Preparations

New York Travel Blog

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We managed to book really cheap flights with British Airways from Manchester (UK) to JFK for about £270 return. We're going to be in New York from August 1st to 11th and I'm really excited about it now!!! I've started counting down the days (12 left!) and am starting to think about what I'm going to pack. I'm travelling with my flatmate, who's also a teacher. We're doing the holiday on a budget (we always try and keep cost down so that we can go away 4 or 5 times a year, rather than splurging on 1 trip) and have booked a private room in a hostel. It's called Jazz on the City and seems to have pretty decent reviews. We've never stayed in a hostel before, but have spend many a night in (very) budget hotels, so I'm sure it's not going to be too much of a surprise!!!!

While we're in New York, we've booked tickets to see "Naked Men Singing" via BroadwayOffers.

com for August 8th at the New World Stages. We only paid $49.99 per person and that includes a DVD and a pre-show drink, which can't be bad!! We also bought tickets with megabus to Philadelphia. Tickets were only $6.25 each return, so it will be a cheap day trip out of New York!

Apart from that, we have no set itinerary, preferring instead to pick one place to go each day and then explore that district. It usually works pretty well for us!

Update: July 28th - have sorted "home-made" luggage tags thanks to some self-laminating jobbies that I found in WHSmith in Blackpool the other weekend. Have printed out all my documentation, luggage and flight info to put in suitcases in case they go astray and inputted my passport details to British Airways as requested (even though the on-line scheme isn't supposed to start until August 1st, and even then it's voluntary until the New Year, I think). Am on my umpteenth load of washing. I like to have everything I'm taking with my nice and fresh! Thankfully, it's a gloriously sunny day, so everything is out on the line drying!!!!

lickylonglips says:
am glad we got in there early and bagged seats for way under what they usually are... looks like next time we fly the route, we'll end up flying via Amsterdam, Frankfurt or Paris CDG...
Posted on: Jul 29, 2008
danny291 says:
they'v withdrawn the Manchester - Jfk route from the end of October as they're moving it down to Gatwick so boo for you but yay for me. Seats were cheap though eh probably because they need bums on seats!Have fun! Iv spent 3 weeks of 2008 in NYC!
Posted on: Jul 28, 2008
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Day 1 (August 1st)

 

We had a taxi booked to take us from our house in Blackpool to Manchester Airport. Cost was £75 return. It’s a bit expensive, but it saves struggling with carrying bags from the train station to the terminal in Manchester, and also when you add the price of a taxi from here to Blackpool North train station and the train fare to the airport (and the same on the way back), it’s not much cheaper anyway…

 

When we arrived at check-in., we were directed to some self-service machines. When we entered our passports, it said there was a problem (!).

One of British Airways staff came over and asked us if we were on stand-by, which we weren’t as we’d had our tickets booked and paid for for the best part of six months. After 10 minutes of toing and froing, the woman comes back and says that we had been on stand-by for some reason, but she’s sorted it and to make up for the inconvenience, she’s upgraded us to “World Traveller Plus”. We went to drop off our luggage and get our boarding cards (seeing as though the machine was refusing to issue them as it thought we were on stand-by), but the guy at check-in said we weren’t being upgraded and we must have misunderstood what had been said to us! Seeing as though the woman had quite clearly used the phrase “You are being upgraded”, I don’t quite see how this was possible. Again, we had to wait the best part of 10 minutes while he went “behind the scenes” to find out what the situation was. He returned and grumpily agreed to upgrade us, giving us accusing looks as if we had engineered the whole situation. How rude!!!!!!!

 

At security, I got my hand luggage thoroughly searched.

Apparently, my clinique soap was showing up as a liquid on the x-ray. That’ll teach me to use Palmolive in future! When we arrived at the gate, we both got frisked and had our bags checked again. It was becoming a bit of a stressful morning all things considered!

 

So, we were upgraded to “World Traveller Plus”. To be honest, I couldn’t tell much difference apart from there being slightly more legroom and the seats being configured 2-2-2, instead of 2-3-2 like in economy. Never mind, the flight wasn’t that long anyway and there was plenty of in-flight entertainment to keep my occupied. Just after take-off, we were served salt and vinegar bagel bites (hideous!) and I had a diet coke to wash away the taste! The lunch was pretty tasty actually. I had poached salmon with potatoes and spinach. It came with a small salad, profiteroles and a twix finger! I had some nice white wine to drink and a bottle of water. The tea was fairly drinkable for once, too! Later in the flight, they served “dinner”, which consisted of a lemon pepper chicken sandwich (only half of which had any filling in!), some pieces of melon, a minute chocolate brownie and some more water.

 

We arrived at JFK 40 minutes ahead of schedule. Our luggage came straight out on the carousel, so there was no waiting after we’d gone through immigration. We got a taxi outside the terminal. We only had to wait a minute or so, even though there was quite a line. The fare from JFK to anywhere in Manhattan is $45 plus tolls (@ $4.15), plus tip. We ended up giving the guy $55 (about £28), which isn’t too bad considering it took us the best part of three-quarters of an hour to get the hostel on the Upper West Side.

 

We arrived at our hostel, Jazz on the City (95th and Broadway) at just after 2 o’clock. We were told check-in was at 3 o’clock (and not a minute earlier). They let us leave our bags and we went to explore the area and get something to eat.

We found a lovely little Cuban restaurant on the corner of 95th and Amsterdam called “Café Con Leche”. I had steak with eggs and fried plantain and a diet coke. For the two of us (Andrew had a chicken sandwich with fries and a diet coke) the bill came to $23.95. Cheap as chips!

 

So, after having stuffed out faces we walked back to the hostel and tried to check-in. The staff was totally inept. There was a new guy at the desk and he didn’t have a clue what he was doing. A girl was supposed to be training him by showing him what to do, but she just whizzed through and didn’t explain anything to him. She couldn’t check us in, as they hadn’t checked the previous occupants of our room out. She finally managed that, but then tried to charge us the completely wrong amount for our stay. She punctuated this by answering the phone instead of dealing with the customers who were actually there in front of her face! When she’d done this 3 times and had still made no progress in checking us in, we started to get a little angry, especially when she announced she couldn’t give us our electronic key cards for the door to the room either… The newbie had to let us into the room after we’d struggled up 5 flights of stairs with our heavy bags! The hostel doesn’t have a lift, which we’d known about, but we were hoping that we’d be on one of the lower floors, not the second off top!

 

The room itself (a private en suite twin) was clean but basic.

There were two beds (very comfortable), a chest of drawers, a bedside table, a small flat screen TV on the wall and a bathroom with shower, sink and toilet. The bathroom was very cramped and manoeuvring on the toilet was a little difficult (!). The room also had air conditioning, which was a godsend seeing as though the weather while we were in New York was pretty hot and sticky.

 

After we’d dumped our luggage and got ourselves sorted, we headed out to Times Square. The subway (lines 1, 2 and 3) is literally a 100m away on Broadway (96th Street). We bought a 7-day pass for $25 and jumped on a 1 train. It took about 10 minutes to get to Times Square (with hindsight we should have got the line 2 or 3 as these are express trains and would’ve done the journey in half the time).  We had a bit of a stroll and browsed in some tacky gift shops. I resisted the temptation to go wild in the Hello Kitty shop! We called off at Ben & Jerry’s and had a hot fudge sundae each.

When they came they were absolutely huge, and even a piggy like me had to leave half!

 

We took the line 1 from Times Square to South Ferry to have a look at the boats going across to Staten Island, but it was way too busy, so we went back to 96th Street and a had a look around the area near our hostel. Before retiring for the evening, we had pizza at Famiglia. The pizza is sold by the (huge) slice and is about $3.25 a go. The drinks are a steal at $1.10. It ended up being a fairly cheap bedtime snack!

 

We ended having a very early night (7:30 p.m.) but it had been a very long day and it would’ve been 12:30 a.m. back in England!

 

 

Day 2 (August 2nd)

 

After a very early night, I woke up the next morning with extremely swollen tonsils, so after getting showered and dressed we headed to the pharmacy.

I got some throat pastilles and ibuprofen. It’s probably down to germs from the air conditioning on the plane or in the hostel.

 

We went for breakfast near the hostel at Lenny’s Bagel (98th and Broadway, I think!). We had a sesame bagel, an onion bagel and eggs and a sausage patty each, washed down with huge coffees. It was all very tasty! The bagels are good value at $1 dollar each and they come in about 15 different varieties, sweet and savoury.

 

We took the subway to Penn Station / 34th Street. We had a quick look in Macy’s (it was only a fleeting visit and we only did one corner of the menswear department); long enough for me to buy 2 sleeveless jumpers (one powder blue, the other black) in the sale – 40% off.

They ended up being $24 each. We had intended to go to the Empire State Building, but it was looking a bit overcast, so we decided to do a bit more shopping! We spend a lot of time in shoe shops. I bought some incredibly bright and garish trainers for $60 in Foot Locker. God knows when I’ll wear them!

 

From there, we headed to 5th Avenue, but it started raining really, really heavily. We took shelter under some scaffolding, but the rain was coming down so quickly that it started to leak all over! We took refuge in Wendy’s, where I had a “small” iced tea, which came in a cup like a bucket!!! We decided to check out Christopher Street for somewhere to go that evening, but as soon as we emerged from the subway the heavens opened again. We flew into a Dunkin’ Donuts (classy, I know!) and had a coffee while we waited for the rain to ease off. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any toilet facilities, which was a shame after a huge coffee at breakfast and the vat of iced tea!

 

We strolled down Christopher Street, which was quite pleasant despite (because of?) the proliferation of XXX DVD shops.

I only ended up buying two postcards (one of two cute kittens; the other of a whippet in a wig!) We went to the Oscar Wilde bookstore for a browse. I ended up buying some pulp fiction I’ll get round to reading at some point!

 

From there, we had a stroll down Avenue of the Americas back to the Empire State Building. We called off for lunch of Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich and fries on the way. After looking in a few more shops around 34th Street, we decided to go back to the hostel for a short relax and to get showered and changed.

 

At 8 p.m. we went to a restaurant just opposite our hostel on Amsterdam Avenue called “Acqua”. I had a salmon fillet with spinach (just like I had on the plane!) and pinched half a slice of Andrew’s pepperoni pizza (for the carbs!) It was all really tasty.

The pizza came in at $15 and the salmon was $19. We were originally sitting outside on the terrace, but had to move inside when the heavens opened yet again!!!!

 

After having eaten, we got the subway to Christopher Street and had a vodka and diet coke at Stonewall. It was very dark and gloomy inside and reminded us a bit of The Admiral Duncan in London. It had very little atmosphere considering its importance in social history. We drank up and went to a bar called Boot and Saddle just along the street. They had a Latino “go go” boy on performing. Unfortunately, he didn’t know how to dance and kept looking at his watch, which was a little off-putting! It was very much an older crowd in this establishment. We had a vodka and diet coke again while watching an old geek tip the go go boy to use a leather strap on his behind! Afterwards, he kept moaning, “Oh, my ass is sore” – as if that hadn’t been his intention all along!! We walked down the street to “Ty’s”, which was very much leathery.

It was very packed with older, chubby, bearded guys. I had an 'absolut pears' on the rocks. We decided to go back to Boot and Saddle for one last drink before calling it a night. We had Bailey’s (or a fake version thereof) as a nightcap and got the subway home. I got talking to some cute Russian guy on the subway, but unfortunately just before our stop L

 

  

Day 3 (August 3rd)

 

We had breakfast of bagels and coffee at Lenny’s again.

We took the subway to South Ferry to catch the Staten Island ferry. We waited about 10 minutes for the next boat to arrive. It was very quick to load and get going. We mistakenly got settled on the left side of the boat, which meant that we missed the views of the Statue of Liberty on the way out. The journey only took about 20 minutes to get to Staten Island. There doesn’t look to be much in the immediate vicinity around the ferry terminal apart from the ballpark. We had a little stroll and decided to take the number 44 bus to the Staten Island Mall. There was a bus straight away (which was surprise seeing as though it was Sunday). It was quite an uncomfortable, bumpy journey and it took 45 minutes to get there! It looked reasonably close on the map! When we got off, there was a Sears, a Macy’s, a J C Penney and lots of smaller stores. We found a good little DVD shop that had a wide range of second-hand disks. We had lunch at Wendy’s (3/4 pounder (!) with fries and diet coke!) The bus back to the ferry terminal seemed quicker (but it still took a good 40 minutes). The weather was nice, so it wasn’t too unpleasant just watching the scenery go by.

 

We didn’t have long to wait for a ferry back to Manhattan and we managed to position ourselves right at the front of the boat for unobstructed views! The Statue of Liberty was difficult to photograph, as it was still quite a distance away.

We will need to take the Ellis Island ferry another day for better views.

 

When we got back to the hostel out key cards didn’t work, so we had to walk down (and back up) 5 flights of stairs. Once we were in the room, we noticed they hadn’t left us any towels (and had taken Andrew’s own towel into the bargain!), so down and back up we went again. We weren’t happy!!!!

 

On the evening, we headed to Times Square and had a wander down 7th Avenue. We had dinner at Dallas BBQ – half chicken and shrimp combo with baked potato and sour cream and cornbread, all for $13.99! Had a frozen raspberry margarita and a diet coke to wash it down!

 

We did a little shopping around Time Square.

It was absolutely heaving considering it was a Sunday evening at 11! I bought some CDs from Virgin Megastore – a bargain at $9.99 (plus tax). The DVDs were slightly more expensive that I had expected, so I wasn’t tempted (on this occasion), although they do have a vast range.

 

 

Day 4 (August 4th)

 

Went for “all you can eat” buffet breakfast at Sbarro near the Empire State Building. It was absolutely horrible! The food was cold and swimming in grease. The only edible bit was the scrambled eggs, but even so… What can you expect for $8.99, though???

 

There were huge queues to get into the Empire State Building.

And huge queues all the way through the visit, from queuing for tickets, to queuing for the lifts, to queuing to use the toilets. At $19 it’s worth doing, but if you want to see the ‘Skytrain’ as well, then the price shoots up to $45 dollars. There were really good, clear views of Manhattan and beyond from the viewing floor, but it was an extremely stressful, annoying experience all told.

 

We went to find the TKTS booth (they sell the leftover tickets for Broadway and off-Broadway shows at a reduced price) after a quick lunch at McDonald’s. The booths didn’t open ‘til 3 and at 2 o’clock the queues were already around the block! It opens at 2 p.m. tomorrow, so we’ve decided to come back at midday with a book to read for entertainment!

 

We took the subway to Wall Street and walked down to Ground Zero.

There is just a huge gap with construction going on. I don’t know what I expected, but there is nothing to “see” really. We went into the memorial museum just alongside Ground Zero ($10 entry, which we felt should have been on a donation basis, considering its raison d’être, which we would have happily donated anyway). It had some interesting relics from 9/11, such as a window frame from one of the hijacked planes, and there were some fascinating short documentary pieces, but the whole experience felt a little “cold”, as if the people who’d put it together hadn’t been directly affected by 9/11…

 

We got the subway back to the hostel – still no sign of Andrew’s towel, although 2 blue towels have been left instead of the usual white ones. We ate at Dallas BBQ again; in Chelsea Village this time, though. I had Carolina pulled pork and brisket with French fries, and a tangerine margarita. We headed along 8th Avenue in Chelsea to a bar called Rawhide, a dingy, “local” bar.

There were go go dancers on here as well… We walked around the corner to Barracuda, which was slightly livelier with better music. It has a lounge area to the rear and attracts a younger crowd. We had one drink and left. “View” bar looked lively, but they were asking for $5 for admission, but seeing as though we were only barhopping, we never bothered.  

 

 

Day 5 (August 5th)

 

We had a bit of a lie in and didn’t leave the hostel until almost 10 a.m. As usual, we went for bagels at Lenny’s. I had an onion bagel and a ‘My 2 Son’ with eggs.

We went to the TKTS booth at 11:45 (2 and a quarter hours before it was due to open) and there were already a dozen or so people waiting! All the good shows (Wicked, Mamma Mia) are sold out completely, so we’re not holding out much hope! We got tickets for Xanadu (starring Whoopi Goldberg) for $73. We had a brief look in the shops around Times Square again, then went back to the hostel to shower and get changed. The show was brilliant and sooo camp!!! Whoopi was good, but Mary Testa stole the show. It was really entertaining and well worth the money!

 

After the performance we ate at Dallas BBQ at Times Square (this is becoming a habit!). I had the chicken and ribs combo and a blue lagoon colada. Yummy!

 

Early to bed!!!

 

 

Day 6 (August 6th)

 

I had onion and pumpernickel bagels for breakfast.

Very tasty!

 

We caught the 1 train to South Ferry and walked through Battery Park to Castle Clinton to buy tickets for the Ellis Island ferry. The queues were massive (11:15 a.m.), but we were willing to wait, until they announced that there were no more tickets available for visiting the statue itself, only to visit the island. We decided to try (really early) on Friday morning instead. Tickets go on sale at 8 a.m. so we need to be there by then at the very latest!

 

In the afternoon, we walked along the Brooklyn Bridge. We stopped halfway across. The views weren’t very good at all as they were obstructed from the walkway by the bridge suspension. We caught the number 2 train downtown to Hoyt Street in Brooklyn where we discovered loads of shoe shops! On one street, there must have been at least 15-20 of them! There were bargains galore! Called off at McDonald’s to recover.

Had a “Micky D’s Sweet Tea” ($1) – absolutely bloody vile; steer well clear!!

 

We took the 2 train all the way back to 96th street to go back to the hostel. We called off for quick lunch of lox spread and scallion cream cheese bagels at Lenny’s. Delish!

 

We decided we’d quite like to see the Statue of Liberty by night, so we took the Staten Island ferry from South Ferry at 7:45 p.m. We were the first to board, so we bagged a prime vantage point on the top deck. The sun was just setting so we got some lovely views of Manhattan and the Statue. We caught the next ferry back again and positioned ourselves right at the front of the top deck so we could watch Manhattan getting closer and closer. Was a really interesting sight – and free!!!

 

We called off at Dallas BBQ (again!) and had brisket (without the sauce) and a strawberry colada… This is the life!!!!

 

 

Day 7 (August 7th)

 

We got up at 6 a.

m. and got ready, leaving the hostel by 7. We called off at Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee and took the subway to 34th Street / Penn Station. It took us ages to find where our “Megabus” to Philadelphia was leaving from. It’s not signposted and out ticket confirmation made no mention of pick-up place apart from Penn Station. For anyone who’s catching one of these buses, they leave from (and arrive to) 31st Street, just on the corner of the post office building. There’s an exit from Penn Station marked as 31st Street. Just look for that. There’s a “Megabus” sign on the roadside for you to wait by. The bus was a couple of minutes late leaving, due to someone arriving dead on 9:15 (you’re supposed to be there 15 minutes before departure), but we made up the time on route and arrived in Philadelphia on schedule. When you arrive, you have 2 choices of stop: 30th Street train station, or 6th and Market, which we chose as it’s directly in the historic centre. N.B. Where you get off is the same place you get back on again when you’re picked up to return to New York. If you get off at 6th and Market, you must get back on there.

 

At that time of day, the queues for tickets to the Independence Hall (free) and to see the Liberty Bell (also free) were both astronomical, so we decided to go for a wander.

The shopping area is centred around 11th-15th and Market; although we weren’t particularly impressed by the stores on offer! I bought some navy blue jeans for $30 at Burlington Coat Factory (a bit like TK Maxx), but nothing else really took my fancy.

 

We got a taxi to Girard Avenue to see where the vintage trams, but they just seemed to go through lots of deprived areas (tram route 15), so we caught a bus up 12th Street to Market. We tried the historic sights again. There was no queue to see the Liberty Bell, so we went there first. I was surprised by how small it was! Independence Hall had an “open house” between 5 and 7 in the evening, so we had a quick look around. We saw where the Declaration of Independence was signed. I was saddened, however, to see how little of the original stuff had been preserved – like the odd chair here and there…

 

We enjoyed the sun and watched a convert in the little park opposite.

A singer was performing various reggae and soul classics and was mildly entertaining. The local news (Fox, I believe) were there, so he must have been sort of famous… No ideas who, though! After the TV crew had packed away, they were quickly replaced by a gang of Chinese doing tai chi and protesting about something…

 

In the evening, we got nervous when the Megabus was 20 minutes late picking us up. We thought we were going to be stuck in Philadelphia all night! The journey back was uneventful apart from trying to tune out a loud family sitting opposite us! Just as we were approaching New York, rain broke out again! We had to run for cover at Penn Station before catching the subway to the hostel.

 

 

Day 8 (August 8h)

 

We got up at 6 a.

m. for an early start. We had pancakes with syrup and bacon at a diner near Bowling Green subway stop. We went to queue for tickets to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty at 7:55, but there was already a sizable line. It went down really quickly, though, once the booths opened at 8 sharp. We got tickets for return ferry and for access to the statue for $12, which was really good value. We waited a while for the early morning crowds to die down, while having a relax in Battery Park with a pop. After airport-style security checks, we boarded the ferry. We got off at Liberty Island and took some really nice photos of us with the Statue in the background. The weather was getting hot, so went to sit in the shade for a while, so we could see how quickly the queue for gaining access to the statue itself was moving. Very slowly as it happens! Andrew went and ended up queuing for over an hour in the stifling heat. I stayed in the shade and read a book! I had fantastic views of the Statue from where I was sat, so I was happy!

 

We had to queue again to catch the ferry to Ellis Island.

We spent a good hour in the visitors’ centre and exhibition. It showed when and from where the waves of immigration came, which was really interesting. We had a pretzel and a diet coke to summon up the energy to catch the ferry back to Manhattan!

 

We went to back to 96th and Broadway to put Andrew’s photos in for developing before going back to the hostel.

 

In the evening, we went to our new local, the Dallas BBQ at Times Square! I had a wild berry frozen colada and brisket with coleslaw and fries!

 

We got the subway to 50th to find the New World Stages, where we had tickets to see “Naked Boys Singing”.

It was simple to find in a modern building between 8th and 9th Avenues. As part of our “V.I.P.” tickets, we were entitled to a free drink at the Time Out New York Lounge and a DVD of the show! It was a good deal really as the tickets only cost $49.99 each. The DVD retails for around $30 and you could have any drink as part of the offer. We opted for very large Baileys with ice!

 

The performance was very minimalist, but highly entertaining! We had seats in the 2nd row, so we got a good view, which was quite important considering! The performance had to be paused partway through because some woman dressed as a bridesmaid had been taking photos, despite having been warned at the start that it was not allowed and against NYC law. The show got underway again pretty quickly. There were lots of funny songs about circumcision, naked housework, masturbation and porn. What more could you ask for from a night out??? On the subway home, we saw one of the performers. We almost didn’t recognise him with his clothes on!

 

 

Day 9 (August 9th)

 

We had a lie in ‘til 9 o’clock.

Bliss! We got ready and were out the door by 10. It was another scorcher! We had bagels, eggs and tea at Lenny’s and got the subway to 34th Street. We walked to 5th Avenue in search of HMV at # 565. It seems to have closed down, which is a shame after the long walk we’d had! There is a “make your own teddy bear” shop where it probably used to be. Bugger!

 

We walked up to 50th and Broadway to catch the subway to 59th Street. There’s a Best Buy store at 62nd and Broadway where I wanted to buy a Nintendo DS. For what I would have paid for the console along in England, I got the console, electricity transformer, 4 games and 2 years’ international insurance. It can’t be bad!

 

We walked into Central Park @ 62nd Street (Columbus Circle) and had a wander past the “Sheep Meadow”.

We chilled and watched some beach volleyball and had a stroll through Strawberry Fields. We exited by 72nd Street and had to walk a few blocks from here to get back onto Broadway to get the subway. We called off for a slice of  ‘pizza speciale’ @ Famiglia before going back to the hostel.

 

The cleaners hadn’t been in (3:30 p.m.), so we were stuck with yesterday’s sopping towels that we’d flung on the floor! It’s not worth the hassle of walking down and back up 5 flights to change them… (The cleaner appears at 4:40 p.m. wanting to do the room. I get clean towels and send her on her way!)

In the evening, we had dinner at Acqua opposite the hostel. I had a pizza bianca and a glass of pinot grigio. Andrew had the same, except with pepperoni on his.

Somehow the bill came to $55! That’s NY tax and 15% tip for you!!

 

We caught the subway to 50th Street and try and scope out a couple of bars between 8th and 9th Avenues, between 45th and 54th Streets. We end up at Vlada first, which is what I’d describe as a lounge bar. The décor is as minimalist as the bar is long. Despite having an extensive menu of flavoured vodkas, we opted for our mainstay of vodka and diet coke. There was an upstairs, but it was roped off. We left after one drink and moved on over to Therapy, which had an ultra-modern blonde wood and stainless steel interior. The upstairs was more comfortable with leather cubes and sofas, while downstairs was more high barstools and standing. We had a drink at Barrage. Again, the design was very chic and aesthetically pleasing, but like virtually every bar we’d been to in New York, it had little atmosphere. We decided to call it a night at that point and head back.

 

 

Day 10 (August 10th)

 

Our last full day in New York! After a bit of a lie-in (‘til 9 a.

m.), we tried to go for breakfast at the diner on the corner, but there was an almighty queue waiting to be seated (maybe it’s a Sunday morning thing, as there’s not usually anyone waiting…), so we hobbled off to good old Lenny’s for eggs and sausage with bagels and an iced coffee.

 

We headed to Times Square, so Andrew could buy a Hard Rock Café t-shirt for one of his friends. It was $24 – cheaper than I would have thought! I went to Virgin Megastore and bought 4 DS games. I’d wanted to buy Xanadu Broadway cast recording but it was $20 and I’m sure I can get if for cheaper than that backing England. I also bought a mini coin wallet for $5 that says “I’m not gay; I just really like rainbows”! Hm!!!!

 

We headed then to 34th Street so Andrew could have the pictures of him in front of the Empire State Building retaken (the first lot were on 35mm and when developed they had a smudge on the negative or something).

 

There was lots of maintenance work going on on the subway today, but we managed to get a 2 to Hoyt Street in Brooklyn. I ended up buying another pair of trainers and some silver shoes! There’s no way all of my purchases are going to fit in my luggage! So far I’ve bought 6 pairs of trainers, 1 pair of shoes, 1 t-shirt, 1 pair of jeans, 2 sleeveless jumpers, 1 DS and various DVDs, CDs and DS games. Phew!

 

Hoyt Street uptown station was cordoned off when we tried to catch the subway home, so we had to walk up to Borough Hall where only the number 2 line was running. We ended up having to change for a number 5 at Bowling Green, which was running as the number 2 up the West Side for some reason (!?!?!) We got back to the hostel without further incident or confusion.

 

In the evening, we had our last trip to Dallas BBQ for medium-rare sirloin steak and a blue lagoon colada. We headed to Christopher Street and had a vodka and diet coke in Boot and Saddle, an absolut pears at Duplex (where they had a comedy vocalist on downstairs and quiz screens upstairs – we won both games we played!) and two drinks at Stonewall (Stolichnaya raspberry with diet coke).

 

 

Day 11 (August 11th)

 

Got up at 8 a.

m. to finish packing and to get ready. I managed to fit everything in (by leaving behind an iron, all my toiletries and my flight pillow!) We checked out of the hostel at just after 9, leaving our bags while we went for breakfast at Lenny’s for one last time. I had a sesame bagel with lox spread and an oatmeal bagel with vegetable cream cheese.

 

We took the subway to Times Square and got the shuttle across to Grand Central Station to admire the architecture. We were about to have a wander down Lexington Avenue when it started bucketing it down. It didn’t look as if it was going to stop, so we caught the subway back to the hostel, grabbed our bags and took a taxi to the airport. We arrived at terminal 7 (very small and quiet) of JFK at just after midday even though our flight wasn’t until 18:05. There was no-one waiting at any of the British Airways desks, so went and checked-in. we got rid of our communal loose change at McDonald’s. We spent the rest of the afternoon reading a book at the gate (#1).

 

The flight boarded at 17:20, but once everyone and everything was loaded and all checks had been made, we were told there would be a delay while waiting for clearance to take off. This was a long time coming and we must have sat on the tarmac for the best part of an hour…

 

When we finally took off it was already getting dark. Asked camp Scottish steward for a diet coke and got given 2 and 2 bottles of white wine. He must have taken a shine to my Sesame Street t-shirt!! Dinner was salmon with green beans and pasta in a cream sauce, a tiny tomato and mozzarella salad, a bread roll, slice of tarte au citron and a mini crunchie!

 

I watched Son of Rambow and The Orphanage before having a little nap.

 

Just before landing, breakfast of a stale, cold croissant was served… I wouldn’t have bothered!

 

We landed about 10 minutes late into Manchester in heavy rain. By the time we’d picked up our luggage, our airport taxi had arrived!

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Posted on: Dec 03, 2008
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photo by: herman_munster