Once more I find myself enjoying a walk through Central Park early in the morning and once again I’m heading for the apple shop. Sadly, and it’s a sign that my time here is nearly at an end, I need to check in and book my seat on tomorrows flight. It’s a warm and welcoming building as the weather is starting to get cold and the wind is dropping it below 0°.
As convenient a seat as I can manage is booked. 2 hours into on-line booking and there are no extra legroom seats left. Not best pleased but nothing I can do about it. I’ll have to go for a seat where no one is behind me so I can put the seat back as far as it can go. It’ll be some consolation on an eight hour flight.
My next stop is Macys. I have some stuff to get people and they have both a sale on and I can get my 11% international shopper discount. I hadn’t realised how different things would be at the weekend, something that would be a repeating pattern as the day went on. Apart from the shopping there was another reason for my return. Christmas shop windows. For Macys these are works of art and a photographic must. Six in all but with everything that goes on in each window a lot more than six photos are needed.
I was determined that today was not going to be a day when I spent most of it on my feet. The last 4 days I had covered (according to the gadget on the phone) over 70 miles and a more relaxing time was warranted. To a degree, I got it, though as resting the feet goes, there are probably better ways. It was time for an official boat tour. Unlike the Staten Island ferry, this would have a commentary, the lot. The boat even had a reasonably priced bar, especially given the captive nature of its audience. So, it was out on deck to listen to the guide and to snap photos a plenty. It was a sunny day so that the views were wonderful. The problem, a bit like yesterday, was going to be the wind. While it wasn’t blowing a gale to the degree that the boat was rocking all over the place, the wind that was blowing was bitterly cold. It wasn’t long before my hands were residing in coat pockets when photos weren’t being taken and changing lens was not to be undertaken lightly. Eventually enough was enough and I headed inside. This was despite wearing one of the warmest North Face jackets on the market. It took me most of the rest of the trip to warm up sitting next to one of the radiators rubbing my hands against it. Hopefully the remaining photos weren’t going to show up the dirt on the window. The guide was quite a knowledgeable chap and very easy to listen to. A native New Yorker who had clearly seen lots of changes. It was very clear which ones he approved of and which he wasn’t so keen on. It wasn’t quite political, but probably as political as he could get without getting complaints from either the republicans or the democrats (or probably both given way politics works)!
So, slightly warmer than I’d been, but still in need of finding warmth there was only one route back to the centre of town for some more Broadway tickets. The bus. Now I assume that it’s because a lot of the edge of Manhattan island on the west side is reclaimed land, but there are no subway lines that run even close to the piers which the tours start and end at. So the choices will always be either the bus or the taxi. Given I’d got my metro card, the bus was going to be free, so the more sensible option, it was also likely to be no slower than a taxi either. For getting across town, the buses are unbeatable. The subway mainly runs in a north south direction with some, but only a limited, amount of connection across the island. The buses on the other hand have regular routes that go across the island, so when used together theyare a good combination. (Buses do go north and south but will never match the tube for speed). Fortunately there was a bus ready and waiting for us as we got off the boat (almost as if they knew) and I was able to quickly move into another warm environment. Like the rest of the transport system, the buses are clean and run to good time. What was interesting was the stop request was made of several strips of tape, clearly with some computerised component in them, that you pressed to get the bus to stop. These ran down between the windows allowing young and old, short and tall to easily stop the bus when they needed their stop. There was, however, a problem I could see with such a system. If you’re in the wrong seat and nodding off and leaning against the tape would lead to the bus stopping for no one to get off. This must infuriate the drivers, still it’s America, there have been sillier things happen.
Weekends in New York City are very different to weekdays. I suppose that is true of most places, but it is particularly notable there. Whereas until now I could easily work my way through the crowds (or around them if the traffic permitted), that was not going to be much of an option. I suspect that every bit of pavement was being used, possibly by more than one person at a time! The difference affected far more than the people on the streets, it was everywhere. From the ticket queue (none on the Friday to a queue that would be half way round the block the next day), to the waiting time for a meal, nearly 2 hours for the Hard Rock Café. Personally I didn’t have that much time after getting the tickets so I would have to settle for some junk food. However, first things first, I needed my show tickets.
Typically the show I had intended to see, Grease, had nothing available, so after a bit of a natter with another lady in the queue I opted for Mama Mia! In fact from what I could make out, me and the lady in the queue were going to be swapping shows. I’d seen Chicago the night before and she was intended to see it tonight. She’s seen Mama Mia! the night before and it was she that convinced me to plump for that rather than Rent. I was not to be disappointed. What’s more, somehow I had a front row seat. Slightly to the side, but still, front row on Broadway and I’d paid well under £50!
Tickets purchased, it was time for dinner. As mentioned it was going to have to be a less healthy option if I was to get everything done on time. Now McDonalds in Times Square took service to the next level. It was crowded, to be expected, but at none of their other restaurants have I ever been referred to as a guest!
It was time to be heading back to base to drop off the stuff that I had purchased earlier. I did, though, have one more compulsory shop. The Hershey shop. Now I know that they are not to everyone’s tastes, but I like them. There was though one problem. It was Saturday and I’ve already said what Saturday does to Times Square. The Hershey shop was no different. It had a queue. A chocolate shop had a queue outside it! Now I know that I’m English and we’re renowned for queuing, but even I have my limits, or do I! It is after all chocolate, and it is Hersheys. Well the queue was too long even for my liking, I’d come back later when fewer people would be around. It wasn’t a mistake, but the queue was still there (even it was a little shorter). To be fair to Hershey, they aren’t over the top about their shop. It’s a chocolate shop and doesn’t purport to be anything else. M&Ms would be a different case. They don’t have a shop. They have a lounge!
Strolling back to return my latest purchases to my room I was finally around Central Park for their Christmas market. So far I’d left far too early for it to be open and hadn’t returned until long after it had shut (such was the nature of having a subway system that runs 24/7). In reality I hadn’t missed much. Some of the stalls were novel, but there were the usual stalls selling tribal masks and melted bottles as novelty place mats or decoration. With nothing to buy it was a short visit, and besides, I had a show to go and see.
The show was not a disappointment, and I’d recommend the show to anyone if they get a chance to see it. There is actually quite a good and funny plot to it, and the Abba music is fitted in around it. It does mean that occasionally things are a little contrived, but the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, so it doesn’t matter that much. All in all it was a good way to finish off the holiday (in relation to what I was doing in New York), and I let the cast members doing a charity collection on the doors afterwards know that. Sadly due to the early start, after the show it was straight to bed, though I strongly suspect that Abba will be on the MP3 player on the way home.