The answer to those ‘little town blues’ …

Posted on October 18, 2014

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We sat on the beach in the early summer sun of 2013, chatting about a welcome training event for one of our favourite clients, when suddenly I changed the subject (as Monkey’s do) and said ‘Let’s go to New York next year’.  My beautiful Dolphin, without a second thought, said ‘ok then’.  It was a plan.

Over the coming months New York was barely mentioned, we knew we were going, we just hadn’t finalised the actual date or booked the ticket.  But the essential saving was definitely going on.

New York, Broadway, Ellis Island, The Rockafella centre, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Roosevelt Hotel, Frick collection, Tiffany, The Highline, Central StationMy dolphin called me at the end of the year …. ‘Did you have a good Christmas?’ she said ‘I’m ready to book that trip today, by the way’.  And that was it, booked and ready to go.

We had a lot to cram into the 3 months before we flew, with existing clients, plans for future projects and the events of the February 2014 storms.  We both rushed around the country, tweeted #openforbusiness furiously, taught, planned, strategised and networked, focused on our own businesses and our joint projects – our sporadic meetings and texts centred around one subject … New York, New York, what Museums? Where shall we eat out? Shall we go to the theatre? On a pizza tour? A spot of shopping?

Then suddenly, we were at Heathrow, with a glass of champagne in hand and a very satisfactory level of excitement – bound for the big Apple, slightly organised and slightly chaotic at the same time – but clear of one thing, we were bound to have a super time.

And a super time was had.  Here are just a few of the highlights …

Day one, walking the high line – the best way to clear your head of any jet leg.  Before we had breakfast, we strolled along, in the mild March weather, enjoying the sights and sounds of this great part of the city.  At the end of our walk we came across Bubby’s where we had the best breakfast of the trip, and maximised their free wifi to catch up on news from home and to tweet our adventures so far.

Little did we realise that social media would play such an important part of our visit when we set out.  Within minutes of tweeting where we were and what we were planning, we had received a tweet from a good friend at home telling us to visit the Tenement Museum next.  Just as we were checking its location on the map, our phones buzzed with a message from the Tenement Museum saying they were looking forward to seeing us.

So off we went. Great recommendation, really enjoyable and interesting place to visit … hearing all about the immigrants to the city and how they lived, a story told in an effective and engaging way. Next we walked across the Williamsburg Bridge, and then back down to Battery Park, where we hopped on the Staten Island Ferry for a free trip back and forth, and a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  It was nice to sit down and enjoy the fresh sea air.

By this time, our feet were screaming, but our hearts and heads were having far too much fun to listen.  We headed off up Wall Street and onto Broadway, making the quickest stop at Century 21 (more comfortable shoes) and headed off again.  We had been blessed with the most fantastic weather all day, we had been on the move since 0800 in the morning, on foot, and had not stopped since our late breakfast at Bubby’s, it was 2000 and we were starting to flag.  The weather took pity on us, and it started to rain, so we dashed in to a deli, picked up some delicious sandwiches and hopped in a cab back to the hotel.

With a drink in one hand and a deli sandwich in the other, we apologised to our feet, and promised that we would take it a bit steadier the next day.

Day two, early start and off to the Empire State Building, the Rock, Macy’s, the MoMa and a quick trip to Tiffany’s.  We had such a fun time, we bought the New York Pass, and made the absolute most of it. The views from the Rock were incredible, I loved Picasso’s goat at the MoMa and the early birthday presentNew York, Broadway, Ellis Island, The Rockafella centre, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Roosevelt Hotel, Frick collection, Tiffany, The Highline, Central Stattion, Picasso I found in Tiffany’s.

That evening, we went for filet mignon at Morton’s Steak House, luckily for our feet a short walk from our hotel, and very delicious it was too.

Day three, the Frick, the Natural History Museum, a walk across central park and a quick hello to Bloomingdales.

Loved the Frick – what a character he was, thinking ahead to preserve and share so many precious pieces. I was missing a VisitWitshire Board meeting when I was in New York, so I spent an extra few minutes enjoying Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral in homage to my colleagues who would be sitting around a board table whilst I was having such fun!

We walked across central park from the Frick to the Natural History Museum, the Dolphin was map master and in charge of us both, clutching our much used map and making sure we were heading in the right direction.  The sun was shining as we strolled through the park and we stopped to enjoy a huge snow hill, left behind following the recent snowfall and the other sights and sounds of this lovely park.  After seeing it from on high at the Rock, it was great to be in the park and in such glorious weather too.

Slightly disappointed by the Natural History Museum – to say they have missed a trick is an understatement! The Movie: A night at the Museum is a firm family favourite, and whilst I managed to hunt down Dum Dum and the dinosaur, I was left thinking that they should have thought much more about how brilliant the museum looked in the movie (even before it came to life) and done more with it. I felt for the staff, who must be asked a hundred times a day where the dinosaur is and whether it actually comes to life, and who good naturedly smile and say ‘that would be telling’.

Then I threw in the towel, went on a ‘catchers mitt’ hunt for my son, while the Dolphin went to Met.

That night we caught up with an Englishman (and woman) in New York – friends from the national tourist board who have carved out fantastic careers and lives in the USA, it was great to catch up with them to share our adventures so far and to experience Dos Caminos with them. Delighted they had the time to see two ‘hicks from the sticks’ and kindly labelled us ‘West Country on tour’.

The last stop of the day was a night time visit to the Empire State Building, what a view! Not to be missed and a fantastic memory to have.

Our last day, and we were joined by friends from Philadelphia; breakfast and ‘spy like’ whispering at Grand Central Station, then off to Ellis Island and finally, the 9/11 memorial.  I love Ellis Island, sadly the recent hurricanes had meant that much of the exhibits had been moved and they were in the process of recreating the area, glad I have seen it before, but more of a reason to go back and see it again once it is back in situ.  I have mixed feelings about the 9/11 memorial site.  I visited to pay my respects to those who lost their lives in the most tragic and horrific circumstances, I stood, reflected and sent thoughts to them and their families.  Why the mixed feelings? The gift shop and the seeming commercialisation attached to a place of quiet reflection and memory. It did not sit well with me.

We ended our day with the most fantastic rendition of New York, New York in Ellen’s Diner at the Stardust Café. If you go to New York, go here, and sing your heart out.  We did.

New York, Broadway, Ellis Island, The Rockafella centre, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Roosevelt Hotel, Frick collection, Tiffany, The Highline

We packed so much into 4 days, and there was so much we missed, so next time these ‘little town blues are getting us down’, we’ll go back and we know New York will be ready for us.

We stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel – great hotel, in a great location.  We didn’t spend much time there, to be honest, but the rooms were well equipped, if a little faded elegance and the staff were incredibly welcoming. The location of this hotel was the winner as far as we were concerned.  We took 3 cab rides in the 4 days we were there, we explored everywhere else on foot, and got the absolute most out of every second.

We travelled with Virgin Atlantic, the service was exceptional on both flights and we would definitely travel with them again.  We used purple parking at Heathrow Airport and the Blue Bus to get us from Newark to our hotel and back.  All without hitch.

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The next Monkey/Dolphin adventure is to Barcelona. Watch this space.

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