Bright Lights, Bigger City

new york night

As our time in New York draws to a close, I thought I’d focus on two of the highlights of our trip: Central Park and the museums. I must admit, the attempted ‘renaissance style’ of many of the ‘old’ buildings did amuse me a little – purely because I’ve been spoilt by living in Europe. The architecture of the museums was still pretty impressive (if you don’t try to compare it!).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, on the side of the park, was enormous! We particularly enjoyed the Monet, Manet and Degas collections but, arguably, the most unique installation was the 10 B.C. Egyptian Temple of Dendur – that’s right the entire temple has been installed into the museum! Up on top there’s a summer drinks bar with beautiful views of the skyline over the park, but be warned: it has very limited seating.

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Temple of Dendur

Special exhibition - China through the looking glass.

Special exhibition – China through the looking glass.

That iconic Seurat

That iconic Seurat

View from the roof

View from the roof

We accidentally snuck into the Museum of natural history round the back as couldn’t find the entrance… it certainly rivals the London equivalent. For us, the Blue Whale representation and dinosaur collection were the best parts!

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Butterfly dispay

Butterfly display

Next onto the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). This is definitely one not to be missed – the Andy Warhol collection was particularly impressive but the whole gallery was impeccable.

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We ran out of time and money for the Guggenheim but at least managed to admire it’s unusual structure as we walked down the east side of the park.

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The park, in general, was draw-dropping – not just because of its immense size but also due to the beautiful variety. We loved the huge rock structures dotted about the place between the trees.

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We loved watching the little turtles poking their noses out from the algae. Spot the two here that have ventured out to enjoy the sun.

We spent ages eagerly watching the little turtles poking their noses out from the algae. Spot the two here that have ventured out to enjoy the sun.

Belvedere 'Castle'

Belvedere ‘Castle’

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We got very excited watching the various baseball games going on throughout the lawns – it always surprises me how different American culture is to English! Speaking of which – only in America would you get a complementary cake with your meal! Brunch here is apparently a huge thing at the weekends so Katherine and I headed to ‘Friends of a Farmer’ in Greenwich Village for omelette and pancakes with free apple corn cake stuff. Having said that, the portions are not as big here as they had been on the west coast – perhaps we’ve just not been going to the right places; in general we’ve found food to be extremely expensive, particularly fruit and veg. I paid $4 for two apples the other day. FOUR dollars.

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Final stop: Empire State building. We went up at night to get a little variety from the ‘Top of the Rock’. The view was suitably incredible but I still maintain that the top of the Rockefeller is better purely because you have the iconic Empire State within the view. It’s just like the Eiffel tower in Paris – you can go up the tower but I think better views of the city can be achieved up the Arc de triumph as the iconic structure dominates the skyline, creating views that truly can’t be mistaken for another large city.

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And that’s all for now folks. Been kicked out of the Airbnb so just perched in Starbucks waiting to head to the airport for my two day flight to the South Pacific now!

Summer in the City

Washington Park Jazz

People say you shouldn’t visit New York in the summer. At first we thought this was immaterial as the heat seemed perfectly bearable, but over time it seems to have hit us! The worst area is the subway, as waves of very hot air keep you dripping with sweat whilst waiting in the dingy, run-down stations.

New York Subway New York Subway

The best way to sight-see to avoid the heat is on a boat/ferry! We splashed out on a ‘landmark cruise’ as wanted to get the best value out of our ‘explorer pass’ but if you haven’t got a pass or want to use it on other things then the Staten Island ferry is a viable alternative. We looped around the south of Manhattan and got some great views of the iconic, but surprisingly small, Lady Liberty.

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To get a few different angles of the city we have been wandering around various districts to try and get a flavour of the variety here: Chelsea art’s district boasted the ‘high line’ park, created from an old rail line; Greenwich village was like stepping into the set of ‘Friends’ or ‘Sex in the City’ with locations from both shows available to track down for keen fans; Chinatown and Little Italy speak for themselves and Harlem was notably….how to put this kindly…’edgier’.

Flowers in 'High Line' park.

Flowers in ‘High Line’ park.

Apartment block from Friends.

Apartment block from Friends.

Harlem Street Art

Harlem Street Art

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I love pinkberry! It's a frozen yoghurt brand dotted about the place that we became familiar with in LA so it was nice to find it again!

I love pinkberry! It’s a frozen yoghurt brand dotted about the place that we became familiar with in LA so it was nice to find it again!

Heading down south we went to visit the very moving 9/11 memorial. It is incredibly well done: a series of square waterfalls lead to a middle drop where you can’t see the bottom, creating a ‘void’ where the two towers once stood.

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The old with the new. Over the memorial stands the 'One World Trading Centre' built to replace the twins. It is now the tallest building in the country.

The old with the new. Over the memorial stands the ‘One World Trading Centre’ built to replace the twins. It is now the tallest building in the country.

Brooklyn Bridge was pretty but packed! We didn’t walk the whole way across as were dead on our feet at this point. Below is the view back towards the financial district.

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I got excited by recognising the steps of the Courts of Justice from countless films, but Wall street itself was much like any other financial district. I’m not sure what I was expecting, perhaps for Leonardo DiCaprio to spring out into the street spilling cocaine trails behind him.

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Speaking of celebrities, we came down from a roof top bar south of Central Park to find a small group of paparazzi waiting outside the Directors Guild Theatre and stopped to ask what was going on. Crowds quickly gathered, nobody knowing what was happening at all, and crowd mentality led to us all hanging around for over an hour gossiping, sharing ‘speculations’ and generally swapping stories. The whole experience was actually pretty hilarious – trying to get intel out of the ‘pap’ who wouldn’t budge then asking the drivers in the flashy cars waiting outside… finally Tom Cruise emerged to much excitement and a flurry of flashes and screaming.

We cooled down with a trip to Times Square to see the mayhem at night.

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