A Weekend with PJ and Michael

After the busy sites of New York it was time to unwind in the Pennsylvanian countryside with out friends PJ and Michael (whom we met on the Alaskan cruise). This is a picture of me with PJ’s horse Endless Love – she is very friendly.

They have a beautiful log cabin in the Poconos, about 2 hours out of New York city, and this was the perfect cure for the hostel blues! It was a great time, chatting and catching up on what we had been up to since the cruise and comparing our cultural differences. Michael took us to a good ol’ fashioned American diner (chrome exterior and all) and PJ showed us the world of American outlet shopping. Needless to say we had some great food and we got some excellent bargains!

In what has become a comical norm, Simon and I got hit with yet another record storm, 7inches of rain in one day a new record for New York!

Thanks again PJ and Michael for your warm and generous hospitality, we had a wonderful time and it was certainly one of the highlights of our trip – look forward to seeing you again on our travels

– Gemma


Statue of Liberty

After two prior attempts to get to Liberty Island, we woke early this morning and caught the subway along with New York commuters, determined to get closer to Lady Liberty than we  had when we rode the Staten Island ferry two days ago.

It wasn’t the perfect visit, while the weather had improved from yesterday it was overcast and the only ‘time passes’ available to go inside the statue were for later in the day and we had travel plans at midday. Despite that we are glad that we went as it is hard to appreciate the size of the statue from the shore of Manhattan Island. What suprised me most however was that it is made from copper sheeting only 2.37mm thick.  I had imagined it would be 20cm or more.

For anyone planing a trip in the future, you can book ‘time passes’ on the internet and you should plan to do your tour before 9am as we did. By the time our ferry returned at about 10:30am, the queue to buy tickets was probably 500m long and you then had to join a queue equally long to board a ferry!


New York City, Day 2

In what has become a a bit of a running theme, our plans were radically changed after we awoke to terrential rain. No Statue of Liberty but this is New York so there were plenty of other indoor options.

First stop was the United Nations (excellent bookstore and some really good photography exhibits) and then after lunch onto the New York Public Library. The library, a very grand marble buidling with ornate fixtures and highly decorative plaster ceilings, is home to some of the oldest and most significant collections in the world. Many are special collections which can only be accessed by those trained to handle such delicate documents and where a good reason to do so has been supplied and approved.

The reading room seen here is the only area where members of the public can freely access books, use the internet or whittle away the afternoon browsing the shelves. This picture only shows the southern reading room, the northern is as big and there is a centre one as well.

We ended the day with dinner in Soho and a walk through Little Italy and China town. Little Italy is great, lots of pasta and pizza places, good coffee and big desserts. Chinatown is lined with vendors flogging imitation Dolce and Gabana handbags, sunglasses and brand name perfumes. I refrained, there is something about wonky glasses and vinyl bags that doesn’t quite cut it, maybe in Italy.

– Gemma

New York City, Day 1

While I don’t think I will ever wear one, I understand why others wear those ‘I love NY’ sweaters now. New York is a pretty amazing city, far more so than I had expected.

We started early with breakfast (bagel and coffee) in Central Park. The park is just plain massive, you could probably fit the entire Sydney CBD inside Central Park at least twice. It covers over 50 city blocks North-South and about 5 large blocks East-West. We walked pretty much the entire length which took over an hour. You could probably walk in there for a week and not see all of it. There is a large lake in the middle, about 6 baseball fields, an ice rink, canals complete with gondalas, horse drawn carts and lots of joggers. It is still early spring here and it is already greening up, I imagine it would be even more beautiful in a month or two.

From the park we headed south checking out the Rockefeller Centre, Grand Cenral Station, Time Square and the Public Library before realising we still had 45 blocks to walk before hitting the south shore of Manhattan Island. We gave our weary legs a rest and jumped on the Subway to Ground Zero, the World Trade Centre Site.

While we are very sympathetic to the loss of New York, in particular the firefighters and other emergency services workers, it is hard to understand why rebuilding on the World Trade Centre site is taking so long and prolonging the grieving process.  Almost 6 years on it remains a large whole in the ground.

From here we walked past City Hall (which you aren’t even able to approach let alone enter), down Wall St finishing our day with a Staten Island Ferry ride past the Statue of Liberty before returning North on the Subway to Harlem where our hotel is.  Of course no Seinfeld fan’s trip to New York would be complete without a meal at Tom’s Restaurant, and while the interior is nothing like the set used on the show, the food made it worthwhile – great value.