As my birthday falls during the Christmas holiday period it’s usual for me to receive Christmas / Birthday gifts rolled into one. This can work well, especially when I opened a parcel to find an Expedia booking reference tucked into the bow of a box of chocolates! How wonderful, a week’s holiday in New York, somewhere I’ve always yearned to visit but despite visiting the US numerous times, I’ve never made it to New York, that is until now!
Baggage packed, the previous afternoon we took the train to London and enjoyed dinner out before heading to the London Heathrow Central Travelodge for our overnight stay. Our flight with United Airlines was scheduled for 10.20 am from Terminal 2 and as we were virtually on the doorstep we didn’t need to get up very early. The flight departed on time, it was a Boeing 767-400 airliner and we were seated in row 31A and 31B. During the first half hour it was quite turbulent but afterwards the flight became smooth.
Lunch was served around 90 minutes into the flight and this was reasonably good, the highlight being the tub of strawberry clotted cream ice cream for dessert. After the meal we settled back into our seats to watch a film. I selected ‘The Intern’ starring Robert de Niro and Anne Hathaway. It turned out to be just my sort of film and as it was set in Brooklyn, set the scene for our holiday.
The plane touched down in New York an hour ahead of schedule due to strong tail winds and we only had to queue for 15 minutes at Border Control. After collecting our luggage we boarded the air train to the airport railway station where we bought tickets for the New Jersey Transit to Newark Penn ($8.50 each including the air train). Using the card machine to purchase the tickets was a bit of a struggle though, when the ticket selection has been made the debit/credit card then needs to be ‘dipped’ into the card reader. There is obviously a technique for doing this as our card came up with the error message ‘not recognised’ several times until it eventually worked. It can’t be dipped too slow or too fast, but don’t worry if it happens to you, just keep trying.
Other useful tips about purchasing tickets, when asked for your zip code, just enter 99999 if not from the US and for some reason tickets cannot be added to a basket as only individual tickets can be purchased so one has to repeat the whole procedure for other travelling companions!
On arrival at Newark Penn we caught the PATH (Port Authority Trans Hudson) train to the World Trade Center. Our dipping skills with the card machine were improving as the card was recognised at only our second attempt (fare $2.75 each). We found this to be a relatively quick way into the city centre and as there was step free access at all points it eliminated the need to manoeuvre heavy suitcases on and off the subway system.
Our hotel for the next seven nights was the Club Quarters Hotel on William Street, just steps away from the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street. We’d downloaded the New York map to our phones, enabling us to access it offline, and making it easy to take the 10 minute walk from the World Trade Center. It was 3.00 pm when we checked into our 8th floor room and after a quick coffee in the hotel’s club lounge we were ready to take our first look at the city.
Our walk started on Wall Street, admiring the George Washington statue outside the Federal Hall, followed by the New York Stock Exchange and taking photos of the Charging Bull. Continuing further we entered Bowling Green Park with the former Customs House at its centre and then crossed the road into Battery Park where we caught our first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty in the distance. We glanced inside the Staten Island ferry terminal leaving a ride on it for another day. Instead we strolled along the East River esplanade from where we had some good views of the Brooklyn skyline as the sun was setting. The path continued to South Street seaport where we were able to view some historic ships and admire the Brooklyn Bridge which was illuminated at night.
Feeling hungry we spotted a branch of Denny’s on Nassau Street and warmed ourselves with soup and steak skewers. Feeling refreshed we concluded our evening stroll with a visit to the 9/11 Memorial Reflecting Pools which shimmered in the moonlight and touched our hearts when remembering that horrific day almost 15 years ago.
We returned to the hotel and enjoyed mugs of cappuccino in the hotel’s lounge, unpacked our suitcases and fell asleep as soon as our heads touched the pillow.
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