Monday, October 03, 2011

Sydney to New York

The flight from Sydney to San Francisco, as usual, was long but uneventful. We each had spare seats beside us which made things a lot more comfortable.
We were quickly through immigration and customs and had a three hour wait for our on going flight to JFK.
The five hour flight to New York started with a delay. One of the spark plugs used to start the engine (who knew jet engines had spark plugs?) was faulty and needed replacement. Then at cruising altitude we experienced some wake turbulence from an aircraft in front of us which caused a few anxious moment for the white knuckle brigade. Their trauma was not over as our landing was quite a spectacular one, all twist and bounce. When we deplaned the pilot had already left the cockpit. A bad day at the office for him.

It was then a high speed taxi ride into Manhattan where we could finally lay ourselves down on the wonderful bed at the Trump Soho at 1am. That made the trip around 27 hours door to door. But the view over the city from our room on the 39th floor, especially from the bath tub with its huge picture window, made up for any discomfort.
It was spectacular to say the least.
Seven hours later we were having breakfast at a local diner. What else but bacon, eggs and pancakes for one and salmon and cream cheese bagels for the other.

Then it was off to explore some of the city using the subway system. We had the MTA map but it soon became apparent that finding a subway station entrance for the uninitiated was going to be a bit of a hurdle. They can be well disguised or hidden. But we have to say that the $29 New York subway pass valid for a week was the bargain of the whole trip and we really got our money's worth.

Finally we reached Battery Park and boarded the Staten Island ferry for a free return trip across the Hudson River. Here we caught our first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and the skylines of Manhattan and New Jersey.

After this very pleasant 'cruise' it was onto the Brooklyn Bridge. By this time things had really warmed up and the humidity had climbed. We were glad for the many vendors selling cold water on the bridge. We made it half way for a great view back over the lower Manhattan skyline.

In search of the New Museum we found ourselves in Little Italy and on Mulberry Street. The pic below is from the Ellis Island Museum of this street in the 1800s. Nothing has changed much except for the fashion and transport.
So many restaurants to choose from. We found one that had a beautiful outdoor garden in amongst the buildings and away from the traffic noise and the hustle and bustle of the city. Good Italian food, cold oasis.

The New Museum had an exhibition of the arts scene in eastern bloc countries from the emergence of communism to its decline called "Ostalgia". Five floors of paintings, films, sketches, cartoons and sculpture, some of it was very weird!
Jet lag had started to rear its ugly head by this time so we headed back to the hotel for a siesta to prepare for our dinner date.
The Tribeca Grill is co owned by Rober de Niro and has a good reputation. It exceeded our expectations with nicely prepared food, excellent service and an encyclopedic wine list. I found a great bottle of Sagrantino from Umbria to go with the filet mignon.
Our food budget was already blown on the first night.

Next morning we were up early (sleep didn't come easy that night) and headed for Highline Park and the Chelsea Markets. The park is built on an abandoned elevated railway spur and runs for over a 2km. A walk along the path between the high rise buildings after a cappo and a muffin was a pleasant way to start the day.
We had decided to 'do' a Broadway show and had selected Cole Porter's "Anything Goes". Tickets, however, were very expensive. We had been told to head down to the TKTS booth in Seaport for cheaper tickets and avoid the crowd that queues at the same establishment in Times Square. Being already one day veterans of the subway system we headed downtown (via a yoga shop in Chelsea) only to find a queue of at least 300 people standing there. No way, Jose'. Too hot and humid to stand in the sun for hours. Change of Broadway show plans!

Then it was back uptown to the American Folk Art Museum on Lincoln Square to see their quilt collection. They were in the process of 'moving house' so the exhibition was limited but the star quilts were amazing and the 9/11 National Tribute Quilt was very moving.
Time for lunch so we walked down Broadway through Columbus Circle to the Carnegie Deli for one of their famous sandwiches.
What can you say? We shared half a pastrami sandwich and could not finish it. All very touristy and rather OTT but a fun experience. The pickles were great.

Another long walk took us to a quilt store (the co driver had a list of quilt and yoga shops to visit in all our destinations) which turned out to be a bit of a disappointment.
So with spirits lagging and feet complaining we headed back to the Trump for another jet lag inspired nap and an early dinner in one of the many nearby restaurants in Spring Street, Soho.

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