I just got back from a week long trip to the East Coast of the USA, with five days skiing in the mountains of New Hampshire and then two days in the Big Apple - I haven't skiied before, nor had I visited New York before, so it was a trip full of new experiences. Probably one of the best holidays I have ever been on for a very long time. I visited with a school group, and had been saving up for just under a year so I had quite a large amount of spending money to blow.
We stayed at the Beacon Resort in Lincoln, NH, and visited the skiing resorts of Loon Mountain and Bretton Woods. I am not really a sporty person, but I could go skiing again and again. It is an unbelievable experience and you cannot explain it easily to anyone unless they have skiied. The food was great, everyone was really friendly, and I loved getting funny looks when people heard my accent . We also visit a mall an hour and a half away in New Hampshire where I blew $400 in two hours. Don't give me that look, I had been working my butt off and saving for months!
But after all, I am a city person and so New York would be the highlight of the trip. We visited Battery Park but decided not to go to the Statue of Liberty as the queue for the boat alone was two and a half hours, and that cut into valuable Times Square time! Instead we went over to the Rockefeller Center and got a fantastic view of the city. I hadn't seen the skyline with the Twin Towers however I could still sense something that had once dominated was missing.
We then went over to Times Square, which is another unexplainable experience. It honestly felt like day time at 9pm as we were surrounding by billions of watts of light. After a meal at Planet Hollywood, we were let go to shop for two hours. I cannot believe some of the prices - maybe we just get ripped off in the UK but everything is so cheap over there! And this is in New York, where prices are higher so tourists can get squeezed of every last penny! I bought seven CDs from the Virgin Megastore for $70 - at $10 each, thats about £5. CDs sell in England for £10, double the price. I bought the Imogen Heap, Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, LCD Soundsystem and Hellogoodbye albums just out of interest.
Then went to the M&Ms store, I bought a Times Square watch from Swatch, and we checked out all the billboards and stuff. Finally we were too tired to go on so we got the coach to the Marriott at Newark Airport (don't ask why we stayed at Newark when we flew from JFK) which was a beautiful hotel.
The next day we went straight back to the city, and started at Ground Zero. Although still a terribly eerie place, it didn't seem as striking as it would have maybe a couple of years ago - I blame this on the re-building as it seems to me more of a building site then the haunting place of destruction it really is. It also angered me that despite the many signs requesting people not to buy 'souvenir' booklets of the disaster from street vendors in respect for the special place that we were in, many tourists still bought from the vendors. People were making money in broad day light on the deaths of thousands of people. Obviously the signs requesting natural human respect for the dead were not working, so I think the city should make an effort to remove these vendors from the sight. If security guards from the Empire State can remove hot dog sellers from in front of the building, I think photo book sellers can be removed from Ground Zero. Rant over.
As mentioned above, we then went over to the Empire State Building. Lo and behold, another two hour plus wait to go to the top, and as we had already been to the top of the Rockefeller, we left it and went over to Macy's. I wasn't very impressed with Macy's, I guess it's just a huge department store, so we were allowed to go outside and see the other shops. Now on the way into the city I had noticed the huge World of Disney store - I could not go all the way to New York and not visit the World of Disney . I was surprised that my friends were actually up for walking fifteen blocks down Fifth Avenue just for a Disney store, but I guess they just wanted to escape Macy's. It was bizarre visiting the store, as they were selling such a large amount of WDW merchandise it felt like I was back in Florida. I guess it was weird because this was my first visit to the USA when I wasn't in Florida at WDW - it felt like I was seeing the America I was used to by visiting the World of Disney. Anyway we were pushed for time, so I grabbed a t-shirt with a Mickey Mouse head replacing the heart in a replica of the famous I HEART NEW YORK logo and a couple World of Disney New York pins, and jumped in a yellow New York taxi back to Macy's and our group. Then it was over to JFK, and home.
I felt like I had been robbed a week of my vacation, as because my holidays are usually two weeks (Europeans do usually go on fewer two week holidays whereas it seems Americans go on more frequent and shorter holidays) and I was only in America for a week. I really did not want to go home, and despite the amount of travelling that had been done (it is six hours from London to New York then a further six hours in a coach to New Hampshire) I would go back now and do it all again. I loved New York, and there are things that haven't been done to lure me back - I would love to visit the Lady Liberty, and of course take in a show or three - I was angry that there were billboards all over for The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins tempting me but I couldn't see any of them .
Anyway, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the photos. These are a selection from my own camera, but I have a load taken on other peoples cameras so these will be added as I acquire them.