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April 06, 2006

New York Diary – 1st January 2006

New Years Day…and our last day in New York!

We packed all our bags and cleared the bedrooms as we had to vacate by mid-day but didn't have to get to the airport until about 6pm. We took our luggage down to the concierge and they put it away so that we could collect it later in the afternoon.

We then got a taxi to Chinatown in the morning – someone who we met at the hotel (who happened to be from Yardley in Birmingham) recommended that we go to check out the counterfeit designer bags and jewellery etc. I'm not a fan of stuff like YSL and Louis Vuitton bags (not the cheap rip-off ones anyway!) as they all look pretty trashy to me – if I see someone with a YSL bag (especially if it's the one with all the coloured logos all over it) I tend to presume its fake anyway so I had no interest in going bag shopping! But we went anyway….

As soon as we stepped out onto the street, a chinese looking woman approached us saying "Come see bags, cheap designer bags. CD's, DVD's, bags". So we just kind of politely declined and had a look in a nearby shop. Now the shops weren't really shops as such. The interior was like a shop, but the front was wide open and resembled more of a market stall. There was allsorts of jewellery and bags and clothes on display and some of the jewellery wasn't bad. I got some nice beads and matching bracelets (which I later lost at the airport!) and Laura got some fake Tiffany jewellery which wasn't bad. However, if you made the mistake of going a little further into the shop, and showed the slightest bit of interest in any of the goods the assistant would try and coax you into a special area – usually behind a curtain at the back of the shop – where the walls were just lined in fake bags. The special area was only the size of a broom cupboard but it was packed full with bags. Now, when you're only in a small space, its hard to browse and feign interest so it was just a case of looking at a couple of bags, and then trying to sneak out before they pulled you back in!

Mary, Anna, Emily and Rosie made made a big mistake and were coaxed through a strange door that was just off the street and up about five flights of stairs to the top of a run-down looking building. A woman approached them on the street and they agreed to go with her, not realising that they were going to be taken away to the seedy underworld. Ok, it wasn't that bad – but Iwouldn't have gone! Me and Laura managed to escape this experience but when they came back down they looked far from impressed. Poor little Rosie got cajolled into buying a YSL bag which she didn't even want – just so that they didn't appear to be rude!

Chinatown was a bit grotty really – it seemed quite dirty and the people were really pushy so we got out of there after about an hour! We got a subway to what we thought was Bryant Park (after going for a coffee at Starbucks(!) and waiting for the clan to go to the toilet – again!). Somehow we actually ended up at Macys store again and then were told that Bryant Park was too far away to walk so started walking towards Times Square instead.

Once at Times Square, Mary, Anna, Laura and Rosie went to Applebees to have a drink and a sit down. It was a pretty tiring last day – and we had all been up late the night before but Em and I weren't ready to stop – our last few hours in New York were precious and we still wanted to do stuff…. So we went around a few of the shops and then ended up getting our portrait done by a street artist – suffice to say they didn't really look like us!! When you see other people having their portraits done, they look really accurate, but when it's your own you are more critical as you know exactly what you look like whereas with other people, you just see the resemblance.

Em and I went back to Applebees to meet the others and they all had a good laugh at our portraits! We had lunch/tea at about 3:30ish and then went back to the hotel to collect our luggage and head to the airport. We got a taxi from hotel at about 5pm and went to JFK.

Now, I was going to end the entry there – until I remembered the funny bit at the airport where I was nearly staying in New York an extra night!! I am obviously the most sensible person in our party of New Yorkers so I had the job of looking after the tickets and passports etc – despite the fact that on the way out to NY, when we checked in at Heathrow, I neglected to hand over my ticket so after the guy had checked us all in, he was like – 'Who is Eleanor?' and when I said 'me' he said 'Well, do you have your ticket?' and I replied 'Yeah, its in my bag' – as if thats where it should have been and not in his hands with everyone elses…

Anyway, I handed over all of the documents (tickets/passports etc) to the check-in girl at JFK and she checked us all in and handed everything back to me. I put the boarding cards, passports etc back in my bag together. We then went and had a coffee etc whilst waiting to be called to the boarding gate. When it came to boarding, we were the last to get to the plane I think – I didn't see anyone arrive at the gate after us – and I handed over all of the boarding cards. The guy at the boarding gate said: "Who's Eleanor Lovell?" – to which I obviously answered "me". He then asked me where my boarding card was! I assumed it was with all of the others that the woman at check-in had given me but apparently not. Now I couldn't possibly have lost my own boarding card and managed to keep everyone else's safe – could I?!!

He said that I couldn't board without my boarding card so I proceeded to check through my bag frantically. It wasn't in there. He then demanded $50 for a reprint of the boarding card. There was no way that I had lost my boarding card (I don't think!) so I refused to pay – to which his response was; "fine – you will have to stay here then" and he told my cousins and aunty to carry on onto the plane. I was starting to get a bit annoyed now as he was being pretty arsey with me. I spoke to another (more reasonable) guy at the boarding gate and asked him to call the check-in to ask whether they had forgotten to give me a boarding card. Luckliy, for some reason, I remembered the girls name who had checked us in – so I told him to call her. By this stage, my cousins and aunty had actually carried on and left me at the gate, but I was pretty sure that I was going to make it on to the plane so told them to carry on ahead. This other guy was much more reasonable than the other annoying man and said not to worry and he just printed a new boarding card for me.

So then, obviously, I was the last person to get onto the plane. All of the other passengers were seated and as I walked down the aisle they were all staring at me as I blushed – they were probably thinking 'who is this muppet who is holding up the flight?'! Then we had a right struggle trying to get our hand luggage into the overhead space and had to ask an air hostess to put our bag in a special place somewhere at the back of the plane because there was nowhere else to put it!! Oh the drama!! Anyway, it was a great flight home – I watched the Wedding Crashers and slept quite a bit as it was a night time flight.

It was a brilliant, brilliant holiday but as always it was quite nice to get back home. Still, I can't wait to go again!! Thanks Mary, Anna, Laura, Emily and Rosie for a great time!

April 04, 2006

New York Diary – 31st December – New Years Eve

So we woke up on New Years Eve and we looked out the window to find that it was snowing!! We had all been hoping/expecting to see some snow in New York so we were all pretty excited.

We got a cab to Times Square and planned to meet outside Planet Hollywood, but once again - the problem of getting two taxis meant that we managed to loose each other. I ended up with Anna and Mary, and Laura got lost with Emily and Rosie (who still had both the mobile phones!). As usual, Mary and Anna didn't seem to worried that we had lost the others as they were distracted by the Naked Cowboy!

We had decided to have a pretty relaxed day since we had a long night ahead in Times Square watching the ball drop(!). We split into pairs to have a look around the shops and try to spend the last of our dollars before heading home the following day. Emily and Laura got carried away looking around the shops and ended up walking all the way to Macy's and had to get a taxi back, Rosie and I went around a few of the souvenier shops getting I Love NY gifts and postcards/keyrings etc for friends and family – the usual tourist junk – and Anna and Mary went to their favourite place – Starbucks! Even at this time in the afternoon, we noticed that people were already starting to congregate arund Times Square – some people had blankets with them and cardboard etc to sit on at the side of the road – making sure that had a good spot ready for the evening celerbations. There were also people handing out little self-heating sachets that you rub in the palms of your hand and then put inside your gloves to keep your hands warm, and other people were handing out inflatables, hats etc.

We all met back up at Villa Pizza at 12:45 and had some lunch before going back to the hotel for a rest before our ngiht out. Rosie and I were a bit reluctant to 'have a rest' on our last full day in New York – we were running out of time in the Big Apple and didn't want to waste it resting so we went back out in a cab and had a look around some more of the shoe shops etc around Macy's.

We went out at about 3:45pm and got a taxi to Times Square – well, not exactly to Times Sqaure as all the roads around there were being closed off because so many people were already gathered for the evening celebrations. We made our way to Virgils Restaurant in the snow where we had a lovely dinner. No-one told us that you were menat to order starters to share – so we all ordered one each….there was soooo much food. I ordered the BBq Riblets, Laura and Mary had Chicken Hot Wings, Anna had a huge plate of Nachos…I can't remember what Em and Rosie had. Then for our main course we ordered Train Wreck Fries – Chips covered in bacon, cheese, chillies, salsa, guacamole – the lot!! Was soooo ful but somehow managed to squeeze in some of Anna's dessert – an ice cream sandwich!!

By the time we had finished our meal it was just before 6pm so we had to go to Times Square to see the ball rise to the top of the tower (which it later drops from). We thought we had it all planned – Virgils restaurant was right near the start of Times Square, so theoreticaly, we could have just walked to the end of the street and been in the best spot to watch the ball, however, the pplice had already closed our street off so we had to go about six blocks down before they would let anyone in!! It was a bit chaotic as everyone was rushing and pushing, and we were struggling to keep up with the crowds after having such a big dinner!!

Anyway, we managed to get into position by about 6:15pm – although our position was pretty disappointing…..there were just so many people there!! From where we were stood we could barely even see the ball! It was more like a spec!!

Times Square

Everyone was squashed together and it was a bit wet and cold but every hour there was a big cheer as another city around the world hit midnight…only problem was – we were so far from the entertainment that we couldn't see the screens very well, or hear the loudspeakers so we didn't even know which city we were cheering in!

At 7pm, we cheered the UK in and there were a few others Brits in the crowd so that was nice, but by about 7:30pm (after just over 1 hour in Time Square) Laura, Mary, Anna and Em decided to leave and head back to the hotel to watch it on TV!! To be fair, it was freezing cold, we could hardly see/hear any of the entertainment and midnight was still five hours away! I don't think they could face another five hours of being stood around in the cold, but I refused to go back to the hotel. I had travelled across the Atlantic to go to New York for New Years Eve – I wasn't prepared to miss the real thing – I could watch it on the TV at home! Rosie and I stuck it out until the end! Luckily, the police did a great job of controlling the crowds, and a couple of times we were moved forward through the barriers so we were a bit nearer to the excitement! At midnight it was worth the wait! There were plenty of fireworks and lots of singing – Auld Lang Syne followed by Imagine. And then that was it – everyone just turned around and left.

Time Square - New Year

We realised it would be a struggle to get a cab as everyone was after one, so we just followed the masses and kept on walking and some how I figured out the way back to the was only about 20–30 mins walk and was good to warm up on the way back! All in all, it was cold, damp and a lot of waiting around but midnight was worth it – although i'm not sure I would do it again!

April 03, 2006

New York Diary – 30th December

Ok, so I forgot to write down much about what we did on this day so will have to try and remember. Bearing in mind it was three months ago, I may miss some details...

Pretzel!We started off the day at Grand Central where we had breakfast. There are loads of nice eating places downstairs in Grand Central Station and also a nice market area that sells lots of delicious, fresh foods.....cheeses, meat, fish, breads etc. Anyway, I had a lovely cheese and bacon omlette as did my aunty Mary and cousin, Laura. Anna, however, decided to go for something a bit more fancy and ordered some sort of Chicken and Roasted Veg Sandwich thing - Anna - what was that? Anyway, it cost her loads compared to our $5 omlette and she didn't even like it, so then she went for a pretzel – and by pretzel I mean a big NY style pretzel – which apparently aren't as nice as our snack pretzels in the UK. It was really salty and not very tasty according to Anna so she ended up with a pecan danish which cost about $2! For the rest of us, it was the best NY brekkie – Anna didn't enjoy it at all!

After breakfast, we decided to head to the Empire State Building, which we weren't able to visit the previous day due to the awful weather. It seems that everyone else in NY had the same idea and the queue went right around the block. It was a bit worrying as I was in a taxi with Mary and Anna, and Laura was in a taxi with Emily and Rosie. Now we had two mobile phones with us in NY - and Emily and Rosie had them, so when we arrived at the Empire State and couldn't find Laura and the girls due to the amount of people there, I started to worry. Mary and Anna couldn't be bothered to walk to the end of the queue, so suggested that we went to the main front doors in case they were waiting there. I was trying to look for them whilst Mary and Anna were taking their photos in front of the sign for the Empire State. Then I suggested we walked to the end of the queue where we managed to find them. Obviously we then abandoned the trip up the Empire State and instead we got a subway to Greenwich Village.

Following our unsuccessful trip to Greenwich Village the previous day, we decided to try it again today. We got a subway to Union Square and as we emerged from the subway the sun was shining so brightly – it was gorgesous. We did a bit of shopping – we all got some shoes/boots from a store called Shoe Mania. We then walked down Broadway towards Soho passing lots of nice, smaller shops – much better than the big department stores. After about two hours of walking/shopping we decided to head back to the hotel with our shopping bags.

After a quick refresh, we got a taxi Downtown to Brooklyn Bridge; this time it was Anna, Laura and I in one taxi, and Mary Emily and Rosie in the other – once again we sent both of the people with mobile phones in the same txi – clever! So we arived at the foot of Brooklyn Bridge – we told both of the drivers to go to Water Street )I think that was what it was called) and drop us there, just under the bridge. We arrived first, and it turns out our drivere didn't drop us where he said he would – but we didn't realise. We started to worry after about 20 minutes when my aunt and cousins didn't arrive but eventually they turned up. Apparently they had been driving around the foot or Brooklyn Bridge looking for us in the taxi for ages – cost them a lot more than our taxi did!

We walked half way across the Brooklyn Bridge and we were told that it was best if you don't look back until you get to the middle, so that when you turn around it should be quite a sight – and it was! We got our timing just right so that the sun was just going down and it was amazing. There were loads of helicopters flying over head with tourists in and the pedestrian part of the bridge is raised above the road so you can see the cars flying past on the road below. Its a bit strange to think that some people cross that road every day of their lives and we thought it was so impressive just to be there looking at the Manhattan skyline at dusk – it was beautiful.

View from Brooklyn Bridge

After the bridge we went to Starbucks for a coffee (Mary and Anna's favourite place!) and then got a taxi to the Heliport on the Hudson River (West Manhattan). This was probably my favourite part of the holiday – we took a helicpoter ride around New York. It apparently only lasted 7–9 mintues but it was sooooooo cool. Definitely worth the money. It was crazy to see the roads and avenues that are just like criss-cross rows of lights. And I had never been in a helicopter before so it was great to experience the difference between flying in a helicopter than in a plane. It banks over quite a lot to turn corners, and my cousin was very apprehensive about this before we took off as she hates flying. But once we were back on the ground she was so excited that she had done it. We all loved it and I would definitely do it again!

After that, we got a taxi to the Rockefeller Centre to get some dinner, but it turned out that all of the restaurants etc shut at 7:30pm. I was very surprised but it was good to go and see the massive tree (that was in Home Alone) and see the people ice skating. We went to the Top of the Rock to view New York from the observation level and then walked to Times Square and had tea at Applebys – which turned out to be one of our favourite places for dinner – yum yum.

View from Top of the Rock

March 29, 2006

New York Diary – 29th December

Got up bright and (very) early but it was raining : ( Every other day had been bitterly cold but the sun was always shining – I think we started taking it for granted so weren't expecting to wake up to rain.

We got a taxi to Bloomingdales and arrived there at 8:30am – however, we weren't to know that it didn’t open until 10am! Of course, being the bossy, organised one – I got blamed! So, we went to a nearby café and had lots of tea and a little bit of cake. There was a dog parlour a couple of doors away from the cafe and the cutest dog ever – it was sooo tiny, could have just put it in my pocket! Anyway, at 9:50 we went back to Bloomingdales and were waiting for the store to open in the porch area with a few posh/snobby american people. It was very funny when Emily was leaning against the wall in the porch and knocked a massive picture down. Luckily it didn't break but all of the posh people were frowning and looking less than impressed! Emily was laughing – I was cringing!! When the store opened, I was going to tell the attendant but this snooty woman beat us to it which made us look even more naughty!


We had a little look around and Mary and I bought some Escada perfume – mine was for Mom – and collected our free gifts from the visitors centre. It's quite good – you can get tickets from the concierge at the hotel, and it entitles you to discounts and free gifts in the larger department stores.

We then got a subway to Greenwich Village to have a look around the area. The guy in the hotel gift shop had told us to go there and have a look around the quirky shops and cafes and stuff but when we got there it was still raining so we couldn’t really see very much of the shops and walking around the streets was not very enjoyable. We decided to get a taxi to Macys instead and planned to visit the Empire State Building which was nearby. When we go there visibility was awful because of the weather and we couldn’t even see the top of the Empire State Building so we decided to put that off until another day!

We went into Macys and had lunch in Au Bon Pain – yummy. We then decided to split up and have a proper look around Macy's so Lau and I went off and Mary, Anna, Em and Rose went around together. After about half an hour in Macy's, Laura and I decided that we didn't really like it that much so we left Macy’s and went to explore outside. People had told us that the shopping in New York was great and it was so cheap etc but we didn't really agree with that. Macy's was nice but the clothes were still fairly expensive and then there was a really cheap area where the clothes were just really poor quality and common. Anyway, outside Macy's there was a store called Journey’s which had some nice clothes and trainers etc. We went to Foot Locker, H&M, Gap etc and then we discovered the Manhattan Mall which was nearby and contained lots of smaller shops. We got some shoes – $30 for two pairs – and bought some I Love NY t-shirts and keyrings etc and Lau got a jumper and scarf for Gav. We met back up with the others who had spent about three hours trapsing around Macy's. They did buy a few things but agreed with us that Macy's wasn't as great as they had expected. Apparenty they didn't think to leave Macy's and explore outside so instead they had carried on wandering around inside – and even visited the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream stand in there.

We got a taxi back to the hotel to get ready to go to the theatre. We had booked well in advance to go and see Beauty and the Beast at the Lunt Fontane on Broadway. We were going to go the Ben Bensons Steak House for tea but when we got there it was really expensive and the queue for food was pretty big and we didn't really have time to wait so we went for a wander around and found a TGI Fridays nearby. We then went to the theatre and Beauty and the Beast was AMAZING. I think it was one of my best things in New York. I actually cried it was so great – should I be admitting that?! Because the shows in New York run for months/years on end – the set etc on stage is so stunning and the actors have got their performances spot on. It was brilliant – I definitely reccommend it.

After the show it was pretty difficult to get a taxi as everyone leaves Broadway around the same time. Anna, Mary and Rosie managed to get a taxi but Em, Lau and I had to walk around for a bit before we managed to find one – we were almost tempted to get on one of those bikes with the funny cart thing on the back but they could only hold two people and we decided we would have looked slightly stupid! It was also slightly weird when some man stuck his face in my cousins face and sucked his teeth at her(!) – don't know what we did to provoke that but glad we managed to find a taxi and escape the weird teeth-sucker!

So, after our third full day we were really feeling at home in New York and were starting to feel sad that our hoiday was already half way through!

New York Diary – 28th December

Third day in New York and it was my cousin Laura's 25th birthday. After our trip to Toys'R'Us in Times Square on the Tuesday, Anna had bought some party goodie bags for us all, so we ate lots of sweets for our breakfast and gave Laura her birthday cards. None of us had the afore thought to actually bring presents with us – oops!

We had a busy day planned in Central Park – we left the hotel and walked along Fifth Avenue towards the Park. On the way down Fifth Avenue we had to pop in at Saks Department Store for a look around. The window displays were really lovely and people were just queueing to look in the window! Moving models and festive snow scenes etc.

Fifth Avenue

We carried on down Fifth Avenue and had to visit Tiffany's! I love the movie so really wanted to go to the store. It was very nice inside – obviously lots of lovely, expensive jewellery. Typical tourist – I got told off for trying to camcord inside the store – oops! And then the doorman tried to chat up my cousin.


So, our day planned in Central Park was becoming cut short by our trip down Fifth Avenue – and then we came across Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Now being a family of Irish Catholics, my aunty Mary really wanted to visit the Cathedral and it was very beautiful inside, although we did find out that there was a funeral apparently going on at the front of the church – which didn't seem to stop the tourists. I lit a candle in the church for my Mom and Dad and we had a quick look around but I was keen to carry on to Central Park and hit the ice skating rink. We were all ready to leave the Cathedral when we realised we couldn't find my cousin Anna so I had to go looking for her. She was at the very front of the church – kneeling down praying(!). Much to the disgust of some American woman I just went up to her and tapped her on the shoulder, getting quite annoyed at this stage – and told her to hurry up – to which she replied "I'm saying my prayers" – I had to respond with "say them quicker" as we were all hanging around waiting for her and she was taking ages – she must have been saying the whole rosary or somethng!! This American woman overheard our little to-do and was just like: "She's fine – let her say her prayers!" which just made me furious because we all wanted to go – and lets face it – i'm just bossy!

Anyway, we eventually arrived at Central Park and took a horse and cart ride around the park. Laura and Em got into one cart and as we were trying to decide who else should go in the first cart, the bloody horse just walked off! So Mary, Anna, Rosie and I took a second cart. It was quite expensive but it gave us a good overview of the park and the guy driving it was very friendly.

We then walked to Central Park Zoo where we went into the ‘rainforest’ saw polar bears, penguins, seals etc. It's quite a small Zoo but is cheap to get in and nice to spend an hour. We had lunch in the Leaping Frog Café at the zoo and then walked to the Woollman Ice Rink. At the Woollman Ice Rink, we had to queue for about 30mins but it was worth it just to say that we had been iceskating in Central Park! It was quite expensive – we had to pay for admittance, skate hire and locker hire. We spent about 40mins on the ice – Rosie and Anna managed one lap of the rink, Lau and I did about 10 laps.

Central Park Zoo

Next stop was The Natural History Museum. Laura, Mary, Anna and Em decided to get a taxi across Central Park(!) but Rosie and I walked and went through Strawberry fields. Saw John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ stone and went to see the hotel where he got shot – The Dakota. Unfortunately we went to the wrong hotel and didn't have time to walk further down the street to the right one – Oh well! When we got to the Museum, admittance was quite expensive and there was no coffee shop – which was where we seemed to spend most of our time in New York thanks to Mary and Anna! Our other favourite place was the toliet – which we also seemed to visit on the hour every hour!! So we got the subway back to the hotel as we were running out of time to get ready for Laura’s birthday meal. Me and Lau got ready first and then went for a beer in the bar of the hotel. So expensive! About $10 for a beer or something ridiculous – can't remember now!

When we went out, we walked around the block to the Marriott to hail a cab to Little Italy - there was a driver there who asked us if we wanted a limo instead for just $10 each - so we all jumped in. We were told that Angelo’s was the best Italian in the city and when we arrived there was a bit of a queue outside. Luckily, the girls in front of us seemed to know the management there and on their way in they told the guy on the door to sort us out next so we didn't have to wait. They also told us to try a dish called Spedini which would apparently change our lives it was that good. They told us it was fried mozzarella in a special sauce. Turns out the special sauce was anchovy so no-one ordered it except me – and it didn't change my life. Now i'm not the biggest pasta fan and it seems that at an authentic Italian they don't put many ingredients in the pasta – it was all just pasta and sauce – so I ordered one of the specials which had mushroom and sausage in it. Let's just say – Italian is still not my favourite – but we all had a good night and Laura enjoyed a memorable birthday in New York!

March 23, 2006

New York Diary – 27th December

We woke up really early – about 6am (which would have been about 10am at home). My cousins Anna and Rosie went down to the deli which was right outside our hotel and got coffees, bagels, pecan danish etc – yum yum! We ate our brekkie in bed and then decided to go out as we had a packed itinerary for the day!

First stop was Grand Central Station.

Grand Central Station

We tested out the subway and got a shuttle to Wall Street. As we stepped out of the subway, Wall Street was straight ahead of us. We walked down to have a look at the New York Stock Exchange but we couldn’t get in as the observation level had been closed to the public since 9/11. We went into Trinity Church and then walked to Ground Zero. It was freezing cold and windy and it was pretty bleak there. People had warned me that there might be people trying to sell memorabilia and stuff to the tourists there but luckily we didn't see any of that. There were quite a few people taking photos and videoing the information boards that were on display and all the names of those who died. It was a bit eery but at the same time it just looked like a big building site.

From there we headed towards Battery Park to get the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. Anna, Emily and Mary bought some ridiculous hats from a market stall on the side of the street and the rest of us bought some sensible ear muffs. The man on the stall asked Anna to marry him – I think she was tempted but reluctantly declined – he was minging!

Staute of Liberty

We then went into a deli/café called Café World. It was 11am in America (4pm GMT) and the deli served hot and cold food from counters in the middle of the café – perfect for our tea(!) There was loads to choose from – chicken wings, Chinese ribs, rice, noodles, meatballs, lasagna etc. It was self service and you just had to fill your plastic container until it was brimming – although we didn’t realise that you had to pay by the pound! Mine came to about $13 (about £7?). Anna bought coffees and pastries for us and managed to spill hot chocolate all down her jeans and her brand new boots – very amusing – especially when we realized that her flies were also undone (Sorry Anna – I had to write it down in case we all forgot how funny it was!).

We then walked to Battery Park and had our photo taken with one of the human statues. We went to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and went to the lower deck – it was very cold and windy cold on the deck so we retreated inside the ferry. Once we arrived at Staten Island, we disembarked the ferry only to get back on board and return to Manhattan. Once back at the Ferry terminal, we decided to get the subway to Times Square.

Wow – Times Square – What a sight! As we stepped out of the subway it was just as you imagine New York to be – the lights, billboards, traffic, taxis…etc We popped into Virgils Restaurant as we had already booked for our New Years Eve dinner and wanted to check it out. It is like a big southern bbq restaurant where they serve Hickory Chicken and BBQ ribs etc. There was a really good atmosphere in there – and we found out on New Years Eve that the food was very tasty! After Virgils, we popped into Plant Hollywood to make a reservation for tea but they told us that we couldn’t book in advance.

We spent some time looking around Toys ’R’ Us and took the opportunity to buy birthday cards for Laura. Anna and Mary also bought party bags and treats so that it would feel a bit more like her birthday (which is the 28th December). Laura bought her finace Gavin a Wrestling Champion belt! We went in to the Westin New York hotel to see where we were almost staying. We originally had reservations for the Westin but the company that we booked with messed up our booking and we were swapped to the Intercontinental. We realised that it actually worked out for the better – although Times Square was fantastic it might have been a bit full-on to actually be stopping there and to walk out into Times Square every morning.

We were all pretty tired out after a very busy day – we had a coffee / tea in the Café Europa. Emily, Rosie, Laura and I decided to explore Times Square a bit more before tea at Planet Hollywood. The dinner was lovely – we had BBQ Pizzas, Ribs, Burgers – typical American food and it was all yummy!

It was a great first day in New York!

February 02, 2006

New York Diary – 26th December

It's been a long time coming, but here it is…the diary of my first trip to New York…

We all got up early on Boxing Day despite feeling slightly tired and hungover! This may be slightly illegal, but Mom, Dad, Aunty Mary, Anna, Laura, Emily, Rosie and I all piled into my parents motorhome and drove down to Heathrow! Felt like the Brady Bunch or something!

We held up the queue at check-in because my cousin had tried to change our plane seats at Virgin online, but in fact had kind of changed our date of travel home! Luckily the guy at the check-in was very helpful and managed to change it back, and find us seats together!

The flight was very good – I love fliying anyway, but my cousin hates flying and did not enjoy the turbulance somewhere over the Atlantic! It was so amazing as we approched New York and all we could see were the lights of Manhattan! People say that New York sparkles at night and they are right! The queues at JFK customs weren't as bad as people had said they would be – although the customs guy did try to question me about why I was in New York. I think he soon realised that I was just a tourist as I had a massive grin on my face and just kept giggling when he asked me stupid questions.

We were staying at the Intercontinental Barclay Hotel on East 48th Street. We went straight out after we had half un-packed and went to a restaurant called Jekyll and Hyde that had been reccommended to us. It is a themed restaurant and all of the people who work there are in fancy dress. They come around to the tables and entertain the diners which was really useful as without the entertainment we may well have fallen asleep! We were eating burger and chips at 9pm New York time – 1am GMT and were all pretty tired but it was a great first night.

When we got back to the hotel, Rosie and I went into the hotel gift shop and got chatting to the guy who worked in there. He was very helpful and gave us some tips on where to visit etc. We were all in bed by about 10:30pm, looking forward to our first full day in NYC!

New York

It has taken me so long to get around to blogging about this, but I have to do it for fear that I might forget the details…

I went to New York during the Christmas holidays with my aunty Mary and cousins; Anna, Laura, Emily and Rosie. We flew from Heathrow on 26th December and arrived home on the 2nd January. I love New York and can't wait to go back…whenever that may be!!

I have uploaded images already but I did keep a bit of a diary each day so that I would remember everything that we did. I will write a seperate entry for each day of the holiday as there is just tooooo much to say all in one go!

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About me

My name is Ellie Lovell and I am the Web Editor in the Communications Office at the University of Warwick.

I started this blog in August 2005 when I started working at the University and have learnt a lot from it. I don’t update it so much anymore (I have been unfaithful to WarwickBlogs) but I hope you enjoy what is here…

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