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Mike’s 50th Trip to Siesta Key, Disney’s Boardwalk, Universal and New York, June 2014 - Part 15 - NY

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Mike, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    Saturday 21st June

    My alarm wakes us at 5:00 after a decent sleep. We shower and pack the rest of our gear, and take the bags down to luggage services on the ground floor before heading out into the city, for the last time, at 7:00am. It's another pleasant, warm day, with clear skies.

    We go to the subway station at the end of the street and head downtown, exiting near the World Trade Centre site. The newly completed Freedom Tower looks amazing, although there are clearly many years work ahead to finish the whole area. We stroll around the neighborhood, passing through City Hall Park to Brooklyn Bridge, this time under lovely blue skies.

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    (one of my walking sticks on its way over the Bridge!)

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    Once on the New Jersey side we walk through DUMBO looking for a cafe serving breakfast. There are fewer options than I expected but we come across the Archway Cafe and enter at 8:40.

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    The view that gives it its name, no doubt…
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    The lady owner is very pleasant but a bit distracted and a few minutes go by before she takes our order (Baked eggs, bacon and mushrooms with toasted ciabatta, coffee and orange juice, x 2) - we eventually realise that they don't officially open until 9:00!

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    The food is lovely if slightly pricey. We pay the $35 and leave at 9:30 before making our way back up, past the Bridge entrance (some amazing graffiti in the underpass)

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    … and into leafy Brooklyn Heights with its quiet streets of beautiful row houses and Art Deco apartment buildings.

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  2. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    Our wandering takes us down to Montague Street, the main high street full of stores and cafés.

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    Heading to the lower end of Montague, we continue onto the Brooklyn Heights Promenade (which also seems to be known as Fruit Street Sitting Area) and stroll north, back towards the Bridge. The views across to Manhattan island are stunning.

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    We come across an old and rather poignant photograph – and the view today:

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    It’s 10:30 as we climb back onto the Bridge, warm and sunny, and quite a bit busier.

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    Back on the island, we pop into a Starbucks opposite the court plaza to use the restrooms before taking the Subway back uptown to Grand Central, arriving at 11:05.

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    We walk up Madison and across E49th Street to the Rockefeller Centre, descend to the basement concourse and buy a couple of drinks from the Starbucks there: orange and mango smoothie for Amanda, Java chocolate frappucino (with extra espresso) for me. Back up to the plaza, we sit in the hot sunshine for a while to enjoy them.

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  3. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    After exchanging texts with Dave and Hayley, and arranging to meet at Ciprianis this afternoon, we walk back to 5th and stroll down to the Library.

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    Sadly the main reading room is closed today, but we have a wander around the remaining accessible parts of the building.

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    It is 12:30 as we leave the building and head round the back to one of our favourite NYC green spaces, Bryant Park. We sit on the lawn and watch the natives at rest and play. There are jugglers and sunbathers, and a crowd of tiny hooligans kicking a ball around, at one point right into the head of a young woman lying on the lawn! She isn't best pleased!

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    A bit peckish now, we start thinking about lunch. The park cafés and library restaurant are all mobbed and we probably don't have enough time for a full service meal anyway, so we walk back to GCT to buy sandwiches and salad from one of the basement food stalls.

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    After eating we have half an hour or so to kill, so we stroll out of the terminal to take a look in the Art Deco foyer of the nearby Chrysler Building.

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    It's a stunningly beautiful interior, and must have looked amazing when it was first opened and the space used to display Mr Chrysler's new cars!

    At 2:00pm we walk back to Grand Central to meet Dave and Hayley for our last cocktails and farewells. They travel home today too, albeit on a later flight. We spend a happy hour or so reminiscing about our various experiences, and consume 3 drinks each - Cosmos and champagne for the girls and Dave, 3 Old Fashioneds for me.

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  4. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    All too soon it's 3:15 and we take reluctant leave of our friends to walk the 2 miles back to our hotel, snapping a few last images on the way.

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    It is 3:45 when we arrive at the Hudson, retrieve our bags and wait in the bar for our Dial 7 car to arrive. They are ultra efficient, phoning me at 3:55 to tell us the car is already outside.

    Amanda's face tells you everything you need to know about the next phase of our trip.

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    Traffic is a lot lighter on the way out than when we arrived, and the car drops us at Newark at 3:35. We head to the restroom to change our clothes for the flight, before tackling security (20 minutes) and making our way to the correct gate area. There's a quiet Belgian Beer Cafe with bar seating available so we make camp for the next hour or so. Amanda has a couple of glasses of New Zealand Sauv Blanc and I sample some of the strong Belgian beers.

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    And we squeeze a small snack in too.

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    At 6:35 we pay the check ($58), restroom and walk to the gate. Boarding starts immediately and by 6:50 we are settling into our extra legroom seats 51 A & C, donning our Virgin flight socks and waiting for takeoff.

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    The legroom is very generous, and well worth the modest upgrade cost of £30 each, but the shape of the seats on this plane doesn't quite suit my longish back....it looks like an uncomfortable night ahead for me.

    Might as well start trying to readjust my body clock: I put my watch forward to UK time. 7:02pm becomes 00:02 tomorrow! The plane is pushed back at 7:20/12:20 and we take off on time at 7:35. Bye bye USA. Sigh. From now on I will use UK times only, so I suppose the next bit should be headed:

    Sunday 22nd June

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    Amanda settles in to read and I start watching Smaug. Dinner/supper is served at about 1:30 am, after which Amanda goes to sleep for a few hours. I continue with the film, and take a few sunset pics.

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    I finish the film at 4:15 and try to get a bit of sleep. I can't really get comfortable though, and only manage a bit of a doze before the cabin lights come on at 5:30. The cabin crew serve breakfast - yogurt with granola and a blueberry muffin - followed by coffee. We watch the sun rise.

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    Our ETA is 7:00am. We both visit the restroom to freshen up and clean our teeth. I watch a bit of Frozen until the entertainment system is switched off for landing.

    We reach Heathrow Tarmac at 6:56 precisely and are soon off the plane. After security we take a circuitous and complicated bus transfer across to Terminal 1. It's only 8:10, and we don't need to be at our gate until 9am, so we relax with a coffee at a nearby Costa.

    Some time later I check my watch to find that it is still, apparently, 8:10! My watch has stopped, and it is actually 9:00!! In a state of mild panic we head quickly to the gate - and find ourselves in yet another security line behind at least 50 people! This takes an agonising 20 minutes to clear, and I am convinced we have missed our flight. Fortunately boarding has been delayed for some reason (hallelujah!) and we are admitted to the aircraft without further incident or excitement.

    We take off at 9:50, land in Manchester at 10:30, and are out of the building and on the courtesy parking bus by 10:45. Amazing. The car is where we left it, without apparent problems (last trip we had a flat tyre on our return) so we load up and drive the 7 miles or so to our friends, (Jean and Simon)'s house in Sale to collect our hound, Ruby. It's a warm sunny morning, and we sit in their garden chatting for an hour before setting off on the 25 minute drive back home.

    The ritual of unpacking and washing keeps us busy for the next couple of hours, after which we start to flag a bit. We are determined to stay awake until a normal bedtime, so it seems logical to pop to our local, The Irwell Works Brewery ( http://www.irwellworksbrewery.co.uk - it's a really great microbrewery and bar, with some superb beers, visit if you're ever in the area, you'll love it!)

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    Well, whether drinking alcohol after 30 hours without sleep is a good idea or not it works for us! We catch up with mates before heading home for a light meal and eventually to bed at a fairly normal 9:30 pm.

    The Bit At The End!

    'Highs and Lows' is often the standard way to round these reports off, but the Highs would take up several pages and the Lows wouldn't fill a Post-It note. Sure, we had a bit of rain, (but it was warm or hot every day and the rain only meant a few tweaks to our plans) and we also had a few panics caused by missed turnings and delays, but overall there wasn't much to moan about.

    We had a fantastic holiday, and I had an amazing 50th birthday. Each segment was a joy, but particularly the Siesta Key days based in our lovely cottage, with the sunrise/sunset walks on the beautiful beach and lazy evenings spent in great bars. This was our first 'seaside' holiday, but it won't be the last.

    Orlando and WDW: it felt like coming home after working away for a few years. This was my 9th visit and Amanda's 3rd, so there weren't many surprises. The Boardwalk is our favourite place to stay, with walk-in access to Epcot, Jellyrolls and The Studios... I was in heaven, being able to watch Illuminations before strolling to the best nightspot entertainment venue anywhere.

    If anything I feel that we may have done with the bulk of things-Disney-and-Universal for a while. The magic has diminished slightly, and although we thought the Magic Bands and My Disney Experience were amazing advances, Fastpass + has levelled the field so much that we couldn't tactically repeat-ride as often as we prefer to do. The Magic Kingdom was a bit (for us!) crazy, with horrendous crowds and irritating parades, and I doubt we'll ever bother with it again in the future. However, thankfully, we don't visit Epcot for the rides, and feel as warmly about my favourite park as we ever did.

    New York: wonderful, gobsmacking, amazing. We could never tire of this, our favourite city. Our 3 and a bit days there were nowhere near long enough. And although this trip had a different tone/pace than our previous two (and considerably more liquid refreshment!) it was brilliant to meet up with our best friends.

    So, what next? Well, it could be a while before we can afford a reprise, but as things stand now, some 6 weeks after returning home, we feel that it is likely our next USA trip would be planned along these lines: 6-7 days in the same Siesta Key cottage (exploring more of the surrounding islands, cities and attractions, including hiring kayaks on our own and a coaster fix at Busch Gardens) 2 part days and one night at the Boardwalk (so we can visit Epcot, see the fireworks, do Jellyrolls and go to Celebration for coffee on 'our' rocking chairs) followed by a week in New York, where we would head off to some of the outlying boroughs and definitely get down to Central Brooklyn, Prospect Park and south to Coney Island.

    Thank you for following along on our journey. We hope you have enjoyed the ride and not felt too bored wading through the endless photos and tiny details. If by any chance we have planted a seed or two that help you enjoy your next visit to one of these places a bit more, then that is the icing on the cake and we will be delighted and humbled.

    See you soon folks.

    Mike and Amanda xx
     
  5. piglet
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    piglet Serious Forum Regular

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    Thanks Mike for such a lovely trip report. I'm sure everyone felt they were on this holiday with you. I've loved every day with you and Amanda and hurry up and save enough to go back so I can do another trip with you.
     
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  6. uscwest
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    uscwest Senior Cast Member

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    Mike you and Amanda certainly had a wonderful, entertaining trip. I doubt I could ever do NYC the way you did. Thanks for taking us along for the ride.
     
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