NEW YORK | DAY 5 | 18 APRIL | TUE

Today there was clear sky and sun with slightly cooler temperatures promised by our NBC morning news channel. So we took their word for it and headed out for some outdoor activities! First up was the High Line – a former train track high above street level weaving in between the buildings of the Chelsea area in Manhattan. We climbed the stairs from the street to access the high line and began our stroll down town towards the Chelsea Market. The elevated park was busy with joggers going in either direction, fellow tourists on morning walks, and even park workers laying compost on the fresh green grass. Along the way there are picturesque views of the city streets from up above, through the tree branches sprouting their spring buds. On the walk we also passed various areas of development and construction including a very futuristic looking apartment building, with curved edges likely for some ultra wealthy tenants! The morning sun shone through the buildings and bathed the high line in its warmth. The shadows were slightly chilly, so we found a lovely bench area that was drenched in sun for Leabird to warm up a bit.  We walked until we reached the Chelsea Market area below the High Line and descended back to street level to visit the Market and find some yummy treats. 

The Chelsea Market is an indoor market near the Chelsea piers which I think has its origins in being the place where store owners would visit in the early morning to get fresh fish and produce straight off the boat. It was just before 10am and it seems to be the trend for business to start at 10am in the big city, so we were just in time. The first store we visited seemed to have all sorts of this and that. Everything from speciality teas and biscuits, to quirky Donald Trump figurines. Lea found some delicious looking ginger biscuits and we moved on to the next store. A quaint little bakery which we found some gorgeous looking Cherry Pie, with a pastry that reminded me of something straight from the movies! We bought it for a few dollars and sat down at a table to enjoy it immediately – and it was just as delicious as it looked! We carried on our stroll through the market through the tunnel of fairy lights and onwards to more foodie spots. We passed by a pasta dish in a counter which looked too good to leave without a taste – so we ordered some and enjoyed it at a nearby table almost as quickly as it was served! We had a look in the fishmonger at all sorts of exotic things for sale, but poor Lea didn’t manage too long with the close proximity to the squid and fish so we moved on rather quickly. 

With the Market done, we walked to the nearby Starbucks and got ourselves something to sip on our walk through the Meatpacking District. The goal was to get to the nearby “Friends Building”. Along the walk we stopped in at a Duane Reade pharmacy for Lea to successfully get a few more things on her makeup list whilst I was mesmerized by all the beautiful old buildings of the area. We stumbled upon a beautiful little park just bursting with red tulips, which had a very touching memorial to all the men from the neighbourhood who had died defending America in wars of the past.

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We eventually came to the corner of Grove St and Bedford St to find the famous Friends building. The corner was swarmed with a tour group already, so with us being in no immediate hurry it was part of my plan to visit the little restaurant that sits at the base of the Friends Building. Essentially this restaurant would have been the “Central Perk” of the show, but in reality it is a tiny little spot called “The Little Owl”! With prices a bit on the gourmet pricey side, we settled in sheepishly for a plate of French fries for $9. We had some ice water and enjoyed our fries whilst peering out at the various tourists visiting the building for some photos. There was construction work happening on the street right outside and the workers all seemed amused at the revolving door of tourists that kept arriving for their turn for photos of the building. We enjoyed one guy trying his best to get his girl to capture him jumping in mid air – not always as easy as it looks in photos! Once we were done, we headed to the corner for our turn at some photos and moved on to the next stop. 

With it being such a beautiful day, we thought we could not miss this perfect opportunity to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. We caught the subway downtown to the City Hall and came up just by the pedestrian entrance to the bridge. The crowd was visible on the bridge but we decided to brave it and just enjoy! We got some lovely shots of the bridge, the city and ourselves – it’s rather difficult to hold back from taking photos of every angle! Every way you look is so picturesque that you want to capture the view! A stunning iconic structure, with its massive archways, it really is a privilege to get to see it up close.

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Once we neared the Brooklyn side, we took the pedestrian exit to the left and walked down the hill towards the Dumbo park area. On the way, we stopped at a deli, where I grabbed us a big sandwich to share, filled with ham, cheese, pickles and mayo! We took our giant deli sandwich to the nearby park, found a spot on the rocks, with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline – life could not be any better than in this moment! We could hear the train rattling loudly from the Manhattan bridge above us whenever it passed over. The sun was shining brightly and slowly moving over the bridge and towards its setting position behind Manhattan. The park was full of people enjoying the fabulous weather and the view. 

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Next we walked under the bridge to the promenade area on other side, many more people were gathered to take photos of this marvelous view. We got some lovely photos as the sun was coming down and for a while we just sat on a bench and enjoyed the moment. Being in this spot felt so incredible and we both wanted to imprint the moment as much as possible. With the sun going down, we hopped on the East River Ferry that has various stops in Brooklyn and Queens and eventually midtown Manhattan which is where we wanted to go. Such an easy relaxing boat ride back to the mainland, where we disembarked and headed across town towards our hotel.

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As we got off the boat I noticed about 8 helicopters all on the ground but with their propellers in full spin – possibly getting ready for some sunset flights? We grabbed a salad at W Cafe and made our way up to the hotel room to get comfortable. This was an evening that I won’t soon forget simply because of the chaos that ensued shortly after we got back to the hotel…

At 7:25pm I was writing on my iPhone when I somehow came across a scheduled (and paid for) event for tonight! I shot up from the bed in shock and panic – giving poor Lea an absolute heart attack, with her being all tucked in bed and cozy. 

“What’s wrong?” She exclaimed. 

“The jazz evening! It’s tonight!! At 8pm!!” I shouted back in my palpable panicked state. 

I had booked us tickets to see an artist perform at The Mezzrow jazz club in downtown Manhattan, and this event was happening in the next 30 minutes! Having never been there before and having to negotiate the correct subway I thought we would never make it in time. In our panic we agreed to try, so we flung on some formal clothes in a rush and bless her soul – my Leabird looked absolutely breathtaking in her lace black dress, black stockings and heels, that she has planned for this evening. I felt so guilty for causing her to rush and then walk at a significant pace to get there on time. She was so incredible and kept calm for the both of us the entire time. The jazz gods were watching over us as we got to this basement club within a few minutes of the act starting and even had time to be seated at our booked seats and order a drink. After the chaotic start, the jazz could not have been more perfect. An intimate setting, with soft piano jazz and vocals, candle light and holding my beautiful wife’s hand in New York City – what I had always dreamed of! The club was so quaint with a bar on the right as you entered, 3 or so high tables with bar stools on the left of a narrow passage leading to the small seating area with a handful of closely arranged tables at the end of the club. Just past the tables sits a black piano on the elevated stage area, alongside a stool and microphone for the vocalist of the evening. The artist’s name was Hillary Gardner accompanied by her pianist Ehud, and we were lucky enough to be invited to stay for both her sets of the evening!

Eventually we left the club just before 11pm and made our way back to the hotel. Unfortunately my Subway skills failed me again and the train took us on an unplanned route – poor Leanne’s feet in heels were not my biggest fan that night! With her almost being ready to walk barefoot through New York from the pain of the heels, I slowed down the pace to a crawl and helped her along as best I could. Eventually we made it back to the hotel – an adventure of an evening for sure – but all part of this amazing experience!

 

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