Saturday, 20 August 2016

The foothills of Yorkshire

So today I did my first official 'sportive', as non-competive cycling events organised by a third party up and down the country are generally known. Sportives are all the rage these days, and include following a pre-planned route on a timed basis, but are not races. I know there are a lot of arguments for and again sportives but they definitely have their pros and cons. It's easy to appreciate the mechanical support and route signage on offer as well as the food stops en route where you can replenish your supplies and grab a bite to eat to recharge depleted energy reserves. Naturally this is covered by the price of admission, where-as some people would say that cycling should be free - which is true to a point, but sportives can be a good way of exploring undiscovered areas with little to no thought needed.

Anyway, onto the detail. The sportive I chose to do was the Yorkshire Tour sportive in North Yorkshire, starting in Thirsk and taking in some of the roads used in the Tour De France Grand Depart that took the UK by storm two years ago. I travelled by train to the event, meaning I had to get up at 5:15 in the morning just to be there in time. I had originally planned to stay overnight in Thirsk in order to be prepared, however at £50-80 a night for a single room I decided against it. I changed trains in York with a strong coffee on route, and arrived at the registration point for the event in good time, having visited the toilet 'facillities' at Thirsk station beforehand.

It has to be said at this point (and look away now if you're faint of heart) but going to the toilet in full cycling gear is not a glamorous experience. In fact, it's the very opposite. You essentially have to strip down to the bare minimum of clothing just to do a No. 1. And there I was, doing it in a chemical toilet at Thirsk station, since the other makeshift toilet building had had a drainage failure. A small aside there, but I'm sure you get the picture.

Anyway, I took my place to start the ride around 8:50, which saw different groups depart at 2 minute intervals in groups of 15-20. The weather was fairly dry and clear, although dull to start with, with the sun occasionally breaking through the clouds long enough to brighten the route. It had originally been forecast to be heavy rain from 7am in the morning, and I had strongly considered not coming at all rather than get up at 5:15am on a Saturday just for the purposes of discovering a new area on my bike. However, having made a cup of tea and 'proper' porridge with honey and banana mixed into it, I decided that since I had paid for the event and the train ticket I might as well give it a go.

The route itself passed through numerous small villages mainly on B-roads and minor roads, with little to no traffic visible (perhaps helped by the early morning start). I'm pleased to say that there was very minimal rain with only irregular and sudden showers that left me un-drenched and dry enough to enjoy the course. Having had a big bowl of porridge and a tasty coffee at York station meant I was able to cycle a good 20 miles before stopping for a snack - drinking I did whilst cycling. When I looked at my phone to see how far I had cycled up to that point I was pleasantly surprised to see I had already done 19.6 miles, which seemed to have flown.

Having said that this was a fairly easy course with barely noticeable elevation, and only a few descents (this part of Yorkshire is quite rolling). Not being in any kind of national park in Yorkshire, and having opted to to do the Easy route (39 miles), I shouldn't have been surprised however. Having had my snack and a drink I figured it wasn't actually that far to the feed stop, so I didn't stop for long and pushed on for another 7 miles. The feed stop was in the church hall of a methodist church, and offered both hot drinks and water, together with a replenishment of my sports drink. Snacks ranged from energy gels to flapjack, cake and biscuits, and offered welcome respite.

It was nice to see so many cyclists in one place, and I spent around 20 minutes there (half of that time spent waiting in the queue for the toilet once again). With 26.5 miles in the can at this point, I headed out to do the last 13 miles, which saw the headwind increase a fair bit and also another brief downpour. Fortunately I was motivated to continue by the finish line which started counting down at both 10km and 5km to go signs on the roadside. I finished the ride exactly where I had started, collecting my medal and free t-shirt (as well as a protein recovery bar) from the staff on hand at the finish point.

I didn't hang around to use the free bike-wash facilities or get a massage, but instead headed back to the train station to head back to York as I figured it was best just to get back home and rest, as I had already been up and awake for nearly 7 hours by that point (which is a lot when you consider it was only quarter past 12!). Luckily I made it back to York just as another train back to Doncaster was pulling in, so I asked the conductor if I could jump on it and luckily they had a bike space for me and I made it home two hours earlier than planned. Following a shower and some much needed food, I settled down for a quick snooze, and feeling very pleased with the day's efforts. Now it's on to the Grindleford Goat near Sheffield next month (maybe)!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Visiting our cow Molly

Yesterday's short evening run
As we've had some very pleasant weather in the UK over the last few days, I decided to do something I haven't done for a fair while - I decided to take an evening bike ride after work. Nothing too strenuous as it's quite hard to do to much when you know you have to get up for work again the next day. So, an hour or so out and back seemed the perfect solution - hey, it's still miles in the legs right?!

I'd had my eye on cycling out to Bradfield near me for some time, as I knew you could form a nice 20 mile or so loop going up one road and back down the other on fairly quiet roads to rejoin the quiet but fast A57 back into residential Sheffield. As it was 7pm by the time I set off however I stuck to my plan of doing around 10 miles in the hour or so I had planned to be on the bike. The temperature had cooled down to a pleasant level by this time as well.

Which way to go?
There are myriads of unexplored roads close to where I live that lead to mile after mile of rural roads in gorgeous scenery. That being the case I headed down Walkley Bank Road which is sharp steep downhill segment that brings you out at Malin Bridge, one of Sheffield's tram termini. Coming out on the mini roundabout here you have two choices: turn left for Stannington, and right for Loxley. Both bring you out at Bradfield, you simply approach it from different directions.

Good to see buses come out here too.
As I had never been through Stannington before, and it looked less steep than heading into Loxley first I decided to head that way, knowing I would have a pretty smooth and sweet descent on the way back in. The climb up through Stannington is pretty constant, but never gets unbearable to the point where I felt the need to stop cycling. It wends it's way upwards as the B6076 before a deceptive but small sign tells you to turn right to head towards Bradfield and Dungworth (attractively named).

Suburbia slowly disappears.
The right turn leads through relative suburbia with a few general stores (Spar and Coop) plus a fairly standard looking pub before the houses drop away and the terrain becomes more rolling. As you crest the hill on the approach to Dungworth, an old style village sign indicates that Glossop is off to the left 21 miles away while Bradfield is just a few miles further on. Also to the right of this sign is a local family farm known as Our Cow Molly's selling ice cream and milk.

Hello sheep
I had seen their products in local shops in and around Sheffield but had never associated them with this place right on my doorstep. It's so amazing to live near to places where products are made right next to your house and makes you wonder why we ever source most of our products needlessly from miles and miles away. The farm is open 4 days a week and I made a point to stop off later in the summer as part of a long weekend ride out this way.

I pushed on and reached the end of the B6076 making a sharp right for the return to suburban Sheffield. Not long after the right turn the impressive Damflask Reservoir appears on both sides of a narrowish bridge. It's a beautiful spot and is worth a brief dismount from the bike to soak up the atmosphere of people on rowing boats rented for use on the lake.

Some kind of village green.
Pressing on I knew Sheffield was not too far away, and as a started to gain speed on the long straight descent another pub called the Nags Head Inn caught my eye on the right. You'd be forgiven for thinking I was cycling through Edale, home of the Old Nags Head pub but I wasn't! I made a mental note and pushed on for the rest of the thrilling descent down to the other side of Malin Bridge roundabout.

Nice to see signs like this.
I made a slight mistake on my exit from the roundabout, as I came off onto Walkley Bank Road I didn't realise that it splits and goes in two separate directions as effectively two separate roads. I came out at Rivelin Valley Road which is right at the bottom of Sheffield relative to where I live. I looked at my options on the map and knew whichever one I took I'd have some serious ascending to do over a relatively short distance.
The scenic and beautiful Damflask reservoir.
I opted to take the turning onto Rivelin road before a sharp right turn onto Waller Road which I knew would bring me out on a level close enough to mine to make me forget about any more climbing. Still, I had around 200m of climbing at around 14.8% gradient to contend with first. I stopped a couple of times to catch my breath and was cajoled on by a man in his 60's who cheerfully told me his 60 year old neighbour cycles halfway up that hill every day. I cheerfully replied that I might need to give it a few more goes to attempt it again.
The Nag's Head Inn - NOT in Edale!
I arrived home around 10 past 8 feeling very satisfied and not overly tired. I could easily have done more but with luck the weather will hold out this weekend so I can do a similar ride but over more roads. I crashed following my post-ride shower and finished up in bed watching a film before slipping into a joyful slumber.
Overall ride stats.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Remembering New York...and the return

Last night, I started planning my return to New York city, already pencilled in for May next year. Of course, I've nothing booked just yet, as I need to save money before I can consider doing anything like that again. Still, a few months of good old fashioned hard work and I should be good to go! The city must have really left an imprint on me to start planning my next trip as soon as I've got back.

Still, I know several people who say New York is just another city and they're not that bothered about visiting it. Perhaps they're right, and it isn't of particular importance for them. Still, something had called out to me for many years before I finally visited in May 2016, and I still feel immensely grateful that I've had the chance to see it.

I remember one evening when me and my Dad had been out for a drink or two in the city after dinner. We came back to the hotel and just started playing a random song or two, including some old favourites. It doesn't matter what the songs were, but somehow they formed a quintessential part of my New York experience and I hear those songs differently now since having returned home.

Ever since I got back two weeks ago, I've had instances where I simply think of the city and what I did there. Frequently about Manhattan, but mostly about Brooklyn. Don't get me wrong, Manhattan is cool, and is definitely where New York is at and where the most exciting sights are and stuff happens. Still I feel a strong sense of personal connection with Brooklyn and like that's where I feel most comfortable in New York.

It's exciting knowing that the beast that is Manhattan is literally right across the water, but Brooklyn seems to offer a down to earth retreat which feels much more real and grounded than Manhattan, whilst at the same time enhancing it's appeal and allure. Brooklyn is much more low rise, with cool local independent shops, cafes, bars and other attractions, particularly in Greenpoint and Williamsburg north of Central Brooklyn. This more than anything else makes Brooklyn seem more personable and attractive than Manhattan itself.

Having said that, it's these two sides of the coin that make New York as a whole so exciting. It takes little to no time to find a quiet secluded spot which can feel your own, even if just for a moment in time. Green parks, urban paradise (if it can be called that) and independent shops all vye for existence, yet somehow seem to exist in non-discordant harmony. Perhaps this is the real allure of New York city, and why I love it so much? Only 11 months 'til I see it again ;)

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Back in the Peaks

Yesterday's route.
It's been just over a week since I got back from the Great North American Adventure now and my mind has already set to planning future trips - current possibilities are Slovenia and/or Ireland in September, followed by a return to New York next May. I'm planning to do the big 40 mile bike ride across all five boroughs of the city on closed roads, and may do what I planned to do this year by taking the train from Montreal to New York or vice versa, potentially with a stop in Vermont as Burlington is said to be quite a cool, cultural destination and, I think, well off the beaten track for tourists.
View over the Scenic Ladybower Dam.
It was back to work for me on Tuesday, followed by a three day bank holiday weekend. Surprisingly, Saturday dawned bright and clear with temperatures of around 15/16 degrees (59-61 Fahrenheit), so my first thought was to make the most of the weather and the extra day off to go on a bike ride. I started off by heading down Bole Hill Road at the back of where I live, as the road leads you very quickly downhill and into the green forestry that skirts the edge of the Peak District national park.
The bridge over Ladybower Dam, resulting in scenic views.
After a leisurely mile or two on Rivelin Valley Road, I came out on the A57 which leads directly into Bamford and is officially in national park territory. Within a few miles, the space really opens out and you're surrounded on all sides by country cottages, hilltop vistas and signs inviting you to stop off at farm shops in the vicinity. Tempting as the thought was I pushed on as I had no place to put anything - when on a 'proper' bike ride I always aim not to take a bag of any kind as it just impedes your performance and weighs you down, although a small bag on your back can be useful for carrying a pump plus a few spares if you don't have room in your jersey pockets.

The cycle-friendly path between Bamford and Hathersage.
You know you're really at the heart of the Peaks when you see the first Welcome to the Peak District sign. After about five miles on the A57 I came out at the bottom of the Snake pass, and turned left for Bamford and the spectacular view over the Ladybower dam. This is a reservoir filled with water over the top of what was once a scenic Derbyshire Village - I imagine there was some controversy over the decision to fill it in at the time. I stopped for a few photos and a snack and as I was leaving Bamford village I saw signs for both the Eroica Britannia vintage cycling festival and the Hope Valley beer and cider festival taking place just down the road at the Old Hall Hotel in Hope, the next village along.
A worthy (but impossible) distraction on this visit.
I was very tempted to stop off and have a drink by making a slight detour, especially as I'd incidentally broken my own festival glass from last year and wanted another one. However, beer and bikes don't mix and nor does carrying glass so I pushed on by turning left at the end of the main road in Bamford to head towards Hathersage, where I would turn off onto School Road and the scenic climb up and over The Dale. The road between Bamford and Hathersage is very good for cycling as it has both a wide cycle lane on each side and, if you prefer, a completely traffic free (and wide) path on the left hand side for use by pedestrians, horses and cyclists. I opted for the latter as there were no other users on the path so I was able to get up a good burst of speed whilst remaining perfectly safe in traffic free hands.

The not-too-steep but unceasing incline up and over The Dale.
My resilience was tested again as I approached Hathersage and turned left onto School Lane - by The Scotsman's Pack, a country pub and inn where I had been recommended to go previously, and had rooms available to stay in for between £60-80. I wasn't tempted by the rooms at this point (having only cycled 15 miles) but I would certainly have been happy to stop off in there for some coffee and a cake. Still, I'd brought all the sustenance I would need for the ride and continued up The Dale rather than on the main A625 into Sheffield for some scenic views and very little traffic. The Dale ascends at a fairly steady pace with an gradient of around 8% over 1.6 miles/2.6km, so provided you've an energy bar or some such before it's not too much of an effort.

The start of the scenic hiker's route up to Stanage Edge.
Still, I could feel it in my legs and was pleased to reach the summit for a quick breather, where a few cars were parked up near Stanage Edge for the climb up there. As I wasn't in hiking mode, I opted to just take a few minutes out before continuing on to where the road joins up with  the long straight drag into Sheffield that is Ringinglow Road. Rather than opting to stay on Ringinglow until the end and head home via Ecclesall Road, I opted to take the quieter option and made a left onto Hangram Lane which leads directly down into Fulwood village. This is a pleasant scenic ride which is mainly downhill but with a few twists and turns that make for a thrilling descent back into suburban Sheffield.
Good to see cycle parking at the bottom of Stanage Edge for those wishing to take a detour!
Once I'd joined up with Broomhill after the long straight section along Fulwood Road, I headed home via Crookes and along the streets I usually frequent on my way home from language classes late in the evening. It was a pleasant ride and one I would look to repeat (at least in part) in the near future. A possible option is to head out along the A57 as above, then turn right and all the way up Mortimer Road which brings you out near Bradfield and the amusingly named Wigtwizzle - it might be worth heading that way just for a gratuitous selfie under the 'Welcome to...' sign! In any case I had a near perfect ride in perfect weather and I find myself already awaiting the next one with great enthusiasm.

Overall stats for the ride.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Sunset over the East River

Walking the High Line on the site of a former railway line - now a park.
As last night was our last night was did something pretty special to mark the occasion. Following dinner for a second time at the Polish place with my friend Brian, we made our way to the Wythe Hotel which I'd been recommended as a rooftop bar and as a great way to see the Manhattan skyline at sunset.

Flatiron Building, for once dappled in sunlight.
There was a small queue to get in but we were only waiting around 15 minutes and the result was absolutely worth it. Waiting for the lift attendant to take you up makes the experience feel exclusive and the crowd is a mixture of business types, hotel guests and private parties - plus a few excited tourists. Fortunately the mood was amiable and we got to the top at just the right time as the sunset was strikingly beautiful (photos speak for themselves).

Van Gogh's Starry Night on display at the Museum of Modern Art.
I'm definitely grateful for my friend's recommendation to see the place and would even consider staying here for a night or two in future. I don't imagine it's cheap to stay (although cheaper than the Plaza) but if you get one of the upper suites there's another, higher balcony overlooking the city from an even wider platform. Still, one for another time I think!

The sculpture garden at the Museum of Modern Art.
Yesterday was a glorious day and I was out in shorts and t-shirt thinking this must be but a taste of the searing New York summer that will hit the city in a month or two. It was an appropriate day to do the High Line, a former railway line turned into a walkway and public park. Interspersed with various art installations and forms of media it's an interesting project and an experiment that seems to have worked well. It was certainly very crowded when we walked along it.

The Manhattan skyline as seen at sunset from the Wythe Hotel. 
The end of the High Line brings you out in Chelsea, from where we made a beeline for Bleeker Street Records, around a 15 minute walk away in the West Vilage. We passed through Grove Street again on the way just to have another look at the Friends apartment building before heading on to the record shop.

Manhattan Skyline at dusk.
A quick rest for coffee and a doughnut and we headed down to South Ferry for a spot of lunch and to consider taking the Staten Island Ferry. In the end we decided against it as we had already done one ferry ride and would be taking another tomorrow. We headed back uptown instead to Rockefeller Centre and in my case the Museum of Modern Art. The museum is free on Fridays between 4 and 8pm (worth remembering) so I bought a very nice art print of Times Square in New York with a retro nod to Trans World Airlines flying above. It's a wonderful piece and it will look great one day when I have somewhere to put it. I had a swift 45 minute dash around the gallery itself (it deserves longer) and headed back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner.

One last hurrah for TImes Square at midnight.
As stated above dinner was had for a second time at the Polish restaurant Dziupla, following which it was a swift trip to the Wythe Hotel. It's safe to say that this entire trip has been amazing and it will definitely be hard to leave the city. There's a come down after every holiday but I think it's safe to say this will be the biggest one yet! Enjoying the sunset over the East River with a $10 bottle of Brooklyn lager was the perfect way to end the trip and a return to our starting point in Brooklyn just over a week ago.

Street art at Red Hook in Brooklyn. 
Our final morning dawned dull and drizzly and we made our way to Pier 11 in the Financial district near Wall Street and took the (free at weekends) water taxi to Ikea in Red Hook. I only had one goal in mind and that was buying Widow Jane whiskey (see below). This is high end whiskey but I had heard great things about it and was determined to bring a bottle back - the more expensive bottles ranged from $120-160 but I was happy to settle for the 10 year bourbon, which was the cheapest in the range at $44.

Widow Jane whiskey from the  Cacao Prieto distillery in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
I also bought some luxuriously packaged chocolate of coffee and sea salt flavour to try with the whiskey. After this it was a quick dinner in Manhattan before grabbing our bags from the hotel and making a bid for the airport. We're now back in the UK but I am already making plans to come back to New York next year - a return visit is most definitely a must!!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Cycling in Central Park / Making Friends in the West Village

Cool segregated cycle path facing the One World Trading Center.
I'm now two days behind with my blog simply due to seeing and doing so much in that time - typing on a tablet until 1 o'clock in the morning sometimes isn't the most fun thing in the world when you want to get some rest in the city that never sleeps! We changed hotel rooms yesterday as our original room was on the front and you could hear all the traffic, horns blaring and refuse trucks at 6am. The city may never sleep but I definitely need to! Anyway on to more interesting matters.

Retro taxi cab in the West Village.
First port of call yesterday was the Skyscraper Museum in the financial district. It may not sound like the most mesmerising place but it's certainly topical and has a notable model of the World Trade Center as it was. It didn't take long to do and as it's only small it wasn't long before I was off on the train to Christopher St - Sheridan Square station. This was a real fanboy moment for me as it's the nearest station to what was used as Monica's apartment building in the TV series Friends.

No need to explain where this is!
I'm pleased to say it looks exactly as it did in the TV show with the red and blue awning of the restaurant below (The little owl) being still in tact. The restaurant itself is small and quite expensive so I didn't hang around for coffee (unfortunately) but made my way to Bleeker Street with it's quirky shops and cafés as my first port of call in the West Village. It's literally just off from the long street you see so much in episodes of Friends with the twin towers at the end (now replaced by the One World Trade Center).

Postprandial pint at the Old Town Bar.
After having coffee in a cool café full of board games and looking in BookBook and Generation Records, I genuinely felt I'd been hanging out in the area where the six of them spent so much (fictional) time. After leaving the Village we headed to the hotel to rest up before dinner which was had at a nice enough restaurant on the West side of the city. We then went to the Old Town Bar which looks exactly the same as it did in the 1890's when it first opened and raised a glass to Father time.

Midnight art display on Times Square.
Our last outing of the day was to Times Square just before midnight, as every night at 11.57 the screens on the square change to show a different kind of artwork - this time it was flowers. It felt strange to be on Times Square at midnight and gave me a taste of what it must be like to be here on New Years Eve when the famous ball drops.

View of Central Park from the top of the Rockefeller Center.
As for today, the weather was bright and sunny for the most part so I did what I meant to do yesterday and ventured up 67 floors to the top of the Rockefeller Centre (known as Top of the Rock) to get clear views over Central Park, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty from on high. Whilst the entry fee is quite steep ($32) there are multiple viewing platforms, plenty of room and gaps in the glass walls for your camera so you can get unobstructed and clear photos of the city from above.

View of the Plaza Hotel from Central Park (as seen by Kevin in Home Alone 2).
The lift up is also pretty cool as it lurches upwards very fast (but doesn't seem to move). However when you set off the ceiling becomes clear and a colourful light show and music plays showing you the speed of the lift going up the elevator shaft. It's a nice touch and I think it's worth going up here rather than the Empire State which I hear is more crowded and more expensive.

In the luxurious lobby of the Plaza Hotel.
On the way back to grab Dad from the hotel (he didn't fancy the ascent up Rockefeller) I grabbed a wrap, donut and coffee for about $8 to fuel me up for a while. We walked to the Plaza Hotel on the edge of Central Park where I had another fanboy moment (Home Alone 2 anyone?). I felt completely underdressed in my shorts and t-shirt in there but nonetheless had a look around. It's a very posh building with nice shops and a food court and I harbour hopes of staying here at some point in the future (even if just for one night) - perhaps I should book in using my Dad's credit card?!

Cycling in Central Park (sadly not Tom Boonen in front).
I left my Dad to roam the streets of Manhattan again as I rented a bike for an hour to make a circuit of Central Park. We've been on subway and foot the whole time since entering the city so it felt nice and freeing to be riding on traffic free roads in the middle of the city surrounded by greenery on all sides. I'm definitely not used to straight handlebars and pedals without cleats any more though!! Give me my own bike and cycle shoes any day.

Obligatory  photo with the bike in Central Park.
Had another Italian for dinner tonight and another look in The Strand bookshop on Broadway (where I saw early editions of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings for sale at $2500). I didn't buy them and after dinner we headed back to the hotel as my legs were definitely telling me they wanted a rest. The effort of both walking a lot and cycling round Central Park (without cleats!!) had taken it's toll.

Impressive subway art at 59 St station near the Plaza Hotel/Central Park.
Tomorrow is our last full day in the city and I'm hoping to fit in the Museum of Modern Art as well as a walk along the High Line. With luck I might also get to visit the 9/11 memorial museum, if I can get up early enough to get tickets. Now it's time for some well earned rest.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The liveable city?

Inside an old Subway car at the New York Transit Museum.
As I sit (or rather lay) writing this blog I wonder if New York is the kind of city I could call home. It's certainly very liveable, and exciting but it is very fast paced. In many ways it reminds me of London with it's iconic status, although on a much grander scale. It's easy to get around, clean and efficient and there are plenty of green spaces. Why would anyone ever need to leave?

Amusing advert featured in an old Subway car.
It's a valid question, of course in reality people would leave for many reasons. I imagine city life could be quite suffocating and it's always nice to get away somewhere different no matter how much you love it. I'm going off on a tangent again (been reading too many Monocle essays on the subject) so without further ado I'll move on to what I did (or didn't) do today.

9/11 memorial on the site of the old World Trade Center.
First stop was the New York Transit Museum which looks at history of the subway and bus systems. To most people I guess it would be kind of boring but the museum is built in a former disused subway station and explains how the transport authorities deal with things like freak weather, national crises etc. and also has a section on 9/11 showing sensitive pictures of stations that were crushed when the twin towers came down and maps of the system that were changed daily as the system became operational once again. It's a great place for enthusiasts but also for those wishing to get a different perspective on the city.

Names of victims inscribed on the sides of the 9/11 memorial.
The real gem comes on the second floor down however as a range of genuine subway cars from as far back as the 1920's are displayed on the tracks and you can wander in and out of them freely. The historic adverts in people particular are very charming (and amusing) and the phenomenon of seeing actual old fans in the subway cars instead of air conditioning will stay with me a long time, haha.
Dining out Polish style in Brooklyn.
After the museum we went to get our bags from the hotel in Brooklyn and transfered them across to our new hotel in Manhattan. Just down from Times Square, after checking in we made our way to Cortland Street station where the 9/11 memorial and museum is located. The memorial consists of two fountains placed exactly where the two towers were located. The fountains pour into an empty black pool with the names of all those who lost their lives inscribed on the sides of the memorial. It's a nice touch set against the backdrop of the new One World Trade Center and is considerably more thoughtful than if they'd just built over the old site.

Times Square again, this time at night.
Sadly the 9/11 museum was due to close early due to essential maintenance so we didn't get to go today, but will try again tomorrow or the next day. Instead, we made our way back on the subway to 23 Street to see the Flatiron building which due to the light wasn't in the best mood for photographs but was worth seeing anyway - possibly one to come back to later in the week.

The impressively illuminated Rockefeller Center at night.
I feel like I've been in the city for months (in a good way) so we hopped over on the subway again to Brooklyn, which is fast becoming our go-to area for sit down food. We found a really cool Polish place which was having its happy hour and got half price Polish dumplings as well as beer for $3(!). In these parts that's really good and as an added bonus the guy serving us at the bar was really cute haha. He'd moved here just a few weeks ago from California and had a really cool American accent, although I simply had to speak Polish with him and found out he's from Kraków.

Van Gogh's ear, formerly a swimming pool, at Rockefeller Centre.
We headed back to the hotel at this point for a breather as it had been a long day and Dad wanted a shower. After a brief respite however we took the chance to have our first proper nighttime outing which ended up being to Rockefeller Centre. It's a lot prettier than I'd imagined and has lots of cool water features, trees and lights so makes for lots of interesting photos. We made our way back to the hotel and saw the Empire State Building lit up in purple on top in honour of the Class of 2016 finishing school (I think). I bought some tasty looking food from the store next to our hotel - chicken and pasta for $7 but the chicken was only lukewarm when I got back so I left it. Don't want to be ill for the next few days exploration! Until tomorrow.