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Trip Report- it might be a long one...

Nottinghamshire...
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Trip Report- it might be a long one...

Hi everyone,

I arrived home this afternoon and am trying to stay awake to ward off any jet lag despite being exhausted, yawn!

I had intended to write my trip report as I went along while it was fresh in my mind, but short of writing a few scribbled notes at the end of the day before I flaked out, I didn't get anywhere near writing the report.

So first of all, I'd like to really thank everyone on here who has offered me help and advice over the course of planning this trip (which I started booking nearly a year before we went!). Your help and the forum in general was invaluable for everything. I'm hoping that this trip report will be me paying a bit back into the forum info bank, although I have a sneaking suspicion that I won't be going cold turkey on my TA addiction, so I'll probably still be about on the boards.

I'll give you a bit of background about who we are etc and then post the days as separate posts below as I don't think I'll get the whole thing done tonight somehow!

Who we are:

I'm 26 and have been to New York once before with a friend. A bit of honesty here, but I really didn't like NYC the first time around. I thought it was boring and ugly (I know, right?!?!?! What was I thinking?) The first time round, I stayed in a hotel in midtown and didn't venture out of midtown except to go to the Statue of Liberty/Central Park. We also got the City Pass so ended up doing things that we might not necessarily have bothered with (Madame Tussaud's anyone? Awful!).

This time I went with my boyfriend (for the purpose of the report, I'll be super inventive and call him D on account of his name being Dave, who is 31). He hasn't ever been to New York, or America, and stayed quite hands off with planning, except for telling me a list of things he was interested in doing and watching Crocodile Dundee God knows how many times.

We've never been away for more than 4 days together on our own, so this could have gone either way. I was at least slightly (read very) concerned that he would find me and my travel OCD unbearable.

We travelled out to NYC on the 30th of Dec for a week and then flew out to the Dominican Republic for a well earned rest, we then headed back for a day before flying home.

We stayed at the Wall Street Inn, which we couldn't fault at all. It was quite a perfect location for us really. We were due to spend the night of the 13th at the Hotel 91, but changed last minute to the Hotel Pennsylvania to save a couple of extra £'s as we'd only be there a few hours. It was alright. I wouldn't have liked to stay there the whole week and am pretty sure that the bed had been slept in as it wasn't made when we arrived, but it was 2.30am and to be honest we would have slept anywhere. I'll get round to doing reviews for both at some point.

Think that'll do for background....as you can probably tell I'm quite liable to rambling on, but if there's anything you want to know, just ask :D

Thanks again everyone!

SE QLD
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1. Re: Trip Report- it might be a long one...

Woohoo I've been waiting for another trip report and the longer the better! Looking forward to it.

Oslo, Norway
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2. Re: Trip Report- it might be a long one...

This is perfect! I have been to NYC once before, but on my own. In September I'm taking my husband who have never been there. He's also not into planning, and I'm, well, quite OCD about the whole thing.

Can't wait for the report!

Nottinghamshire...
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3. Re: Trip Report- it might be a long one...

Day 1 (30th of December):

We flew into T4 at JFK from London Heathrow with Delta. The flight was pretty smooth, the food was as decent as it's possible for airline food to be and we arrived into JFK 20 minutes earlier than scheduled. The line for immigration looked massive, but it actually went down quickly and we were through in less than half an hour. When we got through to the baggage hall, our bags were already off of the conveyor belt and lined up for collection. It was all very slick and D was very relieved that immigration was so easy. I'd prepared him for holiday with tales of the interrogation I got last time I went to the USA. I figure though that as I was travelling alone and meeting friends later, then flying out from a different airport alone again, I probably merited more questions last time!

We bypassed all the shuttle touts and the dodgy drivers as per TA advice and headed for the official taxi queue. Unfortunately, the queue was long and slow moving. However, when we finally got a taxi, the taxi driver drove us into Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge (without us asking) and, courtesy of the traffic, we got plenty of time to look at the skyline. I could tell D was getting excited, he said that he was most looking forward to the minute he saw the skyline on the way in, which made me really happy. I know the driver didn't pay a toll, but we still paid him the $70 we budgeted for the drive because we were so chuffed that we got to go over the bridge!

When we arrived at the Wall Street Inn, we were expecting quite a palava at check in. We had 3 bookings to cover the week, with two different companies, in 3 different types of room. We'd booked the first night right at the start of planning, but then had booked the remaining 6 days at a different hotel at a price that turned out to be too good to be true and got cancelled when the third party booking company went bankrupt. I'd called the hotel prior to the trip to check that they had all three reservations and they were able to confirm them and said they'd see if there was a way to put us on a continuous booking when we checked in. The lady on the front desk was really helpful and managed to put us in one room for the whole week, so no checking in and out!

We headed up to the room, which was pretty nice, and dumped our stuff. Despite it being 5pm and the fact we'd been up since what would have been 11pm the night before, we were determined to head out for a few hours.

The Wall Street Inn and Stone Street behind it are like something from a movie set. Cobblestones, historic buildings, really beautiful and we felt like we'd made a pretty awesome hotel choice!

So, because it was dark, I'd planned for us to head straight to Times Square for D to check it out and then to have some cheesecake at Juniors.

We headed for our nearest subway, which was very close by, to buy our week long Metrocards. We found them easy to get from the machine with the help of a tip or two from the forum (such as putting in 90210/00000 for the zipcode etc). Neither of us could believe how good value for money these were at $31. I'm pretty sure a day didn't go by without the both of us remarking on how much money we were saving as opposed to buying single trips everyday as we used to subway (and our feet, of course) to get everywhere.

So off we went to Times Square. It was absolutely bloody awful. D was like a rabbit caught in headlights, bless him! I assume because staging was being put in for NYE and the sheer volume of extra tourists that NYE brings, the place was absolutely rammed. We basically arrived, had our only bickering session of the holiday (I kept asking him what he wanted to see because I wanted to get out of there and he had no idea so we were just dawdling about!) and left within 10 minutes. As Juniors required us to spend additional time in TS, we decided against it and headed straight out of the square to the 34th Street subway stop, to head back to the hotel for some much needed sleep! We found a take away shop a few streets away from the hotel called "Burger, Burger" and grabbed some food to take back to the hotel. I'd spent a lot of time drooling over various food places while planning so was disappointed to "waste" a meal somewhere I didn't have on my list, but it was decent (I had Cajun chicken and rice, he had a burger and sweet potato fries).

Then we hit the sack and fell asleep literally straight away.

Melbourne, Australia
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4. Re: Trip Report- it might be a long one...

^^ So off we went to Times Square. It was absolutely bloody awful

Thanks for the belly laugh.....

(And the rest of the reporting too)

Hervey Bay...
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5. Re: Trip Report- it might be a long one...

Yay! I love the long reports, please ramble on as much as you want

Liverpool, United...
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6. Re: Trip Report- it might be a long one...

Sounds good, looking forward to reading more x

New York City, New...
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7. Re: Trip Report- it might be a long one...

Ending up in Times Square after a long international flight (well, anytime really) at night would probably have lead to more than bickering for me.

I've never gotten any sort of different scrutiny when flying alone (and going to and from different airports) and I do so quite a lot; is there a reason you think there is a difference for a solo flyer? Just curious.

Hope you ultimately got the cheesecake - there is a Junior's in Grand Central Station and, of course, the original in Brooklyn. (Maybe even some new other ones? Haven't checked)

New York City, New...
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8. Re: Trip Report- it might be a long one...

Keep it coming Lyndsey P...

I was hovering around Times Square during the holiday season and it was blooody awful for sure. I have never seen it so packed. Maybe because of the new pedestrian plazas..more people could pack in.

Also, Burger Burger used to be really good....i haven't been there in a while ...it is really close to me work ...maybe I should check it out...one of these days.

Belfast, Ireland
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9. Re: Trip Report- it might be a long one...

Woop! Another report...the longer the better =) can't wait for the rest!

Nottinghamshire...
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10. Re: Trip Report- it might be a long one...

Day 2 (New Year's Eve):

Thanks to jet lag (which I actually find useful in NYC because it forced you to get up and out and about), we were both awake by 4.30am, so we got showered, ready and on the subway by 6am. We headed up to 34th Street & 8th Ave to the Tick Tock Diner for breakfast. We both had pancakes (me with bananas, D with blueberries), which really hit the spot as we both love pancakes and wanted to have them our first morning in NYC. D had a lot of coffee, thanks to the free refills, which are very rare in the UK and I had lots of lemonade (my favourite thing to drink in the US).

We then headed down 34th street towards the Empire State Building. however it was only just after 7 and I knew the ESB didn't open until 8, so we made a detour to Times Square while it was quiet, so D could get a slightly less stressful look while it was quieter. Obviously, it's more striking when it's dark out, but it was quite cool to see the NYPD Control Centre setting up for the ball drop.

We then headed back up to the ESB and arrived bang on 8am. It seemed very busy with a bit of a crush at the front door, however the security queue kept moving and as I'd bought our tickets online and printed them off (not express tickets), it wasn't so bad.

D loved the ESB and seeing the city spread out in front of him and really enjoyed it. I've been before and personally prefer the views and general experience at Top of the Rock, but there was a lovely light over the city with it being so early after sunrise. The weather was clear so I think we timed the visit quite well.

We spotted lots of couples taking selfies with the city in the background and thought we'd give it a whirl. I don't know if it makes us "past it" but what we learnt that morning (and relearnt repeatedly over the trip until we eventually gave up) is that neither of us can take selfies. We suck at it. There are far too many variables for us- am I smiling? is he smiling? have I got any background? have I even got a face in it or is it just a close up of my thumb as I fumble not to drop the phone?? Props to anyone out there who has mastered the "couple selfie" skill.

After D had had his fill of the views and me my fill of other tourists (yep, I'm one of those tourists who likes to stay away from other tourists), we walked down 34th street towards the New York Public Library. I hadn't checked what time it opened (I, for some unknown reason, thought it was open 24/7), but we got there slightly before it did open at 10am. We milled around for 10 mins people watching, New York is amazing for people watchers!

I absolutely loved the library, it's such a beautiful building. I couldn't believe people were actually studying in there. The geek in me knew that I would spend an awful lot of time there if I lived in the city. I remember seeing the library in SaTC, the movie, and thinking 1. How beautiful the place was, 2. I had to go there if I was in NYC again and 3. That Big had always been a d-bag and that she should never have tried to marry him.....but that's just me. I don't know that D loved it, as he isn't a geek like me, although he appreciated the architecture and grandeur.

Next on our itinerary for the day was Grand Central Station (which I hadn't seen last time as we'd run out of time).

We got slightly turned around as we'd left the library by a different entrance to the main entrance and happened upon Bryant Park and the Winter Village thing that they have set up there. We'd spotted the ice skating rink there from the ESB so it was quite surreal. We had a look round the market and I had a lovely hot apple cider. I've never had it before (cider is a type of alcoholic drink here), but it did the trick and warmed me through a bit. As I was drinking it, I spotted a sign for cranberry cider and wished I could have that as well, so we made a plan to return another day.

Then we popped into the Chrysler. I couldn't get over how beautiful the lobby was. I wish we still built buildings that beautiful inside and out, rather than these huge glass boxes, but that's just me, I know other people prefer the glass skyscrapers, but I'm old school. The architecture in the city is insane, from the art deco buildings like the Chrysler to all of the brownstones, I love it. I had neck ache and was getting dizzy from always looking up and twirling around.

When we finally reached Grand Central, we headed straight down to the dining concourse and had Juniors. We both had sandwiches and then shared a piece of red velvet cheesecake, which was amazing and huge!

Once we were stuffed full of cake, we headed back upstairs for a look around the terminal. The whole place felt surreal, like being in a film. It's hard to believe such a beautiful building is used every day for commuting! We had five minutes people watching and spotted a guy wandering around in circles rapping to anyone who would listen and himself and a bloke just lay in the middle of the floor.

We popped upstairs to get some pictures and found a massive apple genius bar. It seemed the weirdest thing to have there and that it was so busy! They were even taking reservations.

We had another bash at the "couple selfie", which was no more successful than the previous one.

From here we headed to the UN for a tour. I'd booked this online for 2.30pm, which was the latest time that still had availability. As a bit of background, I'm an International Relations graduate, so this was very high on my "want to do" list, but I was concerned that D would be very bored and that maybe I would be bored, depending on what we got to see, the tone of the tour etc.

I had a slight moment after security where my badge dropped off my jacket and I couldn't find it, luckily someone had handed it in.

I was a bit disappointed, in that the General Assembly is being renovated so that was out of bounds. In terms of the tour itself, I don't know whether I was disappointed or not really. I didn't hear anything that I didn't know, but at the same time it was sort of interesting the see the Security Council meeting room etc. However, I think since I work in local government and clerk meetings of the Council etc, it felt a little bit like being at a bigger version of my work, which ruined it a little bit hahaha.

D wasn't as bored as either of us expected which was nice. I wish the tour had been slightly longer. For example, I spotted a big chunk of the Berlin Wall in the gardens and was expecting us to stop to have a look, but we were ushered straight past. Similarly, we were the only people in the group whose first language was English so the tour wasn't all that interactive.

I wouldn't do it again, but am glad we went for a look.

We were both feeling pretty knackered by this point, so we headed off to find a subway to take us back to the hotel for a much needed nap!

When our alarm went off, I was really, really tempted to stay in bed if i'm being honest. We didn't though. We got our layers on (4 for me, 2 for him.....I'm nesh as we say, which to everyone else means I really feel the cold!) and jumped on the subway up to Central Park for the fireworks.

There was absolutely no chance that we were going to Times Square for the ball drop. It had been our original plan to do it, but the minute I started doing a bit of research, it became a big no no.

The fireworks were all we expected and more. Neither of us expected as many people or the music/stage, but the fireworks were fabulous. I actually got a bit emotional, what with the fireworks, "Empire State of Mind" playing and actually being in NYC with D. I felt very grateful and really happy with how we were spending New Year.

We watched the fireworks and the first marathon runners crossing the line (so fast and they sailed through as if it was no trouble.....I'd have been lay on the floor trying to claw my way to the finish line by the time i'd got to the end). We hadn't made plans to go for drinks or anything because we didn't know how tired we'd be. We were so cold and tired that we just headed straight back for a snooze! Annoyingly, I couldn't sleep because I was so hyped up, but I eventually dropped off thankfully!

Just typing all of this is making me feel tired and amazed at how much we managed to cram in to the day without it feeling "too much" or rushed.