Apr 032013

Our very last day in New York! How sad! Still so much to do, try and see! We’ll need to leave those things for our future visit.

Our holiday was nearly over and we quite badly needed a less eventful day, so we awarded ourselves with a later alarm.

We left the hotel at around 11am and headed straight to the Nike Town. Flavia is a big fan! As a result I bought nothing and Flavia got herself a full bag of new fancy clothes … Very entertaining. ;o))

The weather was really nice and a walk down the 5th Avenue felt good. Cafe Bene, which we classified as our “Favourite coffee place in New York we never go to” offered a nice stop. This made it our second time in for what it’s worth.

Early afternoon and we are off to JFK airport on our return trip to London!

New York – WE WILL BE BACK!!!

Apr 032013

Our objective to cover what we believed were the key highlights of New York had been nearly completed at the beginning of Day 5. We unfortunately had to give up on the Statue of Liberty (currently closed to visitors), Ellis Island (also closed), Battery Park & Staten Island ferry.

Guggenheim museum opened in 1959 and was designed by a famous US architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The museum is today one of the must see in New York and attracts over million visitors every year. In order to beat the crowds we woke up early, pre-booked tickets in our hotel and rushed in shortly after 10am. Luckily enough the place was only semi-crowded by then. There was effectively no queue and in no time we were up on the top floor enjoying the views of the amazing rotunda shape of the building.

The museum exhibits both modern and contemporary art. On the contemporary front, a collection of influential Japanese artists called Gutai: Splendid background was to be seen alongside the rotating walkway from the top to the bottom of the building. In my mind heavily obscured by pragmatism and emphasis on skills on display, I only found a few art pieces enjoyable. A block of square canvas painted red with a piece of rope sticking out of it was great stuff, but all I could see was someone with too much time on their hands, whilst I’m sure others see revolutionary work with rope, paper and red paint. My favourites were clearly the exhibition of Kandinsky’s work from 1911 – 1913 and Thannhauser collection that included French impressionists, post-impressionists, Picasso, etc.

It’s challenging to even consider that one could visit New York without actually trying a proper bagel! It took us a little while, but we did find exactly such place called “Pick a bagel”. The place does everything bagel, so they offer possibly a dozen different types of the pastry and one can combine a multitude of ingredients to enhance the taste of the sandwich. Given the natural shape of a bagel, logically most of the ingredients actually fall through, but it does taste good!

Our attempt at shopping in the afternoon brought no tangible results. We longed to see Macy’s, but decided the place was a mess and quickly left. For instance expensive women wear suddenly leads to men’s basketball attire whilst sports is then located on an entirely different floor. Not convinced.

Tuesday evening was our Broadway night. Our choice was a play called Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. The play is highly rated, is fun and features Sigourney Weaver, so we were up to see a celebrity around here. We weren’t disappointed although at times it felt that the jokes were a bit over the top.

An evening burger on our last night in the Five Napkin burger place close to our hotel was a great finish of a nice day in New York.

Apr 022013

Posted from New York, New York, United States.

Monday was being forecasted as one of the hottest day to be bestowed upon us in the foreseeable future by many institutions and New Yorkers as well. Unfortunately for us the forecasts rang true until perhaps 11am after which cold, breezy and drizzly weather settled. Pity!

Anyway, we decided to take another long morning walk from Upper Manhattan to Chelsea where our appointment with a friend we met over a couple of days in Queensland (Australia) 1.5 years ago was set. Our friend works for Google and showed us the company’s allegedly largest office. Very cool. People playing table tennis, free high quality food of any type, lots of space everywhere … we loved it!

When done we continued down to South Manhattan to visit the 9/11 memorial. Some impressive structures have been built in the place where Twin Towers used to stand. The sadness of the occasion remains to be written all over the area.

Wall Street is just a couple streets away. When I visited New York in 1997 I remember we got a tour of the NYSE watching the traders run like mad in search for profits. Since 9/11 these tours are no longer available and so, to be honest, there is nothing to see other than the building, which is nothing spectacular.

Our sudden need to use Subway as we sped back to our hotel to attend to our evening programme turned out to be fake. We just messed up the plan a bit and upon our arrival to our hotel we learnt that our theatre tickets were for Tuesday, not Monday … Alright …

Not wasting any valuable time here, decision was made to take the Subway south down to Brooklyn and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge hoping to steal a few nice views of Manhattan. Brooklyn Bridge indeed offers a memorable experience. There aren’t many tourists to worry about unlike everywhere else in NYC – after all the walk requires that people actually “move” rather than stand on a conveyor belt. That made us feel somehow special ;o)).

With that our program on Day 4 was over and we headed back to our Garden Inn hotel.

Apr 022013

The weather on Day 3 has unfortunately gone slightly for the worse – chilly, foggy, drizzly. We were determined, however, to continue our mission in proving to New Yorkers that Subway is overrated and unnecessary. This time we set out to explore the north-west area that spreads through the Garment District, Theater District, Hell’s Kitchen and the Upper West side. Apart from Hell’s kitchen, all these zones seem to be appropriately branded, so that one always knows what to expect. I’d rather not investigate what you are to expect in Hell’s kitchen though …

The Lincoln Center is THE place in New York to watch performing arts (apart from all those played on Broadway I guess). We have only checked the architecture of it from outside. Looked nice, but not necessarily the highlight of our trip I’m afraid. Walking a few streets up and another building to photograph appeared – The Ansonia. Nice building, but nothing ground-breaking for those who come from historically gifted Europe. Let’s move on. The Dakota Building where John Lennon lived and was also assassinated in 1980 is a couple blocks away. Just across the street there is a Strawberry Fields memorial where we took a few photos over the “Imagine” mosaic.

The Natural History museum would have been a great fun, but we unfortunately didn’t have the time to see it. It’s on my list of future to-do’s. Instead we went on to across the Central Park and returned back down to Midtown Manhattan alongside the 5th Avenue. There was another ridiculously nice Apple Store on the 5th, which of course, we couldn’t miss.

At 1pm we had an appointment scheduled with Hilton Vacations representatives. In exchange for a considerable amount of HHonours points we were to give a testimony to Hilton’s loyalty programme, except that the ask was totally different. We were instead told about Hilton’s shared property programme at the end of which we were asked to dish out thousands of dollars and invest. I’m sure the intentions were great, but somehow didn’t feel (a) realistic, (b) real and (c) acceptable given we were on holiday and nowhere near thinking how to spend our next few years’ fortune. So the answer was “No, thanks!”, but the points will be useful.

As much as we love our walk experience, time was of essence yesterday. And so we finally made use of the NYC Subway. In the afternoon we arrived at Spring Street and from there we walked all the way through Little Italy, Chinatown and eventually ended up our evening at the famous Blue Note jazz bar.

There were two bands on the program – Kyle Eastwood band (the son of Clint Eastwood) and Larry Corryell band. Kyle allegedly composes music for his father’s blockbuster movies. Larry Corryell and his sons came after with jazz guitar fusion. Very interesting too, especially Larry’s son Murali seemed to be a all into blues (which is music I adore). We got some amazing tunes and great atmosphere out of it – loved it!

Our walk back across nearly the entire Manhattan was nice, but tiring. We dropped dead tired first thing we got back in the hotel.

 Posted by at 12:34 pm