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.


  1. Another interesting read! Yes why don't you book in to the plaza using "dad's credit card" film reference again LOL.

  2. By the way I'm insanely jealous! Wish I was there!