Friday, 27 February 2015

New York 35th Anniversary trip.

I usually look back on the past year to see what geeked me out and what didn't, well 2014 was the year of our 35th wedding anniversary so as far as geeking me out nothing could top that.
Below is an overall review on the things we did on our anniversary trip as I'm not good at taking notes or remembering what happened on what day, so the report will be a broad reflection on the places we visited during our time in Washington, Las Vegas and New York.

New York

We stayed at the Distrikt Hotel on 342W 40th Street at the side of the Port Authority, the hotel is not much to look at from the outside and only has 5 rooms per floor so its small or boutique to give it the modern term. What its lacking in size it more than makes up for in quality as its the best New York hotel we have ever stayed in, the staff are pleasant, very helpful and more than happy to help in any way they could. Before we left the UK I had emailed the hotel to ask if they had a preferred transfer airport service, not only did they came back with an answer they took all our flight details and booked the transfer for us and emailed me all the confirmations. Even when we were there they were happy to highlight maps to areas we wanted to visit but were unsure how to get there, and on one evening they rang a comic shop I was looking for to check opening times I was very impressed.

Our room on the 32 floor and had a view from the window of the Hudson to the right and the Empire State Building to the left, Helen was absolutely delighted with the view especially at night when the Empire State was lit up in all its glory. Our room was large, clean and the bed was comfortable, no bath but a big shower and bathroom area so we had no complaints about the room what so ever. Access to each floor via the lifts was only a possible by using your room key, it was a security feature I liked with the only down side been is if you forgot to swipe the key card once in the lift. 

You would just go past your floor to the top and back down again, something that happened more than once when we had drank one or two shandy’s in the bar. Having said that it is fun lift surfing when you are a bit drunk, well it did seem so at the time.

Food / Drink:
We paid a couple of visits to Famiglia Pizza as they do some great pizzas and we have never been disappointed when eating there, we also paid a visit to The Olive Garden in Times Sq a place we had never been before. We picked a meal off their set menu and to my surprise the meal was excellent, when Helen suggested going there I wasn't sure but I have to hold my hands up and say she was right again, so the next time you visit NY give The Olive Garden a try, you never know it may surprise you.

For our anniversary meal and after lots of debate on where we should or shouldn't go, we finally decided on the Hartland Brewery and the meal and service was everything we hoped it would be. We both had a starter and a steak meal with Helen also finding room for a sweet along with a few glasses of wine, plus a cosmopolitan cocktail while I played it safe with a few pints of larger. We wanted our anniversary meal to be one we would not forget and the Hartland Brewery certainly ensured that we weren't disappointed, an excellent meal and drinks with great staff and service we cannot recommend it highly enough. 

The Hartland Brewery was just round the corner from our hotel, so it quickly became our local watering hole as we wandered back at the end of the night. I recommend trying their beer sampling platter if you ever visit them, 6 different beers on one tray all of them very good in my humble opinion.

As is always the case when we go to NY a visit to Juniors is a must, not only do they sell great cheesecake they make the best burgers you can get your teeth into. This visit we both had the pastrami burger with fries (chips) and it didn't disappoint, Helen also had a large wedge of chocolate cheese cake which she had to get a doggy bag for. As she couldn't finish it off in the restaurant, it was however devoured later that night as she watched late night TV back at the hotel.

The Sights:

Despite having been to New York before we still hit all the usual sights as we love spending time in places like Times Sq and Central Park, Helen also loves riding carousels so the one in Central Park is always a must for us. It is only $2 to ride and must be one of the top bargains in New York, we also had the obligatory photo taken which was a bit more than $2 but what the hell we were on holiday. 

While we were in Central Park the geek in me couldn't resist visiting the places where the New York episode of Doctor Who was filmed, and Helen was happy to take photos of me sat on various rocks that the Doctor may or may not have sat on, well maybe happy is too strong a word.

The Brooklyn Bridge has always been a sticking point with Helen as she could not cross it on our first visit due scarred to death, the first time we went over she just froze when she realised you can see the river through the wooden slats that make-up the bridge. I of cause was very understanding and never tormented her or mentioned it once, so on this visit she was determined to conquer her fears and my tormenting and walk across the bridge.
So after buying 1 week subway passes for $31 each we took the tube to Brooklyn, and made our way to the bridge were this time she walked all the way across from Brooklyn to Manhattan. 

Now I use the term walk loosely, as in one of my photos Helen is clearly walking in what can only be described as in an Olympic style. Lord help anyone who may have got in her way as she strode over the bridge, I must add that a few days later Helen walked the bridge again in a much calmer fashion this time from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and I'm very proud of her for facing her fear in the way that she did.

On the day of our anniversary visited the Top of the Rock and we both agreed that it’s a better view than the one from the Empire State, partly because your looking at the Empire State so you get that iconic view of Manhattan. We took loads of photos while we were up there and again bought the obligatory photo of us on the steel girder, as we don’t tend to have many holiday photos of us both together and you only live once so why not. Helen is not a big fan of heights but nothing was going to stop her on this trip, and she went to the highest section of the Rockefeller she’s quite a brave lady when she puts her mind to it.

During one of our many visits to Times Sq we were asked if we wanted to have our photo taken, having had it taken we were then told it would be put up on the Sony screen in Times Sq. So we stood camera poised and sure enough there we were on the big screen, for all Times Sq to see we were well chuffed and had special memory on what was a special holiday.

Helen also managed to bump into the naked cowboy on one of our visits to Times Sq, and as it would be rude not to she had her photo taken with him.

We spent a good part of one morning walking on the Highline, we had planned to do it on an earlier trip but Helen had taken ill so we had to postpone. When I say ill it was self inflicted too many vodka sours but I am moving off the point, the Highline is fantastic and you get views of New York that you would not normally see, it was a great way to spend the morning. It took us around 2 hours to walk the whole line, one tip take plenty of water and wear a hat as there is little to no cover while you are waking on the High Line. I learnt a harsh lesson that say gagging for a drink, and a head as red as a tomato. 

Century 21, Disney Store and Macey’s were all visited as Helen loves a good shop when we are away, find Macey’s overpriced and believe that it's living on its past name a bit like Harrods in London. I would also like to add that the men’s toilets in Macey’s were the worst I have ever visited and given that Macey’s promotes its self as a premier brand they should provide better and cleaner facilities. Century 21 has something for everyone and if you love shoes (what woman doesn't), you will love that section of the shop its that big we got lost in it.  While this didn't seem to bother Helen too much, I was starting to panic as I could feel my will to live slowly slip away. 

As a comic geek a visit to a comic shop is always on the cards when were away and this trip was no exception, after going to Midtown Comics in Times Sq I decided to spend my money In Jim Hanley’s Universe now known as JHU. After a particular trying day where we couldn't find the shop (I was on the wrong street number) we finally found it and I bought 3 rather nice Batman statues, along with the 4th Doctors sonic screwdriver to add to my collection.

As this was our 35th anniversary trip it just wouldn't have been complete without a visit to Tiffany’s, I told Helen that if she saw anything she liked she could have it (within reason). After visiting different floors she settled on a silver bracelet with a Tiffany heart on it, her face was a picture as she posed outside the store with her blue Tiffany bag in hand, and after 35 years living with me she deserved to be. The whole Tiffany experience was fantastic and the staff that we saw treated everybody the same, regardless if they were spending money in the store or not. The lady who served us was very patient as Helen browsed various items, she made us feel like we were the only people in the store which made our experience all the more special.

Wrap Up:
Then before we knew it the adventure was over and we were waiting for the bus to take us to the airport, our trip had been around 3 years in the planning and proved at times to be physically tiring especially when we walked around Washington. However, we loved every minute of the trip and it was everything we hoped it would be, we have fantastic memories and meet some really great people it was a fitting way to celebrate our 35th anniversary. 

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