We were out of the room by 08:00, but it was 09:30 before making it out onto the street. We went down to the lobby (which somewhat understates the scale of the eighth floor of this hotel) for coffee and internet. While Kay caught up with email, and news of a double family tragedy (though thankfully no-one really close) I addressed the plans for the last day & night of the trip. The decision is that we’re picking a hire car up from a nearby Hertz self-service facility for 24hrs, to be dropped off at JFK. With that flexibility, it opens up choices of the last night hotel, so I’ve booked the Fairfield Inn at Flushing. This has the double advantage of me knowing where it is from a previous stay, and what should be a simple 15 minute drive south on I678 early on Thursday. A significant part of the remaining time was spent scoping out malls in the Long Island area!
Plan for the day is a game of two halves: First part is a circuitous route via the HBO Shop on Avenue of the Americas (a.k.a. Sixth Ave), then on up Fifth Avenue, window shopping the premium stores. We did wander through ‘Saks’ where the adage of If You Need To Ask The Price… is in full effect. More modest brands such as GAP and Zara got singled-out for special attention. Luckily, all have the ‘bloke seat’ area.
Fifth Avenue is home to Best Buy and Barnes & Noble. There was a time when either of these fine stores would set the pulse racing and the credit card in danger of meltdown. Sadly, no more. A tanked exchange rate, NY sales tax and grossly overpriced merchandise combine to make browsing them less than inspiring these days. Oh, other than to add to an Amazon wish list, of course!
Time for brunch in the form of a diner called the Europa Cafe. A slight mix-up over the order, brought about by my inability to speak American, resulted in extra – free – toast, so sometimes speaking English has its benefits. Other than providing fuel for the morning, the experience was less than fulfilling.
My retirement gift outside its spiritual home.
The Apple store doesn’t have a girlfriend seating area, so Kay sought refuge in the FAO Swartz Cafe (Welcome To Our World, Welcome To Our World, Welcome To Our World Of Toys. Repeat ad infinitum). Meanwhile I entered the hallowed glass cube. Actually, by comparison with the Grand Central store, the Fifth Avenue Apple store no longer seems so special, other than its unique architecture & location. [I sense a running theme of negativity here as I recount events, which doesn’t particularly reflect the true spirit of the morning!]
So, part two of the day’s plans: Onto the subway (Jim’s comment about yesterday’s blog suggests that capitalisation can lead to confusion with a sandwich shop!) and south to 34th Street. A quick errand in the form of returning Saturday’s purchase to K-Mart (and associated fixture sitting while a suitable replacement garment was singled-out). At least the weather was somewhat more hospitable this time as we walked along 34th Street. Oh, and no drunken faux-Irish.
Time to draw a line in the sand.
Enough shopping, time for some sightseeing. We set off toward South Ferry with the plan involving the Staten Island ferry. Our determination to overcome all obstacles between us and Staten Island was evidently in short supply as we capitulated at the first hurdle – the 1 Train doesn’t go to South Ferry any more for some reason. We found ourselves back at street level at Rector Street, some way short of the ferry dock. (By an incredible coincidence, the first thing we saw as we exited the station was The Blarney Stone, an Irish bar which Paul Rogers had recommend but when he was telling me he couldn’t recall the address. Of all the bars, in all New York…! ). Another reason why Staten Island, or at least the ferry, no longer seemed like a good plan was that it was bloody cold with, light snow starting to fall.
We wandered round the Wall Street area for a while, a hive of Monday afternoon activity as the evening commute was just getting started. We agreed it was afternoon coffee time, but inevitably the neighbourhood Starbucks was rammed full. Next door there was a coffee/sandwich shop called Cosi, which was half empty. An indictment of global brands over small businesses? To be fair, Cosi was more than acceptable and their muffins kept us going. (Why is it any sentence involving muffins sounds like a euphemism?).
Back via subterranean public rail borne transport to Times Square and up to the room. After the dining excesses of previous evenings, we decided to stay in tonight. I braved the increasingly heavy snow and fetched McDonalds. Another order mix up – this time not accent related, a cock-up in the kitchen, bizarrely – which led to the manager comping us extra fries for wait. Free food twice in one day!
An evening in, watching “All New” How I Met Your Mother, Rules of Engagement and Two Broke Girls. We know how to live.