New York Stories and Tips

The sun comes out over the Big Apple

Brooklyn Bridge from the East River Photo, New York, New York

Weather Gods are with us today. It’s sunny and hot. We had breakfast in the pub again this morning and, due to the advice of the guy in the souvenir shop yesterday, we decided to do the Empire State Building this morning first. He said there were not lines early in the morning. He must have meant really early because there were when we got there about 10:15.

Luckily we were still ahead of the worst of the crowds. The first queue was to go through security and it was steady moving. The lineup for the ticket counter wasn’t bad. We had to have our passes scanned there. Then there’s another line up to get to the elevator to go up. They get you to stop for a quick photo in front of a green screen in case you want to purchase your souvenir photo of yourself with the skyline behind you. Stop, blink, go to the queue.

The wait for the elevator took a bit longer but it wasn’t too bad. But look, the elevator stops at the 80th floor where there’s an exhibit. Tsk. Then yet another wait for an elevator for the last 6 floors unless you want to walk up. No thanks. Finally we’re at the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building. It took about an hour altogether so I think we got off easy. When we left there after noon, the line up to get into the security part was right out the building onto Fifth Ave.

The observation deck isn’t very wide, either and was crowded. You could feel very claustrophobic. People seemed fairly good about taking turns by the edge where you could look off and take photos. It’s all very safe of course. Also, it wasn’t windy up there at all like I thought it might be. It was beautiful and warm with just a little breeze. It was nice even with all the bodies. Views on a sunny day like this were spectacular.

We left there and had a cold drink in Starbucks next door and then it was time to head across town to the Intrepid Sea and Air museum and later, next door to that, we were taking a Circle Line cruise around the tip of Manhattan. Guess what? There are 13,000 taxis in New York but it turned out to be very hard to get one in mid-town on a sunny Friday lunch time. The subway wouldn't have been any good as we'd still have to walk blocks. Walking to a bus that went where we were going would be a walk from where we were and my feet were killing me. And it was hot. I'm a wuss.

We were trying to hail a cab when a guy on a bicycle powered buggy wheeled over. We looked at each other. Talked to the guy and showed him where we were going. It cost a huge tourist rip off amount but we did it anyway. Interesting view of the city, being pulled through the thick of traffic! There was a canopy so we had shade, and there was a lovely breeze. The driver took us right to the gates of the Intrepid.

The Intrepid is a decommissioned air craft carrier that was launched in 1943. The name Intrepid has been used before for naval vessels and this is its fourth incarnation. It’s enormous! There was a display poster there that showed that it is nearly the same length as the Chrysler building is high. It’s pretty freakin long. (see review for more details)

We really enjoyed it but we could have spent a lot more time there but were a bit tired and also we needed to get to the next pier for the Circle Line cruise at 4. In fact, we went over by 3:15 to get our passes scanned and the line ups were hundreds of people thick already. Didn't think they'd all get on the one boat but they did and we got seats up on the main deck outside. The only drawback is getting people’s heads in your photos but you can’t help that.

The cruise is narrated and various buildings and piers are pointed out. By the time we got to the Statue of Liberty, though, the people on the boat all started standing up for photos and blocking the views. Rather than taking a few and sitting back down, a lot of them stayed standing for a while which was annoying because then you had to stand too.

The guide had mentioned that there were lots of good restaurants a few blocks away so we decided to eat before going back to the hotel. We opted for Thai and it was absolutely delicious and it was one of the cheapest meals we had.

It was only about 5 short blocks back to the hotel and we got back about 8 p.m. I guess. In for the night, we were done in. We just can’t keep up the pace!

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