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Unread 25 Aug 15, 07:29 AM  
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Join Date: Jan 06
A Complete Novice In New York - Day 1 More Travelling, Celebrations And NYC At Last

Monday 24th August

We hardly got any sleep. Partly due to the noise of traffic outside the hotel but mainly because Nicola was desperate to wake everyone up so that she could get on with important business of opening her Birthday cards and presents!

By 3am she was up and in the shower, which of course woke Chloe, so, at this point we just gave up trying to sleep and let her commence the birthday celebrations.

She got lots of $$s towards her holiday spends. She also had 2 new charms for her Pandora bracelet and some Clinique make up.

Once she had finished, the rest of us got showered and dressed and we were all ready far too early to go to the airport.

Dan and Nic occupied themselves for a couple of hours playing on phones/iPads (as teenagers do!) whilst me and Chloe played Happy Famillies. I also made sure that Chloe had some breakfast - she is a ridiculously fussy eater, so I've brought enough breakfast cereal with me for the entire holiday. I've also brought several bottles of Robinsons Squash as this is the only thing that she'll drink and I know from bitter experience how hard it is to find and how expensive it is in America!

We checked out of the hotel at 6am and our taxi arrived shortly afterwards. We had arranged to meet Ian, Georgie, Emily and Fiona just inside T1 and after a slight confusion because we had been dropped off at different entrances, we soon met up. I was pleasantly surprised that there wasn't a huge queue to check-in, so we were very quickly processed and on our way

We went for breakfast at Bar MCR. Dan, Ian and I had a Full English. The others had various different breakfast cobs, apart from Chloe who just had my toast. No pictures but it was fairly standard stuff and cost just under 30 for 3 of us with coffees - not too extortionate for airport food.

After breakfast, we had a wander around the shops, picking up some bottles of pop to take on board.

We spotted one of these...

The time past quickly and our flight was soon called to start boarding. This was the first time that any of us had flown with Thomas Cook and we were pleasantly surprised with the amount of leg room in Economy.

We took off on time and the captain announced that we were expected to arrive at JFK ahead of schedule.

The IFE was good. The earphone sockets don't require a 2 pin adapter, so you can just use your own. There is a free service with a selection of about 10 films and TV episodes or for 4 you can upgrade to the premium package with loads more choice. Georgie and Emily were the only ones to bother with the upgrade. I watched an episode of Breaking Bad and the new Cinderella film. Chloe watched Madagasar 3.

Just an aside - a lot of people on the Dibb ask about what activities to put in kids flight bags. On this trip, I found that the things that went down best were the little individual Lego kits and a book of cardboard dress up dolls with the clothes that you can press out.

It was soon time for dinner and between us we tried all the options on the new James Martin menu. Dan and I had the Chicken Randang with rice (above). I really enjoyed this, Dan didn't but it is very spicy.

Nic, Ian, Georgie and Fiona all went for sausage and mash. Which Nicola described as grim but the adults all liked.

Emily had the vegetarian option which was a twice baked cheese souffl. She said this was amazing but be warned, if you want it you have to order in advance. We heard several people ask on board for the veggie meal and get turned down.

Chloe had the children's meal which was meatballs and pasta in a tomato sauce. She barely touched this but I tried it (purely for research purposes, obviously!) and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it- like I said, she's a fussy eater.

Sorry that I only have pics of mine and Chloe's meals but we were seated in 4 lots of 2 behind each other, so I couldn't get at anyone else's to take photos.

All meals were served with a bread roll. We also got cracker with 2 types of cheese and a pot of fig and grape compote which was very nice.

The highlight of the meal was definitely dessert which was a Millionaires Shortbread Chocolate Mousse. This is a little pot of heaven!

After dinner the crew came round and offered tea, coffee or squash to drink. Make the most of this as mealtimes are the only time you can get a drink without paying for it.

Later in the flight we were offered a mini Cornetto. Afternoon tea was served about an hour before landing. This consisted of 1 egg roll, 1 cheese roll and a scone with clotted cream and jam. As with dinner, the adults all agreed that for airplane food it was very good - the kids were less impressed!

After tea, Ian and Georgie were presented with a bottle of champagne which I'd pre-ordered as a start to their wedding celebrations.

We all got a share of this and on landing one of the crew made an announcement wishing them all the best for their wedding and Nicola a Happy Birthday. I had asked earlier in the flight if this was possible and they were more than happy to help.

We landed at JFK half an hour early and I can honestly say that it was the best Trans Atlantic flight that I have ever experienced. We only booked with Thomas Cook because they were the cheapest (having previously flown with Virgin, Thomsons and Monarch) but I couldn't fault them and would certainly use them in future.

Off the flight (sorry for the lengthy review but as TC are new to this route, I know there are a lot of other due to use them for the 1st time, so I thought it might help someone!) and onto immigration.

As expected there was quite a long queue and who should we spot ahead of us but Georgie's aunt and uncle, who had just got off their flight from Heathrow. We weren't close enough to speak but we waved to them! The queue moved fairly quickly and we cleared both immigration and customs in just over an hour.

Once we had our luggage we went to find our car and everyone except me and Ian was very surprised to find this waiting for us...

We had discussed booking a private transfer and I knew that it was Georgie's preferred option (after a nightmare trying to get a taxi at Charles de Gaule last year) but no one else knew that it was actually booked.

There are apparently a lot of dodgy limo firms operating out of JFK but I would happily recommend Strussers who I booked this with. They were thoroughly professional throughout, responding very quickly to emails and our driver was lovely and very patient, particularly when Emily felt unwell and kept him waiting for an extra 20 minutes.

We eventually set off and had a relaxed journey to our hotel and more champagne (hic). It took just under an hour to reach our home for the next week at The Sanctuary just off Times Square. We tipped the driver well even though the gratuity was included in the cost because he really did go the extra mile and we had wasted a lot of his time.

The hotel is gorgeous (this pic was taken later at night as I forgot on arrival!)

The hotel lobby.

The staff who greeted us were the most helpful and welcoming that I have ever encountered. They really did make us feel special from the moment we arrived. Nothing is too much trouble.

My birthday surprise for Nic was waiting in our room as promised. These cakes were amazing! Another thumbs up for the Magnolia bakery.

There was also a box of 3 mini cakes with a birthday card signed by all the hotel staff. When we caught up with Ian and Georgie we learned that they had been left a bottle of Prosecco with a card congratulating them on their wedding.

The rooms themselves are fairly small (we knew this when we booked) but beautifully decorated and spotlessly clean.

This one was taken after we'd begun to trash the place!

We unpacked and phoned home to let DH know that we had arrived safely only to find that Georgie's Dad was at our house as well. Mick had invited him over and they'd had a fish and chip supper. So we caught up with both of them at the same time - I'm guessing that they'll be spending a lot of time together for the next week, maybe they're missing us more than they realise!

Once we were all showered and changed we headed out onto Times Square to begin exploring and it finally began to sink in that we are really here!

All I can say is WOW!

Everything is so big and so busy that it's completely overwhelming. It's difficult to describe but I'm sure that those of you who've been will know exactly what I mean.

We wandered up towards the Disney store (got to get my Disney fix somehow) and Nic got a lipstick from Mac. We also found Walgreens and bought some pop to take back to the room and some crisps, cookies and fruit for Chloe to snack on (faddy eater alert again!)

It was then time to head back to our hotel as we had arranged to meet Georgie's aunt and uncle and their boys in Haven - the Santuary's roof top bar.

This is when I had my first slight niggle of the holiday! They refused to let Chloe in because she is (obviously) under 21. Now fair enough, rules is rules and all that. If it's an adults only environment I totally accept that but they were quite happy to let Nicola (15) and Daniel (17) up there and Georgie's cousins (16 & 18) were already in there when we arrived. If you're going to have rules, please be consistent!

Anyway, slightly disappointed but determined to have a good night regardless, we left Fiona and Emily to have a drink with their family and myself, Ian, Georgie and the kids set off out again.

We stopped for a browse around M&M World and then headed towards Ellen's Stardust Diner with the intention of getting something to eat. However by the time we got there we realised that we were all starting to flag and no one was really hungry anyway, so we decided to give it a miss and carried on walking up towards Central Park.

Passing this on the way.

Although it was only 8.30pm by this time we realised that we had actually been awake for 24hrs. So we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel.

Where the lovely doorman offered to take this of us all together on the steps.

After a very long (I'm guessing you've already gathered that from the amount of waffle) and exhausting day we all fell into bed ready to continue the adventure tomorrow.

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Unread 25 Aug 15, 10:13 AM  
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We were really impressed with our TC flight to Florida in May-I too loved the caramel shortcake pot, yummy. Hope our BA flight to NY is as good! You definitely arrived in style. Look forward to hearing more.
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Unread 25 Aug 15, 10:22 AM  
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New Photo Added by ally1966 - 25 Aug 15 10:22 AM.
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Unread 25 Aug 15, 04:56 PM  
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Great start lots of nice surprises

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Unread 27 Aug 15, 11:30 AM  
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abiknox's Reviews
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Great day, thanks for the Thomas Cook write, up. We are doing the same route in 34 days and Ive been worrying as we are also used to Virgin! I might request a veggie meal now actually, sounds lovely

Love that your daughter was up at 3am! Birthday excitement Lots of great little touches like the champagne & limo for the bride & groom too & the cupcakes at the hotel look very nice!

Shame about the bar rules
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Unread 9 Jan 16, 12:31 AM  
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Wow, you packed a lot in. Well done for keeping going.

Those cakes look yummy!
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