Manhatten, Central Park, 5th Avenue, Times Square and Broadway

We woke up really late today (1130) although on West Coast time its only 8.30 we have gained 3 hours in our flight across the States. My first thought is my lost rucksack but although I’m so upset about it we decide we can’t waste our very last day of our trip and set off from Queens where we are staying towards the Staten Island Ferry. This is a great thing to do whilst in New York as it’s free and gives the best views of the Manhattan Skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

We get on the ferry which is a round trip of about an hour and sit back and admire the view. It’s a bit hazy today but very warm and we get a spot right on the front of the ferry. It’s a bit strange looking at the famous Manhattan buildings, our most vivid memories are of course from Sept 11th 2001 and like everyone we will never forget the sight of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre blazing with fire. We chat to some New Yorkers standing around us but while the consensus seems to be that something is being built at the Ground Zero site no one seems too sure of any details.

We pass the Statue of Liberty, it isn’t as big as I thought it would be but very good to see and the kids enjoyed seeing something they instantly recognised from films.

From there we walk through Central Park towards 5th Avenue. The park is lovely, loads of people cycling, roller blading, jogging and just chilling out on the grass and we amble along peacefully. I could have spent ages there but the pull of Bloomingdales is too much and I chivvy everyone along! It’s very busy along here with loads of street sellers and stacks of shoppers with huge bags full of stuff. I like looking at all the women, they are very chic and smartly dressed and it’s only the thought of a little spending spree that keeps me going in my scruffy well worn clothes.

I want to buy a pair of boots and a handbag but when the most beautiful pair of calf length, softest black leather, pointy toed stiletto boots get my attention I’m just smitten. I can’t say how much they were because I’m too embarrassed as I probably should have bought some other more practical things. (Especially as I have precisely one set of underwear, one coat, one pair of trousers, one t-shirt and one second hand jumper to my name) but I leave happy with the gorgeous boots, some Clarins magic skin cream and a red MAC lippy. The lovely yellow leather Chanel handbag I also liked will have to wait!

We have a good chat with the dragon ladies of Clarins who do absolutely everything in their power to extract every last dollar from us and they recommend a good, cheapish, restaurant just around the corner. After recommending I need god knows what to improve my “wrinkled, sun damaged, greasy, dry, spotty skin.” I took no notice though and they eventually gave up, it made me laugh though, wow what a hard sell! If we hadn’t just bought the boots I probably would have ended up with $600 dollars worth of stuff from them!

We have a lovely dinner in the most amazing little restaurant they suggested. Called Cinema – there are lots of pictures of famous old Hollywood stars and reruns of Charlie Chaplin footage being shown on the projector on the wall. I have salmon with mashed potatoes and asparagus and Simon and Ali have steaks whilst Maisie chooses nachos. We have a little toast to ourselves and to our trip, we agree it’s been an awesome experience to share and I’m pleased when the kids say how much they have enjoyed it.

We walk from there to Broadway and Times Square, it’s so busy just teeming with people and after looking at the lights by 9pm we’re all ready to go back to the Crown Plaza Hotel. It’s a really lovely place and a great bargain. We have used our final Priority Points and have a suite on the executive floor for two nights for a grand total of $37.

Getting back turns out to be a night mare, we catch the dreaded subway to an area called Jamaica but when we reach the street level I’m not happy at all. Although New York is supposed to be quite safe it doesn’t feel safe here with no signs of taxis and lots of scary looking people milling around. After a lot of running around and a few panicky moments we eventually make our way back to the air train area where some fella herds us into his (unlicensed) cab. We have read not to use these (Only yellow cabs) but by now its 1030 and we’re desperate and feeling more than a bit apprehensive about being out and about loaded down with shopping bags in a clearly dodgy area.

When we see the Crown Plaza I’m so relieved and back at the hotel its cheers all round, when we phone JFK they have located my rucksack. Simon goes off to get it and we sit in bed having a beer and mulling over our exciting and interesting last day in the city that never sleeps.

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