The Sheriff of Nottingham in USA – Part Fourteen – New York – Day One

Boston Logan airport is a laid back place. Rather than the racks upon racks of plastic seating, they have rocking chairs. How cool is that.

Airports, laid back Boston style
Airports, laid back Boston style

They also have food chains I have never heard of but would love to see in England. The one I ate at was called U Food Grill, which worryingly seems to be backed by George Forman. Anyway, for fast food it was actually pretty good.

UFood Grill - Home to the Unfries and grilled chicken Bruschetta
UFood Grill - Home to the Unfries and grilled chicken Bruschetta

I seem to have accidentally upset some of the good people of Boston. Not sure why though, because I loved the place, but I had the audacity to ask a policeman for directions and then try and follow some non existent road signs and got some good old fashioned national stereotyping thrown at me as well as a few who made the effort to read the article.

Criticism of any sort can only be constructive if it’s well intentioned and comes from someone who’s seen seven cities in ten days (Nottingham, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston and now New York). You’re much better off hearing it from someone who cares enough to tell you than not to hear it at all. You can read the ongoing debate about my typical British character and the various attractions in Boston here on what has to be Boston’s most popular blog.

So, onto New York. So good they named it twice apparently, but if first impressions of La Guardia Airport are anything to go by, I thought I was going to hate it. It’s like East Midlands Airport used to be before it saw the light and called itself Nottingham East Midlands and then lost its nerve and backed down again – because everyone knows where the east midlands are don’t they? Err no, but Nottingham and all its worldwide connections is without doubt a better name on which to hang it, if they want anyone else in the world to have heard of it and fly there on a whim.

The drive here was an exercise in swerving honking and seeing who could be the most aggressive. Considering there are signs up at every intersection saying ‘No Honking $350 fine’ it has to be the most ignored street furniture ever and the loudest drivers city anywhere. But at least they do have Hybrids now, although you have to pay a $4.50 premium on your fare to travel in them!

They even have hybrid taxi's in New York now, but you have to pay extra for the privilege of using them
They even have hybrid taxi's in New York now, but you have to pay extra for the privilege of using them

The hotel we’re staying at is the Gem Hotel in SoHo (South Houston) which gets good Tripadvisor ratings but has the tiny rooms so typical of any budget hotel in a major city. It’s a great place in the heart of where it’s happening and has a feel of the Ibis Hotel in the Pod on the edge of the Lace Market.

We wanted to see the Top of the Rocks at the Rockerfeller Center. It’s another massive viewpoint that gives you a view across the City and we really need to understand how they do these sorts of things US style.

So, it was off down Bleecker Street for the walk to Rockerfeller. We called in at the Greenwich Village Bistro for a few lovely beers at the roadside and took in the buzz of the place. It is so similar to or own London Soho and if we could create that sort of buzz in the Lacemarket in Bildurn’s Lace Market Square, we’d have one hell of a destination for people to come and enjoy their time in the City.

And then to John’s Pizzeria for tea. This place looks an utter dump but creates the most beautiful pizza. Two were shared across the six of us and we all left full, they were that big. It’s a bit of a celebrity hang out with pics of Frank Sinatra and Joe Frazier of the wall. All the wooden benches are scratched with dates, names and times and the waiters are all grungy Muscle boys. But it’s brilliant.

John's Pizzeria of Bleacker Street
John's Pizzeria of Bleacker Street

We had a long talk about what they’d done right over dinner and concluded that they’ve stuck to their knitting. They do pizza and that’s it. No slices and cash only. It’s like a much rougher version of Pizza Savai. Great food, really sensible prices and still family run. It also brought on the discussion about how few non-chain pizza places we have to eat at in Nottingham. Surely there has to be room for another good one or two?

We then braved the New York Metro, which was stiflingly hot until you got on the trains themselves. They’re all air conditioned. They’re much longer and wider than the London Underground trains and the mapping as to how to find your way around it seems to an outsider, random to say the least. It may be a scale thing as Manhattan Island is so massive, but there were barely any maps inside the trains and it’s assumed you know where you’re going.

The New York Metro - Possibly the most difficult underground system in the world
The New York Metro - Possibly the most difficult underground system in the world

So, onto the Rockerfeller’s Top of the Rocks. Built in 1929 it’s huge at 850 feet tall and the advantage it has over the view from the Empire State Building is that you get a view of the Empire state Building, with the Chrysler Building thrown in free.

You follow a route through an exhibition about its building and then walk into the lift, which literally flies up its 68 floors. If you want to, you can still walk up another two in order to be at the very top. The views are amazing.

The view of the Empire State Building from Top of the Rocks
The view of the Empire State Building from Top of the Rocks

These shots just don’t do it justice. The scale is just awe inspiring and one that could only really be recreated if Nottingham expanded to such a degree that it was connected to Derby and Leicester. It’s that big. Here’s another with the black area in the middle being Central Park.

Central park from Top of the Rocks - Awe Inspiring
Central Park from Top of the Rocks - Awe Inspiring

The trip back to the hotel was far more challenging with express trains overtaking local ones. Serious confusion set in and it was three changes before we got back to where we should be.

I’m a bit behind on my writing, so tomorrow, I’ll be writing about our last day on official duty tomorrow and we’ll be off the amazing new Highline Project, the Cupping room, Ground Zero, Chelsea Market, Central Park, The Natural History Museum with its planetarium and other stuff I’ve seen on the way.

See you then.

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