Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Just an in-between post about NYC

This might prove to be one of the shortest posts I've ever written but I just wanted to include it for continuity and I'm sure I can find a photo or two... *finds a photo or two*

Norngirl managed to write up the day after we had our own adventures so well that I don't think there is much more I can add to our next day in New York City. Here is her post about the day. This is the day when, amongst over things, we visited the financial district, the 9/11 memorial, had lunch at Nobu, saw the Ladder 8 'Ghostbusters' fire station and Newsical the Musical. As you do.

And that lack of need to add much more goes for our visit to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum too which we visited the next morning. I thought was a brilliant museum and well worth visiting.

I especially liked the space exhibits and walking through the aircraft carrier itself. I learnt lots. Clambering through the small doorways in the submarine was something I hadn't considered that I'd be doing that morning when I woke up.

The afternoon of Day 6 (as you might have already read in Norngirls post) we took a full Circle Line Tour around Manhattan, and it's there I'll head to in the next post about our trip last month... in a much longer - more photo heavy - post than this one. It turns out packing to move house still sucks time and energy no matter how many times you do it... the joy of renting! I'll catch up the dedication of Norngirls trip reports yet (give or take a month or two) just you wait and see.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Wandering along the Coney Island Boardwalk

After a walk on the beach I took a wander back along the Coney Island boardwalk.

Coney Island Boardwalk Bench

For anyone in the UK who might not know, a boardwalk is what it says on the tin, a wooden walkway - like a pier but where the promenade would be. Here is some of it being repaired or re-laid.

Coney Island Boardwalk Construction

It was a nice little walk. I'd covered the best part of 6 miles in the day at this point and so it was nice to have lots of little distractions to look at... like painted bins:

Coney Island Boardwalk Bin

And the art work on the side of the walls of the New York Aquarium:

Fishy Scene

Fishy Scene Close Up

Fish on the Wall of the New York aquarium

There was proof I was indeed at Coney Island Beach... look - see!

Coney Island Beach Sign

And just to prove that beach is only a step off the boardwalk away...

Coney Island Beach from the Boardwalk

I took a little detour at the entrance of the Aquarium and took in a better view of the famous Coney Island Cyclone - a wooden rollercoaster.

Iconic Cyclone Ride

From the boardwalk you also get a closer view of the amusement parks and the rides like the Wonder Wheel:

Coney Island Wonder Wheel

I really liked these little (well, rather huge) advertising characters perched on the top of some rather run down looking shops.

Burger and Beer advertising at Coney Island

Burger advertising at Coney Island

Like most of the Coney Island I saw, these guys summed it up, they looked a little in need of a some TLC - which on the most part seemed to be happening - especially with the boardwalk itself which seems to be undergoing some maintenance whilst I was there (like in the first photo).

The buildings that were painted looked the part:

Coney Island Boardwalk local sights painting

With landmarks like the Parachute Jump tower (depicted in the art on the wall above and shown in the photo below) it's a unique place.

Coney Island Parachute Jump Structure

I'd like to visit Coney Island again sometime in the future - during a summer time when there is more open. Even in winter though (albeit a very warm day for February), as a first time visit, it was well worth spending the afternoon there.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Coney Island in Winter

Coney Island Amusement ParksMy trip to Coney Island on a mild winter day was a short one but a pleasant one, apart from the Aquarium and the train station, everything I passed on my visit there seemed to be closed. I was expecting this though, after-all it's a beach in Winter and outside the regular tourist season. To be honest I was kinda glad it was very quiet as it really contrasted with the busy of the streets of New York from the New York Giants homecoming parade I attended in the morning. This was the afternoon of the day Norngirl and I did our own thing and this was the one thing I had managed to think up for the day - mainly to be by the sea and walk along the beach but also to see this famous place I'd heard so much about.

The one thing that struck me when I got off the subway train at Stillwell Avenue Station...

Coney Island Stillwell Avenue Station

and walked to the sea front...

Surf Av Sign and Traffic Light

Looking back down Henderson Walk

...was how sparse the area is. In my mind, Coney Island was a tightly built up coastline like Blackpool in the UK, it turns out it's not so densely built up, at least these days, certainly there were lots of car parks.

I walked a good way along the beach, there didn't seem much to see to the West so I headed East leaving a train of footprints in the sand:

Footprint in the Sand

The sun was out and it was surprisingly warm, if we'd have visited on plenty of other years it could have been freezing cold and snowing but this is the scene of bright sunshine beating down on a pretty empty beach that I found.

Winter Sun on Coney Island Beach

Imitation Palm Tree on Coney Island Beach

Red Flags on the Beach at Coney Island

The sand at the top of the beach was getting in my shoes a bit so I ventured down to the waters edge where a few other sensible people were already walking.

Walking along the shore line at Coney Island

It was nice and relaxing with a frequent small wave breaking close by.

Breaking Wave at Coney Island

Lots of Seagulls had also decided to loiter and perch on the rocks, waiting for anything washing up in the surf.

Seagulls on the Rocks at Coney Island

Coney Island is very much a people beach. There were some less pretty sights, like this tyre:

Tyre on the Beach at Coney Island

But for the most part it was quite traditionally beachy:

Rocks and Pier at Coney Island

Jetty at Coney Island

Looking back up the beach, Deno's Wonder Wheel was towering over the gulls.

Deno's Wonder Wheel from the Beach

After a while my legs began to tire so I made my way back up to the boardwalk... and that's where I'll take you in my next post - here.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A Giant Morning in New York

If you had the best part of 9 hours of spare time by yourself in New York City, what would you choose to do? To start my day off I went along to a Giant party.

New York Giants Balloon at Homecoming Parade

I have to admit, much to Norngirls annoyance sometimes, I do like to wing it. Norngirl was going on a shopping/food spree and had meticulously planned her day alone for weeks before.

To be honest, I'd only ever planned to maybe think about planning it some more and yeah, I never quite got around to doing that planning - so all that I had decided for the day was that I wanted to go to a beach at some point. I was at the mercy of New York and whatever it wanted to show me.

It turns out that not planning is sometimes the best plan, for this morning was the morning of the 7th February 2012 and as luck would have it, this was the day the Vince Lombardi Trophy was coming to town with a million happy American Football fans. As I mentioned in my Monuments and Memorials at Night post, the New York Giants had just won the Super Bowl - the Champions League final of American Football and I happened to have nothing to do... the gods TV had spoken - I was going to the homecoming to see what all the fuss was about.

Before I gate crashed my first ticker tape parade, I had to get there. With plenty of time to spare, I decided to see a bit more of this bustling city and went for a walk... a 3 and 1/2 mile walk. Along the way I found out the gutting reality that the deli that served the best BLT sandwich I'd ever eaten had become some chain restaurant. I was displeased.

It's hard to feel disheartened for long in a city like New York though. Every street has the possibility to spring a surprise so I kept walking and before long I found myself at Washington Square with a mini-Arc de Triomphe.

Washington Square Arc de Triomphe

I kept walking and the number of people wearing Giants shirts increased. Before I knew it I was in a sea of American Football fans being directed by police to walk down a street that led to Thomas Paine Park.

NY Giants Fans wearing their Memorabilia

And that's where I stood for the next couple of hours with an ever increasingly excited crowd. It was all in good spirit though, the nutters climbing up the trees and being shouted at by the police were maybe taking things a bit far.

Fans await the New York Giants

Though this guy needs an award for finding what must have been the most uncomfortable spot.

Best Seat in the House

There were also some people were dressed up more for the occasion than others.

Blue Man

Not as far as the guy who decided to climb up to the window of the 1st floor of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation building and promptly fell the moment the people in the room opened the window. That got a big 'Oooooooo' followed by laughter. Some folks were determined to get a good view of the rest of us ants, going as far as perching precariously on the roof of their building.

Looking down on the Parade

Also out of the windows, some people threw their toilet roll, ran out then took to throwing kitchen roll... it didn't work so well and a short time before the real parade began, we had a parade of street cleaning vehicles clearing a path.

Crowds await the New York Giants

The fans around me were eager to see their heroes and eventually, in a very sporadic manner they came past us to the delight of the crowd and the people in the surrounding buildings.

Paper being thrown for NYGiants

New York Giants Players

Vince Lombardi Trophy at the New York Giants Homecoming Parade

New York Giants Fans

Celebrations at the Giants homecoming parade

Once the parade floats and trucks had passed us, people began to dissipate into the rest of the city. Overhearing conversations, some were heading to New Jersey to the stadium for more celebrations, others heading home or to a bar. Who was working that day?

New York Giants Homecoming Parade at Thomas Paine Park

Me, well I was heading to the beach, more on that in my next post but before I could get the subway there, I needed to find my way back. Easier said then done with literally a million people trying to vacate a small area of an densely populated island. I thought it best to just take in the atmosphere a bit to let things quieten down.

New York Giants Homecoming parade aftermath

New York Giants Homecoming parade litter

I've never seen this sort of thing on this scale. Sadly, Leeds haven't had any such success whilst I've been old enough to attend such events and Crusaders have had success but in a city something like 20 times smaller than New York and as one of 6 or more sides in the area, our fan base isn't quite a million strong for a weekday parade.

This parade was quite a sight in terms of people on the streets, the actual parade of a few bands and a few trucks was quite low key in comparison but I really got the feeling of what a proud and passionate bunch of supporters the New York Giants have.

New York Giants Homecoming parade

Eventually, after following the path of least resistance (I was now totalling 5 miles walked for the day according to my route on Google Earth) I found my way to a subway station somewhere on 6th Avenue for a ride to Coney Island.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Ride into Manhattan

The Washington to New York train journey was our first experience of Amtrak and I realise we were not on a packed commuter service but, dude!... seats bigger than Premium Economy on a plane, power sockets to charge stuff with by every seat and compared to UK prices, oddly reasonable for the distance.

I know, I'm easily impressed. Anyway, as Norngirl has already given a great review of our day - and quite frankly I don't think I can add anything more of any substance to it - I'm just going to provide a few extra photos from the day. Just a couple of the views out of windows as we covered the 225 miles of railroad and arrived in New York - sadly a lot of them didn't really come out well, so there aren't many - note to Amtrak - please wash your windows more often.

Philadelphia through the train window.
Philadelphia from the Train

A sign that we'd reached Newark Penn Station
Newark Penn Station Sign

Back to the Big Apple - the Skyline of Manhattan and Jersey City appeared.

Admiring the one of the views from the hotel window before getting back out into the city that never sleeps.
Downtown New York Skyline


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