I finally have an evening to write up some of my travels, so here - with pictures - is my New York extravaganza!! (I wrote it as we were sailing out of New York) *Note - pictures seem to have stopped working, so will add the rest later! (Have done so now!)
June 8th - Sunday
Enthroned on a green deck lounger, sailing down the river and out into open ocean, having watched the statue of liberty glide by, I am now at leisure to write up the last few days.
Thursday 5th June
To the airport we go! Giving ourselves plenty of time Mum and I got the airport coach from Oxford to Heathrow and find ourselves deposited at terminal five. Fear not all those who know the terrible trials of the opening of T5, we weren't flying from there, but we peaked in and it's huge!
Arriving three hours early we checked in our bags and went window shopping, and then sat in the business lounge (Mum having whipped out the suitable card - even though we weren't flying business class).
The 6.5 hour flight went by in a flash, I read for most of it as they insisted showing 'The Other Boleyn Girl' and 'Elizabeth: The Golden Age'! The taxi from Newark to Manhattan was a bit of a nightmare. Not only had we hit the rush hour but the driver seemed to enjoy pressing his horn at nothing in particular.
Our hotel was on Lexington Ave just across from the Waldorf Astoria, and we got free cookies - isn't that just a very American thing! We couldn't let the jet lag get us so we went out for dinner, stopping off at the blue whisky bar, and relaxing in the luxury of the Waldorf. Here we are:
We didn't stay too long at the Waldorf, as we were too tired to really enjoy it, and off we went to bed at around midnight.
Friday 6th June
Oh what a beaaaaautiful morning! - Well, we were up with the larks, that's if we could have heard them and had breakfast in the hotel, and then started our day of manic activity. Having worked out the cheapest way to use the metro we went to the Frick Collection, adored the portrait of Emma Hamilton (at least, I did!) and then rushed up six blocks to the Metropolitan. Here's some pictures.
Lunch was booked at Sardi's so we made our way to 42nd street and had wonderful food (I've stored my appetizer recipe in my mind) amongst the caricatures of celebrities and after stuffing ourselves, we went and stood in a queue for about an hour so we could get tickets for Gypsy. After that we went back to the Met, because the place is HUGE and we'd barely seen everything we wanted to see. We did stop off for a cocktail to help our weary bones though, and went up the Rockerfeller centre tower, just for the hell of it.
So, a quick second whip round the Met, then back to Broadway to watch Patti LuPone sing her heart out as Rose in the wonderful 'Gypsy'. (It won three Tonys whilst we were sailing across the Atlantic) Being masters of the Metro by then, we caught the train back to the hotel and fell into bed.
Saturday 7th June
HEATWAVE! Temperatures, we were told, had reached the 90s, and my goodness you knew it as soon as you stepped out of any building. What did we do during this heat? Raced about like lunatics of course!
On our way to walk over the Brooklyn bridge we stopped off in Soho and had breakfast in a chic french restaurant called Balthazar and then continued on to the bridge, which had wonderful views of everything in the heat haze. I'd decided I wanted to see ground zero, so off we went, but with only barriers and a couple of cranes to see, it wasn't the sacred place I'd thought it would be. It did have a bit of a strange feeling to it though.
We went back to the hotel, as we were meeting my mother's cousin, and I dashed off a few postcards whilst waiting. John took us to the Pig 'n' whistle - apparently the best Irish bar in Manhattan.
After saying goodbye to John, mum demanded we go to Bloomingdales to look for hats (for the Ascot evening on the boat) - only they didn't have any. Not a single hat. Not even a fascinator. Just a lot of very overpriced clothes, so we moved onto Tiffanys, where - for the briefest moment in time - I tried on $38,000 worth of diamonds on my wrist. That didn't fit either - so I didn't feel to bad about having to give it back!
Continuing our posh phase, we went for a drink at the Plaza and then went to a fantastic restaurant called the Tavern on the Green, which sits on one side of Central Park. We were seated outside, and therefore had a good view of a wedding that was going on in the conservatory (I thought I saw that the bride was wearing black, but it turned out I was mistaken, and had probably seen a grey clad bridesmaid - of which there were twelve).
We had hoped to take a horse and buggy ride around the park, but the only one outside looked as if it were decked out for the wedding, so we got a cycle rickshaw. Seems that the carriage was for hire, and it was the cycle man's first day. He had no idea where he was going, and at one point cycled right out of the park, over fifth avenue and round the block. Thought we were going die!
Having nearly been killed we went in search of the Alice in Wonderland statue by foot, then went back to the hotel by metro and relaxed in the bar until bed.
Sunday 8th June
Heatwave continues! High 90s today and we have much to do and less time to do it in.
Off we trotted to the J.P. Morgan library, which was exquisite and then up the Empire State Building. I'd been up before, but this time we went to the 102nd floor. I had an old fashioned movie star type moment and chatted to the old elevator man about 'An Affair to Remember'. Once there, we stared out the windows and as we looked over to Brooklyn bridge we espied a rather large boat. The Queen Mary 2 was waiting for us ....
Having forgone the metro, we walked back to the hotel (only about 20 blocks), pausing in Grand Central Station to marvel, although failing to take decent pictures! Back at the hotel we packed the last of our things, got into a private car (no mad taxi man for us this time) and drove over the Brooklyn bridge to the port and stood in a remarkably quick line (considering 3,000 passengers were travelling that day) to register and board.
At 5.15 the ship slipped its moorings and glided out of the Hudson, past the Statue of Liberty to six days of nothing but sea .....
And that's enough for one night. I'll put the rest of the pictures up tomorrow!