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Unread 25 Aug 18, 12:57 PM  
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#1
CrispyA
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Expedition East Coast: Day 3 Top of the Rock, Times Square, Central Park

21 July 2018

We all slept well again, having done over 30K steps again the previous day. Again the breakfast was really good, although I do get frustrated with parents who let young children just help themselves at buffets - apart from grubby fingers all over the food, most kids aren't very good at knowing how much to put on their plates and there is invariably a lot of waste. I know that makes me sound like a grumpy old woman (what, me?) but I really hate wasted food!

We had TOTR tickets for 6.30 tonight but the weather forecast wasn't looking great for later on and we didn't fancy getting soaked up there. I had checked the website and it said that you couldn't change the time but that you could turn up earlier and see if there was space. We thought we may as well chance it and set off for TOTR.

Bizarrely, it took us quite a while to find it. You would have thought that one of the tallest buildings around would be easy to spot but apparently not . . . Anyway, we did find it eventually and as we asked about going up earlier than our booking, we were ushered inside, seemingly jumping the large queue outside. It was a bit odd but we weren't going to argue!

The queue to the lift went fairly quickly and we were soon zooming up to floor 67. The lift was fun and we enjoyed walking around the various viewing platforms and having a look out at the city from above. It was pretty cool to see the Empire State Building from one side and Central Park from the other.







We all really enjoyed this and spent a good time up there, looking out at the views. We had picked TOTR as our "tall building to go up" as you can't see the Empire State Building from the Empire State (obviously!) and One World Observatory is completely enclosed, so this seemed like the best option.

Although we'd originally planned to be there for sunset, we were really glad that we'd gone earlier in the day and hadn't been left hanging around waiting for our time to visit.

After coming back down and finding our way out of the building (not as easy as you might think ...), we headed off to see Times Square. It isn't a long walk but we were struck, again, by how dirty New York seems to be. Everywhere we went, there were piles of trash on the streets, even in "nice" areas like this one, and a strong smell of urine about the place. Lovely.

Well, we got to Times Square and lasted about 60 seconds. It was rammed full of people, and felt like the worst part of New York you could imagine - crowded, tacky, and dedicated to getting money out of you. We got a quick photo and left as soon as we could. I'm sure some people really love it but it wasn't our cup of tea at all.



The plan was to spend a good part of the rest of the day in Central Park, so we headed there, walking along 5th Avenue and gawping at all the super expensive shops there. We glared at Trump Tower as we went past, noting all the security there. I wonder who is paying for that, Donald?

The park felt like a respite from the relentless crowds - at least in parts. The restrooms had massive queues and you have to watch the road crossings as a lot of the cyclists are clearly not used to riding bikes around cities and don't realise that you are supposed to stop! We were quite fascinated with a guy on a segway with a snake until we realised that he was going up to people and putting it round their necks and then asking for money from them. Firstly, don't "snake" me without asking and secondly, don't expect me to pay for the privilege!

Again, it felt as though everyone was asking for money from you. We lost count of the times we were approached by horse and carriage drivers, or tuk tuk riders, or artists wanting to sell us a ride or a picture. It started to get very tiring. I know they need to make a living but it would have been nice to just "be" for a little while.

We found a statue of Robert Burns (there always seems to be one!) and did enjoy the open air and green space.



It isn't easy to find your way around though, as the signposting is a little haphazard! We ended up using Google maps instead. I did get a butterfly visitor which was a new experience - I could feel its feet in hair which was an odd feeling!



Lunch was some fairly disappointing hot dogs and pretzels from a street vendor but we did cheer ourselves up with a trip to Dunkin Donuts and some iced coffees and munchkins again. They were becoming a regular feature of this trip!

We also quite liked the little bridges and walkways.



I wanted to find the Alice in Wonderland statue as it is one of my favourite books. Once we got there, however, I got all "grumpy old lady" again as it was covered in people climbing all over it and you could hardly see the statue, let alone take a picture of it. We really struggled with how crowded New York is and how difficult it was to get some places because of all the crowds.

We eventually found some softball pitches so sat down to watch for a bit and all ended up having a bit of a nap - which was clearly much needed! There is something quite satisfying about an outdoor nap and we did all feel better for it.

One of the things we wanted to do was get a deli sandwich and we decided to walk to Sargents Deli and build up an appetite along the way. One the way, we were fascinated by all the traffic. The vast majority of New Yorkers that we met were friendly and helpful but I don't know what happens to them once they get behind the wheel! The driving is so aggressive, with constant honking horns and outrage. Maybe the traffic jams do that to you? Just getting around the city seems to be a very stressful experience.

It wasn't a bad walk but we should have checked the prices as we couldn't believe the sandwiches were $20 each! With all the money we had given to the Metro so far we couldn't bring ourselves to pay that much for a sandwich so went to the nearby Shake Shack instead which was very nice. Freshly cooked burgers are so much nicer and we all enjoyed it.

By this point, the sky was starting to look pretty dark so we headed for the subway and to go back to the hotel. We got back just as it started to rain so that was good timing! We all went to the gym as there wasn't a pool and then watched some baseball before bed.

In hindsight, we didn't plan New York as well as we should have. Our hotel was great and a good price, but there wasn't anything else nearby so we really needed to be out for the day. We thought that the jet lag would help with us having early starts but it actually led to some pretty long days as it wasn't worth going back to the hotel and back out again. Some of the activities we had planned didn't take as long as we thought and others we had to drop because of the queues/crowds. So in the end, we did more hanging around and killing time waiting to eat than we thought we would.

Also, we just didn't like New York very much - which didn't surprise the boys but disappointed Hannah and me. I know lots of people love it, but it just didn't do it for us. We have enjoyed other cities far more. We enjoyed some parts - the harbours, some of the parks, the Highline, TOTR but the city itself left us a bit cold to be honest. The crowds, dirt, expense, claustrophic streets and general difficulty in getting around didn't endear it to us and it all just felt quite soulless. One way we described it was "like London, only not as good!". It's an iconic city and one that I'm glad to have visited but I wouldn't hurry back.
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Unread 25 Aug 18, 01:26 PM  
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Smilesonfaces
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Thanks for posting. It is a shame you didnt enjoy New York as much as you expected. At least I know now from your report that I need to do lots of research on the metro and getting around.

Thanks for showing the not so good bits as most reports only give the highlights and it is helpful with planning to know beforehand.
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Unread 25 Aug 18, 01:32 PM  
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Melbatb
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Except for a trip 30 years ago in summer, I have only ever visited in winter. I wonder if that makes a difference! I do agree about Times Square - horrendous place. And Central Park is a nightmare to navigate!

We were also not central when we went last - we were on LIC. But I think because we were there for 10 days we were happy to come back in the afternoon. The subway only being 50 m from the hotel helped!

As I said in my NE report, I dont like Boston - but lots of people love it! If we all liked the same things life would be boring I hope the rest of the trip got better!
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Unread 25 Aug 18, 03:14 PM  
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Glad you enjoyed TOTR and got to visit in the daytime when the weather was better. I agree with you about New York, and think London is a far nicer city. I was very disappointed with it as has wanted to visit for ages but will not rush back.

Looking forward to the next instalment of your trip
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Unread 26 Aug 18, 07:14 PM  
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Ill agree with you about New York being so crowded. I knew being one of the busiest cities and tourist destinations in the world it would be very busy. But at times it did amaze me. I found Times Square okay if you had time to spare to take it in. My hotel was right next to it, so we had the morning and nights to do stuff. We found that 9am in the morning it was lovely and quiet. The charging bull was ridiculous though! I told my friend he had to push in because someone else would if not! But it was a bit quieter when we walked past at night!
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Unread 29 Aug 18, 10:40 PM  
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great photos from the TOTR
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Unread 31 Aug 18, 10:41 AM  
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Im with you - TOTR over ESB would be my choice too. It was good that you managed to change the time of your ticket for the morning.

Im also not a fan of Times Square at all. I can do without being hassled on holiday and it just stresses me out. Im so glad weve never stayed in the thick of it, as Id hate the crowds just getting in and out of the hotel. Been there, seen it, no desire to return.

We stayed in the Upper West Side last time and felt we had a completely different experience in New York. It was much more chilled.

I think youve hit the nail on the head about research being key. And if youre there in the summer, the heat can really zap your energy, which is hard when youre trying to cram a lot in.
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Unread 13 Sep 18, 08:26 PM  
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CrispyA
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Originally Posted by Smilesonfaces View Post
Thanks for posting. It is a shame you didnt enjoy New York as much as you expected. At least I know now from your report that I need to do lots of research on the metro and getting around.

Thanks for showing the not so good bits as most reports only give the highlights and it is helpful with planning to know beforehand.
Glad it was useful. We didn't hate it but we just didn't love it and have liked other cities much better. But I hope you have a good trip!

Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
Except for a trip 30 years ago in summer, I have only ever visited in winter. I wonder if that makes a difference! I do agree about Times Square - horrendous place. And Central Park is a nightmare to navigate!

We were also not central when we went last - we were on LIC. But I think because we were there for 10 days we were happy to come back in the afternoon. The subway only being 50 m from the hotel helped!

As I said in my NE report, I dont like Boston - but lots of people love it! If we all liked the same things life would be boring I hope the rest of the trip got better!
Don't worry, it did! I think I might have liked NY better in a different season but we just didn't love it this time.

Originally Posted by katiebaz View Post
Glad you enjoyed TOTR and got to visit in the daytime when the weather was better. I agree with you about New York, and think London is a far nicer city. I was very disappointed with it as has wanted to visit for ages but will not rush back.

Looking forward to the next instalment of your trip
Thanks. I know lots of people love NY but it just didn't do it for us.

Originally Posted by sweetemotion View Post
Ill agree with you about New York being so crowded. I knew being one of the busiest cities and tourist destinations in the world it would be very busy. But at times it did amaze me. I found Times Square okay if you had time to spare to take it in. My hotel was right next to it, so we had the morning and nights to do stuff. We found that 9am in the morning it was lovely and quiet. The charging bull was ridiculous though! I told my friend he had to push in because someone else would if not! But it was a bit quieter when we walked past at night!
Ahh, maybe we should have done it at night!

Originally Posted by disney owl View Post
great photos from the TOTR
Thank you, the views are fab

Originally Posted by jocat View Post
Im with you - TOTR over ESB would be my choice too. It was good that you managed to change the time of your ticket for the morning.

Im also not a fan of Times Square at all. I can do without being hassled on holiday and it just stresses me out. Im so glad weve never stayed in the thick of it, as Id hate the crowds just getting in and out of the hotel. Been there, seen it, no desire to return.

We stayed in the Upper West Side last time and felt we had a completely different experience in New York. It was much more chilled.

I think youve hit the nail on the head about research being key. And if youre there in the summer, the heat can really zap your energy, which is hard when youre trying to cram a lot in.
Yes, we may have liked it more at a different time of year. But we have been to lots of other places that suited us better and we enjoyed the rest of the trip.
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