A Travellerspoint blog

Day 24 - 26

6 - 8 September - New York to Melbourne

There had been talk of bad weather with the remnants of a hurricane reaching New York. We woke to warm and overcast conditions but it wasn't wet. We had breakfast locally and then returned to our rooms to pack up and check out. We left our bags with the bell hop and set out on foot for Grand Central one last time. Our plan today was to ride the subway uptown to The Bronx and then back the other way to Brooklyn to get some more glimpses of New York beyond Manhattan Island.

We caught the 6 train uptown as far as Parkchester. We hopped off, descended from the overhead rail platform and set off looking for a place for a coffee. Once refreshed we returned and caught the 6 train downtown, changed at Bleeker St for the B train and rode it into Brooklyn as far as Atlantic Ave/Barclay Centre station. We struggled to find a place for lunch and eventually settled on a Shake Shack.

After lunch we returned to the station and caught a 4 train directly to Grand Central. One of my photos shows the in train display used in New York. We would benefit from adopting this technology in Melbourne. We walked back to the hotel and found that our ride to the airport was ready so off we went. It took an hour to get to JFK Airport through the Tuesday afternoon traffic. And yes, it finally started raining. We had allowed ourselves plenty of time so there was no panic.

The Qantas QF12 flight eventually left an hour late but they made up the time and we actually arrived in LA a few minutes early. The flight took just under 5 hours. We arrived at and departed from the Tom Bradley terminal so the transit was quick & easy. The 14 hour 45 minute flight on the A380 through to Melbourne was smooth and uneventful. It departed LA at 11 pm local time which was 2 am New York time, so yes we were tired before it even took off. We stayed awake for the meal they served shortly after take off and then slept for as long as we could.

The landing in Melbourne was perfect, as smooth as it could be. We cleared immigration and quarantine and indeed the airport in just over an hour. It took around the same time to get home across town in the morning peak. That's all for this trip. With a bit of luck there will be a blog version 6 in 2018 in Europe. If you haven't seen the earlier ones they are all still online on www.travellerspoint.com if you search for IanDarleneUK.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 21:47 Comments (0)

Day 23

5 September - New York

We returned to the local Italian restaurant for breakfast. We ate there on our first morning here. After breakfast we continued researching a Tenpin Bowling Pro Shop where Lance could get some new equipment. We found a place but needed to wait till 2pm to confirm they were open today, the Labour Day Holiday over here. The weather was again kind with a forecast in the mid to high 20s.

Karol wanted some quality shopping time at Macys. So I gave her some instructions and off she went. We took a different path and decided to explore a little in the SoHo district in Lower Manhattan. We walked south along Broadway looking at the shops. Some we had already visited at the Factory Outlet Mall a few days ago. Some products were the same price as the Mall.

We took a left turn into Chinatown and left our comfort zone also. Sellers on the street seem to think they have the right to come up to you and demand you look at and buy their products. We took the nearest subway back to Grand Central. We had seen enough. We had a bite to eat in the food hall on the lower level and got ourselves a map of the subway system. With that we saw we could use two trains to get to one of the bowling pro shops. Unfortunately I parted company with my Norway hat there. Left it on the seat where we ate. Might have to go back and get another one...

We called at 2pm and Lance was informed that the shop was open. So we took the 7 line to Queensboro and then changed to the N line to Astoria and got off at the end of the line. Astoria is in Queens. We found it to be a fairly affluent area with some very large homes and a lot of expensive cars. It looked like a 1.5 km walk so off we went. It turned out to be nearly double that. Along the way I acquired a new hat and a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (at a bargain price) for later. When we finally arrived we found that the pro shop was closed. D'oh! We caught a cab back to the station then two trains and a walk and we were back at the hotel.

We ate at a pasta place over the road and later played cards in Lance & Karol's suite. Tomorrow we leave New York to return home. There will be a final blog entry but not till we get home. We check out late morning but our flight is not till 6.10 pm. We have a large SUV booked for 3 pm to get us to the airport. Ahead of that we plan to ride the subway and check out The Bronx to the north and Brooklyn to the south east.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 03:29 Comments (0)

Day 22

4 September - New York

I walked to a local shop and brought some breakfast back to the room today. It's Sunday and we took our time. The weather was on our side and it was in the mid 20s and very pleasant. We headed out late morning and walked to Grand Central Station. We caught line 6 uptown two stops and then attempted to catch another line one stop west to a station adjacent to Central Park. That's where we first went wrong. The signage wasn't good and we were not sure which train to catch, and yes, we caught a train going east. We quickly realised the error and hopped off at the next station which was elevated quite a way. We saw a train coming back the other way and watched it, expecting it to come to where we were standing. Nope. It went under us. By the time we realised we needed to go down one level to catch a train in the other direction it was too late. So we waited for the next one. It came along and figured it would take us back that one stop and then the one stop extra we wanted to go to. Nope. It was a different line sharing that station and took us back to Grand Central. Oops.

Second time around it went to plan and we went two stops north and one stop west and ascended to ground level adjacent to Central Park. We took a very pleasant 45 minute tour with Roger and were pointed out various points of interest and taken to places for photo opportunities. We saw the Dakota Building that John Lennon was assassinated in front of. It is opposite the west side of the park. We saw a lake you can hire row boats on. We saw a lake where you can hire radio controlled sail boats and compete on. We saw patches of exposed bedrock that they use to build the skyscrapers on in Manhattan, and much more.

We had lunch at a nearby food hall and then caught a train to Times Square and had a little look around. even in the daytime it is lit up with screens everywhere you look around and above you. The images are super high definition and some of the screens are huge. It was so crowded that it was difficult to walk around. We went to a nearby tenpin bowling centre to check out the pro shop but they didn't have one. It was more like a really large Strike, set up for partying rather than competition We'll try again elsewhere tomorrow.

We walked about eight blocks down to a large department store and did some shopping till a bit after 6 pm. Halloween costumes are already in store. We caught a train rather than walk back to Times Square, and had a light meal at the Hard Rock Cafe. None of us were really hungry. We caught the shuttle from Times Square back to Grand Central and walked back to the hotel.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 04:08 Comments (0)

Day 21

3 September - New York

We set off at 7.30 am on this Saturday morning for Grand Central Station. Downstairs we had a quick breakfast in the food hall. We then boarded the shuttle service between Grand Central and Times Square. Train line 7 or the shuttle would have done but we found the shuttle first. We didn't actually go into Times Square, but we'll visit there soon. We instead walked along 42nd Street to the Port Authority Building where we had to catch our bus to the Woodbury Factory Outlet Mall in New Jersey, a bit over an hour north of New York by road.

We booked online and our Hotel Concierge had printed our voucher for us. We followed the instructions on it and went to the fourth floor to collect our tickets. We were rudely told by a "lady" there we needed tickets not a voucher. This was the bus departure point and we would not be on it without tickets which we had to collect from the first floor. As we went from ticket office to ticket office, yes we encountered three or four of them, we met up with other travellers and even a local lady stuck in the same situation.

The voucher clearly said it was valid only for the departure at 9 am and the return trip at 4.45 pm. It was two minutes to 9 by the time we found the right ticket office and the line went out the door of the office with 20+ people ahead of us. It was looking grim for a while but we felt we had done nothing wrong and collectively we argued our case to be issued tickets for the next bus. Ultimately we were successful and as it turned out it was Grayline Coaches that were the bad guys here and they were the agents. The actual company that ran the buses was far more easy going and understanding.

So off we went and had a busy day shopping. There was a lot of people there. Some stores you had to line up to get into. Many items are much cheaper than back home and judging by the crowd, they were much cheaper than anywhere else nearby too. Finding a table in the food hall for lunch involved finding some people who were nearly finished eating and waiting for them to move on. Crazy.

We arrived at the departure point for the return bus at 4.30 pm and waited for over an hour for a bus to arrive. We were at the front of the line having just missed an earlier bus. By the time we boarded the line was over 100 metres long. It was going to take a lot of buses to clear that. We bought a new suitcase whilst we were there and were able to fit most of our purchases into that. Late afternoon was clearly a popular departure time, even though the mall was open till 9 pm. It took the bus 30 minutes to get out of the car park.

We finally got back to our hotel just before 8 pm. Simone called and wished me a happy Father's Day and sent me a picture of her engagement ring. With the 14 hour time difference it was still Saturday night here. We went out for a late evening meal and not long after we got back Bronwyn also called and wished me a happy Father's Day.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 04:26 Comments (0)

Day 20

2 September - New York


We started our day with breakfast at a diner around the corner on Lexington. The weather forecast was fine and mostly sunny with temperatures in the high 20s. Nice. After breakfast we spent a bit more time than we would have liked arranging bus transportation to the Woodbury factory outlet mall north of New York for tomorrow. It's over an hour by road and the transport is not cheap. Standard cost is around US$42 per person, we found an online deal for US$30 so we grabbed it.

Once we had that sorted, we set out for Grand Central Station on foot. It's a short walk, around 300 metres or so. We are in an area of Manhattan called Midtown on the East side and it is very convenient. I would recommend this hotel (The Court) and the location to any future travellers. We had to ask a few times to find where the train we wanted departed from. There are signs around but you have to know which ones are relevant to you. In this case we wanted line 4 or 5 Downtown (heading south is Downtown, heading north us Uptown). We rode that to Bowling green and then had a short walk to the Staten Island Ferry. We caught the midday service.

The ferry is free and you get great views of the Manhattan, New Jersey and Brooklyn/Queens skyline. You also sail right past the Statue of Liberty. The trip takes just under 30 minutes and runs 24 x 7 departing on the hour and half hour from each side. It is a popular trip and it was crowded. I grabbed all the photos I wanted on the way over. We were among the last to disembark and were not quick enough to get on the other ferry about to head back so we had a bite to eat on the island and caught the 1 pm service back.

From there we caught the 1 line service to 50th St West where we had a short walk to the Rockerfeller Centre where they have the lookout called Top of The Rock. The line was mercifully short and within around 15 minutes, which included the obligatory security check we were in an elevator on our way to the 87th floor. The elevator has a glass ceiling and you are encouraged to look up in the shaft as you ascend and watch the blue lights pass you by. The weather was fine and the air was pretty clear so the views were really good. You start on level 87 but you can go up two further levels for even better views. There were quite a lot of people up there but it wasn't overcrowded. There was a bit of a line to come back down, around the same wait.

We caught two trains to get back to Grand Central then returned to the hotel for a short break and to get changed for dinner with Michael & Marcia, friends of ours we met in New Orleans in December. It was a lovely Italian Restaurant but it was in a small street with construction going on and the street sign had been removed which made it hard for us to locate the restaurant. I accidentally left my phone in our room so no Google Maps to help us. We eventually found it but were 15 minutes late.

We had a very pleasant evening with great company and food. We invited Michael & Marcia to visit us in Australia. Hopefully they will. Around 10.30 the restaurant staff gave us the hint they wanted to close so we headed out and said our goodbyes. Michael, it's our shout next time. The walk back to the subway and the short train ride and the walk back to the hotel were uneventful. It felt safe to be out walking late.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 03:52 Comments (0)

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