Our North American Trip - May and June 2007.
(Click on any photo to see a larger version)

Our North-East Trip – Week 2:     14 May20 May 2007
New York (Manhattan and Fire Island)

(This will be updated as and when internet access allows, and we’ll add photos when time permits.  It could (will) be a bit disorganised at times!!)


Monday, 14 May – Fly St Louis – New York (via Washington)
Up at 5am for Deborah to drive us to St Louis airport to check in / security check (shoes off) etc, for our flight to New York via Washington, departing @ 9am. 

We wonder whether Washington DC really does exist, as there was almost no sign of it when flying in and out of Dulles International airport!  When we took off Annette spotted a golf course with lots of bunkers going in and out of a small residential area.

Nearing New York airport we had some great views of the southern coastline – every piece of land / sand bar close to the ocean was built on. 

We arrived at New York early afternoon to a very hot day; found our Supershuttle stop (pre-booked) – arrived at our Radio City Apartments accommodation 2 hrs later.  Asked for a room high up – that was a good move as there is continual hooting of horns throughout the day and night – mostly impatient taxis!  The Radio City Apartments are great.  We have a bedroom with two double beds and a large living area.  Well appointed with air-conditioners in both rooms.  The location couldn’t be better as we are in an area with a lot of Italian restaurants and cafes two blocks from Broadway and Time Square, right close to the theatre district, and very close to the Metro.

Unpacked and stocked up on some necessary grocery items, had an early dinner, then around 7pm decided to take the hop-on-hop-off bus ‘night tour’.  Great decision - they took us through mid and lower Manhattan, over the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn, back up the eastern side of Manhattan, with one other stop on the way.  During this tour the sun was setting so we had some great views of that as well.  The sun setting photo was taken at full zoom (420mm) and has not been modified or enhanced at all.  What you see is exactly what came off the camera.

Once we had returned to our apartment, we decided to also go up to the top of the Rockefeller Centre as it was close by – up to the 47th floor.  Once in the lift we were asked to look upward – this was to view the inside of the lift shaft (lit with blue lights on all sides) as the lift hurtled its way to the top.  Once on top the views of Manhattan and surrounding areas of New York was outstanding.    We got to bed at 1am – that was a long day!


Tuesday, 15 May
– New York
Woke up to another fine sunny hot day (80 deg F – 27-28 deg C).

We walked over to the ‘Grand Central Terminal’ train station to look at the architecture of this older train station both inside & out.  Certainly very old with huge hallways and lobbies and a food court lower down, however down near the train tracks was not so spacious.

Andrew arrived soon after 12 noon so we walked to ‘Central Park’ to take a horse and carriage ride through part of the park – great choice and lovely to sit back and relax.  Outside of the park were heaps of Police cars partly parked up on the footpath with all their lights flashing, then suddenly they all took off one after the other down the road with their sirens and horns going, then a second lot of them started to drive off down the opposite direction, only to turn around and follow the others.  One of them had parked across a busy intersection to stop all the traffic while this was happening – it didn’t take long before the horns started tooting continuously.  Goodness knows what was going on, but with 50 to 60 police cars sitting in one place doing nothing it appeared the NYPD are grossly over staffed or have nothing to do!!  Could have been involved in filming for something, but nothing obvious.

We hailed a ‘yellow’ taxi to take us from the park to Pier 83 on 42nd Street West to catch the 2hr ‘Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise’ - Lisa joined us there for this cruise.  The cruise was a great trip as it gave us great views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges, Donald Trump’s tall black tower, the old World Trade Centre site (large glass house dome on the outer area of this location).

5.30pm:  I’m sitting typing this and there are continuous horns going outside – by 3pm Manhattan roads start clogging up, so by 5.30pm they are nearly grid locked!!

Hailed another yellow taxi to take us downtown to have a pre-theatre meal at the Tia Pol Café - lots of small Spanish dishes – we kept ordering and the food kept coming – A great meal.  Lisa’s brother Donny joined us there – it was so nice to catch up with him again, especially before the wedding.

Hailed another taxi to take us back to our apartment so we could all get dressed to go to Monty Python’s ‘Spamalot’ at a local theatre.   What a great live theatre performance   Ever so funny and quite irreverent to lots of things, especially the Catholics, the Jews, and gays

 

Wednesday, 16 May – New York
Another hot sunny day (80 deg F – 27-28 deg C).

Walked along the street to the station to go to Brooklyn, so we could walk back over the Brooklyn Bridge.  Walking across the bridge was great, with more good views of the city, but not as good as on the river cruise, anyway it was fun to walk over the bridge.

Once back in lower Manhattan, we visited the site of the old World Trade Centre (Sept 11, 2001).  The memorials by the Metro station entrance were very moving, but even more so inside the St Paul’s Chapel close by - rescuers stayed in this church for months following this disaster.  The groundwork for the new tower is underway – a viewing platform is available for the public to view the area.  It was a sad place to visit.

After lunch we used the hop-on-hop-off bus to view some more of New York and return from downtown Manhattan to our accommodation, stopping off at Pier 17 along the bottom of Manhattan.  Once home we visited the St Patrick’s Cathedral close by – huge cathedral and rather nice stained glass windows and architecture.  When we returned outside we soon noticed that it had clouded over with very dark clouds – it started to rain and as we looked toward downtown we soon realised that it was going to pour down, so, yes, we ran for it.   Sure enough we did get a little wet but not as wet as a lot of other people!  In a way we were hoping for some rain, as it may have cleared the air a little.

Simon arrived from Sydney around 8pm.  Soon after, we went for a walk to find a suitable restaurant for dinner - had a good catch up as we have not seen Simon to talk to for approximately 18mths.   After dinner we walked down around ‘Times Square’ (the Theatre district) – certainly a buzzy place after 10.30pm once all the theatres finish and the people start pouring out into the streets, along with the neon lighting effects in the same area.

We also called into the M & M shop (chocolate pebbles) – it was an eye opener viewing how much merchandise was for sale in the shop just with the M & M logo on.   Simon and Graham purchased some M & M’s – three huge walls of different types, flavours and colours.

 

Thursday, 17 May – New York
Much cooler today, which is more pleasant – (around 17 deg C).

After doing some organising for getting to Fire Island tomorrow and returning to Long Island on Sunday, we left by train for the ‘Empire State Building’ – once we got there the crowds were so long (2hr wait) we gave that one away for the day – Simon left for downtown and Graham and I went to ‘Madison Square Garden’ for a tour around.  Booked for ¾ hr later so went downstairs to Penn Station and had a light lunch.  The tour was great, but at times it reminded us of the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, only this stadium is huge and totally enclosed.  It was set up for women’s basketball – the woman’s league is to start soon.  The stadium has had almost every singer and group of note perform there – lots of memorabilia on the concourse walls.  We were shown inside locker rooms of the local ice hockey and basketball teams – were shown some size 22 basketball boots that were absolutely huge alongside Annette’s feet!

Briefly returned to the ‘Empire State Building’ in case the crowds had gone – the wait was down to 1hr, so we left again deciding we would get up early tomorrow morning and visit – it opens at 8am and evidently there are not many people at that time of day.

Simon arrived back with some Colston Bassett Stilton, some goats’ milk cheese and fresh bread so we enjoyed a late afternoon nibble of this and some fresh pear – yummy!!

 Simon and Graham went and visited the Museum of Modern Art nearby while Annette stayed behind to catch up on diary and photo work and attend to some washing.  Evidently the boys both enjoyed the museum.

Early evening we caught the Metro into the city as Simon wanted to look at computers with his father, then we went to Little Italy to have dinner.


 

Friday, 18 May – New York / Fire Island
Very cold cloudy morning – approx 10 deg C (Scarf and jacket day today)

Up early and off to the Metro train station to travel two stations so we could visit the ‘Empire State Building’ – arrived there at 8.30am, no waiting in queues this time - went straight up to the top in two separate lifts (on our own each time) to the 86th floor.  The view of New York and the surrounding areas from the top was great, although a little dull due to the cloud cover.  Simon went into the city to do some other things.

Back on the Metro and down to the Union Square market – mostly veges, fruit, break, cakes & biscuits etc and some ‘Chocolate croissant’ (pane au chocolat), for guess who! 

Returned to the apartment, packed our bags and checked out by 12noon, as agreed with reception.  Had lunch nearby the apartment, then walked to find some bananas, cracker biscuits (to go with the cheese Simons bought) and some fresh sliced Mango.

Early afternoon we walked along a block to hail a taxi (as this one way road travelled in the direction we wanted to go) – arrived really early as the traffic wasn’t too heavy yet.  Our shuttle to take us to ‘Bay Shore’ on Long Island to catch the ferry over to Fire Island duly arrived.  With 13 passengers (including 6 New Zealanders’ with large bags) it was a tight fit as 1/3 of the bags fitted behind the back seat, the rest were hurtled into the remaining passage way beside passengers, then the side doors were slammed shut!

After a very cramped, stuffy and periodically bumpy ride we arrived at our destination in good time to catch the 5.10pm ferry to Ocean Bay Park on Fire Island.   On arrival the weather was rather cold and there had obviously been some recent rain.  As we got closer to Fire Island the weather deteriorated even further (scarf, gloves & umbrella weather) - the “fire” was definitely a misnomer as the temperature was <10 deg C (<50 F).  Once off the boat we walked in the very cold windy rain for the 10 minutes or so to the hotel.

We have a 2 bedroom semi-detached unit with plenty of room - initially the heating didn’t work, but they came and fixed that.  After changing into warmer clothing we went over to the bar to meet everyone - later we sat down to a tasty meal of salad, mussels and cockles (clams) followed by plenty of good sized lobsters form Maine (>1 each).  Never had lobster before and they were interesting - a lot of meat in the tail just like our crayfish, but much more in their very large claws.  However we found the lobster taste blander than our crayfish.

Arrived back to a much warmer unit and went to bed about 11pm – our beds were very comfortable.  


 

Saturday, 19 May – Fire Island

At 6.30am we were awakened with knocking on a door, waited for a bit as we had both been sound asleep, then Simon called out - he was locked in his room.  Graham managed to dismantle the lock from the outside of the door, but it still wouldn’t open!  However, he managed to get a window winder through the hole where the catch had been, so he could open his window and climb out.   Graham went and found a maintenance guy, he couldn’t open it either – in the end he broke the door and the architrave with a screwdriver to get it open.  Simon then finally got to the loo!!

The morning was still rather cold with some early light showers, but as the morning went by the weather started to lift and slowly get slightly warmer – enough for me to remove my scarf!

Later in the morning we went for a walk to the local store to get some food for lunch – it was a well stocked store.  After lunch we had a walk along the beach - it was much windier on the Long Island side of the island and more protected on the ocean side – great, as that’s where the wedding was to be held.

Soon after 2pm Andrew, Lisa and the wedding party arrived down at the beach to take their main wedding photos - wow, they all looked so glamorous.  Graham took some videos at that time and also at the wedding ceremony.

The wedding is covered in a separate page.  Click here to view it and the photos

  

Sunday, 20 May – Fire Island / Long Island, New York
We woke up to a sunny day and slight wind - when we left the island the temperature had risen up to approx low 20 deg C – very comfortable.

Had a very lazy morning today – met up with some of the guests who had stayed the night on Fire Island (most of the New Zealanders) and walked 20 mins along to Ocean Beach and had brunch at one of the cafes.  Bought a cookie with chocolate chips and walnuts from the adjacent bakery.  They were so nice we went back and bought 4 more!. 

At 2.10pm we caught the ferry back to Long Island, then the shuttle we had pre-ordered to the Marriott Courtyard Hotel, Ronkonkoma – a staff member at the hotel then kindly drove us in their shuttle to Avis at McArthur Airport to collect our rental car.

Had dinner at the ‘Smokey Bones’ Restaurant close by to the hotel – we both had a half rack of smoked / special sauced spare ribs, but could not get through the meal (the majority of customers walked out the door with doggy bags – you would think the restaurant would realise from this that their meals are just too large!), then caught up on some necessary laundry and prepare and put Andrew & Lee’s wedding photos and diary notes onto our website.