NYC

L is for Liberty

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MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

When you think of New York then images from the big screen automatically spring to mind.

The Manhattan skyline, the flurry of yellow cabs, Rockefeller Plaza and of course Lady Liberty overlooking the spectacular city, or the Statue of Liberty as she is most commonly known as.

The statue’s full name is Liberty Enlightening The World and she was given to the Americans as a gift from their French neighbours in 1886.IMG_5149

She’s had more film credits than Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep combined, and she still attracts millions of visitors every year.

She was certainly right up there on my wish list of places to visit whilst in New York.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty as she defines New York City to me.

When you’ve grown up watching a lot of movies and television shows as I had, I used to dream of the day that I would get to strut around NYC and say hello to her. Who can forget how she came to life in Ghostbusters 2, she opened up the credits on New Jack City and was featured in Sex and the City several times over the series.

Oh Lady Liberty how I adore thee!

My dream of strutting around NYC faded when I had children quite young. My friends were going on holidays abroad and travelling when I was stuck at home raising a baby. For many years we could barely pay the rent and bills. Luxury for us was being able to dine out once a month. Holidays were certainly not on the agenda for many years.

The whole flying thing became a real issue too so I didn’t ever believe that I would see the Statue of Liberty, unless someone could drug me like BA Barracus in the A Team and get me on a plane that way.

So last year when the dream became a reality and those flights to New York were booked I felt like a child on Christmas Eve.

You can imagine how emotional I became walking from the subway at Battery Park station for the first time and seeing Liberty in the distance.

It felt like I was in slow motion. Husband and son walked ahead and I just stood in the middle of the crowds exiting the subway exits, staring into the distance with my eyes transfixed on this robed lady holding up her torch.

“She’s there, right in front of your eyes Sarah” I heard my inner voice tell me. I do believe there was a tear, and a quivering lip as I stared at her. Beautiful!

My dream like state was quickly interrupted by son dragging my hand and telling me he wanted a hot dog. Thats’ kids for you, they sure can spoil a moment.

I’ve had a lot of moments like that in the past ten years. You’ll read about the flying thing a lot because it really has been the biggest fear in my life that I’ve had to overcome. And, because of that being a factor for so long, well there are a lot of places that I want to visit before I am old and senile.

If you’d read my entry for E, the Empire State Building blog you would read how we were kind of duped into buying tickets for the Empire State Building which also included a boat trip to Liberty Island. I asked the vendor really clearly, “Can we get off the boat to walk around the statue?” He was adamant that yes we could.

Of course he’ll say that, he was on commission for the family tickets we were about to purchase. It was the day after when we took the boat ride, and that boat was stopping for nobody. The journey was “quick get the camera, quick get the iPad, quick the camcorder, quick the iPhone”.

That was probably my only regret from the trip. I wish we would have paid separately and got one of the boats that did stop as it felt a little rushed sailing past it.

But never mind, the lady will still be there when I visit again someday.

Next time I’ll stop by and say hello properly to her.IMG_5150

K is for Kids

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MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

Only one of my “kids” came to New York with husband and I last summer. The elder of my boys accompanied his grandfather to Ohio for a couple of weeks before meeting up with us for a family week in Vancouver, which was our third and final week away.

As parents we both agree that it’s very important that our children experience as many things that are offered to them as possible.

My eldest son was eight when he first went away with his grandfather to Ireland for five weeks. Then two years later he went to the USA with grandfather for four weeks. It was an awful time for me as I missed him so much, but that certainly wasn’t grounds to not let him go.

Some people don’t understand why I would let my youngish children spent such long periods away from home to go on holidays. I think a bit of it was implying that I was a bad parent for doing it, as I know of some parents who don’t even like their children going away with school for a weekend.

Of I only feel rest when my two boys are in their beds at home, but I love my children and I want them to experience everything they can, even if it means that I miss them dearly for periods of time.

They of course won’t appreciate all of the trips that they have been on already until they are older.

In New York I made sure that my youngest son did lots of different things, so that when he looks back in years to come, hopefully he will be glad he did them.

Things like dancing on the ‘Big’ piano in FAO Schwarz, cycling and horse drawn carriage transportation around Central Park, seeing the stone lions outside the New York Public Library (once we got home and watched Ghostbusters he understood why I made a big deal out of that), watching a baseball game, singing in Times Square, seeing the T-Rex in the Natural History Museum and then watching Night at the Museum when we got home and visiting the 9/11 Memorial Site at the World Trade Center.

Both my boys have been on many holidays and experienced a variety of cultures in their young lives. We’re not rich parents, we don’t have a fancy house, we have no savings but  we both agree that holidays are more important than having a pristine house, fancy cars or a conservatory like some people.

We’ve got plenty of time when the kids are older to spend a fortune on the house. As far as I’m concerned they are only young once and I would rather them have a culturally rich life and look back with fondness on the adventures that their mum and dad took them on, rather than how expensive the wallpaper in the lounge was, or the wooden floor being changed every couple of years.

Travelling was something that came late in life to me. I say late, I was thirty-three when I went on my British Airways fear flight.

Followers of my blog will know that I had a crippling phobia of flying for many years.

The best thing I ever did was investing money into a fear of flying course and a course of hypnotherapy sessions.

Life is certainly enhanced by travelling. The best times of my life are when I am learning about a new country, language or different customs.

With a trip to Egypt coming up later in the year, I hope to visit Sri Lanka, Thailand and maybe Australia one day.

I hope my kids continue to explore this beautiful earth that we live in when they are all grown up with families of their own.

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J is for Jet Lag

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MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

Although I am blogging about my adventures in New York for this April challenge, this wasn’t the only place that I visited in the summer of 2013.

Connecticut, Boston, Toronto and Vancouver were also on the list of destinations that we would visit.

Sightseeing and meeting members of the family that I had never encountered before meant that it really was a three week adventure, rather than a holiday.

We used the transportation of cars and planes to carry out  our schedule. We flew from Boston to Toronto, Toronto to Vancouver and flew home from Vancouver which was an even longer flight than our Manchester to New York outbound flight.

With all of that flying, and all of the different time zones it was inevitable that jet lag would kick in at some point.

Now I had never experienced jet lag before, given that my previous flights were all around Europe and I think the longest flight I had taken was three hours.

Jet lag hit me like a baseball bat when I flew back to Manchester from Vancouver.

Thank goodness the next day was a Bank Holiday Monday as I felt absolutely dreadful. I felt like all of the energy had been drained out of me and the simplest task such as making a cup of tea felt like a real physical effort.

I couldn’t eat and remember my speech being affected too. It was the most peculiar thing. The energy drain only lasted 24 hours. This was followed by waking up in the middle of the night and being fully awake. In contrast to the afternoon when I could have quite easily fallen asleep at my desk.

At work I had our exam reassessment board a couple of days later and thinking I wouldn’t be able to get through it as I felt so exhausted.

Luckily the jet lag seemed to go after a few weeks. A small price to pay for having had the adventure of a lifetime.

I is for Imagine

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MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

Most people remember what they were doing when key historical events take place.

I was six years old when John Lennon was shot dead outside his apartment in New York City on December 8, 1980. I can recall that day as clearly as if it happened yesterday.

My elder sister and I had been picked up from school on December 8, which was unusual as we normally walked the short distance back to our house in Garstang.

My sister and I loved The Beatles. Our parents were both The Beatles fans so we grew up in a house which played The Beatles a lot. We were even allowed to borrow my dad’s vinyl’s, which was a big deal back then.

Big sister and I used to argue over which one of us would marry John Lennon. Typical middle child that I am, I was always willing to compromise and take Paul McCartney if I must. But we both idolised John Lennon.

That day, after school my mum took us to a shop in Garstang called Carrs which was a confectioners situated on the high street. Mum bought both of us an ice cream and as we sat in the back of her car she told us that John Lennon was dead.

My sister started crying. I was shocked, carried on eating the cone and couldn’t really understand what I was being told. I remember asking my mum whether this meant that The Beatles would never make any new songs?

Fast forward thirty-three years and I find myself standing by the John Lennon memorial inside Central Park, New York City.

The memorial is at the edge of the park next to the entrance which Lennon’s apartment, the Dakota Building overlooks. To get to the memorial the public have to walk through a green area called Strawberry Fields and then the memorial is ahead.

On the day that I visited this there was a man singing lots of old Beatles songs which just added to the atmosphere of the park. I told the tale to my son of how I found out about John Lennon dying and then we walked over to the Dakota Building.

It was a surreal moment, who’d have thought that six-year old Sarah sitting in her mum’s Vauxhall Viva eating mint choc-chip ice-cream would end up standing outside the legend’s home in the Big Apple.

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G is for Greenwich Village in the A-Z Blogging Challenge

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MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

One way to sit back and relax during a visit to NYC is to visit Greenwich Village. The Village  is a largely residential neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan  and  a large majority of the district is home to upper middle class families.

This was on my list of places to visit for two reasons, well two very popular television shows which I’m a fan of – Friends and Sex and the City.

Naively we asked some of the locals where Central Perk was located to have our dreams crushed when we were informed that the show was actually filmed in Los Angeles and only the outdoor images were shot in New York. Gutted.

We were reliably informed that the building in the exterior shot of Rachael, Monica, Chandler and Joey’s apartment building is at the corner of Grove and Bedford Streets in the West Village. To be honest the buidings in this area all looked alike.

We then went on the hunt for Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment in Sex and the City.

One of my friends who lived in NYC gave me the actual address of where I could find the front of her apartment, so the maps came out and off we went looking.IMG_4897

It was during this hunt that we realised at times how childish we were as we couldn’t wait to show our son the street sign for Gay Street – I know I know pathetic and childish. But we were also equally amused by a sign which stated “No unnecessary noise” which really tickled us. I mean really, do people need to be told that? I guess so.IMG_4895

Whilst in Greenwich Village we had lunch at an Italian restaurant. A bit on the pricey side but  I experienced a delicious tomato gnocchi and Italian bread.

At this point in our adventure we were on day four in NYC and my son’s legs were being worn to the bone. We had walked A LOT every day, and at this point was the only time in the three weeks that we were away that he moaned a little. We managed to reward him with cupcakes and painkillers (always a winning bribe).

From being a massive fan of Sex and the City from season one onwards, I was delighted to reach the steps of 66 Perry Street which was the home to the delightful Carrie Bradshaw for all of those years.

Actually I was always a Miranda fan, couldn’t stand Carrie but I still took great delight in being photographed on the steps to her apartment. Visions of Mr Big pulling up in his limo, autumn leaves and the excitement of this beautiful city took me away briefly from my British life three and a half thousand miles away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outside Carrie's apartmentIMG_4899

F is for FAO Schwarz & Flatiron

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MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

FAO Schwarz is probably the best toy store that I have ever set foot in. In fact so much so that I do believe that we ended up going in there three times whilst we visited the Big Apple last summer.IMG_4752

My son who was twelve at the time thought he had died and gone to toy heaven when we walked through those doors. We made sure that he scaled every nook and cranny and saw every toy that was on offer in there.

For me, I just wanted to dance on the Big piano. For any of you who are not familiar with the movie Big starring Tom Hanks, well that film is set around FAO Schwarz and there is a scene where Tom Hanks plays the piano by jumping from key to key.

Even though my son hadn’t seen Big, I told him that he had to join in with me in jumping onto the keys and when we got back home to Manchester I would ensure that he saw the movie. Which he did, and think he was pretty pleased that he’d done that.

No trip to NYC with kids could go without a few hours spent in this fantastic toy shop. We had a blast trying on the various masks, and taking silly photographs with giants lego pieces.

The other F for this blog post is for the Flatiron Building. It’s the most extraordinary building to view as it is very tall, but also really thin. It looks quite odd in fact.

The first time we viewed it was from the Empire State Building, so we decided to visit it properly at a later date where we could take a couple of photographs. Mainly the geeks in us knew it from the Spider man films, but anyway it was worth a snap.

 

 

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E is for Empire State Building

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MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

One of the most famous images in the New York City skyline is that of the Empire State Building and of course I wasn’t going to visit the great city without a trip up to the top of the building to view the spectacular views.IMG_5015

The state of New York is nicknamed the “Empire State” which is where the building got its name from.

One thing to note when you stand out like a tourist in the area of the building which sits between 350 Fifth Avenue, between 33rd and 34th Streets, is firstly don’t stand out like a tourist.

We did and ended up buying tickets from a vendor who promised us an avoid the crowds ticket, plus and this is the main thing, a trip to the Statue of Liberty. We snapped these up as we were still to do the boat trip to Liberty Island. Our nice young vendor informed us that the boat would stop and allow us to walk around Lady Liberty ( no it didn’t – it drove straight past it) – Oh darn!

We did however get a fast pass entrance to the lifts and scaled the eighty floors up to the viewing platform.

I could have stayed there all afternoon as the views from the platform were immense. It literally took my breath away as having a great view of all of the buildings in the same visual picture.

The building has played a part in  so many famous films. Not only does it feature greatly in King Kong, Sleepless in Seattle and Elf but also in The Amazing Spiderman, Shaft, Friends with Benefits and Percy Jackson to name but a few.

 

 

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D is for Diners

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MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z

The back street diners in New York are the absolute dogs. In British terms that means that they are very delightful, the food is plentiful with very generous portions and they don’t dig into the spending money too much.

During our five days in NYC we dined out for breakfast and lunch at typical New York diners.

Our first morning in the Big Apple we arose at 4am, showered and headed out for breakfast at 6am.

The City that never sleeps, does indeed never sleep and our first diner was Café Edison which was close to our hotel at the back of Times Square.

Firstly, the first thing you should know about diners in New York City is that coffee is unlimited. UNLIMITED. Not only that but when you get to the final dregs of a cup, the waiting on staff come round with the coffee jug and give you refills without you having to ask for it. I had died and gone to coffee heaven.

Secondly, when you ask for pancakes and bacon for breakfast. You get pancakes fit for a King and plenty of them.

I’m not saying that the other American cities that we visited didn’t have the same portions or amazing food, but New York was our first leg of a trip which took us to Connecticut, Boston, Toronto, Seattle and Vancouver so everything after this we compared to NYC.

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