Everything comes to an end

Everything come to an end, and so did this vacation. Three more days in New York City, and then back to Denmark. The day before we had decided to buy a 72 hour ticket to a hop-on hop.off bus, which would give us plenty of possiblilities. Many sighseeing companies leaves from Times Square, but some also departs from 8th avenue, not far from our hotel. We therefore decided to walk up to 47th street, here most sighseeing buses departs from.

Manhattan from land and sea

I don't remember which company we finally settled on, when we were surrounded by eager ticket sellers. But we bought a ticket that gave us access to five bus loops and a boat trip within the next 72 hours. We could go on the Uptown Loop, Downtown Loop, Bronx Loop, Brooklyn Loop and Night Loop, and then choose between a ferry trip to Ellis Island and Liberty Island or a tour around Manhattan on Hudson and East Rivers. The price for this package was $ 99 each, but either did we look very nice, or they had a sale, because we only had to pay $ 69 each. We decided to take the Downtown Loop with no hopping off, and maybe a boat trip, as we didn't have too much time. Tim were going to see Les Miz the evening, and we had to have dinner before that.

We therefore lined up for the downtown tour. And even if the line was long here at 9 am, we got on the second bus to arrive and got seated on the upper deck, from where the views are best. The bus took us through Garment Distict, and past Times Square, Flatiron Building, Trump Tower, The UN Buildings, Soho, Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenwich and East Village, Rockefeller Center and many other places, though not in this order. The guide was interesting as usual and told a lot of facts and some anecdotes, of which I have forgotten most. The bus left at 9.45 and around 12.45 we were back where we started,and had got a good impression of downtown, so we knew what to see the next day. We walked back to the hotel to get some more water.

As Tim was not too interested in visisting Ellis Island or Liberty Island, we decided for the sightseeing trip around Manhattan. As we did not know how far from the hotel it was to the boat, we took a taxi, only to discover, that we could have walked the distance in 15 minutes. At the ticket office, we had to show our hop-on hop-.off tickets, and then we could board the ferry, who would take us on a harbor cruise. When we got on board we got a seat on the open deck with a splendid view. As we crossed down the Hudson River, we enjoyed the sight of Manhattan from the seaside, and also the New Jersey shoreline, with ao. the famous Colgate Clock. At the southern point of Manhattan the boat continued past Ellis and Liberty Islands, with good views of the Statue of Liberty, before turning north and heading up the East River. From this point our otherwise excellent view got even better, when a pretty redheaded girl placed her selv right in front of us. Of course it made it a little difficult to take pictures of the surroundings, so we had to limit ourselves to looking af the girl('s) (from) behind, which wasn' the worst of sights.

Going up the East River we passed Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. Right after Williamsburg Bridge the boat turned around and returned south. Along the way we passed both some very nice residential buildings and also some not so nice industrial buildings like a power plant and a sugar facory, that looked rather abandoned. The guide (a voice in a loudspeaker) told us a lot, and I remember just as little as I do the stories told by the guide on bus earlier. It was on this sailing trip, that I first saw the Freedom Tower. On my previous visit to NYC in 2008, it was only a hole in the ground. As we approached the place of departure, we were told that abus would come to pick up those with 48 hour or 72 hour tickets and take us to Times Square. The boattrip had lasted around two and a half hours, so it was 4.30 when we got to Times Square.

Because of Tims theater arrangements, we decided to have an early dinner. The day before we had noticed an Applebee's on 42nd Street, and decided to have our final Applebee diner there. The menu was the same as on every other Applebee's, only they did not offer 2 for 20. And the prises were much highter than we were used to. As usual we shared a starter and each had a main course. Two soft drinks to go with that, and the bill ended up at $ 84. I can see from my accounts that normally we paid between 30 and 40 dollars, when we had dinner om Applebees on this trip, so it was a little expensive. While we were waiting for the food a couple of young girls were seated at the tabler next to us, and we soon found out, that they were Danes too, but beside from a polite "farvel" (good bye), when we left, we didn't speak with them.

After dinner we returned to the hotel, so Tim could have a shower and a change of clothes before leaving for the theater. While he was enjoying his musical (not my kind of music), I relaxed on the bed with a book and my tablet. When he returned three hours later, he was very pleased. Actually so pleased, that as I'm writing this in the easter of 2015, he has gone to London to see the show there as well with some English friends and his mother and her husband.

Look out for sunshine and bad weather

Next day we went for another sightseeing trip. This time we started out on foot, and walked to Rockefeller Center, not too far from our hotel. We left early in order to get to the top, before the haze disturbed the view, but we were a little too late. When we got to Top of the Rock, the haze had already set in, especially looking south towards downtown Manhattan. Even so, we spent around one hour on the top before returning to the ground. When we got down we returned to 8th Avenue once more to get on a bus on the downtown loop. Not because we were taking that loop again, but because we wanted to go to take it down to where the Brooklyn Loop left Manhattan. When we got back to the bus stop, there were a lot of people waiting in line. Based on the time we waited the day before, I calculated that we would probably get on to bus nummer six or seven, which could last a while, as the buses were leaving at very irregular intervals due to traffic, and I were certain that we would have to wait a couple of hours before getting underway. Fortunately a representative from the bus company asked around how many just needed transportation to the Brooklyn Loop, and when the  number proved sufficient, she announced that she would call an "express' bus, that would takes us directly there, with no stopping underway. 20 minutes later the bus arrived, and it took us on an alternative route, with not too many sights, but also with not much traffic, so it only took 30 minutes to go downtown. Here we only had to wait two minutes before a bus for the Brooklyn Loop arrived and we boarded.

Before we took off though, the guide told us, that it was the hottest day of the year in NYC so far, and it would get even hotter later in the afternoon.  He also told us that the UV Inderx was around 10 and rising, and adviced us to put on sun screen if we hadn't already - or take a seat on the lower deck. Fortunately which we had already "creamed up" so we stayed on top. Later he told us, that the temperature had reached it's highest at 107 at 2 pm. Finally we were ready to go, and the bus crossed the East River on Manhattan Bridge. as commercial vehicles are not allowed on Brooklyn Bridge. Tim and I had decided to take the whole trip and not leave the bus, and we were not the only ones. Actualy none of the passengers got off, except once when the bus made a 15 minutes stop near the Booklyn Library on Army Plaza, so we could buy something cold to drink and some fruit from a couple of vendors, that our guide recommended very convincingly. Meybe he got a kickback, I dont know, but anyway I bought some bottled water and some cherries. When we got back to the bus, we decided to stay below, as the sun had reached an unpleasant level. We couldn't see much from down there, but at least we could breathe, and we were not alone. Many other had gotten the same idea, but we were fortunate enough to get a seat.

When we got back to where we started we left the bus and walked down to the 9/11 monuments at the former Wolrd Trade Center. Neither of us had been there before, as this was Tim's first visist to NYC, and when I was there last, it was all a large construction site. We admired the monuments with all the names of the killed written around the edges of the two large pools, that represents the outlie of the former twin towers.We also had a look at the impressive 1776 feet tall Freedom Tower. From the monument we continued down to Battery Park, on the southern point of Manhattan. From here we would take a bus back to our hotel. Before we got that far though I had to make a necessary visit to The National Museum of the American Indian. This was the museum that Dorte and I in 2008 found was the most boring museum we had ever visited in America. This time I didn't go there to see the museum though, but to visit a very needed facility. Afterwards I joined Tim outside, at we got on a bus "back home". We walked back to the hotel and relaxed with something cold for about two hours or so and then we were ready to head out again.

And so we did, though not far. We walked to 42nd Street and the Mexican restaurant called Chevy's where Dorte and I had dinner in 2008. At that time we had guacamole as a starter, and it was so good, that I wanted Tim to taste it as well. And it hadn't gotten worse. The guacamole is prepared at the table and only from natural ingredients. It is not made with sour cream, junket or any other disgusting "old milk", that are normal in Denmark. Only avocado, chili, garlic, onion, coriander, pico de gallo and freshly squeezed lime juice. I don't think it can get much better than that. I don't remember our main courses, and it doesn't matter anyway. You should visit the place just for the guacamole. When the cook was ready to put in the chopped chili, he hasked us how hot we wanted it, and Tim told him just to add everything, which he did. And was hot, but definately not too hot. Tim decided that next time he comes to NYC, he will go there again and order two times guacamole and no main course :-).

After dinner we walked back to the corner of 8th Avenue and 47th Street to catch the night loop. This is not hop off hop on, you have to stay onboard. The tour combines part of the downtown loop with part of the Brooklyn loop. On the first part of the trip it wasn't dark enough to really enjoy the lights. But as it got darker it got better. On this trip there was no live guide, but only a representative from the bus company who wasn't allowed to guide. We therefore had to make do with a voice in a headphone, and unfortunaly it wasn't coordinated with the sights that we passed, but as we knew everything we passed we managed anyway. As we approached Manhattan Bridge to cross the river to Brooklyn, black clouds were massing behind us and soon it started to rain. An intense thunderstorm with lots of lightning and thunder broke loose. The bus company reprsentative got us some raincovers, but soon most of the people on top moved below. At the end only four people besides Tim and I were left on top, and did we get wet? I used the raincover to protect my camera and so did Tim. When the rain finally stopped we were both soaked, but as the weather was still warm, we were almost dry, when we got back to Times Square around 10 pm. We walked around the square for a bit, looking at all the people who didn't seem to have minded the rain either. After a short visit to a Wahlgrens to get some more water and some fruit, we returned to the hotel.

The very last day

Finally the day had arrived when we should return to Denmark after almost four weeks driving across USA. Our plane didn't leave until 8.45 pm though, so as we had a whole day to spend, we decided to use our tickets once more and take the Uptown loop. We had already decided to skip the Bronx loop. We started the day by packing our bagage though, then went to the hotel's businesss center to check in to our plane from JFK to Heathrow. Check-in for the final part of the trip from London to Copenhagen was not yet open. We had a little difficulty getting our boarding pass printed as the printer was out of order, but with some helt from the receptionist we managed. We then went back to the room to get out suitcases and placed them in storage for later pick-up. Then we ckecked out of the hotel, and for the last time walked to 47th Street and got on a bus for the Uptown loop. 

For the first part of the trip we just enjoyed the sights of Columbus Circle, Central Park, Dakota Building, Columbia University and more. When we passed Cathedral Church of St. John the Great Divine in the City and Diocese of New York, I once again tried to get a picture of it, but once more with no luck. It's simply to big. It's actually probably the largest Anglican Church building in the world though some claims that Liverpool Cathedral in England is even larger. After having passed the interdenominational Riverside Chuch, not les impressive, we got off the bus at the next stop, to visit Grant's Tomb. Ulysses S. Grant is one of Tim's heroes, so he wanted to visit, which we did, and I got a picture of him standing next to the sarcophaguses of Grant and his wife. Before leaving the place we paid a visit to the souvenir shop, where I bought a couple of books about the Civil War. While waiting for the next bus, we admired som workers pruning a trees with three men on the ground and a woman up the tree. Also we watched some police workers putting up a fence for an event that was to take place the next day. We never discovered which event though. I also admired some portable toilets, with the company name CallAhead wtitten on them. If you need a toilet, I think it would be too late to call ahead though.

When a bus arrived we continued the loop through Harlem, on the way passing churches, synagogues and msoques which are richly represented in the area. Among the latter is the famous Mosque Number Sevem where Malcom X preached. Along the way we passed through an area with a lot of restaurants famous for serving "soul food". Our guide, who was from Texas, told us that when he first had arrived in NYC some years before, some of his local friends had invited him out for "soul food" in one of these restaurants. When dinner was served and he discoveres what it was, he had said to his friends: "Oh now I realize what you mean by soul food. Back in Texas we eat this every day and just call it food". We continued the trip along the west side of Central Park, called The Museum Mile because of the many museums situated here. We left the bus on Times Suqre and walked back towards the hotel. Only I wanted a cup of coffee, while Tim didn't needed anything. We visited Junior's at 45th Street and when we got there I had a sandwich with my coffee, and Tim decided that he was hungry after all, and went for a pasta dish. 

Around 2 we returned to the hotel, to check in to the last part of the journey home, and this time the printer worked, so it only took a few minutes. We spent about an hour in the hotel bar, than reclaimed our bagage and took a taxi to the airport. Even if it as was almost 4 and rush hour had begun, the taxidriver got us to the airport in less than 45 minutes. As we had checked in and only had to drop our bagage, it didn't take long, and neither did security, so we were in the British Airways lounge already at 4.15. We were told that our plane was "a sleeper", so no food were served until breakfast, so if we wanted any, we were to eat it in the lounge. Tim did have some later, but I was not hungry. We enjoyed ourselves in the lounge reading and surfing the internet, and I managed to order some food and stuff to be delievered to my home, the day after our arrival, so I didn't have to go shopping, when we got home.

When the time to board arrived we were told that the plane would be delayed and it was a little more than 45 minutes late, when we finally got under way. We hoped that the pilot could catch up on the delay along the way, as we had only 90 minutes in Heathrow. For the first time ever I think I managed to fall asleep on the plane, mainly because of the "lie flat" seats of business class, but when I woke up, we were even more delayed, and when we finally arrived in London, we only had 25 minutes to get to our next plane. Fortunately it was in the same terminal, but of course in the other end, and we had to pass security once more along the way. We made a run for it, and even if Tim lost his belt in the security scanner (how is still a mystery, as it wasn't in the machine, when the official looked for it, and I had watched Tim place it in the tray only seconds before), we managed to get to our gate just before closing time. The last part of the trip went quietly with no more delays.

In Copenhagen we discovered, as we actually had expected, that even though we managed to catch the plane, out luggaged hadn't, so we had to go to the service counter and stand in line to report it missing. That is, the first service counter we vissited had nothing to do with Britsh Airways who used another ground handling company, so we had to go to the other end of the arrival area, but finally we managed to report our missing stuff, and could leave the airport. Outside Dorte waited to take us home. And next day our lost bagage was delivered to us.

The end

Now its time to take stock of the trip. Even if we had been underway for about four weeks and had driven across USA and not the shortest way, we only logged 5.487 miles on this trip. This was of course because we spend some time in larger cititis, where we didn't use the car. This can be compared to our fist cross country trip where we drove 7.800 miles. But if it was shorter it was also more expensive this time. This was mostly because we chose to fly business vcass this time, but also because hotels in cities are more expensive than in the country. 96,000 DKK did we spend, around $ 16,000 with the exchange rate of last summer. But worth it all.

And as I'm writing this, we have already planned our next trip that will also be cross country and will take place in 2016 if we can afford it. But already in November this year I will return to USA. This time alone, and once more to my favorite area, northwestern North Carolina. Ticket and rooms are already booked.

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