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Last updated 11pm Monday 10 September 2012

September 9 - New York Day 1

Start spreading the news, we're exploring today, we plan to be a part of it, New York, New York.... (courtesy Frank Sinatra).

And how does one become a part of New York?  Well just get out there and start experiencing it.  A hop on hop off bus is a great way to get yourself orientated but I do suggest you do the whole loop of the bus and decided where you are going to get off the next time around or the next day (a hop on hop off bus ticket will last you 48 hours)  We bought tickets at $54 p.p. incl tax.  Even if you purchase them the night before you want them it is ok because they do not become valid until you actually get on the bus and have them checked.

Get out nice and early and you will miss the crowded buses.  It is a pain in the butt trying to get back on one if they have no seats left up top and you have to sit on the bottom level. I forgot to mention they are double deckers and the views from the top deck are much better.

Pictured below are a few views around town on our way to the Empire State Building stop.

Brownstone buildings, considered as upmarket, stylish and fashionable.   Oh and did I say expensive!

The Guggenheim Building - an Art Gallery focused not so much on hanging paintings given the curvature of the walls (it is the same inside as it is outside) but rather focused on being an art piece in its own right.

The Grand Army Plaza.  This is just in front of Central Park hotel (right).  There were lines and lines of horse drawn carriages around the plaza and along Central Park at this end.  They were as far as the eye could see.  I think they far outnumbered taxis, oh well it was Sunday.  The weather was perfect and the locals say this next week is probably the last of the good weather they will see as fall will inevitably kick in.

You might be able to see a blue cross on the building in the centre of this picture.  It was actually a ribbon effect on the side of the building promoting something.

Pictured below - Times Square during the day.  We are getting closer to our turn off to the Empire State building.

Are we there yet are we there yet?   Yes we are......

TA DA  - The Empire State Building.   Here is a question for you.  How long did the Empire State Building take to build?  Find the answer as you read through today's offerings.

This was the first time we got off the hop on hop off bus.

Beware of hustling sales people out the front trying to sell you the 'deals'.  They are not always what you expect.   We got the 'express deal' that included the observation deck and what they call the Sky ride.  It was just the same price as if we had have stood in the longer cue that was supposedly an hours wait!  We were a bit skeptical of it when the door the sales person featured at the beginning of the 'pitch' then told us at the end of the sale that we had to walk down a block, turn left then walk down the block and turn left and then enter from exactly the opposite side of the building in the next street.  It really pissed us off.  We noticed that the rather large cue we saw in the street was actually gone even before we had finished with the sales guy.

Never mind.  We didn't seem to be hassled by long cues in the end anyway and all in all it was a great 2 hours and it certainly worked up our appetite for lunch. 

BTW - I wouldn't bother with the 'Sky ride' if I were you it is pretty dated, the film quality resolution is extremely poor.  It is not such a big deal and certainly not worth the money we paid for it.

The views from the top of the empire state building were just as I remembered them and better.  Needless to say many photos were taken and it all started with this one (below)

Finally - out on the viewing deck at the Empire State building. The WOW factor hit us.

Spectacular by day and probably more spectacular at night.  (Looking South).

Brooklyn Bridge (Looking South East)

If you look closely you can see the Statue of Liberty.  My camera only has a 10x zoom.  I was regretting not bring my video cam that also takes stills at 30x zoom. Ah well.  Still a great view we think. (Looking North)

In the middle - Central Park

The Chrysler Building to the left. Brooklyn in the background.

And who could these two delightful people be? 

After lunch we caught the hop on hop off bus again - only just lucky enough to grab two seats on top deck.  We were getting off at the Greenwich Village.  We ended up walking through Soho and the financial district. 
Pictured below a park in Greenwich Village.  The park was packed and many restaurants that lined the streets of the Greenwich area were also packed.  Every on was out and about on this fine Sunday afternoon.

We continued walking on because we wanted to see the 'Ground Zero' memorial.  At night you can see two rather stunning purple beams of light going straight up into the sky where the twin towers used to be.  What seemed like a reasonable walking distance ended up being longer than we expected.  The afternoon was warming up and the humidity was rising (yesterday was 100% humidity and NY was on Tornado alert until 9pm last night) Yes NY.  I thought it odd too but there is was on the weather channel, all 5 boroughs were on tornado alert.

Pictured below one of the innovative ways NY has in saving space when parking cars. 

Pictured below is the building we were trying to find.  We could see it from a distance but it was like a mirage. The closer we got to it the further away it seemed to get.  This building is the new World Trade Centre.  There is still a lot of construction going on around it but I am sure it is not too far off being finished.

Talking about being finished -  The Empire State Building took 14 months to build.  They worked on it 24/7 day and night.  It was built during the depression and there were many people available to achieve this.

The fountain at the monument - ground zero.  Around the edges of the fountain were all the names of the people who lost their lives - those on the flights, the people in the towers and others from buildings in close proximity, the firemen and other emergency service people.

It was getting late and we found the hop on hop off bus to make our way back to the Hotel.  This enabled us to see the rest of the loop that we had not experienced yet and decide what we may or may not go and have a look at tomorrow.

Dinner and a relaxing night in was all we could do - we were exhausted.

September 10 - New York Day 2

Well - Day 2 in New York.  Whew it feels like we have been here a week.  It is Monday and we are out all day exploring by the hop on hop off bus again.   We changed hop on hop off buses at the Staten Island Ferry and got on the hop on hop off bus for the tour around Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights and Prospect park. 

One thing is for certain, if you have a two day pass for your hop on hop off bus don't think you have done it all in one shot.  Every time you get on the hop on hop off bus you will have a different tour guide and every guide has a different way of delivering, sometimes, quite a different story about the sites you will see along the way.  The more you listen the more you will absorb about the cultures, sites, history and people of New York and surrounds.

Pictured below a different view of the Empire State Building

... and the Flat Iron Buildling

The traffic was terrible this morning.  We really should have got out earlier.  We were going to take the subway to Battery Point to catch the Brooklyn hop on hop off bus (that would have taken 5 minutes but not nearly as interesting as getting back on the usual hop on hop off bus downtown).  (David considers hmmmmm 5 minutes on the subway - or 2 hours downtown and lots more information - interesting trade off)

By the way, be mindful that the Brooklyn tour hop on hop off bus does not let you off anywhere in Brooklyn or surrounds.  We are not sure why.  Perhaps it is a permit/council thing.  Perhaps it is not entirely a safe place to be.  We can only surmise.  You can also do the night tour of this area as well.  No stops on that one either.  It is a 1.5 hour trip all up. 

Pictured below is a Soho building featuring a restored fire escape

Traveling around on the top deck of a hop on hop off bus you get to see some pretty interesting things if you are observant.  The sculpture below is on of those gems you can catch along the way.

On our way to the Manhattan Bridge

As you can see the weather is treating us well.  In the sun it was quite warm but if you were caught in the shade between buildings it could get quite chilly.  Fall is coming we can feel it in our bones.

Up and over the Manhattan Bridge and here is a stunning view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the other side

Wow .... nearly missed this shot (below)  Quite a nice little oasis with the Brooklyn Bridge to the right and the city of New York in the back ground.
I guess the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge will wait till Tuesday - the anniversary of 9/11. 

Prospect Hill area.  The Collingwood of Brooklyn.

We concluded the trip back where we started at Staten Island Ferry then caught the subway to station 61.  It was the closest station to the area of Central Park where we could have a quiet walk.  However there was nothing quiet about it at all.  People, cars, horse and carriages, bikes, rickshaws, runners, roller skaters, scooters, you name it.  It was an obstacle course!  Pictured below is the view from where we had a quiet 3/4 of an hour.  It then started to cloud over and it got quite cool. 

Yes, we know it is a duplicate... but it is a nice picture of Central Park.  We walked from Central Park to Times Square to do some shopping.  Then of course, we walked all the way back to our hotel for some coffee, dinner and sanctuary :-)

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