Thursday, October 6, 2011

New York - Day 1 and 2

Day 1: Zzzzzzzz
Monday, September 26th

FINALLY the day had arrived. Other than my trip to NZ, I honestly can't remember when I've last looked this much forward to a vacation - without even being able to say exactly what it was I was looking forward to, because I don't think it was any one, specific thing - it was just returning to NYC and getting to share it with Henni this time around.

SAS recommends that you arrive 3 hours before departure for flights to the US, so we met up shortly after 9am, and very quickly got very bored with waiting for noon and our boarding time to roll around. Fortunately each of us came prepared - we'd all made film quizzes for the others, and were able to while away some time filling those out. Still, Copenhagen Airport isn't the most thrilling of airports to wait in (although it DOES beat many... it's one of the best in Europe, I've just been there too often - it's HEAPS better than Newark, that's for sure!), and besides, we wanted to be on our way already!!! But isn't that always the case...

The flight was completely uneventful (eventless? ;-) ) although I was quite unimpressed by the movie selection :-/ Guess I'd gotten spoiled by Air New Zealand ;), and we even arrived to Newark a tiny bit early! Here I was once again somewhat befuzzled by the beurocrats I've so far encountered there and their reaction to my crutch... After having waited in line for the passport security check for quite awhile, we finally reached the front of the line where a lady told us which counter to go to - there was still a bit of a line for each counter, but only about 4-5 people. She chose this time to send me to the front of the line - because after having waited for 20 minutes, she felt I should be spared waiting 5 more minutes I guess? Well, I do appreciate the sentiment, but a tad less so when Lars wasn't allowed to join me, despite the fact that each household only fill out one customs form and therefore had to approach the desk together. He tried to explain this to her, but no doing, so I went ahead and explained it to the lady at the desk I'd been sent to - and was told to go get him anyway! Go figure ;)

Anyway, we made it through without either of us being refused entry to the country, and because the line had been so long, all of our bags had made it to the carrousell by the time we finally got there - always a good thing!

Like last time, we decided to take the train to Penn Station NY, and then walk the remaining 14 blocks to the hotel to get a bit of a feel for the place straight away. Once at the hotel we checked in and got ourselves sorted (fortunately we'd gotten rooms just across the hall from each other :) ), and then went out to find some dinner. Henni isn't as used to travelling as Lars and (especially) I am, so she was pretty much dead on her feet at this time. We did manage to get her to join us at "Sombraro" - the Mexican restaurant just down the street - though, and the food helped give her a second wind, so she was up for a quick walk past Times Square before we made our way back to the hotel and straight to bed!

(apparently I HAVE to have 'deer-in-headlights' eyes when at this restaurant. I give you this from 2009 for comparison :-/ ).

Day 2: Construction sites, restoration sites and chocolate!
Tuesday, September 27th

The weather forecast for our week in NYC had looked questionable all along, so when we woke up Tuesday morning (far later than I had feared, thank you very much! I actually managed to sleep almost to 8am!) to bright sunshine, we decided to go right ahead and get some of our 'outdoor' plans out of the way.

After a quick breakfast we jumped on the train down to World Trade Center to take a look through St. Paul's church (which we'd missed out on last time) and see how far they'd gotten on the new World Trade Center.

But basically Ground Zero is just one big construction site, so apart from being curious to see how far they'd gotten in two years, I didn't find it terribly interesting, and we quickly moved on southwards.

... through the World Financial Center, which had indoor palm trees! Am I alone in finding that just a tad odd? Looked cool though!

We walked down to Battery Park and had a quick look at the war monuments there, before making our way over to the ferry terminal to take the free ferry to Staten Island to give Henni a proper view of the statue of Liberty. I found myself taking very few photos, as it really hadn't changed much since last time we were there, but Henni's camera was just as busy as was to be expected ;)

Once on Staten Island, we took the train to Old Town station and then the bus back over Verrazano-Narrows bridge back to Brooklyn where we parted ways - Lars to go off trainspotting, and Henni and I to walk across Brooklyn Bridge for a scenic view of Manhattan coast- and skyline. Unfortunately, that wasn't quite to be, as the first half of the bridge was covered in plastic for restoration, allowing us pretty much only the view of what we could see straight ahead! Very disappointing :( But fortunately we walked on to discover that the second half of the bridge had not yet been covered (or had been finished already), so we got at least some of the gorgeous views I'd promised Henni.

Once across the bridge, we felt it was high time for some lunch, so took the train from City Hall to Wall Street, working under the assumption that all the fancy suits working there would have to get lunch too, so we could probably find something. Wall Street was partly closed off due to the demonstrations happening later that week (and on and off ever since, as far as I've been able to tell), so it wasn't nearly as busy as I had expected, but Henni still managed to get her photo of the stock exchange, and we had some lovely sushi in what we later discovered was the Trump Building!! That was worthy of a photo by itself:

(the food court was located in the small Milk Street Café to the left of the photo).

My legs were pretty much dead by this point, so I actually volunteered to SKIP a bookstore (GASP SHOCK HORROR!!!) and just take the train back to Times Square to rest a bit. Henni and I both really wanted to visit the M&M shop (amusing factoid - the new M&M shop in London is 50% larger than this one!! I have to go there when we visit London next!), and fortunately she ended up liking the place just as much as I do. We both agree that it's tacky in a good way, whereas Lars just thinks it's tacky! Ptttt to him! ;)

We grabbed a quick drink at Starbucks (tuxedo mocha frappochino for me - THANK YOU to whoever suggested that drink to me! Yummy! :D ) and headed back to the hotel where we met up with Lars (who had actually returned before us! Usually it's the other way around) and rested our legs for a bit before heading out to John's Pizzaria for dinner.

Here I discovered once again why I hate the tipping culture so much. The service was excellent, but where I in Denmark would have thought, "What great service!" here I instead thought, "Ch, he's reeeaally angling for a good tip, isn't he?". Cynical to be sure, but there you have it :-/ The food was great though, and don't worry, we did give him a decent tip :)

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