Thursday 2 October 2014

Short and sweet

New York, New York. And, er, New York. That's three times now I've been to this insouciant city, and it's getting a bit familiar, though it's still somewhat alarming. So busy, so crowded, so noisy, so tatty and tacky and couldn't-care-less. Also, of course, so impressive, so tall, so stately.

We arrived by train from DC, which was easy, and though there was a hiccup with a missing booking confirmation at the hotel, they were very helpful and understanding. I would expect nothing else from the Peninsula, and Sinead at reception was just lovely. We hung about for a bit, admiring the marble and the thick rugs and artworks and the chandelier, and were eventually installed in our 3-room corner suite on the 16th floor, the last word in understated elegance but still with a TV over the bath, just as in Hong Kong.

We were out again straight away, bravely tackling the subway to get right downtown, full of anxiety about having chosen the wrong line, but it all worked out in the end, and we passed the Staten Island ferry terminal on our way to the heliport. Oh, yes, the heliport! Our first adventure was a 15-minute chopper ride around Long Island at dusk. Before that, though, there was a lesson. Six of us were led out onto the pier towards the waiting helicopter, two were loaded in the back, and then I was pointed towards my seat. It turned out to be the middle back seat, and I stopped still. I'd been here before, at Iguassu Falls in Argentina, stuck between a photographer and a big guy with an iPad, and I'd seen almost nothing. That wasn't going to happen again.

Instead of being a meek and easy-going Kiwi, I stood up for myself. "I don't want to sit in the middle," I said firmly - and I was motioned out again, and directed into the front seat right next to the pilot. Triumph! It's only taken till now to be confident enough to do that. But it paid off - the views over Manhattan were terrific. Some lights were on, but it was still light enough to see the detail - of the Trade Centre memorial, of Central Park, of Yankee Stadium, George Washington Bridge. First at 460 metres, then from just 275 - it was all there, and easy to see. Excellent.
But that wasn't all! Next was an hour-long water-taxi ride from the East River out beyond the tip of Long Island, past Ellis Island to the Statue of Liberty. By now it was pitch dark, the sea was almost flat, and the lights and reflections were literally brilliant. Good guide, a glass of champers - what a great way to see the sights. Recommended.

And then we went back to the hotel via the rampant electrons of Times Square, so bright it was like daylight, and ended the day tucked up in the Pen's big bed under a soft, light duvet. New York, done in half a day! No, of course not - but it was fun, and it'll do for now. Tomorrow? Boston.

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