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Old 27 Feb 20, 09:30 AM  
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neilhd
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Rock(erfeller)ing Around The Xmas Tree - Day 5

Last day today... we were up at at 7 to pack. The first thing I noticed was that I couldn't find Joe's rucksack anywhere. Ele called me all sorts of names as clearly I'm a useless male who can't find anything under his nose. A few minutes later she also admitted defeat and woke up Joe and asked him. We worked out he had left it in the Disney store the night before when he'd sat down somewhere.

So we packed everything up and checked out, leaving our bags in the hotel. The cost in the end was about £850 per room for the 5 nights which was actually a very good price. The hotel wasn't the best – the rooms were very small with the sofa bed up (not too bad without it), the fire alarm issues were a bit of a pain, there was no storage and we never got to have the breakfast, but for the price it was fine, as everything else was at least £400-£500 more for those dates. It was clean, the bed was super-comfy and the location was very good.

We walked over to Times Square. It was already packed for New Year's Eve despite being before 8am, with tons of police everywhere.





We pushed our way through and got to the Disney store 10 minutes ahead of the scheduled opening time, and discovered it already open. We went in and explained to the greeter on the door about the bag. She radioed off to someone else who went and checked lost property and they had it! A great relief for Joe, especially as his expensive Bose noise-cancelling earphones were in there. They were all lovely in there - a reminder of the fantastic Disney customer service! They were selling special limited-edition 2020 badges (kind of like very large pin trading pins) so we bought a couple of those – one for Joe and one for Jess. They were $15 each.

Whilst there I had a call from the car company that was taking us back to the airport tonight. I was wondering about this – a lot of roads were closed around Times Square and I wasn't sure the driver would be able to get there. They wanted to pick us up an hour earlier than our original time of 6pm (actually the original time was about 7:30pm but I made Holiday Taxis change it as that clearly wasn't anywhere near enough time) and make it 5pm due to traffic. I agreed to this. They said they'd contact us later by text to confirm for sure once they'd assessed the traffic a bit later.

We left the Disney store and the cops were searching people and letting them into a special area of Times Square. It was still before 9am – a mere 15 hours before midnight... there are NO toilet facilities once in...

We had a change for breakfast today and walked to Grand Central Station to go to Pershing Square café - a firm favourite of ours. It took about 10 minutes to get there. There was quite a long line to be seated – mostly parties of 2. We actually got seated before all of them as a party of 5 which was lucky. We all ordered their New Yorker special which is eggs, bacon, home fries, hash browns, toast, tea/coffee and orange juice for about $24 which with all the drinks included is fairly comparable to other places. I love this place. The orange juice deserves a special mention for still being the best I've ever had. The coffee is clearly a cut above most normal diners, too, although they still can't make tea – 1 bag in a pot is not enough, America! Everything was delicious and a great last breakfast.

We had a quick look in Grand Central Station as Jess, Joe and Jordan had never been there before, then called an Uber to goto the Intrepid Air & Space museum. The car arrived quickly, but the drive took the most ridiculous route to get there. Knowing it's New Year's Eve and half the roads around Times Square are closed, he still went that way. He could have gone south 3 or 4 blocks then cut across west to the Hudson and up the big road that runs alongside it, but no, he went the busiest way possible. The bill was $49 for this as it took ages. For the first time ever I rated less than 5 stars.

There was a small queue to get into the museum. The others weren't quite as into it as me, but we needed to use the last visit on our passes, Rockerfeller was still out as the clouds were practically touching the pavement, and frankly this was the only thing I had actually wanted to do in NYC. So there! We were in soon enough and I was quite happy looking at the planes on the deck. They even had a British Harrier.






We toured the interior command parts of the ship which were very interesting – and busy – and then went to the Space Shuttle pavilion to see Endeavour. This was the bit I wanted to see most and it was amazing! I thought Joe might have been more interested in it, but he wasn't that bothered.




It was hard to take a picture of the whole shuttle as it's so big!

Jess and I listed to a talk from a woman for a bit who explained about the history of space flight and Mars landings which was very enjoyable – even Jess found it interesting. Once done the others left to goto the cafeteria for coffee and hot chocolate whilst I continued to the hanger deck for a quick look around.

We didn't really have time to look in the submarine they also have there, which was a shame, but we wanted to go for lunch and to Central Park. We got an Uber to Columbus Circle (he went a sensible way), used the loo, checked out Bouchon Bakery, decided it was too expensive and set out to go somewhere else instead. We walked a little way down 8th Ave and spotted a Wendys. We went in, but it was gross really - dirty and not nice at all - so we left and found a place next door called Lenwich. Ele had wanted to goto a place called The Mill that we went to before, which did fresh salads and sandwiches but it was miles away, and this place was actually very similar. Ele ordered a nice fresh chopped salad that she said was amazing, and the rest of us ordered Lenwiches, which are basically pastrami, corned beef, etc, piled high and warm, with various other bits. We got some fries to share too. The sandwich was the best I have ever had. And the biggest. Seriously – it was absolutely amazing. Joe was happy. We went to Montreal a couple of years ago and went to a famous place called Shwartz's which does smoked meat sandwiches. He wasn't feeling too good that day so didn't have one and has regretted it ever since. Then we were going to go to Katz's in NYC so he could have one there but never had time to actually do so. So he finally got one!

We walked back up to Central Park. It was now a bit late to go to the zoo which had been our plan, but we explored a little bit, and ended up at the carousel. Jess, Joe and Jordan all went on. They managed to pick static horses that didn't go up and down so had to go on a second time. With that, it was time to head back to the hotel – it was quite a nice last thing to do really.



I love this photo of the 2 of us that we took in the park:




On the way out of the park I got a text from the car company saying the driver would be there at 5pm. It was about 16:30 by now. That actually was cutting it a bit close. We left the park and walked at double-time down 8th. 8th was really busy with crowds of people because of NYE so we crossed over to 9th and walked down there instead which was not so busy. I kept up a swift pace and arrived at the hotel first at about 4:55pm and got our bags. We were ready at exactly 5pm and I got another text saying he'd meet us at the corner of 39th and 9th as he couldn't get down 39th from 8th to our hotel. He was waiting for us in a slightly battered Toyota Sienna. I hadn't been expecting much having booked the cheapest possible transport, and this was fine by me. He was a Chinese guy who didn't really speak any English. I don't speak any Chinese either so that's fair.

He set off South, trying different roads as he went as we needed to get all the way across to the East side of Manhattan:

"Ah, road clo!"

"Ah, road also clo!"

"Fok! Road still clo!"

Apologies for the cheap attempt at writing the accent. Racism was not the intent...!

In the end we were down in the 20s before he could get across, but actually the traffic was light away from Times Square and the total journey time to JFK was slightly under an hour. So we arrived at about 6pm - 4 hours early for our flight. A shame, as JFK has absolutely nothing to do in it!

We checked in. I asked about checking our cabin cases for free as they had done that on the way out (and in fact they had almost insisted on it). He wasn't having it as checked bags need to be paid for but in the end let us do it anyway. We had a bit of a chat about football, except of course he called it soccer, but he did seem to know a few teams. He was shocked when I told him how close Manchester and Liverpool are to each other, geographically!

Through security and despite having nothing in my pockets I set off the body-scan machine. I then had to have a thorough pat-down that included the phrase "Do you have something hard in your pants, sir?". I had to fight with every urge of my body not to reply with "Depends on how you do the pat-down". After doing the sort of touching you normally have to pay for, I was deemed safe to continue.

We looked through the duty free shop and I bought some Ghirardelli chocolates for my parents who had been feeding our cats. I had promised them cookies from Carlos Bakery but the queue had been out the door when we went past earlier and we didn't have time. We bought some drinks and snacks from Hudson news and then found a table in the food court to sit at.

We whiled away the time doing not much. We got some rice and noodles from one of the places, and some drinks (I had a couple of beers). At 7pm it was midnight in London so we streamed the fireworks from London via the BBC on a phone and sang Auld Lang Syne, to the bemusement of fellow travellers.



Ele and Jess went back to duty free and bought some makeup. Finally at about 9:10pm we went over to the gate. They were boarding Group 5 (which was us) ahead of Group 4 so we skipped a lot of the queue and headed onboard. The plane was an Evelop plane being run on behalf of BA. It was ok. Not as bad as I had feared. We settled in and pushed back on time. I put on a film and my noise cancelling headphones and tried to sleep. I woke up for the food service and picked at it a bit but it wasn't very good. There was a bit of drama when a man a few rows ahead fainted and the flight attendants had to lie him on the floor for a bit, but he was fine fortunately. They dealt with it very well I must say. I then dozed a fair bit and woke feeling not too bad.

We landed on time, and whizzed through immigration using the e-gates (how useful now Joe is old enough to use them!). Bags came quickly, through customs, back to the car which was still in the short stay where we'd left it (very convenient!) and we were home in no time – back in our house within about an hour of landing actually.

And that was that!

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to NYC. It's been a few years since Jess came on a holiday with us, so having her (and Jordan of course) along was brilliant. It was all booked quite late in the day (about 6 weeks before departure) which is very unusual for us who usually book these things a year in advance! I think we needed it after a stressful year, even if we hadn't budgeted for it, but the flight price was good (£350) and we'd considered it a few times during the year. It also meant Ele and I went to New York twice in a year as we were there in January 2019 too!

Seeing it all over Christmas was fantastic, and it really was a dream come true for Ele to see the Rockerfeller tree. Not sure I'd go again at that time of year though – it was very busy!

Now it's time to look forward to our Florida trip – also with Jess and Jordan - in August, with 5 nights at Hard Rock Hotel and 9 nights at Animal Kingdom! Can't wait!
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Old 27 Feb 20, 07:45 PM  
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You certainly had a busy trip. I agree about it being too busy at Christmas! We found the same too!

Looking forward to hearing about your summer trip!
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2016 Quebec - Kuala Lumpar - New York City 2017 Dubai - Eurocamps France - Ontario and Quebec - So-Cal 2018 Montreal - Bangkok - New England 2019 Argentina - Quebec City - Hong Kong
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Old 28 Feb 20, 09:22 AM  
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Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
You certainly had a busy trip. I agree about it being too busy at Christmas! We found the same too!

Looking forward to hearing about your summer trip!
Thanks Mel!
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Old 8 Mar 20, 12:37 PM  
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Excellent report and pictures
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Old 5 Jul 20, 09:17 PM  
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You squeezed in loads on your last day. I'm pleased Joe managed to get his rucksack back, what a worry.

A fab report as always thank you for writing, you've given me loads of new tips for when I next go to New York. Hopefully Christmas time 2022 for my 40th!
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Old 6 Jul 20, 09:32 AM  
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Originally Posted by smithlane View Post
You squeezed in loads on your last day. I'm pleased Joe managed to get his rucksack back, what a worry.

A fab report as always thank you for writing, you've given me loads of new tips for when I next go to New York. Hopefully Christmas time 2022 for my 40th!
Thanks for reading! Fingers crossed you get back soon
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