Day 2 – Thursday – Waking up in New York
No alarm but strangely awake at 6.45am. However this was now in New York time. So my body clock would have been thinking it was nearly lunchtime. My 3am sleep-time really did help me out! Let’s see how it works as the day goes on.
I was in no rush to actually get out of bed so caught up on a few blog posts I didn’t get the chance to read while I was traveling yesterday and read the news. It turns out Trump is just as big in the news over in America as he is in the UK. Who’da thot it! You could tell it was a working day as street noise could be heard. We are 18 floors up but due to the design of the buildings, car horns manage to make their way upward. Not that they were loud, just that they were there.
About an hour later I started getting restless and wanting to get out of bed. Although it was a holiday I did want to get out and experience New York City. I did have a rumbling belly so I needed some breakfast. The Hotel did offer breakfast for $30 a head per day but I was SURE I could find breakfast near by for less than this. I did get distracted by a tv program that was a mixture of Beadle’s About and Dynamo. It was a magician doing magic tricks to unsuspecting members of the public. At one point he was pretending to be a dentist and told a guy he had a tracking chip lodged in gums! WTF!?!?!!
Anyway….we can’t watch TV all day. A bit of google-fu brought up a place called ‘Andrews Coffee Shop’ within walking distance. Reviews said it was a bit ‘in your face’ and that might be a little too much for out-of-towners. We may have been from out-of-town but nothing could be that bad? It turns out it wasn’t. Except the tea. The Tea was awful.
We had different breakfasts. I went for two fried eggs with turkey bacon. On the menu it explained it came with toast and home fries. The other breakfast was banana and peanut butter pancakes. We both had tea. English Breakfast Tea. How can that be got so wrong?
My breakfast arrived first and looked lovely. It also showed my ignorance on what home fries were. I was expecting some sort of ‘McDonalds-esque’ chip. Or maybe even something smaller like a matchstick french fry. What I received looked like chopped potatoes that had been par-boiled and then lightly sautéed with onions. Some of the potatoes were a little hard and I prefer my sautéed potatoes to be crispy not hard and undercooked!
The Pancakes looked like 3 Victoria sponge cakes put on top of each other. The clearly had big chunks of banana in them and the peanut butter was spread between them like some sort of pancake mortar keeping the stack solid to stop it falling over. It came with 2 pots of syrup and 3 pats of butter. I could feel my arteries getting blocked just looking at it.
The waitress refilled our mugs with hot water so we could enjoy/endure a 2nd cup of dreadful tea. Neither of us finished our breakfasts so when we asked for the bill (or ‘Check’ as they say in the USofA) she asked if everything was ok. We explained we were just stuffed. Total cost for the breakfast was $24.50 inc tax. A bargain against our hotel’s cost of $60 for breakfast (probably plus tax + hotel extras).
After paying we decided to walk to Times Square. The benefit of being in Midtown is that there is loads within walking distance. Times Square has been in loads of movies so I wanted to go there. A short 10 minute walk and there it was. Bright Lights! Everything you think. What was a little strange is exactly how small it actually was. Loads of screens showing adverts but nothing felt iconic. I thought there might be a Coca Cola ad or maybe Pepsi. Or something like that. But no. A few fashion brands and plenty of ads for shows on Broadway.
I have taken an excellent panoramic of all the adverts. If your phone/computer handles them well then check it out below. We also had some photos taken on the steps above the TKTS office. It was early when we got there so they were only offering 40% off Phantom of the Opera tickets. I could have been interested except it was for the Matinee performance at 2pm. A little early for the theatre, for me at least!
Next stop for us was going to be Grand Central Station. Another short walk but a location from the movies that I had to see. The outside of the building is magnificent. I’m so glad it hasn’t been knocked down to replace it with something glass and rubbish – I’m looking at you, London Bridge! Inside Grand Central was quieter than the movies show but at 11am its not going to be full. You can see classic design everywhere you look. The lights, the security grills and even the stairs. Back when people built things to look good, rather than just to cost less.
We needed a replacement Apple Watch charger and there is an Apple store in the station. After purchasing it we did hang around a bit longer to take advantage of the free WiFi! We’d been without data since leaving the hotel so good to download emails and catch-up on whatsapp chats with friends. I did also post a picture of the ceiling of Grand Central Station. Although the station is quite dark in the main ticket hall, the ceiling has an amazing scene of the night’s sky and how the signs of the zodiac travel across it. There were also lights sunk into the picture so actual stars were lit up! A great reason to look up in the station – looking up is a thing I’ve done a lot of today, checking out the buildings.
Talking of which, the buildings in Midtown really are a mixture of classic ‘old’ and boring glass and metal. By 11.40am the station was getting busier so we left to go grab a drink. After the offensive tea for breakfast we thought we’d try the safety of Starbucks for tea. I’m not a huge fan of Starbucks tea but it couldn’t be worse than this morning’s offering. While sat in Starbucks I saw a great example of what is wrong with modern building. There is no need for that brickwork above the windows except it looks good. In contrasts to it there is a glass and metal block in front of it. What designer thought ‘that looks good and will complement the surrounding blocks?’ It’s such a shame that people stopped putting design in their architects brief and everything became about cost.
From Starbucks we headed back to the hotel for some respite. It seemed like a good time to break away from the hustle and bustle. A short walk saw us back at the the hotel and a quick freshen up we were out again. There is a Macys near the hotel so we thought we’d do some shopping. What we hadn’t bargained for was exactly how big this shop would be. It turns out this is the largest shop in the world (CITATION NEEDED!). Choice fatigue kicked in as we went from floor to floor until we were completely overwhelmed! It was getting to be 5pm so we left Macy’s to escape having to make a decision on what to buy!
We swung by a juice-bar to try and get some fruit into us. They had a great selection of suggestions of drinks however I’ve never been one for following the crowd so asked if they could make something to my own order. A company I used to work for had a juice bar in its canteen and made a juice drink of Apple, Orange Carrot & lemon, that was amazing! I fancied something like that so asked them to make me that, but with some added pineapple juice.
After this we decided to find a pretzel. At it was after 5pm the streets were now much busier. Struggling with the crowded streets we wanted to find somewhere quickly. A sign on the street was promoting $1 pizza. How could we say no? Well it turned out that it wasn’t a pizza for $1 but a slice for $1. And it wasn’t all pizza toppings, it was only the classic margarita that was $1. But still, what a bargain. Two massive slices of pizza for $2.75 inc tax! This had to be the bargain of the trip, well, after the flight!
Seeing as there hasn’t been great tea offerings so far, we followed the pizza with another Starbucks order and took that back to the hotel to enjoy in their lounge. Here we chilled out before grabbed dinner. As we arrived the hotel reception reminded us that they had Jazz booked for this evening. Tiredness was hitting both of us so we headed back to the room with the plan to get back downstairs for the Jazz in an hour.
We didn’t quite make the first hour of the Jazz but after waking up, we headed down to the lounge. Dinner was going to be at the restaurant attached to the Hotel. The band were playing so I felt bad going into the restaurant. The waitress advised it would be 5 minutes for a table to be free so we could wait back in the lounge. Excellent!
We took a seat in front of the band and listened to those cool tunes. The waitress reappeared saying our table was free but we didn’t want to leave the music. The restaurant was packed AND loud so when she advised that we could eat in the lounge! Double Excellent!
Although the reception told us the music would be 7-9pm, the band ended their set saying they would be doing another hour from 9-10pm, which is when our meal would be coming. More Jazz while eating. I got chatting to the band while they were taking their break. One of the band was actually from the UK! Small world but I suppose Jazz does travel well.
The band took to their instruments again and soon after the food arrived – a fried chicken burger with chips and a Caesar Salad with a salmon fillet. The burger was lovely and came with it a massive portion of chips. The Caesar Salad was comically large. It was also drowned in Parmesan, included a ton of croutons and was smothered in Caesar dressing. We probably could have shared just the salad, it was that large.
I ordered a tea for after dinner and it wasn’t too bad. Better than the morning offering but still not great. The band finished at 10pm and I had another chat with them. They will be back next Thursday if you are in NYC and want some great Jazz/Swing to enjoy, head to Executive Le Soleil, 38 W 36th Street for a treat!
Back up to the room and again it didn’t take long to reach the land of the Zzzzz. Day 2 in New York City done!