Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Last Day in New York

So the last day in New York started early; I woke up on UK time and spent a few hours sorting photographs and blogging before breakfast. After breakfast we packed, checked-out and took a walk down Fifth Avenue to the Empire State Building. We’d walked past it on Saturday and the queue stretched out of the front doors and around the building. This morning there was no queue so we headed in.

It turned out that there was a queue – and endless miles of zig-zagging rope lines – but we still made it to the top in only about forty minutes, constantly shepherded by uniformed attendants who either wanted to tell us how exciting the SkyRide was, or wanted us to take the elevators on the left. The visibility was fairly good so there was a view across the island and beyond; not much noteworthy though from that height. I got the obligatory pictures of the nearby Chrysler building, long shots of the Brooklyn Bridge and Financial District and a semi-obscured view of the park looking very un-green.

After all the photography and freezing winds we found it a lot faster to get out of the building than get into it, although we still had to queue. We took the tube up to the Rockefeller Centre in search of lunch and more holiday snaps. After lunch we carried on along Fifth Avenue towards the park. The first stop was Tiffany’s, for Brett to buy a ring, then on to the Abercrombie & Fitch store. We didn’t buy anything there (too crowded, dark and noisy!) just marvelled at the d├ęcor. They have a curious mural running the height of their staircase; done in a quasi-religious style (even to the extent of it extending over the ceiling – very Sistine Chapel!) of lots of guys in a kind of 1920s gym setting, all wearing simple white shorts and working out on ropes and bars; kind of stylish and certainly in keeping with their increasingly homoerotic advertising styles but, frankly, nothing to do with their products…

After Abercrombie we carried on northwards and called in at the Apple Store (a Louvre-esque underground store beneath a glass cube) and the nearby FAO Schwarz where I found some fascinating magnetic-mecano kind of stuff and spent ages playing with it. I very nearly came away with a box, but restrained myself to just noting down the manufacturer’s URL so that when I get home…

From there we went on into the park. It seemed appropriate for the last half hour; we just sat and enjoyed the moment in the wintery sunshine.

And then we were travelling again; back to the hotel to collect luggage and change clothes, into the shuttle bus, through the rush-hour (at 4pm!), then check-in (fast-track again, oh yes!) and into the lounge.

We luxuriated a bit here, making sure to book into the Molton Brown Spa as soon as we arrived we both had a nice relaxing facial scrub and massage, followed by a laze on their recliners sipping green tea. Then a light snack from the buffet and reading before our flight was announced.

The return flight was clearly more heavily booked than the outbound as, when I had checked-in the previous day, most of the seats were already occupied and I couldn’t get us the cosy central seats. Instead I booked us a pair of adjoining seats on the upper deck which seatguru reports as quieter and with better service than the main deck.

Sure enough we had a pleasant flight; the flat-bed is a definite plus-point and I slept for all of four hours – which isn’t bad on a seven-hour flight considering I took full advantage of the two meal services.

Heathrow was busy on our arrival; lots of queues in immigration, but fortunately not much waiting at this side. I was through in twenty-minutes and once again, Brett was waiting for me on the other side. The luggage took forever to come through – there were several announcements asking us to forgive how long it was taking…

Then, at last, we were through Customs and into the car, heading for a relaxing day in our own home.

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