Righto, the blog is back on a once off for the next week. Before I go into great detail (all cheers) we're just back from New York, well we got back Tuesday morning. Great trip and, hold onto yer butts, we got engaged. Yup, yours truly went down on one knee and Ger said Yes. More on all that later. Im posting this trip report elsewhere, so the usual humor and swearing wont be in the following....
I promised to write everything down that we did, day by day, but alas forgot, or couldnt be bothered so all this is coming from memory.
We flew in to JFK 30 minutes earlier than planned with Aer Lingus. Fantastic flight, personal TVs, half decent food and all this just in economy. Loving the new Airbus. Went through customs like a laxitive and within 40 minutes we were landed outside our hotel (The Night Hotel)in midtown Manhattan. Stunning hotel and a savage room, complete with plasma TV, Bose Wave Radio / CD and a minibar with a canister of oxygen for $35. Bags dropped and out the door. 45 seconds later, we're into Times Square. Ger wanted to stop off in Toys R Us and to be honest its a mad place altogether. Granted we didnt bother getting into the full size ferris wheel. Not long after this we got our metro cards for the subway and took a quick trip to Macys. Ive been on the subway before but Ger hadnt so it was just breaking her into it easily. From there we decided to grab something to eat and ever since I spotted Jamie Oliver munching away on a giant sandwich in the Carnegie Deli, that was the first port of call. Found it without much trouble and got seated straight away. As Mr.Oliver before me, I order the Woddy Allen, which basically is 2 slices of bread and about 9 inches of Pastrami and Corned beef in between. I managed to struggle through most of it as if truth be told, I wasnt too impressed. It was just a big arse sandwich. Granted the Pastrami was good, but that was it really. Headed back around broadway and got a few photos and done some more wandering and the like. Around 11pm that night we headed for the Empire State Building, thinking it might be quiet. After all, I had purchased my tickets online, months in advance. Well that made little difference. We stood in a queue for the elevators for nearly an hour and a half. At this stage my feet were in pieces, but once we got to the top, the view was breathtaking and soothing to say the least. We got back to the hotel sometime after 12 and hit that hay.
This day had been in my head for along, long time. This was engagement day. Months of thought had gone into this and truck loads of hours reading tripadvisor.com had helped seal the deal. We headed to the Cranberry Deli for breakfast on 45th and I got some grub to came the nerves. I talk to thousands and thousands of people every night when Im on air with little or no nerves. I never thought I would be asking the love of my life to marry me. Anyways, we made for Central Park and I had my destination planned out, thanks to google earth. The Bow Bridge, what some call the most romantic bridge in the world, which was to be original proposal spot ended up being my backdrop. We took a few photos on the bridge and I told Ger I was running up ahead for some photos. I was checking ahead to see were people coming, but as I was I spotted a beautiful boat shelter. Unfortunately it was occupied but some lady with a cat. I thought about asking her to move, but decided it wouldnt be fair. Anyway, the cat looked like it could tear my kneecaps off. So I headed back onto the bridge and as I did, I looked back and a little further down from the boat shed and there was little inlet with a big rock. I pointed it out to Ger and said, cmon lets get into the shade and relax for 10 minutes. As soon as we sat down on the rock, I took a few pics of her (last one just before I done the deed). I adapted a piece of poetry from one of her favourite poems, spieled it out and asked "Will you marry me?". She said YES and we hugged and kissed with tears in our eyes as the Bow Bridge lingered (well what else was it gonna do?) in the background. After 20 minutes we decided to get out of Central Park and purchase a ring. We ended up by The Natural History Museum. We got a pretzel and some drinks and chilled out for a while on the steps of TNHM, still taking things in. A long trudge up and down Fifth Avenue we finally got a ring and between sizing and everything, it was due to be collected on Thursday evening. We done some more shopping around Fifth Avenue before heading back to the hotel and ringing friends and family with the good news. Ger needed to lie down and get over the shock for a while. 2 months previous I had booked Gordon Ramsay at the London for our engagement dinner. So we strolled uptown, enjoying the sunshine, dressed up to the nines (gentlemen had to have jackets etc.etc.) and arrived on time (for a change) at Gordon Ramsay at the London. Jean Baptist was swaning around, but alas no Gordon. We were promptly seated and after exceptional service and food which I still cant describe, it was that good, the staff in the restaurant outdid themselves. On the way into the restaurant the host asked me what we were in town for. I told her to get engaged and she said congrats and that was it. After out final course, she arrived out with a little dish and a tiny sorbet with a candle on it and congratulations spelt out. Wonderful touch. The food, the food, what can I say. We opted for the 3 course meal, but they kept bringing out samples and palate cleansers and the likes. All in all we had around 6 courses. The food itself was tender and delicate and my suckling pig dissolved in the mouth. After nearly 3 hours we headed out and started a nice romantic stroll down through the lights of broadway, before hitting the hotel.
Another bright and early start and a trip to The Empire Diner. After some seriously good French Toast with Bacon it was time to head back to the hotel and head for Yankee Stadium, for the Yankee / Twins game. 50,000+ fans and an amazing atmosphere. To be honest, we didnt have much of a clue of what was going on but we figured it out eventually, I think. It didnt matter though, the Yankees lost, but we did manage to see a few home runs hit! We headed back for the subway with plenty of disgusted Yankee fans and made for the hotel. We decided to head for the Macys 4th of July fireworks and after walking in the total wrong direction for 30 minutes, we got on the right track and made it pretty close to the fence on the edge of the FDR. The fireworks kicked off around 9.30 and it was belting down with rain, thankfully a nice Scottish couple pulled us under their umbrellas and kept us dry for a while. After an hour, things were wrapping up and along with 3 million other people, we headed back for the hotel. It took ages to get back, due to the volume of people, but it was well worth it.
This was the day we had planned for Woodbury common, but so many people had said we were mad to head out there and stay in Manhattan where there are plenty of bargains. So we scrapped the trip to WC and stayed in the city. Another wonderful breakfast at the Cheyenne Diner (yes, the one from the Tropicana ad) was had, while sitting side by side with the NYPD. After this we made our way down to the WTC site. Very sad and very emotional being there. I felt the eyes well up for a while, but afterwards we made our way to Century 21. Plenty of bargains to be had. A gruelling trip back to the hotel was had with tonnes of bags and we dropped em off and made back out for Macys and everywhere else in between. More bags, more sweat and extremely sore feet. At this stage, the hotel room looked like it needed an extension with all the stuff we had bought. Then it was off to collect the engagement ring, which fitted perfectly. That night, we made for the Gotham Comedy club to see Tony Rock. After 5 too many drinks and a great show, we staggered into a cab and made back for the hotel.
Back to the Cranberry Deli for breakfast again and headed for the Sex and the city tour. A great tour and some amazing cup cakes. A trip on the Staten Island Ferry, yes its free and on Friday night we headed back down to the West Village for more drinks and ended up in Cielo. More drinks again and another drunken trip back to the hotel at 4am.
Time was nearly up, so we made for the Top of The Rock in the morning, which has amazing views, better than the ESB I thought. A trip to the NBC store and a quick stop off back at the hotel and then we made our way to Pier 84 for the NYC water taxi. After some great views of Manhattan we finally ended up in Brooklyn. A stop off at the Brooklyn Ice cream factory proved uneventful. Not a patch on Hagen Daz, according to her good self. There was too much of a queue for Grimaldis so after that we made our way to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked across. From there we made our way back uptown and down some more shopping. That night we headed for the Cutting Room, got some decent dinner and kept the jukebox going.
Last full day in the big apple and most of it was taken up with the Sopranos tour. Great tour, really loved it. The highlight had to be getting some cannoli's and getting into the Bing. The icing on the cake was hearing Journey - Dont Stop Believing in Satin Dolls (The Bada Bing) while sitting at Tonys spot at the counter before we left and picked up some t-shirts. Sunday night we headed back downtown and made for Lombardi's for some perfect Pizza and stopped off at Rice to Riches for desert. Hesitantly, we made our way back to the hotel as our last night in New York came to an end.
Last minute run arounds and we headed for JFK at around 2.30. After a very uncomfortable, stuffy flight we made it back into shannon and another 2 hours later we were back in Cork, battered and bruised.
I cant remember which days, but we also ate at BB Kings, The Brooklyn Diner and Katz. Of all the eating experiences, Katz was a disaster. Food was OK. The place itself was a nightmare, looked dirty and pictures actually fell off the wall when we were there. I'm after forgetting the hundreds of shops we went into, but judging by the state of our feet we hit a lot of em.
Right, onto some pics....
More pics to follow....