I wanna wake up, In a city that doesn't sleep......
We were up early to get the bedding, towels etc., into the washer and drier and packed away. Then an eight mile drive to the storage centre to put the good ol gal to rest for a little while. The Beast was so good to us, we traversed north to south, east to west without ever a complaint from her, she needed new shoes, but every gal needs to stock up on a pair!
Then onto Phoenix airport to travel to NYC. It is amazing that this RV trip has ended so quickly, it seemed it had just begun. It has been a most wonderful experience. As many of you will know, it wasn't on my bucket list and I could have taken it or left it. However, I am so pleased that we experienced this lovely journey. It was wonderful quality one on one time for Charl and me. We saw so much, met lovely people and the Americans are extremely helpful. One only had to stand for a minute holding a map and we were asked 'may I help you?' There was one time when we were looking at the services board at a shopping centre and the next thing a chap stopped to ask if he could assist with what we wanted? We were actually looking for the restroom and he said 'I am not sure about that, but if you head to that Cafe over there (pointing in a direction), they will be sure to have one inside.'
Again we had a good Uber driver, from Central Asia. He had only been in the country for two months and he had taken English lessons during that time and his English was fine, actually excellent considering that we cannot speak one word of Chinese!
The three and a half hour trip on America Airlines was fine, albeit very cramped, a very full flight and it's been a very long while since we have flown where you get absolutely nothing in flight. There was complimentary water and soft drinks but nothing else. We had to purchase a snack dinner and even their widely advertised Wi-Fi, came at a cost. Thankfully I have a few good books on my iPad, so that kept me occupied.
We hailed an Uber at Newark airport, this time a very nice Indian chap. He was so thrilled to find a customer (Chuck) who happily engaged in talking all things cricket. This chap had been in NYC for 18 months but began in Kansas City where he lived previously. He happily pointed out the Empire State Building, told us we needed to leave a few hours in order to take our flight out, from JFK..'twaffic very bad an all'.... The Indians are always so funny because there is always a 'cousin' somewhere having a good experience. This chap had a cousin studying in Australia and another elsewhere, what a hoot.
Our hotel was situated just 30 paces from Time Square and as we neared, we passed all the neon signs on Broadway. Oh goodness me!! It was just after midnight and the place was full of people, so lit up it was like mid-day. A little surreal for this country bumpkin couple to take in!
We arrived at the hotel, booked in and when we got to our room......a real bed! After 78 days in the RV, Chuck wouldn't have to climb over me to get out of bed and he could walk around the bed to get in. Another first in such a long time was ironed sheets. Oh the little home comforts are slowly returning.
We set out to see Gwyneth Paltrow and Demi Moore......Oh my word, this place is not for the feint hearted or those in a hurry, or those wanting to walk side by side, hand in hand.....it's just not possible!! We ventured out of our hotel on our first morning in search of breakfast. I had read that there was a good eating place just to the left of the hotel and there it was. Chuck queued for the food order whilst I went in search of a table. After juggling chairs around and finding a table at the far side of the cafe, we finally sat down together.
We had decided to take a hop on hop off bus in order to orientate ourselves with this enormous city and between us we chose the company to use, Gray Line City Sightseeing's Big Red Bus. As we neared the lady from whom we would purchase the ticket, at the bus stop, another vendor from another company approached us and then the two of them had a loud argument accusing each other of trying to 'steal their potential client'. Eventually I could take no more so I shouted at the chap, telling him that we were about to approach the lady from the Big Red Bus company, we had no intention of using his company and would he shut up and let us get on with our holiday. He apologized most profusely and moved on. Welcome to New York City people!!!
New York Skyline by day
And again at night
We enjoyed the bus, stopped at Pier 11 and boarded a ferry and then saw the Statue of Liberty which was lovely to see and disembarked in order to walk Brooklyn Bridge. We had a great walk over the bridge in 28 degree heat.
We got back onto another bus after our walk, continued the trip back to where we had begun in the morning, it was now 5.55 p.m. and we immediately climbed onto the bus for the 6 p.m. night tour. It was lovely to see all the buildings so well lit up and the tour encompassed Brooklyn. Brooklyn was so quiet compared to Manhattan; it was like a ghost town.
Statue of Liberty
By now our tummies were hungry and we went in search of a quick convenient meal. That ended up being a visit to Planet Hollywood. We didn't realize they were still operating; it was a good choice as the food was at our table within minutes of ordering and so were our cold beverages. We ended off the evening with a visit to Time Square; well we hardly had to go there, as our hotel was so close.
The weather forecast was for rain on our second day here, but we were lucky and although much cooler at 20 degrees C than our first day, of 28C, it was fine and a little overcast.
After hanging out with our pals, Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, we did the uptown tour, which encompassed Central Park, and Harlem. We hopped off at Central Park and walked and relaxed drinking in the peace and tranquillity and all the beautiful fall colours. Unfortunately the Guggenheim Museum was closed. We stopped at the lake and did some watching people. We love people watching!
Central Park - a beautiful oasis in a bustling city. And the fall colours to cap it off
For a large city, it is amazing that there is no smog here. We headed back to Time Square, just in time for us to line up for half price tickets to the theatre. Did I say half price?? Well $75 each was the half price; it had better be a good show!
As with our first night in NYC, we had been so busy sight-seeing during the day, we only had time to grab a quick bite to eat because we had tickets for the 7pm musical, Kinky Boots. This was a wonderful production, fun, good music and songs and a great laugh. The two main actors, Alan Mingo (drag queen) and Aaron Finley (the shoe factory owner) were fabulous. Alan, aka Lola, played two different personalities and was superb as both characters. Aaron had an amazing voice, the cast were good, a great choice of musical to see and enjoy.
Uh oh!! Next day we awoke to our first day of rain, since leaving Noosa on the 19th July, this was 93 days without rain, it had to happen at some stage! We took the opportunity to have a late breakfast, after which we took time to sort out a bit of housekeeping. We needed to book the shuttle for our departure out of JFK airport, on the 23rd, printed off our e-tickets and updated the blog. Then stood in the short queue for tickets to see Chicago on Broadway. It was a very good show, slick, good dancing but we both preferred Kinky Boots.
Time Square - and you can't get away from Donald and Hillary
Brrrr....woke to 8 C and it was a biting cold wind. After a late breakfast/brunch we headed to MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) by foot, it wasn't too long a walk. A street had been closed to traffic to accommodate a market so we had a look at the wares on the way. The museum was very busy, mostly foreign accents, French and German the dominant ones. Took ages here and then headed back to the hotel, to rest up our feet before heading out to dinner.
We had a booking at 44X, which was made Robert and Ellen Friedman. We met this couple on the cruise in July. At the time, we hit it off, they told us where and what to visit when in NYC and then they followed it up with an email asking if we would join them for dinner. Chuck and Robert had been in contact, as, when we were on the cruise, they were asking for advice on which South African game reserve to visit in 2017. Robert was planning a big birthday celebration at a game farm.
Brrrrr..... 7 C as we took our 15 minute stroll to dinner venue.....we met Robert and Ellen at the bar where we had a drink and then moved to our reserved table. The restaurant was packed and quite noisy, mostly filled with theatre goers. They soon left and it became less noisy and easier to converse. The food was lovely and we chatted away and the next thing it was time to say au revoir and head back to the hotel.
We took the subway to World Trade Centre
Our last day in the USA. ....Once again there was a big chill in the air as we left the hotel for breakfast. We decided to use the underground to get to The World Trade Centre. It was a poignant reminder of the tragedy that took place here, where the twin towers once stood. We stood looking at all the names engraved around the fountain of life and here and there a family member or a friend had placed a single white rose alongside a name. I felt so sorry for the families involved, none of whom will ever be the same again, after the loss of their beloved family member.
World Trade Center - a very sobering experience. New buildings and a memorial have been erected where the Twin Towers once stood
We composed ourselves and headed back to the hotel to pack up and get ready for our long trek to Cape Town. We will be in transit for about 38 hours......but well worth it, to see our families again. And guess what? Whoop, whoop, a LUCK – we were upgraded to Business Class for the leg to Frankfurt! Unfortunately this did not apply for the next leg to Cape Town!