Following a full night’s sleep we woke just before sunrise eager to get out and explore New York further. After a great first day in the city we had ticked a number of attractions and sights off our itinerary; however we still had lots to do and see and were really excited for day 2 in the city. After a delicious and hearty breakfast at the Park Café, located in our hotel – The Wellington Hotel, we headed out into the iconic skyscraper lined streets. Wrapped up warmly to protect us from the January coldness, we wandered, mesmerised by the buildings and window shopping as we walked down 5th Avenue until we, almost accidentally, arrived at our first stop of the day…….
The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is world-famous and has featured on the silver screen in many movies from my Sleepless in Seattle to King Kong and not forgetting my favourite, Elf. The Empire State Building is currently the fifth-tallest completed skyscraper in the United States and the 29th-tallest in the world. Even though we have been to the top before, we needed to do it again as last time the cloud was so low we didn’t actually see anything! Luckily for us, the Empire State Experience was part of our CityPASS booklet. If we had wanted, we actually could have visited twice, once during the day and again that evening, however we had plans for that evening so missed out on our return visit. There wasn’t a queue when we visited so once through security we filtered straight into the lift (elevator) and before we knew it we were at the top and it was FREEZING! We managed around 15 minutes walking around the viewing platform, taking photographs and looking out over the city before we had to bite the bullet and head back into the warmth.
Washington Square Park and Arch
After a much-needed hot chocolate we headed to our next port of call – Washington Square Park. We walked from the Empire State Building straight down 5th Avenue, passing the Flatiron building as we went, it took around 30 minutes. Again, we have visited Washing Square Park and its arch before as we wanted to see where Will Smith’s film I Am Legend was filmed yet we couldn’t resist visiting again. As we got there we noticed a lot of commotion and realised that something was being filmed there that day, I also heard a British accent, it was Hugh Dancy the star of the TV show Hannibal and Claire Danes’ husband with his little boy – maybe they live round there as he wasn’t involved in what was going on under the arch. We have since found out that it was an episode of The Blacklist: Redemption. So if you watch that show and there is a scene set in Washington Square Park, look out for Mr ESLT and I as we did our best to get some screen time. With it being January when we visited the fountain was not in operation and few people were sat around, instead folks where quickly snapping a photograph of the arch and heading on their way. We did get accosted by a Japanese lady who thought a drug deal was going down as I handed Mr ESLT a couple of M&Ms, after we assured her they were chocolate she walked away laughing and left us to devour our sweet treats in peace.
The Friends Building
I remember watching the very first episode of Friends back in 1994 when I was 11 and absolutely loving it. Having watched it for 10 years throughout my teen years and beyond, I’ll admit I was gutted when it ended and to be honest Friday nights have never really been the same since. Even though I have visited New York before I have never actually visited the building that was used as the outside of Monica and Rachel’s apartment, the apartment itself was obviously a set in a studio somewhere. The building itself is a regular apartment block on a regular residential street (Bedford Street) in The Village and actually nothing spectacular. It looks the same as most, if not all the buildings around it. But if you are like me and love Friends, you’ll find the sight of it amazing! Even though it is only seen for seconds once or twice per episode, it was awesome to see it for myself and stand outside it. I was surprised that during the time we were there not one other person was there admiring it like I was.
Walking the High Line
One thing that I really wanted to do whilst in New York was walk the High Line, as we visited in January I was very nervous before our trip that we would not be able to do it because of the possibility of bad weather. Luckily for us, the weather was on our side and we got to walk the full length of it. The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long (2.33 km) park built on an elevated section of a disused New York railroad. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District, through Chelsea, to the northern edge of the West Side Yard on 34th Street. The first phase of the High Line opened in 2009, the second phase opened in 2011 and the third and final phase officially opened to the public on September 21, 2014. It is now estimated that nearly 5 million visitors visit annually. I loved the High Line, in fact it was one of my most favourite places in New York, its quirkiness is immense. With lots of pieces of artwork dotted along it and plenty of places to sit and watch the world go by, I imagine in the summer months, when the sun is shining and the greenery up there is thick and lush it is THE place to be.
Basketball at Madison Square Garden
After a quick pit stop back at the hotel to freshen up, it was back out to Madison Square Garden to watch the New York Knicks v Charlotte Hornets Basketball game. Basketball is obviously a big thing as people poured in and through security. We headed to the bar, even though Mr ESLT and I are both well over the legal age to drink in the America we were still asked for ID. I handed over my British driving licence, however as it is not an American form of identification, Madison Square Garden required a second form to accompany it, my credit card sufficed and every international visitor regardless of obvious age was asked for two forms. Next stop was the merchandise stall where Mr ESLT bought himself a Knicks t-shirt and I bought a foam finger (of course!). Once in our seats, we realised that there wasn’t much room in there, for either bums or legs, which made the whole experience slightly uncomfortable. Nevertheless, we loved the game and the Knicks won which really was the cherry on top of an amazing day.
After walking over 10 miles since we had left the hotel that morning, our legs were aching and our feet actually hurting. We had good intentions of finding a nice restaurant and enjoying dinner before hitting some bars but unfortunately we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do anything more than go to Ray’s Pizza joint right near our hotel and get a takeaway to enjoy in our room before passing out. With another jam-packed day planned for day 3, it was probably best we hit the hay relatively early as navigating the streets and attractions of New York is certainly not fun with a hangover.