Wednesday, 6 June 2012

New York, New York

We arrived at Pennsylvania Station, New York on Friday afternoon and shortly after checked into the, Holiday Inn Hotel in Midtown. First impressions are of people, people and more people. Such a busy, crowded city. Nice to be able to unpack, do a little laundry and rest up as we are here for 5 nights.

On Saturday morning after breakfast we walked – up 57th Street, then to the southern edge of beautiful Central Park, and then on to the most lovely of department stores – Bloomingdales. The store is well aware that women love shopping, so for waiting males, they make provision with a quiet area with comfortable seats and wide screen television and magazines. While browsing alone, I was enticed to have some pampering with a facial make-up. The lovely young Latino girl was not daunted with the haggard old face she was presented with and went to work with her Estee Lauder cosmetics to do her best. Must say it all felt quite wonderful, although all the Lauder cosmetics in the world could not really ‘make a silk purse’. I must say that cosmetics here are considerably cheaper than in Australia. Revlon lipsticks can be purchased for $8.
After buying a nice top and some Bloomingdale souvenirs, I found Peter again and we walked out to find a nice cafĂ© for lunch. Later walking back past Central Park, we took a carriage ride through the park – it certainly is very lovely with many shady trees, small lakes and walkways. It is an extremely popular place for people both young and old and families, too, to visit in the hot weather. There are areas set aside for sports, children’s play areas, a carousel and in summer there is a carnival situated where the icerink is sited in winter.
That evening, we had tickets to see the Broadway musical “Once” and as we were dressed up, we went by cab to the theatre. I have never seen so many theatres in one area in my life – not even in London. Our only problem was that the area around Times Square was so crowded with people and cars, that we ended up exiting the cab and walking about half a block to the theatre. The show was just wonderful with the actors all playing a variety of instruments as the story progressed. Beautiful music and great acting made exciting theatre and the cast received a well deserved standing ovation at the end. The show has many Tony nominations, and I do hope that they win next Sunday night.
On Sunday we met up with friends we had made on our Trans-Siberian trip in 2010. Angelo and Martha live in New York and came into town to meet us at our hotel, and took us on a walking tour of some areas we hadn’t seen before. We continued on our way and found a restaurant where we sat, ate and talked for several hours. It was so nice to see our friends again as we had all had such a great time together in Russia.

Next day, despite the cold wind and rain, we took a boat trip all around Manhattan Island. The city seen from a distance is quite stunning. The older sky-scrapers built with either beige coloured stone, or grey concrete contrast markedly with the newer buildings of steel and glass. The grey of the sky and of the river made these glass buildings appear to shine like silver in the afternoon light.  
The USS Intrepid was on display near by and with it also was a submarine. A Concord plane, too was on display. Such a beautiful plane and a shame it no longer flies. A space shuttle has also just been brought to the same area, but won’t be ready for viewing until next month.

As I needed a new battery for my camera, we found an amazing store B&H photographics, which sells everything imaginable for cameras, as well as other electronic items. I got my two new batteries, but Peter also walked out with a new camera – one that has GPS capabilities. Costs were considerably cheaper than at home and this store gave great service and was so automated, it was astonishing to just watch the various transactions.
After a walk through Grand Central Station (beautifully restored), we returned to our hotel to find our Bunnik tour group waiting – only seven of us on this trip! Six of us walked out to have dinner together and to get to know each other a little. There are two South Australians and five Victorians. All seem lovely people and we’re looking forward to a great tour together.

Tuesday was our first tour together and Bob our driver/guide took us to more New York places including the fascinating Ellis Island Immigration Centre and the site of the Twin Towers – certainly a sobering experience with much sadness still being felt there. Peter and some of the others went to the top of the Empire State Building and enjoyed the views. Those of you who know me will not be surprised that I chickened out!
The day finished with all of us tired and with sore feet – at the revolving tower restaurant of the Marriott hotel in Times Square. Tomorrow we leave New York.

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