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New York / New Jersey

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Rounded Rectangle: 2012
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Our last trip for 2013 was a visit to our son, Brian, and his girlfriend, Alexa, in New York and then across into New Jersey, where we were invited to spend Thanksgiving with Alexa’s family.

As you can imagine, the motorhome had to stay at home.  We flew with BA from London Heathrow and decided, as we are pensioners, to pay a little extra for comfort and travel World Traveller Plus. The extra cost was well worth it with plenty of leg room (even for George) and very good service.

A yellow cab ride from JFK took us to our accommodation in East Village in Manhattan.

It was interesting to note that since our last visit to New York most of the huge, gas guzzling Yellow Cabs had been replaced with Mazda or Toyota versions. The drive was still the same crazy style !

We had been recommended to use AirBnB for accommodation rather than pay he very high New York hotel rates. (Currently starting at around $250 per night).

AirBnb is an online service which puts people who wish to rent out their apartment (or room) in touch with people who would like to rent them.  The online service is very good and you are kept well informed all the time.  However, we were a bit disappointed with our accommodation. It was clean and everything was as described but it was all a bit tired and needed a DIY man for a couple of days to put things right (like the bathroom basin waste did not work, taps were loose on the sink) and a little more attention to small things (like there were only two heavy coffee mugs one of which was dark brown colour and you could not tell whether it was clean or not). The biggest problem was the fierce competition between the icy draught blowing in around the aircon unit, which was mounted in a partly opened window and the very noisy gas heating which had to switch itself on all through the night to try to maintain temperature.  Still, we did save money and the bed was comfy enough!

In hindsight, AirBnb would be good for youngsters but not so good for fussy oldies!

New York, as always, is a bustling city with friendly people. We had visited New York before and done all the tourist sites so we spent a lot of time walking, shopping and eating!

We met up with Brian and Alexa in the evenings and tried out some different restaurants. One restaurant of interest was Eataly near the Flatiron Building. A very extensive Italian shop which sold all types of traditional Italian food in various departments e.g. cheeses,  meats,  breads, desserts,  etc. etc. Mingled in with the shopping floors were areas where you could eat.  Interesting food, good people watching and a lovely atmosphere.

Eataly New York, Eataly NYC, Eataly

  On the Saturday, Alexa’s parents came into the city and we met up.  They are lovely people and we enjoyed their company.

We had now moved from the AirBnB apartment to the Park Central Hotel on 7th Avenue.  Nice hotel, good location but lousy customer service. There were only a few people waiting to check in when we arrived. Behind the Reception Desk were 7 staff tapping into PCs. We waited and waited and it turned out that only two of these people were attending to customers and they were slow. The other five were just tapping on keyboards—what were they doing on the Reception Desk — Arrrgh!  The rest of the customer service was the same standard!


On the Saturday afternoon John and Maryann, Alexa’s parents, decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a winter day and a cold wind blowing from the North but it was a really enjoyable walk.

The walkway across the Brooklyn Bridge is in the centre and above the roadways on either side. A bit noisy from the traffic but terrific views.

(above) looking back at Manhattan

The ironwork of the bridge was festooned with padlocks of every kind (see detail, left). It appears that lovers write their names on the padlocks and then attach them to the bridge. There must have been thousands upon thousands of padlocks!

The bridge itself is an amazing piece of iron work with a complex lattice of cables suspending the decks.


(below) see lattice work and Brooklyn beyond.


After a chilly walk John and Maryann treated us all to a pizza in a small restaurant underneath the bridge on the Brooklyn side.

Walking back we were amazed by a spectacular  sunset with the Manhattan skyline silhouetted. Unfortunately, my phone camera would not capture the spectacle.

On Saturday evening we all got together for a lovely Italian meal just around the corner from our hotel.

Sunday morning and it was time to leave the city and head out west into New Jersey. In a way, we were glad to be leaving. The New York city life is a bit manic for us!

We took a shuttle bus to Newark Airport to pick up a rental car.   Here we were ripped off! We had already checked out prices on-line but had not booked as we were reluctant to disclose credit card details on an open network. We had identified Budget Car Rental as a suitable provider and expected the cost to be around $380.  When we arrived as ‘walk in’ customers we were quoted over $1,000 for the same rental!  We declined and moved on to the adjacent Dollar Car Rental desk.  Here we were told that they had no ‘Compact’ cars but could ‘do us a deal’ on a ‘Midsize’ car. The cost $600. Bigger car, less money but we still felt that we were being ripped off as walk in customers. When we went out to the parking lot, guess what, they had several ‘Compact’ cars in the lot. Ripped off indeed!

Word of advice:  book on-line and insist on the car you reserved!   We should know better at our age but we fell for the same old tricks!

On the 4th floor was a lively bar, again a good atmosphere and an ideal place for a few drinks before dinner!

On the Friday evening we travelled Uptown to meet up with Brian and Alexa and some of their friends at a restaurant called The District. This was a lively restaurant, excellent food and friendly atmosphere.

After dinner we went back to their apartment for chocolate brownies and ice cream.  Alexa makes a pretty mean brownie!  Their apartment is very small but cosy and we enjoyed the evening.

Upon the recommendation of Brian and Alexa we walked New York’s High Line. This is an old railway line which has been converted into a pleasant linear park.

The park is owned by New York City council but much of the funding for development comes from donations.

The railway was built in 1930s to take box cars, which were delivering and collecting  goods from the Hudson River piers, away from the city streets.  It was operational for about 30 + years until lorries replaced rail box cars.

Here are some photos from the website of then and our photos of now.

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