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The time had finally come for SWMBO’s belated birthday treat to New York.

The first part was to dispose of the kids in the most humane way possible. I tried Anthrax, MegaDeath and Mace to no avail. Alas it was time to ship them off to SWMBO’s sister in Bicester (Poetry in motion)!

After loading the car with kids, journey snacks, CDs and suitcases we headed off. The journey was uneventful and took less than the 3 hours I’d expected it to take. With the kids suitably settled and our tea tanks re-filled we headed into London for a night at the theatre (well Joseph actually). A slight oversight in my navigation saw me bypass Hyde Park Corner and panic as I arrived at Piccadilly Circus! Some rather nifty recovery navigation found Park Lane again and our hotel by 1900. The show was scheduled for curtains up at 1930 so we dumped the cases with the concierge and the car with valet parking and hopped into a taxi. The taxi ride to the Adelphi Theatre seemed to take forever and we panicked that we’d not make it in time but actually we arrived with 15 minutes to spare!

The show was great and Lee Mead gave a great performance.

We then took a walk up to Covent Garden and popped into the Grand Indian. Well…..the only thing grand about it was that it wasn’t cheap. It wasn’t expensive which is just as well. The food was very salty and didn’t taste as good as the stuff I make at home!

We headed back to the hotel and up to our room where our bags had been taken (even though we hadn’t actually checked in properly). Fair play to Intercontinental.

At around 2am I realised that there was something seriously wrong. We’d packed everything………except the money :eek:. I casually turned to SWMBO and advised “I’m off home, see you in the morning”!

I then headed back to London as fast as I dared and faster than allowed. Fingers crossed that nothing arrives in the post with a piccie of my car!!!! Having retrieved the money and brewed a cuppa I set off again arriving back in London at just after 6am and climbed into bed for a couple of hours kip.

At around 9am we got up and headed down for breakfast. SWMBO ordered Eggs Benedict and I plumped for a bacon sandwich. What we received? I have no idea but we won’t be having breakfast there again!

We had a brief walk around Shepherd Market and then headed off to Heathrow.

The flight over was uneventful and BA’s new Video on Demand system is great. SWMBO was very impressed with the Premium Economy seat (but then I did select the ones with the most legroom). :D

We arrived at JFK at 1800. Getting through immigration was a doddle compared to my previous visits to the US. The taxi ride to the hotel was very pleasant and checking in went without hitch.

We unpacked, changed and then headed out for a trip up to the Empire State Building. This was about 10 minutes walk as we were based at Park Avenue and East 48th St whereas ESB is on 5th Avenue and 34th.

When we arrived the outside was closed off so we decided to give it a miss and actually there was a lot of maintenance ongoing inside.

We grabbed a quick burger and then headed round to Grand Central Terminal for a quick nosey before returning to the hotel for bed.

Saturday arrived and we headed out to a diner for breakfast before catching the metro down to the World Trade Centre site. The site is quite sobering to visit. To look out across an area of 16acres and just see what appears to be simply a construction site and then try to imagine two towers twice as high as any of the buildings around it leaves you amazed that more of the surrounding buildings didn’t suffer worse damaging. Then to walk through the exhibition centre and see the missing persons wall or see the individual accounts of those that survived. Seeing the few personal effects recovered from the site and released for the exhibition in some way brings the horror of what happened home. The worst thing for me was the letter of a child asking his dad when he was coming home.

Having left the WTC Exhibition feeling quite numb we decided to head to Tiffany’s for some retail therapy. We grabbed a hot dog en route (Delicious) and then proceeded through the various floors. SWMBO hovered around one particular item. An Imperial Topaz valued at $105,000.00. I swiftly moved her on. She earmarked some items for a return trip. FAO Schwarz was the next stop to look for something for the kids. We were quite disappointed (Hamleys has more). We were impressed with the huge cuddly toys there and the piano from BIG which had two local performers giving demonstrations but that was about it. We moved along to the Disney Store and found loads of stuff that isn’t available in the UK yet so we stocked up for the kids. We then left and headed to Grand Central for a look around the food hall. I was impressed by the quality of the food there and the seafood was awesome! We hurried back to the hotel and changed for dinner.

I’d booked us a table at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant at the London Hotel. We arrived a little early and so popped over to the bar for a small Gin & Tonic. We were then shown to our table and chose the A la Carte menu with a lovely Chablis to accompany it. The food was simply divine! The price was pretty good too (about the same as we spent when we ate lunch at Jamie Oliver’s). I was served one of my courses by Jean Baptiste who is the Restaurant Director there. When he presented our bill SWMBO asked for his autograph. He refused!!!!.....saying that he had a menu that he would sign for us. When he presented the menu he asked if we would like a tour of the kitchen. Well, as he asked so nicely we had no choice but to oblige!!!!

Sunday loomed and we overslept slightly so we skipped breakfast and headed down to battery park to book our ferry over to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Then we had to leg it to get to a restaurant that we’d booked for lunch in Brooklyn. Peter Luger has won the title of New York’s best steak house 23 years in a row. The restaurant is over 100 years old. The menu I fairly simple, steak for 2, steak for 3 or steak for 4!

We arrived a little early and found people queuing already. Fortunately we’d booked because the restaurant was full and this is often the case.

We ordered steak for 2 with fries and creamed spinach. It was incredible. The steak melts in your mouth. They buy it on the carcass and dry age it themselves on the premises. The creamed spinach was very tasty. The fries were OK but I’ve tasted better. The service was good although we’ve heard it can be mediocre or sometimes brusque. The décor is like a pub.

The journey out to Brooklyn on the metro was interesting! When you get on to the metro train you immediately know you’re going off the beaten track to one of the slightly poorer areas. Getting off at Marcy Avenue you look around and instantly feel that this isn’t an area you want to be in after sunset! If you want an evening meal then book in advance and take a cab. The restaurant will happily call a cab for you when you’ve finished.

Following this we headed back to battery park and joined the queue (about 30minutes) to board the ferry. We never got off the ferry at Liberty Island or Ellis Island because we’d booked a 7pm helicopter flight and so time was tight but we saw what we wanted to.

Back on dry land we headed for the VIP Heliport on 12th Avenue and West 30th Street. Arriving 15 minutes early I quenched my thirst with some grape flavour drink that tasted like liquid sherbet yeuch! We had a long wait for our helicopter ride (almost 1.5 hours) but eventually we were called in.

We headed down the Hudson River as far as the Statue of Liberty and up as far as the George Washington Bridge. Unfortunately since 911 you can no longer fly over NYC below 25,000 ft and so we had to view the city from the river. Still the sights are easy to see and the pilot gave a good talk (although I didn’t realise you could put headsets on to hear him more clearly) pointing out all the major sites. The tour itself lasted just under 20 minutes.

We then headed up to 7th Avenue and 54th Street which is just across from Carnegie Hall. Our destination was Carnegie Deli which came highly recommended, and rightly so. I ordered the Hot Pastrami Sandwich and SWMBO had the Corned Beef Sandwich. When we say corned beef….that isn’t like the stuff in tins from Argentina…..it’s beef cooked in a corn crust! The size of the sandwich was like nothing I have ever seen. We must have had half a cow between two slices of bread!!! Don’t believe us? Take a look here…. Welcome to Carnegie Deli

We couldn’t finish the things! We staggered out and were pleased to have a 15 minute walk back to the hotel to try and burn the dinner off! After a couple of cocktails in the bar we retired to bed.

On Monday we ate breakfast in the hotel and then packed. Then, with 7 hours to kill, we proceeded to the post office to post our postcards. We then headed off to Times Square. Imagine Piccadilly Circus…….multiply it by 4….it’s a little bit bigger than that! We stumbled on M&M world and headed in for a peek. The usual chocolate themes of New York (M&M dressed as Statue of Liberty etc etc) were in abundance but for me the best bit was seeing 12 ft tubes of M&M all the way along the back wall (about 60 ft long). I wanted to stay longer but SWMBO insisted that we leave….sigh. We then headed up to the Metropolitan Museum for a drink in the Roof Garden Café. Having walked half the length of Central Park to find the museum closed on Monday we decided a cab back to Central Park South was in order!!! We took one of the horse and carriage rides through central park and were fortunate enough to get quiet a good guide. With rumbling tummies we decided to return to Carnegie Deli determined not to be beaten this time! Being smart cookies that we are we decided to share a “The Mouth That Roared” (basically Roast Beed with Lettuce, tomato and onion). There is a $3 supplement for sharing but definitely worth it for lunch. We managed to defeat that and so ordered a slice of cheesecake to share. The wedge was a similar size to the chocks used on a 747 to stop it rolling back….but we defeated it!

Finally we headed back to Tiffany’s and bought most of the store. At least my wallet thinks we did!!!

We left New York totally shattered and still not having seen most that there is to see. We’ve vowed a return trip to see more but I think you could easily spend two weeks there and not see all there is to see.

Sure it’s expensive (like any capital city) but with the current exchange rate hovering around the $2/£1 mark it doesn’t feel expensive. A trip anywhere on the metro is £1 in London a single is £4.00 ($8) in zone 1! The meal at Gordon Ramsay’s was $90 (£45) a head in the UK it’s £85 a head. Even the taxis are cheap! I was also surprised by how few fat people I saw. Sure there are some morbidly obese but it’s not as prevalent as it was when I visited Dallas. In fact I’d say there were more health freaks than lardies! Finally there were only three rude/grumpy people that we saw, one was at a souvenir shop we visited, another at the duty-free shop at the airport and the other was at the BA check-in desk at the airport.

We can’t wait to return and neither can the kids as they had a great time without us!!
 

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NY is a great city. I'm normally the type to avoid big cities but there is something about NY I love. The roof garden on the Metropolitan is great, loved central park and have learnt to avoid the Apple shop where I left with a Bose sound system, 80GB Ipod and Bose headphones. Can't wait to go back. Thanks for report.
 

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13.05.2012 QPRmageddon Day
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Yeah, loved it there too, came across some old photos taken from the Empire State Building and it still raises the hackles on the back of my neck what with all the city laid out below.
Offered the wife a chance to go back later on this year but she declined:confused: leaving me with no option than to book to see Ricky Hatton fight in Las Vegas in December:teeth:
Must return to NY though, had some cracking times there mid 90s
 
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