As had been our experience with Greyhound, the bus today again ran late, but eventually we were on board and away but not for long. Less then 10 blocks away from the bus terminal the bus pulled over – the emergency door had come open in transit and wouldn’t lock into position, so after standing on the side of the road for an hour or so a replacement bus finally arrived and we boarded that and go away proper this time for New York. We’d been due to arrive in New York by 1pm – with the dramas experienced that turned out to be 2.30pm but we still enjoyed the ride and the experience of travelling up from Philadelphia. It seemed that for long stages of our trip were following water – firstly the Delaware River and then I think it was the Hudson River that separates the mainland with Manhattan Island. We passed Newark International Airport – a big airport and one of 3 main airports in the wider New York area. We passed another big energy plant sucking water from the nearby river, and then the skyline of Manhattan comes into view – impressive. There’s a bit bridge that spans the river but we went under the river instead – via the Lincoln Tunnel that travels 1.5 miles under the Hudson River (another impressive engineering feat). The long tunnel saw us pop up in central Manhattan at the Port Authority Terminal – very handy. We were staying only a couple of blocks up from the station so very handy for us despite the float of people that greeted us in the station and then out on the main streets. With the hotel found (40 floors and over 400 rooms), we took our room on the 20th floor and headed out to see some of New York / Manhattan.
I was like a kid in a lolly shop – I kept stopping Carol to go wow, look at that building, look at that. Carol was here in New York 10 years ago – to run the marathon with her sister Netty, so Carol took me in hand and led me uptown. I was in awe of the skyline – I didn’t have strong expectations for New York, but for me the architecture and skyline were amazing – very cool experience. We wandered up one of the main streets, stopping and steering as we went, and found our way to Time Square which was buzzing with people. We found some info out on Broadway shows but nothing jumped out at us, so we just checked out some shops and buildings and enjoyed all that we were experiencing as the evening closed in on us and the neon’s of Time Square came into their own. My first impression was that New York was like London on steroids and then maybe some – it’s just alive, and stretches up into the clouds all around you – there are some big buildings here. Still buzzing from this first taste of New York we found somewhere to eat and then wandered a bit more before heading back to the hotel. On Tuesday we made the most of the hotel breakfast – along with all the other guests it seemed – the place was packed, but it was a bonus to have a nice hot breakfast. We stored our bags with the hotel and then headed off on foot to go down 8th Avenue to Central Park. The day was overcast and a bit misty but improved as we went, and made for good walking conditions.
We made it to Central Park and the good volunteer at one of the info stations kindly suggested a good route for us to take. We found our way around to the John Lennon Memorial – Strawberry Fields and then on around to the Belvedere Castle. The castle had recently been totally restored and they’d done a great job. Next stop was the Alice in Wonderland statue – supposedly the most Instagramed spot in Central Park. You then head around to the Bethesda Terraces – a really impressive point in the park with old mosaics, great sandstone carving adorning the terraces – very cool. From there you head back down The Mall area which looked familiar from movie scenes shot in the park – the lanes all lined with benches and statues. The bottom end of the park was the setting for some of the closing scenes of Home Alone 2. The skyline around the park is really impressive – on the 8th Avenue side there are some large gothic like apartment blocks that the likes of Steve Spielberg and Gerry Seinfeld live in. The south end is soon to be home to a couple of the tallest buildings in New York – the Central Park Apartments is the 2nd or 3rd tallest building in NY at over 1550 ft – supposedly they wouldn’t let them build a tower on the top otherwise it might have been the tallest building in the skyline – as it is I think they stated it would be the tallest apartment building in the Western Hemisphere.
We left the peace of the park and came back out to the hussle and bussle of 5th Avenue. We wandered along passing one amazing building after another, intermixed with the occasional church and cathedral. We went into and had a look at St Patricks Cathedral – I think it’s noted as the largest cathedral in the USA – very impressive inside. We found the Rockefeller Centre and the ice-skating ring that you see in the movie sets, at the base of the large building. We wandered around really impressed by what New York / Manhattan was offering us and we look forward to exploring the city more, but for now we had to make our way back to the hotel to collect our bags and to then make our way to transit out to Paterson New Jersey where we will be based for the next few days, but we will be back in the heart of Manhattan on Sunday, excited to see some more of this impressive area.