December 5th, 2021
So as you can tell from the title, this was to be a PACKED day. Really we got gig pretty late and arrived in Hudson Yards around 9.15 via the 7 Subway line from Bryant Park. This line runs right into the heart of Hudson Yards and saves an unnecessary 1.5-mile hike out there.
We wanted to make sure we had tickets to the Edge so headed straight to 30 Hudson yards to ensure we got tickets for when it opened. This proved fairly tricky as there was no obvious way of converting our Go New York Explorer Pass into a Ticket. There were also very few official people around to ask. We tried the automated ticket Kiosks but they had no obvious option for this.
We for to the Ticket Office and entrance and it was fenced off as it was a while till opening. We got chatting with a couple also from the UK about what the procedure was but there were more confused than us. As we stood near the entrance, we noticed a queue had formed behind us, we tried to explain this wasn’t a queue and we were just standing here, but no one listed and in minutes the queue snaked off into the distance.
We guess we just looked like we knew what we were doing and everyone else was just baffled, so we styled it out and just waited until the kiosk opened.
Go City Explorer Pass Attraction 4
The Edge is another of New York’s new Observation Decks that we have not had a chance to visit before now due to Coronavirus Shutdowns. So finally time to rectify that. As the Kiosk opened slowly bit by bit, we were told we simply had to present our passes at the turnstiles and would get instant access. The Journey to the top was fast and painless, one fast elevator ride up accompanied by impressive video screens detailing the Hudson Yards Development.
The Lift comes out on the highest accessible floor and the Viewing deck is on the floor below which is a little confusing. The design is so unique and the views out over manhattan are staggering. There is a glass floor, angled glass wall all around the deck, and the point which offers the ultimate Selfie spot and 360° panoramic views where you almost feel like you are flying over the City.
The indoor portion of the deck offers 360° views all over Manhattan allowing you to see the parts otherwise obscures on the main deck. It’s a great view but two drawbacks.
First, the Glass makes Photography difficult, those pesky reflections are a pain, and despite being outdoors is feels pretty enclosed.
The second Issue is 1 Manhattan West! Whoever put that building there needs an absolute slap! It sits right Slap bang between the Edge and the Empire State Building. partially obscuring the view. Yes, you can get a full view of the empire state on the far left-hand side of the Edge, but it’s still obscured by its proximity to the building.
It really ruins the view and must be completely maddening to the Edge developers. It’s not even a very nice building to look at and just sits’s there ruining everyone’s view!
Other than this we really liked the Deck, the organization made the Summit Seem like a lunatic Asylum, and overall it was just a really nice hour or so excursion to the top. There is a nice Champagne Bar up there but we felt it a little early for alcohol.
After the Edge, we headed down to explore the Hudson Yards Development. The lower levels of 30 Hudson Yards, the building that hosts the Edge, are a multi-level shopping center. This is a brand new a really modern mall and is absolutely fantastic place to visit. At Christmas, they really have gone the extra mile to decorate the space.
However, like a lot of large fancy new Retail spaces, there was a strong air of emptiness. While in New York, the word busy takes on a new meaning at times. Streets, squares, and plazas can be so rammed you can barely make forward progress at times. In The Hudson Yard shops, you could be the only person on a level! The Shops were, mostly empty. The brand representation was massive and the retail spaces filled with every imaginable brand, but there seemed a distinct lack of shoppers. It’s a bit of a ghost town.
We know we were not at a peak time of day, or day of the week, 11 am on a Sunday can be challenging anywhere, but it still felt like maybe it’s a shopping space that is more about raising the developments profile rather than actually filling a need? A white Elephant as they say? Still, it is a very nice White Elephant.
Naturally, we wanted to visit the Vessel, but at the time we visited it was still closed. It may never reopen, so all we did was explore the surroundings and grab a few photos. It’s an interesting design but completely pointless and will surely fade into obscurity.
But it’s a must-visit for now, but on;y because the Hudson Yards Development is so new and exciting. We also had a nice brunch on the free tables under the trees looking up at the Vessel.
It was a wonderful day with beautiful blue skies and warm Winter Sunshine, the temps were getting up to 15-16 °C (59-61°F) and it was the perfect weather for a nice stroll along the Highline.
The Park was pretty busy (certainly busier than the Hudson Mall) but still a wonderful stroll along this fantastic elongated park. If you don’t know the Highline is a disused Elevated Railway line that has been converted into a park and allows you to stroll along the Hudson Coast from Chelsea to Hudson Yards/Hells Kitchen. Read more here.
For once we slowed things down and strolled along. We have a habit of stomping and just getting from place to place, especially in New York. But with no traffic, no time pressures, and simply gorgeous weather we took out time and used the walk as a real break, at least for the mind.
Near the end of the Line, we hopped off and head into Chelsea Markets. This is an old converted Factory now used to house a variety of small artisan shops and restaurants. We were a little hungry and this point and could not resist the Lobster Place for a New England Lobster Roll!
The Markets are a wonderful little distraction from the regular big brand shopping that we normally partake in when in New York and it’s definitely worth a stop, and a great place for a bite to eat.
Finally near the end of the Highline was another location that has literally risen from nowhere while we have been away. The Little Island Park.
Real Estate in Manhattan is ludicrously expensive, so building a new park for Residents or visitors is out of the question as the loss of valuable real estate would be unthinkable. Its incredible Central Park was gifted to the People of New York and has remained green for this long, but a new green space is just not thinkable. But Little Island is just that and it achieved this in a similar way to the Highline, by utilizing derelict unusable space. This time it’s one of the old Piers of the Hudson Dockyards.
Built on the old Pier 55 which has been missing since its destruction during Hurricane Sandy (and was pretty much derelict before that) The Island is a Design MasterPiece, constructed on a series of “Tulip Pots” it is really striking in appearance.
In the Park, this modular design vanishes and instead you find yourself wandering a wonderful green maze of paths and hills that all have a “Wizard of Oz” feel about them. There are wind chimes and tubular instruments dotted around that all add a real Zen feel to the park.
We found it incredibly relaxing and you couldn’t feel further from the madness of New York, despite the fact there were the ever-present reminders of the Empire State Building and Downtown Skyline towering over the horizon.
It’s a great spot to while away an hour and just get away from the madness of the City.
Ghostbusters Fire House
We then headed back into the meat grinder, literally as we wandered through the streets of the Meatpacking District. We often find it hard to envisage living in New York. The Insane bustling streets and manic roads would just wear us down if stayed longer than a short break. But when wandering around Chealse and The Meat Packing District things are just a little more subdued and relaxed and we really could see us here one day, best not to check the Living costs though if we want to keep that bubble from bursting!
We got to the Subway and it was a direct line back into Times Square but we wanted to check out the Hook and Ladder. On our last Vist, the iconic firehouse was being refurbished and we missed out. So we needed to head back.
If you don’t know, the Hook and Ladder is the super Iconic Fire House used in the original Ghostbusters film. This was about my favorite film in the world when growing up (showing my age) and it is a real highlight of any New York Itinerary.
When we arrived there was a bit of a queue to get a photo taken in front. but everyone was courteous and took their turns. Then a mother arrived with two really excitable kids, both massive Ghostbusters Fans. We were aware you can knock on the side door and get a peek inside, but it’s a working station and to be honest as adults we don’t like to bother them.
As young kids, they had no such concern so they knocked away and a very welcoming Firefighter opened the door. Noticing a bit of a crowd he made the awesome Gesture of letting the kids open up the Fire Door!
This meant all us Adults on the outside, who were far too reserved to just bang on the door got to look inside too. This was seriously good timing, we were literally about to walk away happy with our outside selfie when the kids arrived.
We snapped a few shots and got on our way an influx of kids seemed to occur seemingly drawn by the opening of their doors, many in full fancy dress. There is a definite resurgence of Ghostbuster and in the younger generation of today, obviously driven by the recent new films!
After a quick look around the wonderful, leafy, Tribeca we hopped back onto the subway back to Times Square to get ready for our next attraction…
Go City Explorer Pass Attraction 5
We absolutely love the Ride. It’s a bit of an oddball attraction in our opinion and one we looked at very skeptically before we first tried it. It just doesn’t really make much sense. But once you give it a go and just try it out it really does work and is just amazing fun.
The Ride is basically a bus tour around the highlights of Midtown Manhattan. You get to see Times Square, Bryant Park, and the Empire State Building, Grand Central, The New York Public Library, Columbus Circle, Radio City Hall, The Rockefeller Centre, and Central Park.
It is however FAR more than a bus tour. The Seating is stadium-style and is side-in with huge floor-to-ceiling windows (actually the ceiling is glass too) so you all sit looking out the side of the Bus. The Bus comes equipped with two hosts/tour guides who provide commentary and funny skits as the bus tours the City. These routines are really quite funny a fairly informative. It’s easily the most fun Tour narration we have ever experienced (Well apart from maybe Jungle Cruise at Disney). They poke fun at themselves the City and a little bit at the guests too. There is a lot of audience interaction and on the whole, it’s just good fun.
The final piece of the Jigsaw is the outside entertainers. These are specially placed Street performers who blend into the New York Crowd and suddenly burst into performance as the bus approaches. There are dancing Street Cleaners, Ballet Dancers, Buskers armed with exceptional Saxaphoine abilities and a Female Vocalist, and of course a Freestyling Rapper.
The first time you experience this is really awesome but it’s still great to see even when you know it’s coming. Even when you explain all this it can come across as a bit naff, but when it all plays out in real-time it’s incredibly fun, and really one of the most unique things to do in the City. The Hosts are really awesome and it’s just a really playful and different experience.
Around this time of year, the Show is tweaked into the Holiday Edition which is pretty similar just with a few extra Christmassy features. There was also a really moving piece about the Pandemic. These sorts of attractions have been shut down for nearly 2-years and that has been incredibly difficult for the performers who have found themselves out of work and in dire straights, the Ride only reopened in Mid-November 2021, so they are still pretty raw and emotional about the last couple of years. Naturally, the hand went a little deeper into the pocket of the tip.
After The Ride, we headed back to the apartment to get glammed up as we had a big splurge meal planned this evening.
It’s just not a New York Trip unless you head out for dinner at one of New York’s top Steakhouses. We headed straight to one of our favorites the venerable Gallaghers Steakhouse. This upmarket Times Square Location has been searing Steaks for nearly 100 years and is an Icon of the City.
The Service is impeccable, friendly but pretty to the point, no messing around. We ordered our go-to Steakhouse favorite of Porterhouse for Two and a Mac and Cheese Side. A 52nd and Broadway and a Ghallagers 75 were our drink choices and were the best drinks we had all trip, even beating the excellent Bar 54 Cocktails.
The Steak, was as expected awesome. We ordered Medium Rare and it was just perfect. Heavily Seared with an incredible crust outside but perfect and pink all the way through. When Steak is really good and cooked perfectly there really is nothing better.
On the way out we got a good look at the Dry Aging Room, the contents of which is literally a carnivores wet dream!
Walking Total – 20,622 Steps – 10.5 Miles
In the end, despite a packed day and some serious walking, we didn’t actually clock up that many miles, we think this was due to increased usage of the Subway. We were really tired now and were using the Subway extensively to just relieve the pressure on our legs. We always use it for short hops, but now even for one-stop, we would jump aboard.
Our Dinner reservations had been quite late so we headed straight to bed after dinner, obviously capping the night off with a few drinks in the apartment.
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