New York – Day 3

New York – Day 3

New York #24Day 3 was family day. My brother Michael, his wife Brooke and their three daughters (Autumn, Amber and Abigail) live in Connecticut, a couple of hours North of New York. They’d agreed to meet us for a day, which given the short notice of our trip was great. They planned to drive to Stamford, get booked into a hotel and jump on a train to Grand Central Station, meeting us around 11:30am.

So, to start the day we wandered down 7th Avenue, grabbed a deli breakfast and had a recce of Central Park. As we had time left on our Citi Bikes hire period, the plan was to ride around Central Park, but we couldn’t find a bike station at the South entrance. We abandoned that plan in favour of doing it with less time pressures on our last day.

We walked down to Grand Central Station, took some photos and talked to an Apple assistant about the iPhone 6s, before venturing outside to grab a drink at Starbucks. Hooking up to their WiFi, we traded messages with Brooke only to find out they’d got on a train in the wrong direction and would be later than planned. What to do now?

We decided to head towards the East River and have a look at the United Nations building. It was nothing special, just a tall office block with loads of security! What next? Well, when all else fails, find a bar. So we did, Muldoon’s on 3rd Avenue, which was a down-to-earth place with Guinness and Brooklyn Lager.

We finally met up with the family 90mins later than planned and got the subway (5 train) down to Fulton Street and walked over to the 9/11 Memorial site. We didn’t go into the Memorial Museum, but instead wandered around the site of the atrocity.

The area now consists of a field of trees interrupted by two large, recessed pools, the footprints of the Twin Towers, with waterfalls on all four sides of each. The names of the victims of the attacks are inscribed on the parapets surrounding the waterfalls.

Towering over the North Pool is the One World Trade Center. This skyscraper, including its spire, reaches a total height of 1,776feet (541m). Its edges chamfering back to form 8 isosceles triangles. Its height in feet is a deliberate reference to the year when the United States Declaration of Independence was signed. It looks very impressive and is already a new icon on the Manhattan skyline.

We decided to walk along the waterfront from the 9/11 Memorial to Battery Park. It was a gorgeous day and the walk was very pleasant. We bought tickets for the ferry to Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty.

There is not a lot to say here apart from the ferry crossing is fun and the walk around the statue is a photographers dream, given that you can shoot the thing from all angles and with a myriad of sun positions.  The visit took well over an hour, followed by a drink and a snack, before heading back to the ferry.  If you are a keen photographer, the return journey is possibly the highlight of the entire experience.  Grab a vantage point at the front of the ferry, ideally on the top deck, and capture the Manhattan skyline in all its wonder.  On a clear day like we had the images were amazing and equally as good as any poster you can buy no matter whether you shoot with a mobile phone camera or a professional DSLR camera.

We needed to head back up to the Times Square area and find Señor Frogs for a bite to eat.  Subway E got us to 42nd Street and the restaurant was literally just across the street.  If you have never eaten at a Señor Frogs, read this carefully before deciding to do so!  It is not a place for shy retiring people.  It is not for people that don’t enjoy (or can withstand) loud music.  It is not for people that hate party games, rowdy entertainment or audience participation.  In fact, the statement of their website says it all…

“We’re a place where people of all backgrounds hang together, dance, sing and basically act the way they want without worrying about silly rules and regulations.  Our philosophy is simple: have fun, let yourself go and unleash your fiesta…

The food is okay, nothing special, with the usual Mexican offerings of wings, nachos, tacos, fajitas and burgers.  The kids enjoyed themselves and their balloon hats, but for us it was a chance to sit down, fill our bellies and sink a couple of pints…I don’t think we’ll make the cut when auditioning for the next Señor Frogs TV advert!

Back in Times Square we had one last place to take the kids before we left them and headed our separate ways.  If you are a young kid or even a big kid at heart, you have to visit Toys R Us in Times Square.  It is massive and includes a rather impressive big wheel amusement ride inside the building.  Floor after floor of toys and sweets are offered, with the latest Star Wars collectibles being hot property during our visit.  We had to leave Mike, Brooke and the three girls at 8:45pm as we had tickets for the Top of the Rock at 9:00pm.  As we said our goodbyes, we feared the worst for Mike’s wallet before they would leave the store, but by all accounts the girls were too tired to care about toys and just wanted to head back to their hotel after we’d left them.

The Top of the Rock is the observatory deck on top of the Rockefeller Center.  It’s a tough call as to whether it’s best to go during the day or after the sun has set, but either way the 360-degree view from the 70th floor outdoor deck is stunning.  New York is spectacular at any time, but the view at night, with all the buildings lit up is great, with just Central Park looking out of place and a little foreboding.

That’s day 3 done and after a short walk back up to 55th Street we hit the sack.