New York Days 5, 6 and 7: Brooklyn, Broadway, Empire State Building and Home

Great view from the top of the Empire State Building

I had actually written most of this post while I was waiting for our flight home, but the last few weeks have been so busy with work, Christmas, manflu and the 119 Project that I didn’t get round to uploading it. Sorry to those that have been left hanging!

Our last full day started with getting the subway to Brooklyn Bridge, so we could walk across the East River to Brooklyn. The bridge is well over 100 years old and at the time it was built was a real technological marvel. These days it looks 100 years old, the wooden walkway on reminded me of Llandudno pier, from our North Wales trip earlier in the year. When we got to Brooklyn it immediately felt different to Manhattan, there was a lot more space and everything seemed calmer.

After spending some time wandering around Brooklyn we took the subway to West Village and walked towards Chelsea and the Meat Packing district to find some lunch. We stopped at The Diner, opposite the Apple Store. As the name suggests it is a typical American diner, so to blend in, we both ordered burgers and cokes, which tasted lovely after a morning walking around.

After lunch we crossed the road and checked out Chelsea Market, which is foodie heaven in an old brick warehouse, somewhere we’d have liked to spend more time exploring. From Chelsea Market we got onto the Highline, a disused raised subway line, which has been turned into a park. We only had time to walk along a small section, but enjoyed the calmer atmosphere and people watching from above the traffic.

The reason we were pushed for time after lunch was that we wanted to get tickets to a Broadway show and discounted tickets are sold from 15:00 in Times Square. Unfortunately, when we got there, tickets for the shows we wanted to see weren’t available, so we tried going to the theaters directly and managed to get tickets to the Lion King, albeit at full price. After a bit of shopping on Times Square we went back to the hotel for cheese and wine and to chill out for a while before getting ready for the show.

On the way to the theater, we took a slight detour via the Rockefeller Center to see what the tree looked like with the lights on. Although, I must admit it looked pretty impressive I’m not sure it was worth all the fuss from the day before. I’m also not sure One Direction were worth camping out on the street next to the Rockefeller Center, as we saw some fans doing.

The show was better than expected, the costumes and props were particularly clever; and despite it finishing way past our New York bedtime we didn’t fall asleep. When we got back to the hotel we went up to the roof top bar for some cocktails to finish our night off in style.

We woke up to rain on our last day in New York, we only realised how much of a problem this was, when we couldn’t see the skyscraper a few blocks down from our hotel – we’d saved going up the Empire State Building until our last day. Fail! After yet another tasty breakfast at the Library Hotel, we took the short stroll down 5th Avenue to the Empire State Building, to our dismay, as we walked we noticed that the top of the tower was in the clouds. The upshot to this was that the dreaded queues we’d heard about weren’t there, so after passing through another round of airport style security, we were in the lift to the 80th floor. The 80th floor consists of the giftshop and an exhibit about the tower was built, which I found especially interesting as it was built in 1931, the same year as our little terraced house in Coventry! Later, I was told that some of the bricks used came from Nuneaton, Jen’s home town.

From the 80th floor it was only a short elevator ride to the 86th floor, for the outdoor viewing platform. We didn’t stay long, as you can see on the image at the top of this post, the visibility wasn’t great, we could barely see across the east river to Queens, but not only that – it was sleeting. We went back inside and to the original 1931 lift up to the 102nd floor, which was originally intended as an airship terminal. There wasn’t much room on the 102nd floor, so it was probably good that we were up there on a quiet day, even though we could barely see the ground. We decided that we’ll have to return to New York to go up the Empire State Building again.

After that, we went back to the hotel to check out, then out for some lunch before catching our bus to the airport. Earlier in the week we’d spied Le Relais de Venise, which we’d enjoyed a steak at when in Paris in March, so we thought we should see how the New York version compared. As in Paris, the steak frites was lovely and it all felt very French, even if there was a bit more space around the tables than in the Paris restaurant – we need to try the London branches in 2014!

After lunch we started our journey back to Coventry, as on the way to New York everything went smoothly at JFK and before we knew it was the next morning and we were back in the UK. After 4 long haul flights in 20 days I was looking forward to being home for a bit, but incase we had felt that Coventry was a bit too quiet after 5 days in New York, we’d arranged to meet Jen’s friend in Birmingham for some birthday drinks at the Christmas market. I can confirm that Birmingham Christmas maker is even busier than Times Square, which only a few days ago, I wouldn’t have said was possible! Also we seemed to have more transport issues getting to and from Birmingham, than we had getting to New York – it was good to be home!