Well, it seemed like we blinked and it was all over having arrived back yesterday morning after a four night stay! Will try to keep things brief....
Arrived into JFK just after mid-day, Virgin flight on the way out was pretty good, food quite nice and lovely cabin crew. Despite hearing horror stoies about immigration and delays we were through security and into a taxi by 1pm. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza on broadway and were there just after 2pm, more on the hotel later.
We had some lunch in the hotel bar while waiting for our room to be ready and checked in just after 3pm, given a nice doube bedded corner room on the 23rd floor with views of the hudson. Rather than allow ourselves to be overcome with tiredness we threw on an extra layer and headed out to TS to find spiderman directing traffic and posing on the sidewalk, yep, we had arrived! I had pre purchased ESB tickets so we decided to head down there, doing a spot of shopping en route. ESB was great, no queues, no touts, just straight up and enjoyed the view! Walk back to the hotel seemed very long with our tired legs.
After a great nights sleep (which surprised me) we had to decide on one of the itineraries I had created and we decided to go with the Central Park Day, breakfast was at Fluffys Cafe on the way. We walked past the Dairy, to Bethesda fountain, around Hans and Alice all the way up to Belvedere Castle and then across to AMNH. We decied to only do the one special exhibition (the Butterfly house) and picked our favourite halls to look around first. Lots of interesting displays there, possible the best thought and laid out we had ever seen. The butterfly house was fantastic, they were everywhere and the staff were fantastic with the guests.
We didn't leave the museum until around 5pm and walked back through Central Park, past the Lennon tribute and past the Bow Bridge to the Wollman rink where we did some crowd watching and took some night time shots. Dinner was at Pong Sri Thai because it was close to the hotel and we all love Thai food (and I let my daughter choose that night!).
Sunday the 17th
Breakfast at Cafe Edison while we decided what to do...
Today we decided to head West and do the USS Intrepid and the Water Taxi, oh my days it was FREEZING! The wind was absolutely bitter and we had to keep popping inside to try and warm our hands and faces up. The Intrepid was a treat for my fiance as he has wanted to see a Concorde close up for some time, he also went crazy when he saw the blackbird on the deck. The staff here were fantastic too, answering every question we had and offering lots of additional info. We had gotten a voucher for one free entry from Facebook so that was a little sweetener!
We spent a lot longer there than expected actually and didn't make it to the water taxi until the 4pm sailing which meant we decided to stay on the boat and do a full circle rather than get off at Battery Park which is what I had hoped to do. DC was the tour guide and we really enjoyed the commentary, not surprisingly we had the top deck almost to ourselves due to the temperature so loads of photos! My daughter was in awe of the SoL and we all loved the Brooklyn bridge, shame we didn't get to walk over it!
Walked back to the hotel late in the day and after a little snooze we had a quick look at the trip advisor app to see what was near by and highky rated and we took the plunge with Tony's Di Napoli.
Our last full day in the city and this was the 'everything else day'. This was our day to use our pre-paid TOTR tickets, see St Patricks, go to Grand Central, the Library etc. TOTR was fab, it was lovely and sunny and my favourite even though we did have a lot of confusion over actually collecting our tickets. I liked the fact that you could still get great views without going outside and we all had pics with the ESB in the background. Then we headed over to St Patricks but I hadn't realised it was under restoration and we could barely see any of the actual structure which was a bit of a shame but I know these things need to happen.
We then walked down to the Library which was shut as it was presidents day - oops! Over to Grand Central to marvel at the architecture and then along to Bryant Park to watch the skaters. A bit more shopping and photo taking on our way back to the hotel. Bit of dithering on tonights dinner location but finally settled on Virgils BBQ as we don't have that sort of cuisine anywhere locally at home.
Tuesday the 19th
Last day before 10pm flight back to the UK. I had promised my daughter some shopping so we headed over to 5th after doing the obligatory M&M world and toys 'r'us. Quickly realised most of the stores on 5th were way outside of her budget so resigned ourselves to getting her some new converse in Footlocker! Decided to try the Library again and also went inside St Patricks on our way past, really glad that we did both that day as both were amazing and it would have been a shame to miss them.
Flight home was full of miserable crew and bland food, reminds me why I love Emirates!
The hotel - I was a little apprehensive about TS due to all the negative press about it and yes, it was busy, but no more so than my local high street on a Saturday and I'd also read about aggressive touts....if you think these guys are aggressive then never go to Egypt, they are the definition of aggressive there. If someone approached us I said ' no thanks, we already have plans' and they left us alone. We didn't experience much in the way of traffic noise and our room was plenty big enough for the three of us - 2 adults and one teenager.
We walked everywhere, only using a taxi to and from the airport, all of our itinieraries were based on fairly local attractions so we walked them all without using the subway and for us, that was part of the experience. We really just ran out of time to do much further afield and I've put lots of things on the 'next time' list like Brooklyn, Greenwich Village etc.
In terms of Food - we really enjoyed all of our meals. Fluffys was great value and we had two good breakfasts at the Edison and one that was so-so but it was convenient being just a street away. I think our meal at Tonys was the best value with the entire meal being less than $80 before tip, loved the picture they take for you too. Starbucks provided a warm wifi respite for a mid morning or afternoon beverage!
We really did have a great trip and I have to say that the people in general were really great, helpful and friendly. Most of our annoyances were actually other rude tourists who pushed and shoved, demanded you take pictures for them and spoke to staff like they were worth nothing - very disgraceful.
Lots of things we would have done if we had been there as a couple that we didn't do this time but the trip was really for my daughter (it was a surprise xmas present for her and my fiance) and she really loved it. Thanks to all of those who answered questions over the past few months, I rarely posted as I was able to soak up so much knowlegde from the regulars!
Now I can count down to my honeymoon in the Maldives.....48 days to go :)