We had a very strange Christmas flying out to New York from Manchester Airport. It’s certainly a strange way to spend the holiday. Up at 5.45am! Nice straightforward flight – I was feeling a bit seasonally sentimental so I watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” on the way over. Made it into Newark by early afternoon, local time, and took a cab to our little hotel on West 51st St. Lots of walking around followed – Broadway, Times Square, right up to Carnegie Hall and Central Park, where we decided against a horse ride due to the queue. For dinner we wound up in a pizza joint very like the one Fry worked in (you know, the dog swimming in a vat of tomato juice).
Back at the hotel we found the ancient radiatiors in our rooms belching out an insane amount of heat – I tried to turn off the kids’ one but wound up, literally, filling the room with scalding steam and frantic New Yorkers going “Oh my God, did you injure yourselves at all?” They fixed it up after a fashion and left complementary pretzels and choccies. I’d rather have had the sleep.
Anyway, Boxing Day was insanely busy. We were up and having breakfast in Starbucks by five am (I was impressed by their English tea). By 8.30 we’d already been up the Empire State and I was blown away by what a stunning Deco masterpiece the whole interior is. Also, we’d missed the queues. I bought a Kong fridge magnet and a book of essays on the American Dream. And I want to know – if the Doctor and Martha landed on Ellis Island and didn’t take the TARDIS downtown, how did they get to Central Park? I can’t imagine them queuing for a ferry somehow.
Anyway, by nine we were in Macy’s. Stayed there till eleven-ish, then my son had had enough so we moved on. You must need a maths degree to be a store clerk at Macy’s. By the time you’ve figured out the discount on the marked price, added sales tax, deducted 11% because you’re visitors and used the coupons which mysteriously seem to appear from under the counter with a nod and a wink whenever you seem to be losing interest in the deal, your head is spinning. And that’s before you factor in the exchange rate. I had to be really careful because although I applied for a credit card before I left, it’s five weeks and counting and I’ve yet to receive it from my bank, so everything had to be done cash. We decided to return at a later date and have another look.
Next we rode the subway to Ground Zero, where the museum and indeed the site itself is moving and sobering. From there we headed to Battery Park, took one look at the queues for the SoL and decided to go for the Staten Island ferry instead, and admire the Lady Liberty from a distance. That took up the next couple of hours, with lunch.
I was ready to go back to the hotel by then but instead my DH dragged us off to the UN building where we joined the last tour of the day, and I’m glad he did, because it was far more interesting and thought-provoking than I’d expected.
Then we walked back to our hotel, through the craziest crowds I’ve ever seen – you literally couldn’t move at times. I couldn’t believe it, and I’ve seen the West End a few times. The worst place was the Rockerfeller Centre where there was a crush to admire the Xmas Tree -okay, it had a Sikowski Crystal star on the top but I wouldn’t have taken my toddler into that crowd to see it. But then, I’m not a New Yorker.
We rounded off the day with fabulous steaks at Ruth’s, although I liked the orzo and caramelized onion accompniment even better than the beef.
What an amazing day. I thought my feet would kill me. And two more days to go….