New York city. This time we caught the Q line to Times Square, putting ourselves in the heart of Manhattan.
A seething mass of people, in cars, on buses and on the sidewalks.
Busy, chaotic and vibrant.
We needed to convert our online purchase of a city tour package into real tickets at Madame Tussauds just off Times Square. It took about 30 minutes due to the queues, but once done we were free to roam.
We caught our first bus to Central Park West where we got off to walk across the park. It's a lovely retreat from the bustle outside its borders with lawns, rocks and even a mini castle and ponds. We didn't linger for too long as we had a lot of city to see. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was directly across the short side of the park so we headed for there and caught another bus opposite the Guggenheim Museum, itself an interesting, um, modern building.
This journey ended at the Rockefeller Center, a three block complex with shops and dining areas underneath. There seems to be ten food outlets for one of any other type, and that doesn't include the numerous food trucks, selling all manner of snacks, ice creams and drinks. We had a pretzel, but weren't impressed. The German ones are much nicer!
Lunch was in a deli near the Rockefeller Center before we headed for the Top of the Rock, a fast elevator ride to the top of the tower. Unfortunately we had almost an hour to kill before we could go up, and the irritating little bods checking tickets wouldn't let you loiter until your due time so we just had to spend some time looking at the shops in the underground complex. Hardship!
Finally our time came round and we had the privilege of queuing to enter an elevator to go up two floors, then queuing again to have our bags searched before queuing once more before shooting up to the 67th floor, but the views were worth it.
There were two more floors to climb for even better views.The day was warm and sunny and we could see for miles.
The view over the city was breathtaking and I didn't want to go down.
The bus tickets we'd bought were valid for uptown, downtown, Brooklyn, the night tour and a ferry ride out to the Statue of Liberty.
We'd covered the bits of uptown we were more interested in and had had two tour guides, one fairly enthusiastic, the other less so. When we got on the downtown tour, we found a gem in Jerry.
He was born and bred Queens and the passion he felt for his hometown shone through with every sentence. Not only was he well-informed, he was passionate about it too. From the history of New York to where to eat and how much it would cost, he was eloquent and entertaining.
He was our guide for the whole of the downtown, through Greenwich Village, China town, Little Italy and back to Times Square.
We were undecided whether to take the night tour or not as it was a two and a half hour trip, no stops, starting late. We didn't get back until 7.30pm and we hadn't had dinner, but when Jerry said he would be the guide, that was the deciding factor.
So, we went and bought a picnic for the bus, grabbed a quick drink in an Irish bar and were back to the bus within half an hour.
We were not disappointed. Jerry was indeed our guide and he didn't let us down.
Between him and the bus driver, Chester, it was a very enjoyable trip. The route covered some areas not covered on the day tours including a visit to Brooklyn via the Manhattan bridge and a slow/stop when we could take night photos of both the skyline and Statue of Liberty.
We were late back to the hotel, but we were happy.