Its been said before, but I have to say it again....thank you, thank you to the NYC Experts for the wonderful advice provided here. All of my planning for our November trip paid off, thanks to what I could read here. I’ve posted below not the longest trip report, but just some of our observations that may be helpful to others.
Who we are: Husband, Wife, Three Children (3, 11 and 12).
Travel dates: 2-10 November 2013.
Weather: Amazing! Only one rainy day but the rest of time was spent with glorious blue skies and cold winds – just the way we like it.
First up I have to make mention of the Jet Ease tablets. Although my family were sick of me handing over little white tablets to them every time they looked at me on the flight, they certainly were grateful once we arrived – no jetlag to speak of.
Airport transfer: Dial 7.
We made a reservation with Dial 7 prior to leaving Australia and can highly recommend this company. No dramas with our pick up – we collected our luggage and called their phone number and within 10 mins we were in our minivan off to our hotel. We paid the driver when we arrived at our hotel.
Accommodation: Affinia Shelburne.
Located on the 14th floor, we were very impressed with our one bedroom suite - was a great size to fit the 5 of us. The bedroom had two queen (maybe double) beds which our children slept in and then we slept on the (very very comfortable) sofa bed in the lounge room. There was enough room in the lounge room to leave the sofa bed out during the day and still have room to move. The bathroom was big enough, not the postage stamp size we were expecting, and the kitchenette worked well for us.
D’Agostino Grocers (http://www.dagnyc.com/) is located just behind the hotel where we stocked up on basics for the kitchen.
We also used the laundromat located behind the hotel – even though I believe the Affinia has a laundry in their basement (my idea of a holiday isn’t standing around doing laundry). It worked well. We dropped it off, paid by the kilo and picked it up that afternoon.
Subway navigation: seriously easy!
We purchased the 7 day unlimited metrocard and used the HopStop app and didn’t look back. The most difficult exercise about the subway was probably finding the elevator! So, if you were in NYC in early November you may have seen a couple, perhaps speaking quite tersely to each other, as we carted our stroller (with enormous toddler still sitting in it) up and the down the steps (apparently I wasn’t lifting it high enough or something...so Husband says).
We were averaging about 17,000 steps each day as reported on our pedometer. I actually wish we were wearing a GPS tracker to see our daily travels.
Where we ate
Breakfast near the hotel: for cheap and cheerful, Blooms Deli (http://www.bloomsnewyorkdeli.com/) or Pershing Square (http://www.pershingsquare.com/) which was a little more expensive. Actually, we’d often stop in at the Pershing Square at the end of our day when we were getting off the subway at Grand Central for a well earned drink!
Balthazar – significant birthday lunch was spent here. The food here was amazing (the Koulibiac was to die for) but we were rushed and I don’t like to feel rushed. We were there for exactly one hour and I wanted more time to enjoy the ambience.
Our favourite meal overall was at Mercato (http://www.mercatonyc.com/), thank you to Food Expert Ziggy! All the pastas were homemade and just delicious. The spinach and ricotta ravioli, the gnoochi in beef and pork ragu, the prosecco were oh so worth the walk there, AND the look of the owner when we arrived with our stroller (god forbid!). We had such an enjoyable night.
Smorgasburg in Brooklyn – was a great first day in NYC.
Delicious burgers at 5 Napkin Burgers on the UWS after hours and hours spent navigating the people at the American Museum of Natural History.
Jane’s Carousel: I just can’t explain the feeling I felt when I stood there looking at the gorgeous carousel and the surrounds. Looking up seeing the bridge, the skyline – I just wanted to cry, I couldn’t believe that we were finally there. Conde Nast Traveler Magazine has named the Carousel a New York, New Tradition – and I so wish we could be there again at Christmas time to enjoy it.
Central Park: The foliage! OMG, the colour of the foliage was just so dramatic and beautiful. We starting up at Strawberry Fields and just wandered. We ate hot dogs (yum!), we watched the street performers, we just sat, enjoying the serenity and spoke about what we'd do if we lived here, while the children played in the playgrounds, or climbed on the rocks. Did I mention the foliage?!
Matilda at the Shubert Theatre: My daughter AND 11 year old son loved this. We had excellent
seats three rows back on the first mezzanine, right in the centre. Totally worth the price we paid for the tickets. After the show we ordered up at Ben and Jerry’s and hustled about with the other gazillion people in Times Square. We didn’t get back to our hotel until about midnight – should also say, that the three of us we walked and felt very safe!
The start of the Christmas lights and ice skating: The children had an amazing time ice skating at the Rockefeller Centre. The Christmas tree was being put up this day, so there were cranes and crowds watching. We loved to see the lights in the nearby trees and a few of the shop windows starting their Christmas displays.
Knicks v Minnesota Timberwolves: Tickets purchased from StubHub – another easy transaction and no problems in getting the tickets sent to us electronically. Unfortunately, the Knicks lost this night but gee my husband and big kids had an awesome time. The story behind this night is worth telling... After our first full day in NYC exploring Brooklyn, we arrived back at our hotel and all fell onto our beds exhausted. My son was watching the basketball and said ‘Mum, it says coming up next is the Knicks vs the Timberwolves – are you sure our tickets aren’t for tonight?’ ‘Nope, nope, definitely not for tonight – definitely for Monday night’ I say. Of course as I am telling him this I’m frantically looking for the tickets and just couldn’t’ believe it that he was right! It was 6.50pm, the game was at 7.30pm and they had to get to MSG. ‘Get up, get up, get up’ I squealed in panic. They all threw fresh clothes on and rushed out the door. ‘Get going, get going’ I could again be heard squealing from our doorway. In all the rush, my husband later texts me from the game telling me how he couldn’t buy a beer – I had forgotten to give him his passport! Ooops....!
What we learnt
Getting places takes time! Its not being at home where you can leave at 6.45pm for your 7pm dinner reservation. Allow yourself travel time!
Only go to Times Square once!
Its true, no one cares that you are wearing jeans and joggers!
Thank you New York for treating us so so well. We loved our time here and I am (as many people say when they return) already planning our trip back - minus the children :-)