New York, New York

Trip Start Dec 19, 2015
Trip End Feb 05, 2016

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Flag of United States  , New York
Sunday, January 3, 2016

All the places we managed to get to:
The Intrepid
Book of Mormon
The planetarium and natural history museum
Central Park
The New York Subway!
New years eve at Time Square
Star Wars Exhibition
Madam Tussauds
World Trade Centre
Museum of Sex
Circle Line Boat Cruise
New York Pizza
Street food hotdogs and giros
New York Taxis (really cheap and surprisingly quick)
Arguing with NYPD and not being tazzored! Union Station in DC was amazing! It was this beautiful old building full of all these modern shops. Arriving in New York was pretty awesome. Penn Station was just mental. People everywhere! We walked about 8 blocks with all our luggage. I thought this would seem a little strange but there were a lot of other people doing it, and it felt like we were just being absorbed by the city.

Hotel was super nice. The best bed we've had so far! We were on the 50th floor and we could still hear the party happening outside. Times Square was just on the corner too, which was good and bad – awesome cos we were right there, bad cos the rest of NYC was right there too!

Our first priority was to check out The Interpid. Okay, my first priority. I can’t tell you how excited I was to finally see a space shuttle close up. There were heaps of other planes, including a concord and a Blackbird. See the many photos, especially the Lego model of the intrepid itself.

The four of us went to see Book of Mormon – a Broadway musical making fun of the Mormon church which is always entertaining. Best line – Hasa Diga Eebowai. It was Shannon’s first time to a musical so I think it was super fitting that it was on Broadway. They also gave us sippy cups for our drinks. It’s very strange seeing people drink wine out of sippy cups! Anyway, musical was excellent, twas about 2 young Mormons sent to Uganda to try and recruit people to the church and having no idea.

We walked through Central Park in the morning on the way to the Planetarium. It’s as big as you think it is! I think Shannon was disappointed that there are big signs that say no cycling on the paths… Also, there were these pedicabs taking people around for between $2 and $5 a minute, depending on the driver/cyclist. They made sure they got the most they could too! They’d ride really slowly, stop and tell their passenger about bits and pieces along the way and just generally screwing their passengers. I think we were better off walking.

The Planetarium was cool. They had the theater where the entire dome ceiling is a screen so you look up and watch the universe go past. There were some dinosaur parts in the other section of the museum too, but we didn’t spend too much time looking at them.

We took the Subway back to the hotel to prepare for the night time adventures. The NY subway is awesome! They have single ride tickets. Doesn’t matter where you’re going, just grab a single ride ticket and it’s valid for where ever you want to go, no complications!

New years eve was the most impressive event I have ever seen! People were queuing for hours to get into Times Square to get their spot. The police had basically organized groups of a few hundred people into large holding pens. The catch – no booze, no food, no seats and no toilets. About a million people literally standing for several hours waiting on the one spot in Times Square for the ball to drop.  We had tickets to the Olive Garden party. Sit down buffet dinner, open bar including spirits and liqueur, some horrible 80s music, bathrooms and at 5 minutes to midnight, a spot on the street with a million of my newest friends to watch the ball drop and count down the new year.

When we first arrived in New York, I can’t say I was surprised to see Army personnel patrolling the train station. They were also hanging around The Intrepid. That was nothing compared to the security at Times Square for New Years Eve. To prepare for NYE they started clearing the streets the day before. All the cars parked within 2 blocks of Time Square in all directions were towed. Barriers were put up to funnel people into the Square, making it hard to cross the road and the streets quickly filled up with every kind of police car you could imagine. There were regular police on every corner and wandering around the place were members of the newly formed NYPD counter terrorism squad who were carrying 'long guns’. We got the impression that the police were very well respected by everyone in New York.  No one dared to give them shit!

We had the most awesome police officer help us out after new years celebrations (1:30am-ish) – all the streets were closed and they wouldn’t let us across Time Square to get to the hotel. We initially got sent to walk up to the street our hotel was on. So we walked the 5 blocks uptown only to be told by the Sargent guarding the barrier that we couldn’t get through because they were tying to get people out. We’d need to go up another few blocks if we wanted to cross Time Square. So we went up another block only to be told we couldn’t cross because sanitation was already on the streets cleaning up. We were told to head back a block to the street where we just were.  By the time we returned they had indeed managed to clear everyone off the streets, but they weren’t letting anyone else through. We could see our hotel from this corner (it was literally 20 metres beyond Time Square up 44th Street). I think I could read the writing on it, and the NYPD wouldn’t let us through. We were pretty much resigned to waiting behind the Police Barriers until the nicest police officer in history decided to help us out. Despite being told by his Sargent they weren’t letting anyone through, this beat cop stuck his neck out for us, even though he didn’t have to and escorted us across Times Square and almost to our hotel. He didn’t have to do that and may have even gotten into trouble, so it was by far the nicest thing to happen to us.

We went to the Star Wars Museum, cos we could, and saw Yoda and Chewy and Darth and lots of other cool stuff. We also checked out Madam Tussauds where Shannon proposed to Scarlett Johansson (see photos). The setup around all the wax figures was definitely designed so people could take photos with them. You could get up close and touch them all.

We managed to get up to the World Trade Centre site. It was absolutely freezing while we were there and so windy they had to switch off the fountains in the ‘reflection pools’ (water features at the base of the twin towers). We didn’t go to the museum located there as the queue was huge but it was too cold to stand outside and wait. It was so cold my phone stopped working which lead us to getting lost trying to get back to the subway. I’ll spare you the story but it wasn’t fun.

New York is full of Irish Pubs. We went to one and I discovered my new favorite drink – hard root beer. It’s alcoholic sarsaparilla. It’s the best thing in the whole universe! Shannon took a photo of me holding my root beer – I look like a black telly-tubby! I will be attempting to get some when we get back to Oz in a month, but I suspect I may need to set myself up as an alcohol importer.

Our last day was spent with a little sleep-in and a cruise on the Hudson River. We went past the Statue of Liberty, which I would love to go back to, and checking out the incredible New York skyline. We were on one the tourist boats that went to the rescue of the plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River.  The crash happened just behind the pier from where the tour left.

Good news! We found a decent cup of coffee! There are a number of cafes, a chain in NY called Blue Stone Café. It has beans imported from Melbourne, usually an Aussie Barista and vegemite on toast! Shannon was so excited! He had 2 coffees and some vegemite the first time we went there…. And some more the second time…

New York is a very complex city but it works. Lots of cultures and languages and people but it all seems to work.

Our next stop on our trip is Germany.  Stay tuned for the next update!
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