December 2nd, 2021
We knew today was going to start early, Jet Lag has a habit of getting us up nice and early as 6 am eastern time is a nice 11 am lie-in for us. So despite the late night yesterday, we were still wide awake and up for 6 am.
We decided this was the perfect time to make up for missing the tree yesterday and we get dressed and headed out into the Cool Dark morning. The AKA Times Square is just a few blocks away from the tree and dressed in our sports gear we nipped over here in no time.
The Rockefeller Center was nice and quiet at this time. The Today show was filming their morning show outside at the time and we got a cheeky wave in for no one to see, and there were some fairly large crowds in the plaza to appear on the show. The tree however was mostly deserted so we got our first look a the tree this year.
This was as close as things got to a hallelujah moment. The realization we really had made it and the trip was not canceled again. The street and pressure surrounding this trip really had made us unable to really believe it would happen…but here were are, right under the Best Christmas Tree in the world!
Central Park Run
Next up we headed to central park. We headed up fifth Av, past St Patricks, Tifanny’s, and the Plaza, and into Central Park. The plan was not for a huge run, but just to bag a Park run or Strava, etc, and get an early look at the park to kill some time before anything else in the city opened.
We headed up past the Home Alone Bridge, the Wilman Rink, and down the Mall to the Bethesda Terrace and fountain. It was a fairly cool morning and a little overcast but very pleasant in the park really. We then headed back down 7th Av and into Times Square, via a Starbucks, before getting back to the hotel for a shower.
Shopping 5th Av
After a quick breakfast, we headed out to do a little shopping. Mainly on 5th Av as we had been denied access to the US for quite a while we had a little catching up to do. We started up at tiffanies where we wanted some jewelry cleaned and worked our way back down to Macy’s enjoying the amazing shop windows along the way.
We love Macy’s at Christmas time. It is one of the best decorated and most iconic shops in the City. Star of both Elf and of Curse Miricle on 34th Street it’s a must-stop when visiting New York At Christmas. This year we felt Holiday lane was a bit scaled back and were not that into the decorations on offer. It is a tradition of ours to pick up a new Decoration for our tree wherever we go and Macy’s is a great place to bag New York Themed Dec’s. While we were not overly taken with the offering we got a nice Cosmo Cocktail glass and matching candy cane.
We found a nice liquor store to pick up some gifts and try some of the Rocks Tequila (Teremana), headed into Pandora for some NYC Charms, checked out Bryant Park, and even headed into Whole Foods for some shopping for the week!
We also stopped into the Public Library for a bit of a nosey.
New York Public Library
For some reason, we have never actually made it inside the library before now. We have stayed right by it visited it multiple times and even stood right opposite the place watching the Veterans Day Parade on one occasion, but we never made it inside.
On this trip, we had vowed to rectify this and headed inside. The Building itself is pretty wonderful and the filming location for many TV Shows and Films, but the main reason we wanted to visit was to meet Winnie the Pooh.
We are Pooh’s biggest fans and it really was poor form we had never been to the Library to meet him before now. If you don’t know, housed in the Library are the actual toys owned by the real Christopher Robin and used as the inspiration of A.A. Milne for the Winnie the Pooh Tales. These ragged old toys are the ACTUAL Winnie the Pooh cast. That really is something pretty special normally artifacts like these get lost and destroyed so it really is something to actually meet Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Kanga, and Eeyore in the flesh!
There are loads of other Iconic Artifacts in the Treasures exhibit, including the Writing Desk of Charles Dickens and a handwritten Declaration of Independence, but none of it comes close to actually meeting Winner the Pooh!
The actual Library sections are mainly off-limits to tourists but open for citizens and students wanting to study, but the exhibitions areas and communal halls, etc… are well worth visiting.
We then headed back to the apartment ready for our first paid-for attraction, after stopping for a quick lunch at Panera Bread.
We used to have the Observation Deck scene in New york really nailed down. There were three main decks and we understood the pros and cons of each and which were best to direct different people too. However, in the last couple of years two new Decks have opened up and completely changed the scene and what to expect from a New York Observation Deck.
So one of the main aims of this trick was to really check out the new decks. The first of which was the Summit. Built on the upper floors of the stunning new One Vanderbilt Tower we were really excited to check out this deck. The Futuristic Infinity Mirrors and stunning view made this a really interesting prospect.
The big stumbling block for us was the fact it is indoors as despite the frigid New York Winters we still love the exhilarating feeling of an outdoor deck.
We have a full review here but here is our initial reaction to the Deck.
Things got off to a bad start and only really got worse. First, after finally locating the deck inside Grand Central Staton, we were told to stand in a random queue at the side of the station. We had a timed entry and were a little unsure what this queue was for, they just said stand there.
Then we got ordered into another queue again with no explanation. Finally, a woman appeared who commenced shouting at us. Why hadn’t we got a wristband, and why had we not already shown here our vaccine proof! Sorry love but we have never seen you before in our lives and now you are screaming at us? You know WE are the customers, right?
After another 10-15 mins, and after anyone with basic tickets was offered the chance to skip the queue by upgrading, despite the fact we were already upgraded to ultimate status, we got moved to another queue. Here a friendlier gentleman attempted to rile us up as if we were going out to play the Superbowl Final! After three pointless queues for a timed ticket, it was going to take more than cried of “Let’s Get ONLINE!” to get us over the Chaos.
Finally, the three pens we were packed into, started to move, slowly, into you guessed it another queue. This Queue took us into a tiny theatre to watch a movie. We don’t know if it’s any good as we actually wanted to get to the top.
We were now in another queue, this time for some foot dusters to wear on over our shoes, to stop us scratching the glass. We were also offered some free loaned sunglasses for reasons we are still unsure about.
Next, another Queue for some pointless photo’s before we finally got to a final (for now) queue for the elevator. We think it’s pretty obvious we were thoroughly fed up at this point. This was a perfect example of organized Choas. And not in a good way, it was a simple straightforward journey to the top that has been carefully orchestrated to be an utter shambles!
We were using timed tickets and the deck was clearly oversold. This foyer was tiny and there were hundreds of people crammed in really tightly with zero ventilation. It was a Covid nightmare, and while people were wearing masks it was hardly appropriate in this climate. There is also the fact Noone in the queue had any idea what was going on, someone would randomly and incoherent shout at you from time to time, but nothing was explained. We just wanted to get in the elevator and get to the summit.
This was just pure Madness!
Up Top and the main deck was a sea of people. The Press images show Amazing scenes of reflective mirror glass and stunning views but the reality is just a mass of people, it was hard to walk across the floor for people sprawled around getting selfies, and piles of coats and shoe dusters discarded do people can get their shoe selfies! To be honest it is only a matter of time till these shoe covers are banned as they turn the floor into an ice rink and someone will end up injured and suing!
We explored the various floors and exhibits and most were pretty fun but really distracted from the main event, the view.
The best floor was the bar floor and not because of the bar, that was pretty awful. But the outdoor deck FINALLY showed us what we really came for, the utterly stunning view of New York. As we drank our overly sweet, pre-mixed $18 cocktail in a plastic cup, the sky really set on fire and we were treated to a simply stunning sunset.
We then headed for our ride in the Glass Elevator. This sits somewhere between a Tourist Trap and a downright SCAM. There is room in the elevator for 14 people and they cram in 18! meaning the for at the back get to see NOTHING! The Elevator claims it’s way up, holds for 10 seconds, after being told you get a couple of mins, and heads down. Oh and again you have timed entry and a 15-minute queue! With Timed Entry there should be NO QUEUES…unless you OVERSELL!
Honestly, it’s dreadful! Avoid the Ascent portion of the Summit at ALL costs. We think it relies on FOMO, but trust us the only thing you will miss is the $20 you waste on this!
By the time this was overnight had fallen and we got the view of the City in the Dark.
Overall we were pretty unhappy about the whole experience. We have been to the top of so many observation decks and never once experienced such an overcomplicated chaotic journey to the top. We also feel the Gimmicky parts of the experience are just that. The Main Deck is pretty impressive and if you can get it at a quiet time it’s probably really special. For us, it was just rammed and the hordes took away a lot of the magic.
However, the one upside is that the view is probably the best in the City. Finally, there is a deck to Rival the Top Of the Rock in terms of view. The Slightly side-on view of the empire state building is incredible and you get a great view of downtown, Times Square, Central Park, and the New Hudson Yards Development. You also get a great view of the stunning Chrysler Building, probably the most aesthetically pleasing of the Cities tall towers.
If they can iron out the absolute madness downstairs we think we can overlook most of the issues upstairs as the view really is that good. It’s a shame it’s hidden behind reflective glass all the time but at least it’s warm and dry in the indoor areas. If Photography is not the main concern then the glass is not an issue.
But we definitely say stick to the basic package, the upgrades are mostly poor value.
After the Summit, we headed back to the apartment to get changed and head out into the City. We had our eyes on the Magic Hour Bar on the top floor of the Moxy and decided tonight would be perfect. After a day on our feet, this would be perfect.
The Magic Hour is an Instagram dream with stunning views and quirky sets and decorations for posing in front of and some pretty good seasonal cocktails. The Holiday Theme was very pink and the Bar really fun and lively. Unfortaunly as the weather was pretty cold the bar kept the roof on which really detracts from the rooftop vibe and just felt like a quirky bar.
There was one section with the roof off but there was no seating here. Still is was a fun and quirky experience and nice to be sat down!
99 Cent Pizza
Today had been a pretty pricey and exhausting day so we just wanted cheap and easy for dinner. It does not come much cheaper than 99 Cent Pizza. Situated just off Times Square, this bargain eatery really does offer NYC Slives for $1 and a whole pie is $8! We grabbed a full pie and headed back to the apartment to stuff our faces and fall asleep in our giant bed!
Walking Total – 32,289 Steps – 17.3 Miles
Today was supposed to be a quiet day with only limited activities planned but we clocked up an astonishing 17.3 miles! Admittedly 5+ of these were our morning run but it’s still a huge distance to cover on only our first day!
We would definitely feel this for the rest of the week!
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