Sorry for the previous “coming soon” post… most of January was spent catching up with people after Christmas and planning for a trip to New York. We’re finally back from our week long trip to the Big Apple and I’ll (hopefully) be posting a diary of our trip.

But first… some big news.

Me and Jessica are now engaged! I finally proposed on our two year anniversary and thankfully she said yes 🙂 We are not sure when or what the wedding will be but we are just taking it easy for while before we start to tackle that one. The proposal story should feature in the diary (Day 5).

Anyway, onto our New York trip:

Day 1:

We arrived mid-afternoon and had to navigate from JFK to midtown Manhatten via the subway. It ended up being really easy and the whole journey cost $7 which must be a bargain compared to the cab fare. Having checked into the hotel we set out to explore our temporary home. Central park was reasonably quiet and there was a thin covering of snow in some spots. Jessica spotted a few horse and carriage rides and decided she’d like one later in the holiday.

We had a wander round a few of the streets and I spotted a steaming manhole cover. I had seen them in films but did not expect it to happen in reality – I now know steam escapes from loads of roads and buildings across the city (often accompanied by a less than pleasant smell). Our first meal was at a Chinese restaurant near the hotel, where we were served huge plates full of food and when we couldn’t finish they offered to pack up the remains so we could have it to go. We declined and returned to the hotel – our bodies were under the impression that it was 2am.

I had a quick play with the TV and found mainly comedy, sports and news. All the programmes were frequently broken up by commercials where the most popular items for sale were prescription drugs, weight loss solutions and fast food. Sleep.

Day 2:

Woke up nice and early (thanks jet lag) so we went down to get breakfast. Breakfast featured a vast array of bread and batter products – doughnuts, Danish, bagels, croissant and (for the adventurous) toast. It became obvious that Jessica had not believed my claims about American hotel breakfasts, as she wanted to take a picture to show everyone at home that she wasn’t lying.

One of the highlights of the holiday was when I saw the Empire State building for this first time, towering over the surrounding buildings. We paid our admission and went through the necessary security checks before getting into a fantastic marbled lift that made your ears pop as it sped up towards the top of the building. First stop was the 83rd floor which offered an open-air viewing gallery where we could look at the city below (visibility was around 25 miles apparently).

It was pretty windy out on floor 83 but the views were fantastic – I took plenty of photos and a few are featured in the photo gallery. We also purchased a ticket upgrade which permitted us to go up to the 102nd floor. This time the lift was more like a service elevator and there was only one. The top viewing gallery was inside so we were protected from the wind and could enjoy the view in more comfort. We were that bit higher so it was easier to see features such as Central Park which looks quite strange in the middle of all the buildings. With remarkable speed (we didn’t jump) we reached the ground again where we headed off to Grand Central Station.

I felt a bit daft trying to get pictures inside a train station but there were quite a few other people trying so I was felt a bit better about it. The interior of the station was not brightly lit so the photos that I did get required a longer exposure. The station is very impressive and it seems strange that someone would go to all that trouble for a building where people simply rush through. The station had a fantastic food level where twenty plus vendors supplied all manner of food which could be consumed in a central seating area.

After eating a large sandwich at Grand Central we had a wander round Times Square. Due to the hotels location we came through this area on just about every day. There is a visitors centre that allows you 10 minutes of free internet access which can be very useful. The lights of Times Square were really impressive and I thought how low-key Piccadilly Circus seemed in comparison. We noticed a huge M&M peering down at us from a screen and decided to look at M&Ms world.

I don’t know if it was the jet lag… but we thought M&Ms world was fantastic – everywhere we looked there were bright primary colours and another ingenious way to get the M&M branding onto a product. Jessica bought herself a watch and on a subsequent visit I got a selection box with each section containing a single colour pile of M&Ms.

Our next trip was to little Italy where we were looking for a pizzeria that had been recommended to us. Lombardi’s claims to be America’s first pizzeria but I am not sure if there are any other’s claiming the same honour. The pizza we had was fantastic and we came so close to finishing it… but it was just too big and we couldn’t eatthe last slice. Definitely worth a trip if you find yourself in New York though.

Finally we went back to Times Square where Jessica found a DS game (that is yet to be released in the UK) in Toys ‘R’ us. This giant toy store actually had a Ferris wheel inside it. Downstairs I got a look at a few games running on the PS3 but they didn’t help my deliberations about whether to get the new console or not.

Back in the hotel, Jessica had a quick look at her new game before sleep.

Interesting

New York is cold in January but we expected this. The air is very dry so unless the wind gets up you feel fine (as long as you wear warm clothes and a hat). A one week unlimited travel ticket for the subway is $24 which works out about £12. I cannot believe how much better this is than London – £12 will just about get you a peak day travelcard! Times square visitor centre is a must if you are in the habit of googling to find shops etc. – we found the location of the Apple and Nintendo stores this way.

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