New York – Day 1
The decision to head to New York for a few days was very last minute. We’d talked about it in principle if Amanda was given ‘garden leave’ after tendering her resignation, but it was only booked 4 days before we left home.
We tend to book an overnight stay close to the airport the night before we fly to avoid early morning starts and the potential for traffic issues. However, on this occasion the only hotels close to Manchester Airport, that had availability, were looking for £200+ for one night including parking. We therefore decided to book ‘meet & greet’ parking and drive over to Manchester Airport the morning of the flight…never again! It’s roughly 90 miles door-to-door, with a choice of three main routes, but all involved driving around Manchester during rush hour. We left at 6:30am expecting to arrive at 8:30am, allowing for traffic, but it was almost 9:15am by the time we handed the car keys over to a very grumpy parking valet.
The delay didn’t present any issues with the flight as we were not scheduled to take-off until 11:30am. So after check-in, bag drop and security, we hit Wetherspoon’s for a couple of early beers.
Although we normally fly with Virgin Atlantic, this trip was with their partner Delta Airlines. It was our first experience with them and it was okay, certainly not as good as Virgin Atlantic, but still very good. The plane was smaller than those we encounter on most transatlantic flights, so moving around the cabin was harder and there were no places to stand and talk without being in the way. The only other complaint was that our seats seemed to be adjacent to one of the floor level aircon vents and our feet were virtually frozen by the time we landed!
The explorer spirit in us meant that we ignored the taxi and shuttle bus options in favour of using the train and subway to get from JFK airport to our hotel in the Theatre District of Manhattan. This proved to be very easy and dirt cheap. For only $7.75 each (less than £5) we got the Airtrain to Jamaica Center, walked through to Sutphin Boulevard and hopped on subway E, heading West under the East River, to 7th Avenue. Our accommodation, the Wellington Hotel, was on the corner of 7th Avenue and 55th Street, which was a simple and short 2 block walk North.
The hotel was nothing special, a little tired and purely functional. The bed was large and comfortable, which was the plus, but the bathroom was small and the shower over the bath was clostrophobic to say the least. Why do they put the shower head along the long side of the bath as, even with a full width shower curtain, you can’t avoid flooding the bathroom floor!
After a long day travelling, it was time for a wander and beer. The roof bar recommended by our hotel concierge was a red herring as Dream New York’s roof terrace was closed for refurbishment. So, we went to our old favourite, Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. Cocktails and Nacho’s are always the way to unwind after a long trip. Hooking up to their WiFi helped us find another potential roof top bar (The Press Lounge), but we had a change of heart and headed down to the Hudson River whilst on route.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum looked very impressive (more on that in a later blog) and on an adjacent pier we stopped off at P. D. O’Hurley’s for another beer, watched the sunset and got in a decent bit of people watching. This latter activity continued over another beer at the North River Lobster Company, which was notable for having a banging sound system. We swiftly came to the conclusion that New York contained all sorts of weirdo’s and that beer on the Hudson River was a couple of Dollars richer than most other places!
Finally, before turning in for the night, we popped into the Ben Ash Deli on the opposite corner to our hotel for a nightcap and a pizza. It was a great first day in the Big Apple and the following day was shaping up to be even more epic.