Archive for May, 2007

Farewell to Liberty

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

Well, it was our last day in New York for this trip. We had packed the night before, we had to extend one of the suitcases to get everything in, and John said we were officially full and Maria was not to buy anything else. We took all the cases down to John’s offices and left him to work while we set off on the best free ride in NY. The Staten Island Ferry. Great views as always.

Staten Island Ferry

I always love the view of downtown as you come back. We’ve seen a sailing ship hanging around this area several times, it always looks incongruous.

Downtown skyline

We then strolled along the Hudson to the Winter Gardens and a final trip to Godiva and Ciao Bella (the green apple sorbet was lovely). I think we are taking back enough chocolate to open our own tuck shop.

Ciao Bella again!!

We then walked accross town to the Borders on Broadway. We passed Ground Zero, there has been significant progress on the foundations, the whole thing is scheduled to be completed 2010. We look forward to it.

Once we were in Borders, Maria seemed to forget all about the ban on any further purchases. (Mind you, as we found out when we got back to John’s offices, so had he.) We also found the coffee shop at Borders stocks the doughnuts from the Doughnut factory, so we could have a last one of those (I think we might have to go on a diet once we get home).

We were a bit upset to find we had all three seats filled in our row on the plane, while all the other rows had an empty seat. Maria noticed one row where there was only one person, so she and I moved so that we could be a bit more comfy. The trip home was OK, took a while and we didn’t sleep (John did, we heard him snoring, despite the fact we were 2 rows back and the other side of the plane), still we had a quick kip when we got home so everything should be OK.

Nice trip, but good to be home. Maria and I need to settle down to some work now, it’s not long until the Festival. My next trip out will be the Nottingham Tennis Open, we’ve got tickets for the whole week.

Moods and beads

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

We decided (well Maria decided) we needed to go to Moods the fabric warehouse today. Maria can get ultrasuede for about $25 -$35 a yard as oposed to the £2.75 a 9in square back home. Well worth doing.

We took the bus up to 34th Street and then the cross town shuttle to 5th Avenue. We then walked up to 37th street and that’s when Maria realised 5th Avenue is where the streets change from East to West and the numbers start at 1. Maria knew Mood was at 225 37th, but couldn’t remember whether it was East or West. Either way a heck of a walk. Luckily John could check for us on his computer at work and then text. It was West. So we walked and we walked and we walked… Of course this is garment district so we were passing lots of little designer shops, accesories and bead shops. We walked past the first 4 bead shops but couldn’t resist by the 5th. Maria bought several beads she’s intending to put round the necks of bears back home. I really liked a lovely W with crytals and rhynestones around it, Maria was mean and refused to get it me, she said I’d fall over I hung anything else around my neck.


We eventually made it to Moods, took the lift to the 2nd floor (which is really the 1st, Americans call ground floor 1st) and walked down the stairs to the basement (which is really the 1st or ground floor depending) and found the ultrasuede. It was pretty hard getting Maria past the silk fabrics. Moods is enormous, the photo shows just one aisle out of about 6 aisles on the one floor. There are 3 floors!!

Fabric choosing at Moods

We then took the crosstown book back to 2nd Avenue and walked a few blocks down to Borders, our first visit on trip to a decent bookshop. I think we will be going back tomorrow. We have to pack tonight and move all our bags to John’s office in the morning. We are then flying back home tomorrow night. I’ll be quiete pleased to get back home and have a rest.

On Top of the Rock

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

 I’ve been on top of the Empire State Building and Maria had been on the World Trade Centre observation deck, before 9/11, but we heard that they’ve opened up an observation deck on top of the Rockerfeller Centre, so Maria and I decided that’s where we’d go today. We used the last of our time on the tour bus to get us up to 49th Street, the ticket was valid until 10.30 this morning. We made our way to 50th, where the entrance was and seeing the queue stetching for nearly a block, we thought about giving up the idea. However we found out it was in fact 3 tour groups and we managed to get our tickets and jump ahead of most of them. We also got an audio guide, very clever, it was a palmtop computer with a GPS system in it so it could always tell which way you were facing and offer you appropriate commentary.

The lift was fantastic, once the doors were closed the light dimmed and the lights in the lift shaft came on, then you realised the lift in fact had a glass ceiling. We raced up to the top at a frightening speed.

There are 3 levels of observation decks, the lowest is surrounded by glass walls but the top 2 are pretty open. I wanted my photo taken On Top of the Rock but it was rather a hair raising experience. It was rather windy and Maria had to snap a quick photo in between grabbing me to stop me being blown over the edge. Still we managed to get a picture looking downtown towards the Empire State Building.

Wilbeary on top of the rock

And of course one looking uptown towards Central Park.

Wilbeary on top of the rock

The Top of the Rock is only 70 floors, so not as high as the Empire State and nothing like as high as the World Trade used to be, but it seemed pretty high to me.

Looking down from the top of the rock  Looking up at the rock

We had a bit of a mooch around the shopping complex under the Rock (Maria spent some money of course) and then decided to walk up to Central Park and then perhaps make our way over to Bloomingdales. Remember how I was saying yesterday that each neighbourhood has a distinctive smell? Well the southern end of Central Park certainly does, it smells of horse manure. Probably (in fact certainly) because of all the horse drawn carridges carrying tourists around the park. I was quite pleased to move on.

Horse drawn carriage in Central Park

Bloomingdales was a bit of a trial, I managed to talk Maria out of several T-shirts, (I mean $99 for a black T-shirt!), but she succumbed to a skirt. It is rather nice, a green, scrunchy, floaty, tye dyed thing with a jagged hem and some tiny sparkly sequins scattered over it.

Maria then fancied some doughnuts, but Penn station was way off our route home and we were both shattered. So we headed home. Maria then had a moan at John over text messages about her lack of doughnuts. So he very kindly told her about the doughnut factory near the bially shop. She really must have been desperate because despite the fact she’d taken her shoes off, off we went again.

The doughnut factory was fantastic! So much to choose from.

Wilbeary at the doughnut plant

We settled for some cinnamon and apple, some fresh strawberry, some strawberry jelly with peanut butter glaze and some chocolate (chocolate doughnut, with molten chocolate middle, chocolate glaze and finished with dark chocolate sprinkles). Mmmmm…..

ps. when he got home John told us there was a Krispy Kreme in the Rockerfeller Plaza (where we started), still we’d never have discovered the Doughnut Factory if we’d bought there, and I’m sure Maria’s legs will evertually work again.

Feeling yucky

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

We lost internet connection in the apartment last night so despite the interesting day and lots of nice photos I couldn’t post. Just as well perhaps ‘cos I wouldn’t have had much to say today. Maria woke up feeling yucky and didn’t want to go anywhere, I talked to her about ‘mind over matter’ and not ‘giving in’ but we still spent the day in the apartment, watching films,and generally mooching around. It wasn’t until John came home we went anywhere, even then it was only next door to the Beer Keller. Mind the food and beer were good.

Yesterday we had the scariest bus ride of our lives (I bet that’s what did for Maria). We went on the Grey Line Tour Bus (Maria bought a 48 hour pass, there’s half of that gone to waste). There are 3 parts to the tour, the Downtown Loop, the Uptown Loop and the Brooklyn Loop. We decide to do the Brooklyn Loop since we’d never done that before. To get to Brooklyn you have to cross the East River. We crossed on the upper level of Manhattan Bridge. Until you have gone across a high bridge ,upstairs on an open top bus, at speed, near the edge of a bridge where the rail does not come all the way to the top of the bus you don’t realise how harrowing a bus ride can be.


 Brooklyn looks very different from Manhatttan, for a start the ground is sandy while Manhattan has the shist rock (enabling it to build high).


There is a strong Dutch influence to the building, so you get lots of brown brick walkups (no lifts) with stoops. This is the sort of area Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond grew up in.


There is a large Middle Eastern community in Brooklyn. We noticed one of the distinctive identifiers of the different neighbourhoods is the smell. As we travelled around on the tour bus we noticed how the smells changed,all pleasant but all distinct. I particularly like Chinatown. We left the tour bus around Time Square and wandered around Midtown, 5th Avenue area.


We finished up at Grand Central Station and did some shopping at the market, including some New York Strip steaks and tiramisu. Then we lugged all our shopping back on the subway.

Hopefully Maria will be OK tomorrow and we can go to the Top of the Rock (and Maria fancies Tiffanys).