New York City Part 2

Here is my post on New York City continued from Part 1:

The next day, my dad, sister and I got up and searched for a better place to have breakfast which was on the way to Lower Manhattan, where we would be spending most of our morning. We found a place on 23rd Street called Malibu Diner, which had many good reviews on Google, so we went there.

The food there was very good, authentic diner food. I got some delicious french toast with strawberries and blueberries.

Malibu Diner
Malibu Diner

After leaving the Malibu Diner, we walked back along 23rd Street to see if the Lego Store, which we had came across looking for Malibu Diner, was open yet. It was closed (it was quite early in the morning), so we took the R line Subway (one of the yellow lines) from 23rd Street station down to Rector Street, near where the World Trade Center (where we were to go next) is. We also saw the nearby Flatiron Building, which was built in 1902 and was one of the most famous landmarks in NYC.

Flatiron Building
Flatiron Building

One thing about the Subway that surprised me was that there are beautiful mosaics at many stations from when the stations were first built. At 23rd Street, for example, there are lots of mosaic hats on the walls.

Mosaic at 23rd Street Station on the NQR Lines
Mosaic at 23rd Street Station on the NQR Lines

When we exited the subway, we walked over to the World Trade Center complex and first visited the 9/11 Memorial. There are two very big pools where the original twin towers once stood, and plaques with the names of the victims of the 9/11 attacks (on September 11th, 2001) surround them. I felt sad and angry that such an attack had to happen.

The 9/11 Memorial
The 9/11 Memorial

Afterwards, we walked over to One World Trade Center, also known as Freedom Tower, which is a huge, newly built skyscraper with a height of 1,776 feet (541 metres). We then entered the building at the One World Observatory entrance because we had booked tickets to go up to the observatory at the top of the tower. I was very excited to see the views of New York from the top.

One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center

The three of us, along with many others, got into an elevator, which surprisingly took us straight to the 102nd floor!

We got out and watched a movie showing scenes of NYC, which opened up to reveal an amazing view of NYC from a height of 1,254 feet (382 metres). I found that a bit overwhelming, personally. Afterwards, we went downstairs to the 100th floor, where the rest of the observatory is, and continued to admire the impressive 360-degree views. You can see across the Hudson River to New Jersey, all of Manhattan (including a great view of the Manhattan skyscrapers), many of the other boroughs of NYC (Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island) and also the Statue of Liberty.

View from One World Observatory
View from One World Observatory

When we were done seeing the impressive views of NYC, we walked over to Chinatown, passing the famous Brooklyn Bridge, to have lunch at a restaurant called Joe’s Shanghai. It is known for xiao long bao, or soup dumplings. When we entered, we were sat at a large communal table because the place was crowded. We then ordered pork soup dumplings, as well as regular pork dumplings and cold sesame noodles. All the things were very good, including the soup dumplings, which have pork soup, which tastes a bit like a thin gravy, in them.

Soup Dumplings
Soup Dumplings

For dessert, we walked over to nearby Little Italy for some gelato from a street vendor. I got strawberry flavour, which was almost as good as Grom’s gelato. We then walked to Prince Street Subway station to take the yellow NQR lines back to our hotel.

Next, after relaxing at the hotel for a bit, we walked along 29th Street over to the High Line, a pedestrian walkway which opened in 2009 and used to be a rail line, on the West Side south of Midtown. Unfortunately, there was no entrance on 29th Street, so we had to walk one street down to 28th. The walkway, which was surprisingly crowded, had plants growing on either side of the footpath.

The High Line
The High Line

The three of us then walked down the High Line towards the newly reopened Whitney Museum, which displays contemporary and 20th Century American Art. I really enjoyed walking down the elevated walkway and passing alongside many buildings. We then entered the museum, which was also crowded, and saw many different works of art, a few about 9/11, and a painting from 1930 of a New York street called Early Sunday Morning by Edward Hopper. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture from the museum because I wasn’t sure if photography was allowed.

For dinner, we walked down Hudson Street, through the West Village, to a place called Cowgirl. The restaurant had a Wild West atmosphere, with cowboy-type décor. We were served with corn chips and a bean dip to start, and then our food came. I had ordered chicken enchiladas, which were very nice. The restaurant is family-friendly, by the way.

The West Village
The West Village

Finally, we walked to Christopher Street–Sheridan Square station to take the 1 line (one of the red lines) Subway back to our hotel. On the way, we stopped at the Lego store, which was open.

The next day, we did not do much, as we were leaving NYC that day. However, we did have a walk through Times Square. It was impressive, all the neon signs on the sides of buildings. We then had a nice breakfast at another diner, called Cosmic Diner. It was not as good as Malibu Diner, but better then the place we ate at the first day.

Times Square
Times Square

Afterwards, we walked back to the hotel and packed for our train journey onward to Washington DC. Finally, we walked to Penn Station, which was near our hotel, and got onto the train.

I had such a wonderful time in New York, and I feel like I did just about everything I had wanted to do there, from walking through Central Park and along the High Line to going up One World Trade Center and trying soup dumplings! The weather made it all the more enjoyable: it was sunny but not too hot. New York City certainly lives up to its reputation. IMG_0841

New York City Part 1

For our summer holiday in 2015, I went with my Dad and my sister to lots of amazing places in the USA. But my favourite place of them all was New York City. I really liked it, because we were able to do lots of incredible things!

To get there, we took a Virgin Atlantic flight from London to New York. When we got to JFK Airport, we took an Uber taxi to our hotel, the Eventi, which is on 6th Avenue between 29th and 30th Streets. What was interesting about our room was that there was a map of New York from 1852 on the wall. We then went to the hotel restaurant and had some delicious pizza.

The Map of New York from 1852
The Map of New York from 1852

The next day, we walked from the hotel, up through Midtown, stopping for breakfast at a place on 8th Avenue that I thought was a bit of a tourist trap. We then walked further up 8th Avenue to Columbus Circle and into Central Park. Central Park is very green with lots of trees, and is a good place to relax. There is a lot to explore there, as it is very big.

Skyscrapers from Central Park
Skyscrapers from Central Park

We continued on through Central Park, and we exited it over by the American Museum of Natural History, and went into the museum. There are many exhibits there, including multiple exhibits about different animals, and two fossil halls which display dinosaur fossils. There is also a theatre that shows a short presentation on the big bang. After you exit the theatre, you walk down a walkway which covers events of history of the universe from 13 billion years ago, when the big bang happened, to the present.

Dinosaur at the American Museum of Natural History
Dinosaur at the American Museum of Natural History

Afterwards, we exited the museum and bought hot dogs for lunch from a stand outside. We then re-entered Central Park and walked through it a second time. For the kids, there is a lake we passed where you can remote-control miniature sailboats. If you want to try it out, though, be warned, because it can be hard to control them as you have to make them catch the wind to make them go forward.

Sailboats in the Lake
Sailboats in the Lake

Next, we exited the park on the East side and stopped for some incredible gelato at a street vendor stand called Grom, by 72nd Street. Grom started in Italy and now has two other locations in NYC (which are not street vendor stands). Afterwards, we searched for a Subway station, so that we could take the Subway back to our hotel.

We ended up at Lexington Avenue- 59th Street station, which, fortunately, was a good station for getting to our hotel because it was on the NQR lines (the yellow lines), and our hotel was near 34th Street–Herald Square station, which is on those lines. I enjoyed riding on an air-conditioned Subway train.

Inside a Subway Train
Inside a Subway Train

To end the day, we decided to have dinner at Lombardi’s, which opened in 1905 and claims to be the first pizza restaurant in the whole USA. To get there, we took a D line Subway train (one of the orange lines) from Herald Square to Broadway–Lafayette Street. What was great about our journey was that the D is an express line, and the station we wanted was only two stops away from Herald Square.

Looking down 6th Avenue (the orange lines go under the road)
Looking down 6th Avenue
(the orange lines go under the road)

The restaurant had a nice atmosphere, with brown walls and red-and-white-checked tablecloths. We ordered two pizzas, which were both quite big: one plain margherita pizza and one with sausage and mushrooms. They were both very good, but, unfortunately, not the best pizza I’ve ever had. No offence, Lombardi’s, but I think that  Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven has some of the best pizza (see 5 Great Trips in 2014).

Lombardi's Pizza
Lombardi’s Pizza

After we finished our pizza, we left Lombardi’s and walked over to Broadway. We then walked up Broadway to a store called Forbidden Planet, which sells science fiction and comic books, and bought a few books there, including The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Next to Forbidden Planet is the Strand Bookstore, a famous book shop founded in 1927 which has a wide range of books on offer.

Finally, we took the Subway (the NQR or yellow lines) back to our hotel from the nearby 14th Street–Union Square station. We got off at 28th Street, a Subway stop also near our hotel. When we got back, we were very lucky because we were able to see a beautiful sunset from our west-facing hotel room!

Sunset from our Hotel Room Window
Sunset from our Hotel Room Window

This is not the end of our time in New York! For even more, see my next post, New York City Part 2!

 

 

Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery, which opened in 1839, is a cemetery in North London which many famous people are buried in. Recently, my dad and I took a trip there. Whilst we were passing the entrance, I suggested to my dad that we should go inside the cemetery, and so we did. It was only £4 for an adult and it was free for me.

The entrance to the west part of Highgate Cemetery
The entrance to the west part of Highgate Cemetery

Note that there are two parts to the cemetery: the West part, which can only be entered by going on a tour, and the East part, which is the part we went into.

Once we entered the cemetery, I picked up a map, which gave us the position of many of the most notable people’s graves. Firstly, we went to see Karl Marx’s grave, where Karl Marx and some of his relatives are buried. It is interesting that there are two graves of Karl Marx; one is the original where he was first buried in 1883, and the other is a large monument built in 1956 where his body was reinterred.

Karl Marx's grave
Karl Marx’s grave

After that, we walked back towards the entrance to see the grave of Douglas Adams, the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He died in 2001, and his remains were cremated and put in the cemetery in 2002. We then strolled around some more, passing many different graves. Some of them were in different languages, such as Polish and Chinese.

Highgate Cemetery
Highgate Cemetery

Finally, my dad and I exited the cemetery after having a good look around. We both agreed that we were glad we went, and also, it was my first time going even though we have lived so close to Highgate Cemetery for a long time!

Walk to Hampstead

I like London, and am glad we live in such a big, friendly city. But North London is where we live, and there are many interesting things to see and do here. One thing we often do is walk across Hampstead Heath, one of many green spaces in London, and I always enjoy doing so, especially on a sunny day.

Hampstead Heath
Hampstead Heath

One day with nice weather, we decided to walk across the Heath towards Hampstead itself, with the goal of checking out a burger restaurant in the neighbourhood.

Firstly, we left the house and began our walk by walking up The Bishops Avenue, a street with many trees. It is also known as Billionaire’s Row, because it has very large houses in which many rich people live. Next, when we reached the top, we walked through the grounds of Kenwood House, which are part of Hampstead Heath. Kenwood House is an 18th Century mansion in which Lord Mansfield lived, and in the grounds, there are beautiful flowers that bloom every spring.

Kenwood House
Kenwood House

After stopping to admire the colourful flowers, we continued on out of the grounds and through the main Heath itself. It is a great spot to relax in the summer, and it is very green. We exited the Heath at Hampstead Village, then walked past many pretty houses to get to Hampstead High Street. We then reached the burger restaurant, Spielburger.

Hampstead High Street
Hampstead High Street

The restaurant had an eclectic, American atmosphere. We first ordered corn chips and guacamole for the table, which made a nice starter. We also ordered our drinks; I got a refreshing glass of lemonade. Then our burgers came; I got a house burger, which came with many different toppings including cheese, bacon, pickles, red onion and house sauce, and chips on the side. It was delicious, probably one of the best burgers I have ever eaten.

Spielburger
Spielburger

Afterwards, we had dessert: some scrumptious ice cream from a chocolate shop called Venchi, which started in Italy and now has many locations in different cities. I got hazelnut flavour.

We then started walking home a different way: via the back streets of Hampstead. Hampstead is a hilltop village, which started growing in the 17th Century, and then got swallowed up by London.

Red Telephone Boxes in Hampstead
Red Telephone Boxes in Hampstead

We passed Fenton House, a merchant’s house from the 17th Century, and the Whitestone Pond, which is London’s highest point. Afterwards, we continued down Spaniards Road and past the Spaniards Inn, a pub that dates back to 1585 and is one of London’s oldest. There is also a small tollgate house built around 1710.

Plaque on the side of the Tollgate
Plaque on the side of the Tollgate

We finally walked back down The Bishops Avenue and arrived back at home.

I really enjoyed the walk that we took through the lush Hampstead Heath and the historical Hampstead Village, and having a fabulous, hearty lunch at Spielburger.  I recommend visiting Hampstead and its Heath to anyone living in London or visiting the city. Hampstead is only a few tube stations from Central London on the Northern Line, as well as being less than three miles from where we live.