Today we're off to New York, our favourite city, for the final leg of our holiday. If you've read any of my earlier trippies, you will have noted that we tend to pack a lot into our city breaks, rising early and walking miles. We normally have a number of priorities on our agenda each day, and we fill in with other things on an impromptu basis as we wander around. This time, our third visit, we have fewer 'must-do's' and, with a few exceptions (Central Park, Highline, Brooklyn Bridge) simply want to meander along and take things as we find them. Also, we are meeting close friends, regular New York visitors Hayley and Dave, who booked a 10 day break so they could overlap with us and help celebrate my birthday. With this in mind, there is likely to be a bit more carousing and a bit less sightseeing than previously! Indeed, this first day report is essentially a bar, pub and restaurant crawl across Midtown Manhattan! Meanwhile, back in Orlando..... We wake when the alarm goes off at 4:15. I slept very well - total physical exhaustion will do that apparently! After showers and a quick coffee, we pack our last bits and pieces before walking down for the car at 4:50. Last night I had a look online to find the closest filling stations to the airport, and we head to a 24 hour 7-11 about 1 mile from MCO. I'm hoping that we haven't cut things too close, as the fuel level is very low, and we are more or less on fumes when we finally arrive at the station! It is still dark, of course, but 78 degrees and clear skies. The self-serve option will not accept my overseas card at the pump, so I head inside to pre-pay. This takes a while, as the clerk on duty is "closing the shift" and won't put a payment through until he has finished his audit. He eventually deigns to accept my card and we quickly refuel and leave. The airport is virtually next door, but somehow I manage to fly straight past the car rental return access! In a state of mild panic I envisage having to drive miles up the road before finding somewhere to turn and head back, but fortunately there is a second access point for rental car returns idiots like me just before we leave the complex! Phew! It's very quiet at this early hour, and we are processed within a couple of minutes. We head into the terminal and enter the security area. There are only a few passengers in front of us, and although I left some water bottles in my bag, which we surrender, we are through in minutes and heading to our gate, 77. We restroom, and I buy us a large blueberry muffin as a breakfast snack. It is 6:25. Boarding begins at 6:40 and we quickly find our seats and bed in. The flight is probably only 30% full and a stewardess invites us all to change seats if we wish, although no one is allowed to move to 'premium' (extra leg room or exit row) seats as these are a paid upgrade and anyone who has paid extra will probably be miffed! We're happy with our choices and stay where we are, close to the exit door. We are mildly perturbed by the sight of engineers entering the cockpit, until an announcement that there is a very minor problem with a speaker, which should only take a few minutes to fix. This proves to be the case, and we are pushed back at 7:12, taking off at 7:25 with a predicted flight time of 2 hours 6 minutes. I reacquaint myself with the amazing and surreal Sky Mall magazine. As always, I marvel at the bonkers offerings - I mean, how can anyone possibly survive in the modern world without a combined kitchen roll holder and multi-cell phone charging station, or a plastic, singing gondolier for your swimming pool? Perhaps you are failing in life because you don't offer your party guests pre-rimmed plastic cocktail cups, with a choice of lime/salt or strawberry/sugar? I want them all. No, I NEED them all! Goodbye Florida. It's been wonderful. I swap seats with Amanda so she can have a nap. I pay $9.95 for web access and catch up on my emails and social networking sites. Amanda gets a good hour's sleep, and when she wakes I log out so she can check her sites and emails. We accept coffee and water from the cabin crew - the food is chargeable (I'm a northerner, we like free stuff best) and there's nothing we fancy anyway. Time passes quickly, and by 9:00 we are descending (into lovely sunshine), landing at JFK right on time, at 9:35. Within 10 minutes we are off the plane and heading for the exit (highlighting the beauty of no hold-baggage once again!) where I phone our pre-booked car service, Dial7, to let them know we are clear of the building. They direct us to a pickup point a few yards away and tell us the car will be here shortly. It's a hot, sunny day, so hopefully we've brought the Florida weather with us! The car, a black Lincoln, arrives at 10:10 and we are on our way to the city. This is never a pretty journey, but the driver keeps us moving along with constant lane changing and liberal use of his horn! We arrive at the Hudson on W58th Street at 11:00am and after paying the driver ($48 +tolls and tip) ride the escalator up to reception (which is on the 3rd floor) to enquire about our room. It isn't ready, so we leave our bags with the concierge and head off into Manhattan at 11:15. We have arranged to meet our mates Hayley and Dave at Ciprianis bar in Grand Central for celebratory cocktails, and text them to tell them we're on the way. (Looking north to Columbus Circle from the top of Broadway.) We walk east two blocks to Broadway and start heading south. It's hot, sunny and noisy, and I love it! A short distance down Broadway we decide to grab a quick bite, as we are both very hungry now, and the first place we see that isn't a full service restaurant is McDonalds! Shameful, I know, but convenient and cheap! We have a cheeseburger and a chicken wrap, make a quick restroom visit and continue down, through Times Square, to W42nd Street. Times Square is in a heck of a mess, with major construction work forcing the crowds into narrow lanes on either side. There's a new plague, too, with Bus Tour touts assailing us on every corner. It's 12:05 when we arrive at GCT - not bad, 50 minutes for a 2 mile, crosstown walk including a burger stop! Dave and Hayley are already at the bar, with Cosmos lined up and waiting for us! They have been here for a week and we spend a happy hour or so catching up, including another round of delicious cocktails. (They had planned to see us for a couple of drinks before leaving and visiting a museum. Yeah, right! Their plan unravels with each sip of the gorgeous cocktails.) This has to be the best indoor people watching spot anywhere, and the bar is one of our favourite venues, located just inside the main entrance, overlooking the main concourse. We decide to have a wander and leave Ciprianis at 1:30, into brilliant and hot sunshine: it must be at least 90 degrees. So, of course, being English, we seek shelter from this scary phenomenon and walk across to the Pig And Whistle on W48th, where we sit at the bar, chatting and watching a bit of the World Cup footy on screens. I have a Sam Adams this time, leaving the girls to quality test the Cosmos here. Good, apparently but not as gorgeous as those at Ciprianis. We squeeze another drink in, then leave at 2:40 and head towards the hotel along the familiar, sunny streets, passing iconic landmarks, both old and more recent. Our plans have become a bit vague, but we want to check out the Sky Terrace at the Hudson before going for an evening meal. It's 3:10 when we reach the hotel. Our room is ready, but the Sky Terrace doesn't open until 5:00. Instead we go into the large residents bar at the back of the hotel. There is also an outdoor terrace here, known as the inside park, but it is fairly busy and most of the tables are taken. Quick apology – there are photographic omissions in the next few sections, mostly correlating with the increasing alcohol consumption, allowing my normal instinct to photograph EVERYTHING to fade…and some of the ones that make it into the report are a bit blurry – refer to the first part of this statement! Drinks anyone? Yes, seems to be the universal response. Hayley has a Cosmo (creature of habit), I have a pale ale, Dave and Amanda have Prosecco. Dave orders some snack food to soak up some of the alcohol! Chile v Spain is playing in the background and a large Hispanic section of the guests are cheering in a partisan manner. We enjoy the atmosphere and take another drink! At 5:00 we all troop up to our room on the 14th floor. It is exactly like the one we had last time: very small, very chic and (to us) quite delightful, although there are a lot of grumbles about the size of rooms here on Tripadvisor. We don't get it, frankly, as there's enough room to sleep, bathe and store our gear, and we don't plan to be in it for more than a few necessary hours each night. However, the bags are not yet here, but a quick phone call to the valet services resolves that. With hindsight I guess they wouldn't deliver them to an empty room as they might not get a tip!