Tag Archives: museum

#100happydays – day 47

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By Wednesday we’d spent three days straight exploring Lower Manhattan and had begun to feel like downtown locals, so we decided to focus our sightseeing efforts further north with renewed determination to find the uptown bus stop. It was a sunny morning so I made the optimistic decision to wear my thinner Laura Ashley wrap jacket instead of my more ample winter coat. Mistake number 1. 

Our joy at finally finding the goddam bus stop was short lived when the heated open-top tour bus was too full to take on more passengers so we instead boarded an unheated open-top bus where we were greeted by an energetic Japanese lady dressed in a mountaineering jacket and waving a microphone. Mistake number 2.

For the next hour we sat tightly huddled in our top deck seats, ducking to avoid low hanging tree branches and straining to understand the commentary. As Antonia noted, it was like having intermittent telephone reception….”something, something, something….Central Park…something, something…Woody Allen, something, condominium apartment…” And as my body temperature plummeted, I began to daydream about thick jumpers and wooly hats, rendering it impossible to concentrate on our enigmatic tour guide. By the time we reached Harlem, Antonia had turned blue and I’d lost all feeling in my bum cheeks. Our survival instinct finally kicked in (not at all inspired by the large Banana Republic Outlet store on the corner) and we hastily disembarked to buy jumpers (along with one or two other bargains). One Starbucks later and we were finally feeling thawed enough to venture back outside.

Harlem felt like a world away from the skyscrapers and designer stores of Mid Town. Groups of people were gathered on street corners and ladies pushed shopping trolleys piled high with clothes, plastic bags and cool boxes, presumably full of food (??). The further we walked away from the main stretch of shops, the more backwards glances we got from passers by. And the idea of using a selfie stick or even a map in Harlem felt a tad foolhardy. We bought Cap’tn Crunch cereal and squeezey cheese from a local supermarket and Antonia came to the aid of a fairly scary woman with a nose bleed, before we felt it best to catch the subway downtown to a more central spot on the Upper West Side. There we stopped for pizza slices and sodas in Famiglia (a favourite hangout of Sarah Palin’s, if the pictures on the wall were to be believed) before walking through Central Park and along Museum Mile. The park, as with the High Line, felt a little unloved. Overgrown pathways, unruly hedges and brown grass did little for its idolised image but the dramatic backdrop of the New York City skyline and the impressive architecture of the Guggenheim and Met museums were photo-worthy sights to see.   By this point, our shopping bags were cutting off the blood circulation to our hands so after a whistle stop to buy the kids candy from the far too sweet-scented and psychedelic Dylan’s Candy Store, we checked our bags into the Bloomingdales’ cloak room. We then spent the next hour exploring the retail Mecca of Manhattan and sipping prosecco in the Flip bar.

Later on, after a shower and short recharge at the hotel, we hailed a taxi to a restaurant in the Meatpacking District, recommended by Antonia’s New York-savvy spouse. We finished the day with an overpriced bottle of red (why is it so hard to find affordable wine in New York??) and burgers held together with toothpicks. Too many Manhattan happy moments to count!  

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#100happydays – day 45

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 Another day, another dollar. We began our morning with brewed teas in Starbucks. Turns out, brewed tea is not tea as we know it (and thankfully the lovely Starbucks staff swapped our green herb infused cups of hot water for English breakfast tea when we realised our mistake). We then walked to the Flatiron district to admire one of the most beautiful buildings we’ve seen yet, the Flatiron. It was, like, tooooootally awesome!

On the recommendation of a friend back home, we headed to a quaint little eatery in a quiet corner of Gramercy when we enjoyed the real deal NYC brekkie, Eggs Benedict. “You want house fries with that?“, the waiter asked. Chips for breakfast, surely not! But it worked and was delicious.

In a bid to explore as much of the city on foot as possibles (and to burn off the Eggs Benedict!) we then walked the length of Lower Manhattan. Through Greenwich, Soho and Tribeca we marvelled at the incredible high rises and the beautiful brown stones as we inched closer and closer to One World Trade Center.  

In the Financial District we were surprised to find that you can actually loose sight of New York’s tallest skyscraper with so many others blocking the view. We walked the entire perimeter of One World Trade Center with our heads bent upwards before joining the queue for the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Once inside, we lost almost three hours of the day. The Museum is beautifully designed and utterly huge. Around every corner is another new exhibit, each one slightly different from the last but no less interesting or moving. We hadn’t planned to spend so long in the Memorial Museum but I’m glad that we did. It felt like an important part of my New York experience.

To lift our somber mood after leaving the museum, we stopped for tea and cake before walking down Wall Street and ticking another ‘must do’ off our New York itinerary. We then found ourselves on the waterfront and realising that we were a little late to catch the last sightseeing cruise of the day, we opted instead to ride the Staten Island Ferry. We then spent the next hour happily snapping photos of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty as we rode back and forth across the Hudson.

Back on dry land, and after acknowledging our dry throats, we found a cozy bar that was celebrating Happy Hour where we rested our weary legs and enjoyed a much needed stiff drink.

Our plans to then walk across the Brooklyn Bridge were put on hold when we found a branch of Abercrombie & Fitch advertising their 50% off sale. Yes please and thank you very much! Thereafter we discovered that the combination of beer drinking and shopping did our bladders no favours so we spent a frantic 15 minutes looking for a loo (Starbucks and 7 Eleven were both having plumbing problems…”sorry ma’am“…aaaaaaargh!). So in our collective desperation we dived into a dive bar and bought more beers (the irony!) just so we use the ‘restroom’. There we enjoyed a hilarious half hour of people watching in what felt like a true New Yorker’s hangout. There was a moose head on the wall, a ballgame on the TV and a small group of regulars sat at the bar (as well as signed bras stapled to every inch of the ceiling!)

By the time we finally found the footpath to the Brooklyn Bridge walkway, it was dusk and the New York skyline was twinkling with a million lights. We could not have timed it any better! The views were spectacular and despite our best efforts to catch them on film, we had to stop ourselves from trying and simply soak up the moment instead.

In Brooklyn we found ourselves a little lost as to where to go next. But after a short walk and quick scout about, we found a sports bar (yay!) where we met a friendly young bartender who was happy to tell us why Brooklyn is now so up and coming. After our 12 hour walking tour of Manhattan and Brooklyn, we felt we’d earned a taxi cab ride back to the hotel. The drive in itself was an interesting addition to our day. Crossing the bridge at night and zipping around the freeway around the edge of the island gave us a new perspective on the size and scale of this incredible city.  

Back on East 31st Street we found the cute little pizzeria we’d earmarked for dinner the night before. There we enjoyed the perfect ‘pizza pie’ and a generous glass of red before collapsing exhaustedly into our boudoir-chic sheets for some much needed beauty sleep. Goodnight y’all!