Another morning and another and thankfully our last Holiday Inn Express breakfast for a while. This was after a wasted 10 minutes trying to complete online check in for our flight home tomorrow. For some reason it kept not loading the final screen which was annoying. I chatted to BA via Twitter messenger and was told to just check in at the airport instead.
I also had a call from the UK from someone wanting some advice about Aviva shares.
Anyhow today we planned to be out early as we had another walking tour booked. This one was called ‘Brooklyn Bridge, DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights’. I was a bit concerned as it was scheduled to take around 3 hours whilst walking 3 miles. I hoped my legs and backs would cooperate but figured I would get a nice sit down for a while watching a Disney film half way through.
The walk started at City Hall in Manhattan which meant back on the subway and one change to get there. I really don’t like subways for many reasons. Firstly, I never got the email telling me that everyone must have in ear headphones to be allowed into the carriages. Also, that men must now wear trousers that seem to stop 2 inches above their ankles – why? Also, if you wear crocs or flip flops you must wear socks. Has the world gone mad since we have been away?
The prospect of having to use the subway everyday would drive me nuts. Between roles in Norwich I verbally accepted a lucrative contract in London for 6 months which would have meant staying in London during the week. This was something I was not keen to do, and indeed had turned down many even better offers whilst I was in full employment. For us it had always quality of life rather than chasing the cash. But we thought if I did it for a short while with an end date it would be a means to an end. In truth though I dreaded the prospect and even the thought of doing it started to stress me.
The company were meant to get me to sign the papers the same day. 48 hours later the emails still hadn’t arrived. Then out of the blue and without applying for a role, Aviva offered me a job at half my previous salary, a couple of rungs down the ladder and without any stress attached to the role – not that I even knew what the role was at the time. I accepted on the spot. The French bank I was supposed to be work for in London were not happy but as I hadn’t signed anything then I was not legally bound. I knew I burnt a few bridges there but had no regrets especially as it got me out of a daily underground commute in London from some probable dodgy cheap hotel.
Anyhow back to the walking tour. We met Katie our guide by the fountain as arranged. The weather was as superb as the fountain was pretty. Katie was a great guide and does these tours whilst she is not working in musical theatre.
We made our way to the Brooklyn Bridge and it was made so much more interesting learning about the history and construction of the bridge. She also told the best places and angles to take photos.
After crossing the bridge we turned left into Dumbo, which turned out to have nothing to do with a flying elephant but stood for ‘Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass’. This revitalised district was very nice and had some terrific viewpoints. We were also given time here for a comfort break and I got Karen a bottle of water.
Now for me the tour should have ended here as we had already been going for 2 ¼ hours. However, we had not yet visited Brooklyn Heights. Now this turns out to be just a nice housing area but nothing exceptional. It also involved walking up a hill, hence the name heights. I needed a sit down and therefore probably grumpy and so didn’t see anything or learn anything there that was exceptionally interesting.
The tour ended not too far from a subway stop. We decided to head towards that rather than back to waterfront where we earmarked previously for a coffee break as it was now a decent walk in the wrong direction. We paid Katie for our ‘free’ tour. This 'free' tours are a real favourite for us. We feel the guides are so much better because they are trying to give you great value, whereas if they have your money up front they sometimes just go the motions. With that we to went to catch the subway to Coney Island which was the last place left on our wish visit list for this trip.
The trip took about 50 minutes and was good value for another $2.90. There was some real heat in the sun as we emerged out of the subway section at the other end.
Coney Island is showing its age with some faded glory. It was the most British of any USA seaside resort we have visited and I am not sure I mean that in a good way. Lots of tacky shops, lots of fast-food type shops and booths and a general run-down feel.
There were lots of funfair rides lining the beach area including the world famous Cyclone Roller coaster and the Ferris Wheel that the one in Disney California Adventure is based upon of which is Karen’s nemesis. I quite fancied the roller coaster but Karen didn’t and at $10 a ride I was not convinced enough to do it on my own.
Karen was happy that there was a Starbucks so we stopped for a drink and ate the fruit I had been carrying all day. Then we walked over to the traditional boardwalk. It was a lovely walk but as Karen had forgotten her sun cream we had to find a bench undercover to sit for a while. We had our usual chat about what other cities were now on the same latitude as us (Madrid, Istanbul and Beijing).
Then we walked back to the Pier. Now we like a nice pier walk and this was very pleasant as ever.
We thought we should eat before heading back but had drawn a blank as to where as nothing really appealed. The choices seemed to be the same as you would get along Gt Yarmouth seafront. In the end we decided the most upmarket seemed to be an IHOP, which we hadn’t visited for many years.
It was quite deserted which meant we got great service. We both choose from the 55+ menu which was quite a bit cheaper than the normal menu for the same food. We both had the Grilled chicken which was very acceptable.
The subway ride back was rather pleasant all above ground with only a few passengers. Back in the hotel I booked a taxi for a groan worthy 3.30am to take us back to JFK. And with that we were in bed before 8pm.
New York had grown on me a bit but we both feel we have done it now. We are not sure what would bring us back here for a while. This trip had ticked off so many things for us. We feel we have really packed it in and will be going home tired but happy and content.