Our two days in the world’s largest city has been invigorating I first visited New York in 1978 and then I was overwhelmed and felt very insecure. That was well before New York was cleaned up and became safe. My last visit was in the early 90’s and the World Trade Centre was still standing. This time,we had a great visit and wished that we could have stayed longer.
We arrived in NY on Thursday afternoon from Washington DC and after a short tour around Philadelphia. It’s a nice city and very historic. It’s the home of Betsy Ross (she sewed the original Stars and Stripes flag at the end of the revolution) and the original Liberty Bell which cracked shortly after its installation in Independence Hall.
When reached r Manhattan via the Lincoln Tunnel . It seems to have quite a long queue of vehicles waiting to enter but our driver assured us that it was that the traffic was actually quite light. Our hotel was at he Renaissance and right on Times Square so we couldn’t have had a more central location from which to get around.
While waiting for our bags to get to our rooms we went for a walk around the square which was alive with activity. There were enormous queues for the discount same-day tickets to various theatre shows. You certainly don’t want to be too timid in this city – you’ll just get pushed aside in the constant stream of people! in the middle of the road was the ‘Naked Cowboy’ dressed in white Y-Fronts, hat and cowboy books. He couldn’t sing, or play his guitar very well, but he had quite a presence. Further up the street was a transvestite, dressed in a bikini who was dressed up as a rather obscure version of the Statue of Liberty.
After a quick bite to eat, we jumped on a night tour of southern Manhattan on the hop-on-hop-off bus.
We had a free day yesterday (Friday) and had worked out a plan for getting around the city. We decided to catch the Subway up to Fifth Avenue, do a little shopping and then do another tour on the hop-on hop-off bus. It was raining in the morning, so we tonight that it might be safer to sit on the open top of he bus in he afternoon after the showers had passed.
This plan started out all OK until we realised that we were going in the wrong direction on the train – the street numbers of the stations were going down, rather than up as they should have ben doing. We worked that out after a few stations and caught another train heading in the other direction.It was interesting to find a man get on at one of fhe stations pulling a cart full of sandwiches. He was offering food and help to the poor who live on the subway.
We jumped off the train at the station on the corner of 8th Avenue and 59th Street. Just opposite, were two of the biggest children’s stores in the world. The Apple Store (for big kids) is open 24/7 on every day of the year, and FAO Shwartz, next door, is the largest toy store in the world. Both were astonishing! We did a little shopping for our grand children and then caught a taxi back to the hotel to drop off our bags. FAO Scharz told us that to ship our purchases home would cost over $580. I told the clerk to forget it – I only needed them to go as freight; not have their own business class seat. I checked at a local Fedex office, but even they wanted $370. The only alternative was tp break out our collapsible bag and carry them the toys with us.
The central area of New York was bustling with black limos. We assume that it was because the United Nations Assembly was sitting. Both here and in Washington, we had seen police cars protecting buildings and with the words Police – Secret Service’ on the side. I thought that was strange, as if they wanted to remain as being secret, they shouldn’t have publicised it!
We spent the remainder opt the afternoon on the hop-on hop-off bus, deciding on the ‘Uptown Route’ which took us past Central Park, up into Harlem and back past the luxurious mansions (including Rupert Murdoch’s) on 8th Avenue and back to Times Square. The guide on the bus was a typical New Yorker; brash, opinionated and with that rather harsh NY accent. BY the end of the ride, she had ordered everyone to visit the local Cathedral, buy some food from Joe’s deli and to visit every teatre in town. Apparently Harlem is now quite safe to walk around, but we didn’t see too many white people on the streets.
We arrived back to our hotel in time to change and then walk around the corner for a final group dinner at the restaurant not hue top of the Marriot hotel.
Right now, we are on our way to Boston on an Amtrak train (complete with free wifi).