So we are back from 3 wonderful days sent in the Big Apple.
We had a brilliant time although are all very tired and still having a little trouble with jetlag.
We flew from Heathrow to JFK very early Friday morning, Avalon was great on the flight, as was Grant- she was entertained between the cartoons and the books we had brought with us, walking up and down the aisles and having a snooze on Daddy... The flight was only 7 hours, which after the flight to Australia, really didn't feel that bad.
JFK airport was a little crazy, customs in particular, and luckily as we had Avalon we got fast tracked through customs- a blessing as Avalon was starting to get really tetchy.
We had hired a car service to take us to our hotel in Manhattan which was different for us, always travelling by public transport when on holiday... It was amazing to see the Manhattan skyline as we drove through Queens, it was a sunny and clear day and felt my excitement rise as I saw the Empire State Building.
The drive was about 40 minutes and we arrived at the Hotel Pen around 1pm... The location was brilliant, on 7th Avenue and directly across from Madison Square Garden. After check in and a quick freshen up, we decided to make our way out as my dear friend Katie had recommended going to the top of the Empire State Building on that day as the weather was looking less promising for the rest of the weekend.
We stopped for a slice of pizza (disappointing) and walked to the Empire State Building, past Macy's and down 6th Ave.
The views from the Empire State Building were breathtaking and gave us another view of this wonderful city.
We walked on down to 5th and Avalon had a play in Madison Square Park before heading back to the hotel for an early night via take out sushi from Wholefoods.
Saturday morning we were up bright and (very) early... We left our room before 7am and decided to walk toward Times Square in search of a truly 'American breakfast'... We found Juniors (French toast, Maple Syrup & Bacon... OH MY!)
After breakfast it was onto Central Park (albeit a minute part of it) with lots of running (Avalon) and dog petting (also Avalon) along the way. We found ourselves outside FAO Schwarz and witnessed their daily ritual of the store opening- a show within itself. The store is home to the BIG Piano, made famous by Tom Hanks in 'BIG' and Avalon took great delights in running up and down it's keys... We made our way down 5th Ave, with a quick Starbucks break to rest our aching feet, for lunch we had Tacos, beans and rice from Calexico which was DELISH (I love Mexican food!) and happened upon a great market in Union Square, where I bought a great turquoise ring (a girl can never have too many)... We were starting to feel the burn in our legs again and by the time we got to Greenwich decided to cave to the ease of the subway to go to Ground Zero.
We didn't spend long at ground Zero... it felt 'silent' despite the bustle of the city, so much construction still taking place and the rain decided to fall. We walked to the closest subway, past a small group protesting (a much bigger protest was taking place around Brooklyn Bridge) and headed back to the hotel before meeting up with my friend Katie and her fiancé Shern for dinner.
It was so great to see Katie, she is an old friend of mine from Australia and we worked together for a couple of years almost 10 years ago (wow... that long??) In the last couple of years we have managed to catch up once in Germany and once here in the UK- she is now making her home with Shern in Philadelphia... I couldn't miss seeing her- she has such an amazing light and spirit about her, I feel lucky we had this opportunity.
Another relatively early night for us (the joy of travelling with a toddler) and we readied ourselves for our last day in NYC.
Sunday morning we checked out early and headed toward Bloomingdales for a bit of a looksie... We were too early for the Sunday trade and shared a bread basket and a couple of coffees in the Upper East Side at Le Pain Quotidien and also saw Dylan's Candy Bar. The rest of the day was spent wandering... more markets, MOMA, Bryant Park and lunch at Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square (I have a dirty confession... I love playing tourist!)
We made a quick stop at the Disney store for Avalon and then made our way back to Hotel Penn to rest our weary legs and wait for our car service back to the airport... literally a fly by weekend!
I am so very grateful to my husband for organising such an amazing trip for us... and all the friends and family that, as part of my birthday gift, made it possible...