Day 4 – Saturday – An Englishman in New York
Still getting broken sleep but not feeling tired. Woke up this morning and decided we were going to do some touristy stuff this morning. Breakfast was back at Andrews Coffee Shop after yesterday’s dreadful attempt somewhere else. Stepping out of the hotel we were hit by a wave of cold! It was freezing and we were so glad to have hats and gloves as well as our Swedish coats!
The walk to Andrews was quick to keep warm! What we hadn’t bargained on was everyone else trying to escape the cold! This meant we had a queue before we could be seated but at least we were inside and away from the chilling air. I enjoyed the Eggs with bacon but I swapped the home fries for french fries and this improved the dish 100%. The tea is still shocking!
With warm food in our bellies we started our attack for the day. The only decision we really made was to head to the Empire State Building. Luckily this was only a couple of blocks from the hotel so another easy walk. Cold, but easy!
The Empire State Building appears in so many movies and I have always wanted to visit it. The fact it was walking distance from the hotel was a brucie bonus! One of the great things about New York City is that the architecture is Art Deco. The Empire State Building does not disappoint this regard. When you enter the building you go up an escalator and across a walk way, surrounded by Art Deco touches.
There are two viewing platforms however the tallest one is closed until March so we’d only be able to make it to the 86th floor and not all the way up to the 102nd. We felt it was still well worth doing the visit so joined the queue. For an extra $27 per person we could have a VIP Queue jumper pass. We decided we’d save that $54 and queue with the hoi paloi. Although getting in from the street was fast. We ended up joining a big queue to just buy the tickets. They have a VIP greeting area for people with the queue jumper tickets and it was at this point that I regretting not paying that extra $50! Luckily the queue moved quite quickly and within 10-15 minutes we were sent to the automated ticket machine.
Strangely they only had 1 automated machine and 5 tellers. I’d have thought additional some automated machines could have sped up the queue loads. After buying the tickets we then joined ANOTHER queue to get our photo taken against a green background. We moved on from here to get to a final queue and this one was for the lifts! Soon we would be on our way up!
The main lift up had a screen on the ceiling. As the lift rose we watched people building the building. It was like a 3D experience as the video plays as if you are in a lift, which you are! It’s a good idea as it starts people thinking about how the building was completed but also the workers that would have had to have been up there.
We arrived at the summit and you are immediately greeted with a view to die for! Some buildings make you go through a ton of information boards before you get the good stuff, but the Empire State Building gives you a view from the moment you get out of the lift.
I was blown away with the view and I was very glad we did the ESB today – it was clear blue skies as far as the eyes could see. From the 86th floor you get views over 3 of the 4 sides of the skyscraper. You can see the all the other high buildings in Midtown and then across the New York City. I’ve taken some photos of what I could see.
On this floor they have signs up telling visitor more about the construction of the building and its history. One of them really caught my eye. This board explained that the final ‘bit’ of the Empire State Building was to be a docking station for Airships! Can you imagine a time when people would travel around the world on Airships and might request a detour to the Empire State Building! It is hard to imagine this time but during the 1930’s it could have easily become our timeline if Airships hadn’t fallen out of favour after the Hindenburg disaster. Except, as the board explained, the winds at this height could have made the docking and holding of airships extremely risky and dangerous!
What I didn’t know is that this floor had another surprise in store. Not only can you get great views from inside the building but you are also able to head outside and feel the actual wind in your hair. We ventured outside and the first thing that hits you is the extreme cold! Sure, we are visiting in January, but I wasn’t prepared for a coldness that knocked the air out of me. A quick lap of the outdoors area and I went back inside. Not before noting the signs warning in people that the low walls could be a danger to children. Now there are additional metal fences up but it looks like at some point in the past there may have only been a 3 foot wall protecting people from falling off!
Once back inside we started to warm up but as the 102nd floor was closed, there wasn’t much more to do. The gift area was very tacky, I struggled to find my name on the key rings – which is not a surprise, and the last thing they offered was a copy of the photo they took earlier. We declined it as I was looking a state! The staff directed us back to the lift but on the way down there was no video to watch. It wouldn’t take much to put a ‘thanks for visiting’ film for people to watch.
We left via the same way we came in. Although it was an expensive trip I’m really glad I did it and I may go again if I go when the 102nd floor is open.
It was obviously tea time so I had to locate the closest shop that sells tea. Pretty much opposite the ESB is an newly opened Amazon Book Store. A physical shop that sells books. Luckily, they also had a coffee shop attached to it. Free Wifi and tea – a winning combo.
I did have an ulterior motive for getting to a book shop. A friend of mine wanted a first edition copy of the Trump book – Fire and Fury. I wasn’t sure if even Amazon would have this in stock as I know it has been massively popular. I asked one of the Amazon staff and they said they had sold out but I could use the App to check the stock in store. I got my phone out, opened the Amazon app and then they noticed mine was Amazon UK not Amazon US! Doh!
I’d have no way of checking so if I was in the area again I could always come in and check but there was no way for me to know without coming into the store.
The tea in the coffee shop was ok. Still too weak for my liking. They did sell white M&Ms! I have never had these before. I love white chocolate so I just had to try them. The chocolate was too sweet but I think thats an American issue and we are too spoilt in the UK with our milk chocolate.
From the Coffee Shop/Amazon Book store we jumped into a cab and headed to Central Park. Although it was very cold I still wanted to see what is pretty much the only green space in the whole of NYC. Usually I’d walk the 30 minutes that City Mapper was advising but with how bitterly cold the city was getting, I was happy to pay the taxi fare.
We arrived and it was colder than I though! 10 minutes in a warm cab probably made it worse! We got dropped off on the south side and were quickly approached by the Horse Carriage people. I’m sure the horses were fine but it didn’t feel right to make them pull us round the park.
Walking through the park didn’t make us any warm. There were cartoonists/characturists and they seemed to bunch together with 3 or 4 all in a row every couple of hundred yards. Maybe in the summer they are all busy but in this weather, I think I saw 1 artist with a customer out of the 25-30 we passed. None of them were packing up either, perhaps Central Park has a late influx of visitors? Who knows!
Maybe 45 minutes later we admitted defeat and started making our way back to grab a cab. On our way we saw a little hut that looked liked it was closed. As we got closer we saw it was a Le Pain Quotidien. And even closer still we saw people leaving. There was a chance for a hot drink to warm us! Entering we found out it was more a kiosk with no-where to sit. Grabbing hot chocolates I threw a hail mary pass to see if they had any blankets….and they did!
Although we were sat outside, we were warm with our blankets and our hot chocolates. We fed some birds that had congregated round us – they were probably excited by the giant choc-chip cookie I was noshing on. Once the drinks had gone we handed back the blanket and grabbed a cab back to the hotel.
I had dinner reservations this evening at somewhere a little different. The Marriott Marquis hotel has a high-up restaurant but this time its unique in that its the first rotating restaurant I have ever eaten in. It isn’t very far from our hotel however it has only got colder. When we got out of the taxi we headed into the coffee shop attached to the hotel.
Every day there has been a great smell of Chai in the reception of the hotel and this coffee shop has been its source. Only open when the afternoon, it made its own Chai mix which I have on good authority was great! The English Breakfast Tea was probably the best I’ve had in New York so far, although it was still very weak but at least it has some flavour.
To get to the restaurant we got another cab but it being 7.30pm and it being situated near Times Square, it was going to be close to go the 1 mile. We ended up jumping out the cab with about 200 metres to go as the traffic just wasn’t moving. The lift up to the restaurant was futuristic – they had 6-8 lifts in the middle of the building and they all rose up like a tree trunk that was supporting the whole building. To add to the experience they had reserved 2 lifts to take people direct to the restaurant without stopping at any other floors.
Leaving the lift we were on the ‘lounge’ level. Here you could have a ‘buffet’ dinner and you get a great view. We were directed down a set of stairs and then greeted by the reception staff. There was a small wait to be seated but then we had a lovely table for 2 in the revolving restaurant.
The menu was a fixed price but had a few options for starter, main course and dessert. We went for Ravioli and the Kale Salad as starters. Main Courses we had Chicken and a lamb shank (that was massive!). For dessert we had a cheesecake and the ice-cream selection. We were stuffed! Dinner wasn’t the cheapest but it was a great location and with a clear night we had an excellent view that kept changing!
A short taxi took us back to the hotel and it was soon time for a trip to snooze-villa.