had much all day and we were pretty hungry so we decided to go to the ESPN Zone, an ESPN Burger later we were pretty full, the ESPN Zone is a pretty cool place, knowing that the great Nick Landry once visited.
When we’d finished we strolled outside and explored the hub of the city – Time Square.
It’s true what they say about New York, the city never sleeps, there is always things happening – shopping, entertainment – you name it there is probably somewhere open where you can do it.
While we were walking around we saw a few NYPD bikes parked up ready to spring into action, we asked one of the cops if we could get a picture on them.
We spent several hours walking around, taking photos and looking in the odd shop but soon it came time to leave – we didn’t want to but we knew if we didn’t we would end up walking the streets all night, by this time it was 2am and we were wide awake taking in the wonders we saw.
While waiting for the train to arrive at the subway station we enjoyed what was almost a mini concert, the guy singing was not your average homeless person, he was dressed very smart and seemed to be doing it because he enjoyed the music rather than anything else, it gave the station a nice community feel to it since everyone in their was mesmerised by his performance.
Yet again (and for the final time) we awoke early and was out by 8am, as it was our last day and we were leaving that evening we decided to do all the things we hadn’t already done and try and get some good photos of the things that we did when the weather wasn’t so good.
The first stop was the ABC Studios a few blocks from our hotel, then on the way back a stroll through Central Park, I would have liked to get more photos of it from different parts but there just wasn’t the time left to spend too long walking around it.
At around 9.30 we got back to the hotel and put our bags into a room where they could be locked up and stored until we arrived later in the evening. Once that was taken care of it was out again, this time the destination was Lower Manhattan.
Statue of Liberty
We took the subway and arrived in Lower Manhattan. We’d been advised that it wasn’t worth going up the Statue of Liberty – and it was good that we were because the queue would have taken us longer than the Empire State queue.
Instead of taking the ferry across to the Statue of Liberty we decided to take the Staten Island Ferry Tour around the Hudson River – which took us around the island of Manhattan showing us the Brooklyn Bridge, World Trade site and Ellis Island (the island where the Statue of Liberty is). It lasted about an hour and gave us a look at the city from a different perspective.
After the ferry tour we walked around Battery Park and took some photos or it and a building used in Men in Black. After it was time to take the subway back up to 5th Avenue and walk around time square again to visit the Rockefeller Centre.
After the spectacular view from the Empire State Building the previous evening we decided to do the same during the day to give us what we hoped was another spectacular experience. Unlike the Empire State building we didn’t have to queue for hours (if we had to we wouldn’t have been able to go up).
Once we were up we weren’t disappointed with what we saw, the view was almost as good as at night, the weather conditions were slightly hazy but there was hardly a cloud in the sky. The view from the top was spectacular, seeing the city in both times of day from that high up was something I really wanted to do.
We did some last minute souvenir shopping once we got back down on terra-firma and again wandered around taking in all we could in the time we had remaining.
At this point it was time to leave, four days and not much sleep later it was all over, back to Charlotte.
There were 100 more things that I would have liked to do, New York is a great place and I loved every minute of it, hopefully someday I will return…