Well we have now had nearly three full days in New York and they have been quite eventful as you will see. Before we start can I thank all of you who passed on good wishes for our 30th anniversary on the 26/7/2016, special mention to Pam and Steve who got a card to us!!
So what have you been up to I hear to ask? Well are you sitting comfortably …
When you last heard from us we were sitting on the QM2 waiting to disembark; this happen at 11:30 am slightly later than we thought due to the immigration process ashore. When we got down there it was a lot more civilised than at an airport and only took about 20 minutes. We then made our way out of the building and got a taxi to our hotel in Manhattan; QM2 docks in Brooklyn. Cunard could have arranged transport for us but we decided to hail a yellow cab (when in Rome) and it turned out that cost a third of the price even with a tip. We arrived at the hotel early but they let us book in and looked after our cases while we went to Bryant Park, W42nd Street & 6th Avenue, and had a great lunch sitting under the trees at an outdoor café. We asked the waitress where was a good place to go for breakfast and she replied that she didn’t know as she was never up that early! Having been up since 05.00 went back to the hotel and took it easy for a while. In the evening we went to a local deli and bought a couple of sandwiches, we had forgotten how big American Deli sandwiches are, one would have done!
Monday 25 July
As part of our booking for this part of the trip we have got ‘Hop-on-Hop-off’ bus tickets for each of the cities we are visiting; in NY the ticket is valid for 48hrs so we decided that today we would take the Uptown and Downtown Loops to see a bit of the city and decide where we would ‘hop on and hop off’ on Tuesday. We had to queue at the tour office but we were soon underway on the Uptown loop.
‘Uptown’ is essentially everything above 50th Street (ish) and includes Central Park, the Upper West Side (where West Side Story was set), Harlem and the very swanky Upper East Side, home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum. The weather was glorious (Mark had to buy a Panama hat) and we really enjoyed the commentary on the bus which took us passed the Dakota Building where John Lennon lived and died and the famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem. We heard a lot about the industrialists and benefactors of the 19th and early 20th century who built the skyscrapers that the city is famous for. At the end of the 2 hour loop we hopped off and, after a run-in with HSBC who blocked Marks debit card (grrr), we found a great little diner for lunch (BLT for Mark, hot pastrami on rye for me and a ‘black and white’ milkshake to share). The sun was shining; all was right with the world…
…After lunch we decided to do the Downtown Loop through Greenwich Village to Battery Park and the Lower East Side. We found some seats on the (open) top deck, plugged in our head phones and settled in to discover the historic neighbourhoods of lower Manhattan. Not far into the tour the sky started to darken, we heard thunder rumbling in the distance and wondered if we might get some rain. Boy did we get wet!!! Unbelievably quickly the city was plunged into darkness, lightning started flashing overhead and the rain came down. The tour conductor handed out plastic ponchos but we were pretty wet before we could get them on. There was no space downstairs on the bus so we hunkered down and stayed put under our little plastic tents. After about an hour the tour company decided to abandon the tour, traffic was at a standstill, it was pitch dark and they started to worry about the lightening. They packed us in on the lower deck and took a detour via the West Side Highway to get us back to their base in Time Square, from there we squelched the two blocks back to our hotel soaked to the skin but still smiling. It was strangely reminiscent of the night we saw Bruce Springsteen in Florence, and the time we visited Monument Valley in Colorado and it rained so hard Monument Valley was shut. Is someone trying to tell us something?
As we made our way across Time Square we bumped into Helen and Lyn, our bridge partners from QM2 – what were the chances?
I am sad to say that in the confusion on the bus I lost my sun hat; the lovely sun hat I bought in M&S on the Isle of Wight about 10 years ago; the hat that has travelled with me ever since; my trusted sun hat. It’s last sighting is in the image on the left above. It will be sadly missed!
Tuesday 26th July – Our 30th Wedding Anniversary
We woke up to another glorious sunny day and decided to go back to Bryant Park for an al fresco breakfast before hopping back on the downtown bus (undaunted) to visit the 9\11 memorial. Having watched the events of 9/11 live on TV it was amazing to see the area restored and rebuilt, and hard to imagine those terrible events had happened on the streets we were walking along. The reflecting pools are a fitting memorial, quiet, simple and thought-provoking, the surrounding area has been beautifully landscaped with lots of space, light and trees. Watching some of the children visiting the site with their families it struck us that for them 9\11 is history, it is strange how time moves on. Nearby the memorial we saw the new Fulton Centre Station, a beautiful building resembling a bird taking flight, and a very cool (in all senses of the word) space for NY commuters.
Our anniversary lunch was back uptown at the Oyster Bar at Grand Central station; I have wanted to take Mark there since I ate there with my friend Rachel several years ago. Mark enjoyed it as much as I did and we made the most of the oysters, clams and shrimp on offer.
After lunch we took the subway further uptown and enjoyed an afternoon in Central Park, pausing regularly to buy water and ice lollies to combat the heat. All in all a good day.