It’s like that whiney band. Not Radiohead. The band with Gwyneth Paltrow’s fella.

Day 10

Up early (surprise!) to take advantage of the breakfast laid on – and very glad we did. You just don’t get crispy bacon properly at home. We decided to just hit the road and get back to civilisation, I mean, Cincinnati, so we set off on the road home (and by now, it really was beginning to feel like home). We headed back down the I-75 and we stopped off properly at the outlet place to get some last minute shopping in. We’ll definitely be needing that other suitcase!

Arrived back in Cincinnati late afternoon and thanks to another great map, arrived at Anne’s offices without a hitch. We left the car there and headed back to chez McBride in Anne’s enormomobile and had a few drinks on the patio before dinner. Mack was very confused to see us as he’d thought we’d gone home already, but was over the moon to have us back. He’d had his hair cut in our absence annd he was looking very dapper.

Up until now we’d managed to avoid Scottish Quest, the boardgame that they make Mum play every time she is there. It’s very convoluted and unnecessarily complicated, and all the questions are based on Scottish history, culture and stuff. Tonite tho, we could not escape it and we played but sadly we were shown up and Jim won. Anne is VERY competitive so was not amused. It must run in the family.

As it was our last nite there, we went back to El Coyote for dinner, a tradition. Steaks this time which were just amazing and very cheap. More margaritas, more bemoaning the fact that it was almost time to leave. Back home to have a go at squeezing all our purchases into our bags – in vain. Anne and Jim have kindly lent us an enormo case and when they are over in the UK in November, will fill it up with things to take back with them. After packing, we headed back downstairs, but Mack would not sit with us – he knows we’re going. Even the cats can tell and they are all sulking down in the basement. I don’t think any of us are happy about it, but we must go!

Day 11

Up at a reasonable hour to fit in a last minute shopping dash. Anne insisted on doing all of our laundry (but I managed to hide some) so that we didn’t have to do it when we got home – she really looked after us! Off to Target for a final stock up on chewing gum – why don’t we get all the good flavours at home? Mint mojito and black raspberry – mmm! Anne has a Staples card! I could have spent hours in there, if only Jo had been with me to egg me on.

On to Skyline at the bottom of the road for lunch – Jim met us there from work. I had a nice burrito and we all tried not to think about our impending departure. Back to the house for last minute packing – I didn’t think we were going to make it, but once we took the poodle out the case, it closed easily. And then, nothing else for it – off to the airport. Anne came in with us and managed to negotiate our excess baggage charge (only $25! They are really missing a trick). She accompanied us all the way to security by which point I think we were all in tears. We had such a great time with them we were so sad to leave, even to go to exciting NYC. In a way it was worse going on somewhere else as then it felt like we should have been going “home” to Cincinnati – maybe one day!

We arrived in Newark on time and headed for a taxi. The traffic was ridiculous despite us arriving after rush hour and it took over an hour to get anywhere near our hotel. The taxi driver tried to rip us off on his already inflated price, but I felt justified in ripping him right back off with his $1 tip. That’ll learn him!

Our hotel was quite homely and felt like a flat I used to live in on Sauchiehall Street. Very comfortable bed, the only complaint being no curtain on the skylight window, so we were awake at daybreak every day. We got ourselves tidied up and hit the street to explore! We were perfectly situated for the East Village, so there were loads of restaurants to choose from for dinner. We chose a Thai restaurant with open patio doors as it was so warm and the food was fab. Very different ambience from Cincinnati – within 5 minutes of sitting down we’d spotted our first 2 loons of the weekend. After dinner, we wandered back to the hotel, taking in the sights and sounds on the way for a reasonably early nite in order to rest up for a day’s hardcore sightseeing tomorrow …

Day 12

Woke up pretty early thanks to the skylight. Got ready and planned our route to the Empire State Building on foot where we thought we could pick up the tour bus we’d booked. We had a leisurely stroll as far as Madison Square Park where we bough croissants and cranberry juice and had breakfast in the park. The park has a dog park where the city’s kajillion dog owners are allowed to let them off the leash, so we had fun spotting all the different breeds and watching chiuauas mingling with roitweillers! I don’t understand why so many New Yorkers have dogs in the city, but there we go.

Quickly discovered we had another 14 blocks to walk as we had to go to the tour office which was very inconveniently located. Picked up our tickets and then saw the queue to get on snaking out of sight and round the corner – why do so many people want to stand in a queue for hours on holiday! We sneakily decided to head back to the Empire State Building (yes, another 14 blocks) and pick up the tour there where we had to wait just 10 minutes before we were on board. Ha! It was a very hot, sunny day and we certainly weren’t going to waste it standing a queue getting burnt when we could be sitting on a bus doing that!

We saw all the sights of the downtown area and decided to get off at the stop near the Brooklyn Bridge so we could walk across. We took our time as it was so hot and very busy. It’s a great way to see the city from a different perspective, the skyline view is amazing. We had planned to pick up the tour bus on the other side, but by this time we’d missed the last one, so we had an unexpected trudge back across the bridge and caught the bus back to the vicinity of our hotel. After resting our very weary dogs, we went out for dinner and tried an Indian place in the East Village – the food was fantastic and our table was right next to a special room for making naan bread, so we had quite a floorshow. We worked out that we’d probably walked about 10 miles that day – we were very tired but happy!

Day 13

Decided to see the uptown area today so after breakfast at a Polish cafe (Christine’s – the cleanest toilets I’ve ever encountered!) we headed to our tour bus stop. We caught it to Times Square and transferred to see Haarlem, etc. Another sunny day, but a bit cooler – my head was now purple. A great day for sightseeing tho and we saw a lot of really nice buildings and some areas a bit off the beaten track. We had a great day wandering round and then headed to Greenwich Village in the evening, only 15 minutes walk from our hotel. We’d had quite a big lunch (barbecued pork and margaritas) so we had another NYC classic – pizza to go – for dinner. Very good pizza from the Two Boots, should you ever be in the region. We came back via Broadway, earmarking shops to come back to during the day. We stopped off at Dean and Deluca and treated ourselves to some posh cheesecake for desert – $11 for a 4 inch cake! It was well worth it tho as it was to die for. Back to the hotel to rest up for tomorrow!

Day 14

Decided to make the most of our bus tickets by being out early, so back to Christine’s again for breakfast – bagels with cream cheese and bacon – and then on to our bus. We were headed for Battery Park but the bus had to change over and our tickets were up, so we headed down to the subway. I’d definitely recommend using the Subway $7 day pass – such a bargain and you can literally go anywhere and everywhere in the city. We took the subway to Battery Park and had a wander round in the blazing sunshine and had hotdogs for lunch whilst waiting for the boat. We took a ferry ride round the bay, past the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and under the Brooklyn Bridge.

Once we were back ashore, we took the subway back to Canal Street at Chinatown and had a wander round there and then back towards our hotel via Broadway. We got to have a wander round the shops we’d earmarked the nite before to go back to and then went back to the hotel to get changed for an evening out at Retox, a bar owned by one of Anthrax and a Beastie Boy.To cut a very long story short, we got the address wrong and ended up 30 blocks away in a dark street with no bars on it. Thanks to the wonders of technology, we got the address from the internet via my phone and got the subway to the right area, eventually, walked another 5 million blocks only to discover … it was closed on Mondays. It was fair to say by this point we were both peeved, having spent the best part of 3 hours getting to this stage and having missed dinner time! However, we pressed on and took a taxi to the Empire State Building where we’d planned to go after dinner. It was now after 11pm, so we took in the chilly, windy view from the top and bought bagels and dejectedly headed home to watch Who Wants To Be A Millionaire on TV. It was a good evening, and we certainly saw some off the beaten track parts of the city, albeit unintentionally!

Day 15

Home today, booooo. Up early to finish our packing. The hotel kindly let us leave our bags all day so we could make the most of our final hours. We headed to Broadway to take something back to Old Navy and for a last minute trip to pick up some things that Lee had been coveting. Then back on to the subway to Time Square for lunch at Hard Rock Cafe – the steak was absolutely divine! Sadly we didn’t have enough time to spend exploring it all, so we had to head back to the hotel to catch our shuttle to the airport.

So, that was it, our holiday! I bet you are all glad it’s finished now. Normal blogging service will resume shortly.

Over and out.

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