Saturday July 21st We awoke to a lovely dry & sunny day with no sign of the rain that put a dampener [literally!] on yesterday`s proceedings. Following breakfast from “our” diner around the corner from the hotel, we bought another suitcase as those we had were bursting at the seams with all the extra items we had bought along the way. After dropping the suitcase at the hotel, Doug asked us if we would like to visit a house that belonged to his boss. Apparently some workmen were at the house doing some major remodelling and if Doug didn`t call around, his boss wanted him to return to New York next week to check on things so popping in today saved Doug a flight from LA. It is a very old 3 storey house located just around the corner from Donahue`s at Lexington that was converted to a shop a while back so it was costing a load of money to turn it back into a house. The building had oodles of character and period features and cost a shedload of money to purchase but it will be a dream home when the work is finished. The ladies soon got bored with the “man talk” and so they retired to Donahue`s for a drink at the bar while Doug and I had quite lengthy conversations with the two workmen who also had been seconded from LA. Lunch was taken at a nearby diner that served among many other items, some delicious soup which went down a treat. After lunch Doug, Michelle & Dani went to Times Square to obtain some theatre tickets for a Broadway show tonight while my DW and I walked our legs off calling in several large stores including Bloomingdales, I assume to fully justify the purchase of the additional suitcase! Our friends had managed to obtain 5 adjacent seats for us to see Mary Poppins at the Amsterdam Theatre so after an early dinner [at Donahue`s] we grabbed a couple of cabs to take us to the venue. As usual the area around Times Square was heaving which resulted in us arriving at the theatre shortly after the show had started so we watched proceedings from a tv monitor in the foyer. When a break in the performance took place an usher led us to our seats in the dress circle [as it is called over here]. My DW and I had already seen Mary Poppins a while back in London, but nevertheless we enjoyed seeing it again and our seats couldn`t have been better, giving us a great view in particular of Mary`s exit at the end of the show. After the show we fought our way through the crowds as we walked back to the hotel, arriving there around 11.30 pm. Sunday July 22nd A sad day today because our friends were to fly back to LA this morning. We had our final breakfast together at the diner before saying a tearful goodbye to Doug, Michell & Dani at 10.00am when they made their way to the airport in a car that Doug had ordered. We made a vow to sort out another meeting next year, the venue has yet to be decided. New York sure seemed an empty place after our friends had left so my DW and I decided to cheer ourselves up by doing some “touristy” things that up to now hadn`t been on the agenda. Thanks to our unofficial “tour guide” [Doug], we now knew roughly where most of the sights were located and so we took to the streets with a degree of confidence. The first location was Central Park where I treated us to a carriage ride lasting 40 minutes or so. Our driver was a lady [who`s name escapes me!] from Turkey, however for some strange reason I remember Barney [the horse!], both of which were very entertaining and allowed us to see some parts of the park that we missed on our previous visit before the cruise. After feeding Barney a well earned carrot, we had a brief walk around part of the park before heading into town. After resting at a café where we had a coffee at an oudoor table before splashing out on a couple of shirts for me an two pairs of jeans for my DW…..hopefully this will be enough to fill the new suitcase! After a fleeting visit to Times Square where my DW could see herself being filmed on the large screen as she wasn`t with us on my last visit, we then noticed the Disney Store so we went in for a peek. As it was New York, obviously Mickey and Minnie were dressed appropriately! From here it was a quick visit to Macy`s [New York must be the scaffolding capital of the World right now! ] and then on to Grand Central Station which Doug had told us was a “must see”. As we approached the station I had the shock of my life! We were walking past an old black lady who was sat by the roadside who suddenly started “effing and blinding” [and other expletives that were even new to me!] waving her metal walking stick around and threatening to knock my head off! Making a swift move to one side to avoid injury I couldn`t resist uttering “Welcome to New York”, much to the amusement of passers by who were wondering what was going on. I swear that I did nothing to annoy the lady but maybe the sight of my camera triggered something in her brain, but I`m sure that she was a few tiles short of a roof anyhow! I took a few photos inside the station which is truly a magnificent building and on leaving I made sure to cross the street to avoid another encounter with the geriatric mugger! Pausing for a while I was relieved to discover that she was threatening several other passers by in a similar fashion, so at least it wasn`t my b.o that caused her to react like she did! Back at the hotel we went up to the 42nd floor where there is a rooftop pool and offered some good views of the surrounding area, again, something that we hadn`t done before. We had our final dinner at Donahues where we raised a glass to Doug, Michelle & Dani in their absence before retiring to bed around 11.30 pm. Monday July 23rd Following our final breakfast at the diner around the corner, we checked out of the hotel at around 2.00 pm and caught a cab to take us and our mountain of luggage to JFK for our return flight. The e.t.d. of the flight was not until 6.15 pm, however in view of the horrendous volume of traffic we encountered when we first arrived, I thought it best to allow plenty of time. In the event, this journey only took us around 45 minutes, and when the porter took us and the luggage to the UC check in desk, the Virgin staff had not arrived so we just hung around, and after 20 minutes or so we got chatting to another couple who also had arrived ahead of time. Thank heavens that we had managed to blag UC seats, because after checking in we just left our suitcases on an adjacent cart whereas the PE and economy folk had to trundle their bags some distance to put them on a conveyor belt. After a brief stop at the duty free shop, we spent time until our flight was called in the new Virgin lounge which is out of this World and as we had arrived so early we had the place all to ourselves Here we had a [complimentary] tasty [albeit small] 3 course meal with wine c/w waitress service after which my DW had some spa treatment [not complimentary! ] in an attempt to relax her and ease her back pains before the flight. I can`t speak highly enough about the lounge, it was superb, even down to the comfy chairs and pool table! Our plane for the flight home was one of the new Airbusses although I much prefer the layout of the UC section on the 747`s. The seating “pods” seemed more cramped, being 4 across the width of the plane instead of only 2, although in reality the seats are in fact larger. The entertainment system though was superb with over 20 movies and well over 100 cd`s to choose from, not to mention the games and tv channels. As usual the service and meals were up to scratch and we enjoyed a calm flight home allowing me to grab a few hours sleep. Well, that`s about it. Many thanks to those of you who have taken the time to read my ramblings and even more thanks to those of you who have taken the trouble to reply with your comments. Preparing these reports has in some way allowed me to re-live a truly memorable holiday and I hope that I haven`t bored you too much.