Sunday, 11 August 2013

The Big Apple

Our final leg of the trip took us to the great city of New York. This again was one of the places I had always wanted to see and it definitely lived up to my expectations. Life in The Big Apple seems to move at one hundred miles per hour! To me the city is exactly how it is portrayed on TV and in the movies, with yellow cabs visible in every direction, hot dog vendors on every corner and steam escaping through the grates in the street!

Our hotel was located on Lexington Avenue, which was a short walk from Grand Central Station. We arrived late in the afternoon and we were both quite tired from the travelling so we spent the first evening relaxing over a nice quiet meal at a local Italian restaurant. The service throughout the whole trip was excellent but this place stood out for me, mainly because of the head waiter who reminded me of a character from Goodfella's!! This was compounded further when I asked if I could try their Italian lager and his response was "you can't try anything in here..............you can finish it, but you can't try it"! Brilliant!!

The next day we headed out early to do some sightseeing. First stop was Rockefeller Center................and we were lucky enough to see The Chrysler Building on the way...............not that you could miss it!

The Chrysler Building
Everywhere you looked there were yellow cabs! There was no escaping them!
Rockefeller Center.
The GE Building, the centerpiece of Rockefeller Center.
NBC Radio City Studios
Top of the Rock! Even though the weather wasn't at its best, the views were spectacular!
The view of Central Park.
The view of the east from the Top of the Rock.
Downtown Manhattan.
Times Square
There was no shortage of people so it was the perfect opportunity to ask for a photo together!
Broadway - the heart of the American theatre industry.
We did have plans to see a show during our stay but with all there was to see we just didn't have the time!
My nephews Charlie and Ollie share the same birthday and with the day fast approaching this was a good opportunity to get them something, as there was no shortage of toy stores in New York! We found a Disney Store on Times Square and it was there that I decided to buy them each a super hero costume. Ollie is big into Toy Story at the moment so I got him a Buzz Lightyear suit and as Charlie is a mad little bruiser I thought an Incredible Hulk outfit would be right up his street! I just hope Charlie doesn't scare the shit out his younger brother Max whilst dressed up as he could have nightmares!

Birthday presents for Charlie and Ollie
After being out all day, we decided to stay in that evening and order room service. It felt bad staying in as New York has so many nice places to eat out. It seemed a shame to waste an evening inside but I got over that once the food arrived though!

The next morning we travelled downtown to the 9/11 Memorial, which is located where the twin towers once stood. It felt very eerie standing in the very spot where all those people lost their lives 12 years ago. I remember watching it all unfold on TV like it was yesterday. I distinctly recall the moment I first saw it. I had booked that week off work and was at home watching an old Clint Eastwood movie. When the movie finished, I switched over from the video channel to the normal TV and saw North Tower smoking like a chimney after the first plane hit. My initial reaction was that it was a scene from a movie. I had recently watched the film 'Armageddon' and at the beginning of that movie there is a meteor shower, which destroys many buildings in New York. There is a scene in that film which shows the World Trade Center with a big hole in the side of it and that is what I thought I was watching! Then I saw the second plane hit. Then I knew.

The memorial consists of two large fountain pools with the names of the victims inscribed on the edges. These include the names of victims who were killed in the September 11 attacks in New York City, The Pentagon and Pennsylvania, as well as the names of six victims who were killed in the February 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Adjacent to the memorial is the new One World Trade Center complex, which is still under construction. Earlier this year the final piece of the antenna was lifted to the top, bringing it to its full height of 1,776 feet and making it the third-tallest building in the world. 

 One World Trade Center (formerly Freedom Tower) is the primary building of the new World Trade Center complex.
Two pools with waterfalls cascading down the sides are located within the footprints of the Twin Towers.
This was where the south tower once stood.
When we left the memorial, we headed towards the financial district of Manhattan to do some more sightseeing. On the way we found a store which as it turned out was to be a regular haunt for us. It was called Century 21 and it is a must for anyone who visits New York. Designer labels at reduced prices..................you can't go wrong! Once we managed to drag ourselves away from there, Wall Street was next on the agenda..................

Wall Street.
The worldwide financial crisis began right here!!
The New York Stock Exchange...............where 'Greed is Good'!!
Wall Street was the scene of the first US presidential inauguration when George Washington took the oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall in 1789. This was also the location of the passing of the Bill Of Rights.
ABC News were doing a live broadcast outside the Stock Exchange building so it became quite congested!
I knew Donald Trump would be around there somewhere!
Nice photobomb by the way pal!
The Brooklyn Bridge
Timeout please! All the walking around was making me hot!
This was another good opportunity for a photo together!
The famous arch of Washington Square Park
The Washington Square Park fountain.
Madison Square Garden.....................the clue's in the picture!!
The lobby of The Empire State Building
The view from the Empire State summit!
When we got to the top we could not see a thing as we were caught in the middle of a huge rain cloud! The cloud eventually moved downtown and we were able to grab a few pictures.
....................and I thought The Chrysler Building was big!!
The view of Fifth Avenue.
This really puts into perspective how high we were!
The view of Brooklyn.
The next day was the 4th July and we had tickets to Liberty Island. The Statue of Liberty had been closed all year, as it had been damaged during Hurricane Sandy, and this was the first day it was reopened. With it being both Independence Day and the reopening, it was quite busy as you can imagine!

The view of Manhattan from the boat.
The lady herself. The Statue of Liberty
More views of Manhattan.
The view as we were approaching the dock.
A photo opportunity we couldn't pass up!
She was an amazing sight!
...................as was the view of Manhattan from Liberty Island!
I eventually got a picture on the island with her.
As did the wife!
Once we left the island, we headed north to Central Park. We couldn't see everything the park had to offer as it was too big but we did take a nice walk along the south side and got a few shots of the area...............

Columbus Circle
The park entrance
One of many street entertainers
Green, green and more green!
Carriage ride anyone?
I couldn't resist snapping another yellow cab on the way back to hotel!
Grand Central Station
Inside the main concourse.
It has often been described as the world's loveliest station....................complete with world's loveliest lady!
As it was the 4th of July and our last night of the trip, we decided to join the rest of the hotel guests for a party on the roof. We had the best time there and the views from the roof were amazing! The music was pumping and the cocktails were flowing! We were surrounded by the worlds most famous buildings, on the country's most famous day in the most famous city in the world. It was the perfect way to end our visit!

Cocktails and beer...................what a combination!
Aicha was also on the cocktails....................but of the non-alcoholic variety!
After a few more beers, the pissed grin made an appearance!
Glamour girl!
As the night went on The Empire State Building began to light up like a Christmas tree!
The view from the roof was awesome! I couldn't quite believe where I was!
The next day we took the long flight back to Stockholm. The previous 3 weeks had been some of the best I had ever experienced. When I came home I felt different. The trip had been life changing in some ways, as I now viewed these amazing places with a different prospective. I also felt a little bit sad. I had spent most of my adult life wanting to visit these cities and now that I have finally seen them I no longer have that excitement. I guess I can look forward to going back with my daughter one day but I cannot guarantee when that will be. Maybe the excitement I once had can be passed over to her!

The memories of our USA adventure will stay with me forever though. That I can guarantee.