15 May 2017

Five Days in New York: All the Great Buildings (Day 2 and 3)

Day 2 - New York Public Library, Grand Central and the wet!

This day dawned wet and cold as we knew it would based on the forecast, another reason why we had packed so much into our first day. After finding a super tasty coffee at Bluestone Lane on 42nd, we pondered our next move and headed for the Library to get out of the wet. We found a side door and found ourselves in the Children’s Library. You’ll never guess who was in there.. the original Winnie the Pooh and friends stuffed animals donated by the Milne family over 30 years ago. This was so amazing and unexpected to see.

After wandering round a few more rooms in the library we headed back out into the rain to find Grand Central Station. Noah and I almost didn’t make it any further - nearly getting run over crossing the road forgetting that the traffic was all coming from the opposite direction - luckily for us a car horn jolted us back into reality before stepping out directly into oncoming traffic.

Grand Central is just as Marty the zebra says in Madagascar - it’s grand AND it’s central. The terminal itself is actually quite dimly lit but it is huge with an impressive ceiling. The boys gravitated towards the Apple Store and a myriad of free devices available to play on for a good half an hour. 

After finding a huge number of choices for lunch downstairs in the basement food hall, we took the subway shuttle back to Times Square and headed for Macy’s. To be honest we found Macy’s very overwhelming and didn’t spend too long in there apart from Mark taking a look around Polo Ralph Lauren. We also went to Toys R Us in JC Penney’s but were a bit underwhelmed. By this stage we were in need of a sit down and we bought hot drinks at Starbucks. We were hoping for a break in the weather but managed to time it quite badly and got caught in a massive downpour on our way back to the hotel, good thing we’d invested in 2 $6 umbrellas earlier in the day. The kids definitely needed a sit down by now so the fact our hotel was so central was invaluable. 


It was time to plan our next move - a friend mentioned about the big Nintendo store where you can play on all kinds of games including a giant screen where Noah got to play Zelda. After all the crazy rain mid afternoon, the sun was out again, so from here we were hoping to head over to Long Island so I could catch a sunset over the city. Our plans got scuppered by the only train heading out to Long Island suffering big delays so at the last minute we changed the plan and headed for Central Park. Unfortunately we made it too late for sunset so instead went in search of dinner - Shake Shack came up trumps - one of those places we had on our ‘must-eat’ list - just because it was an American fast food outlet we don’t get back home. 

We rolled into bed sometime after 10pm, hoping the next day would be a little less wet and cold!

Day 3 Flatiron building, the Financial District, One World and a great Japanese restaurant 

Friday dawned dry but cold with a biting wind. We made our first faux pax on the NYC subway accidentally taking an express train instead of a local which meant a half hour delay while we returned back to our starting point to get on the right train - we learned from it! First stop was our best coffee yet at Doughnut Plant in Chelsea where we were served by Jesus - that sure tickled our fancy. After that we walked down to the Flatiron building - a big bucket list tick for me to see this famous building ever since I saw its mini replica in Newtown, Wellington. 

The boys got somewhat distracted by discovering the awesome LEGO store on the corner, which left me able to enjoy taking photos to my heart’s content. Before we left the LEGO store we bought the boys the special New York city architecture LEGO set which they had fun building during our stay.

 From here we headed down to Wall Street. Getting off the train we saw what was our only piece of nastiness in the city - some plain clothes policemen had a couple of people in handcuffs and there were some corporate city workers pinning down a couple of guys on the floor waiting for the police to arrive. We couldn’t quite make out what was going on but it seemed to be to do with some sort of tour operation - possible some fake touting going on. From this last tube stop we could also see the people queueing for the Staten or Ellis Island ferry - we weren’t sure which, and got our first view of the Statue of Liberty from afar.

We didn’t have to walk far to find the Charging Bull - it was swarming with people, so much so that  we couldn’t even get near it. Not so the new Fearless Girl statue - we managed to squeeze in to claim a quick pic. From here we found our way to the NY Stock Exchange and Wall Street before giving in to hungry bellies. We headed to Wendy’s while Mark went off in search of this amazing panini place - but the portion he got was so ridiculously large that he later ended up giving half away to a homeless person on the subway. 

After lunch we were heading for One World Trade but got distracted by the Century 21 discount department store where I stocked up some Superdry t-shirts, Noah got a pair of Nike’s for $20 and Mylo a cap which hasn’t left his head since! Then it was onwards - past the unusual and slightly odd looking Occulus to the base of One World Trade and the Ground Zero Memorial Pools.

I’m not sure what I was expecting of the spaces where the Twin Towers were - but boy was it moving to see the two massive spaces where the towers used to be and all the names written on plaques around the edge of the pools - a plaque for each floor affected in the towers. It was especially seeing the name of a lady ‘and her unborn child’ on one plaque. Then on the South Tower, there were so so many names of emergency personnel - particularly the fire departments who all rushed to Ground Zero after the first tower fell. We wondered what the roses were dotted here and there beside the names and discovered that they were placed beside someone’s name if it was their birthday. So unbelievably sad.

The new One World Trade tower is 550 metres tall - the 6th tallest in the world at last count. It defies belief looking up at it, it seems to go and on on forever. The sides of the building are made of reflective glass so on a fine day it reflects the blue sky and clouds - we didn’t see much reflection on this day as it was grey and windy but we would 2 days later on the harbour cruise.

We headed home for a break in the hotel after this - and decided to try out Ishikaya Mew - the renowned Japanese restaurant (voted 21 on Trip Advisor out of over 9,000 eateries), handy as it was literally downstairs beside the hotel.

Mark went down to book a table and discovered it was an hour wait - he took one for the team and had a drink in the bar while we waited for the call to say our table was ready. To say it was noisy in the restaurant was an understatement - but it was a great atmosphere - really vibrant for a Friday night with lots of couples and groups eating dinner. The food was fantastic too.

After this, we tried our luck again at heading out to capture some night skyline shots - taking the Number 7 train over to Long Island and walking to Gantry State Plaza Park. I’d scouted out this location in advance so knew it would provide a great vantage point of midtown Manhattan from the Empire State building all the way to Park Ave.

It was still pretty windy and cold so it was a short and sharp photo shoot trying to get some good shots before we all froze to death! There’s a really cool Pepsi Cola sign lit up here too which was worth getting a shot of. We went home via Dunkin Donuts for a hot chocolate to warm up before crashing out in our warm beds!

Video snippets from Day 2 and 3 here:

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