Where dreams are made of – New York City

A great way to start another day on a budget we hit the free 50 min return Staten Island ferry for a great free view of the Statue of Liberty, make sure you sit on the right side of the ferry on the way out or you’ll miss it. Arriving back we took a stroll through Battery Park before Sarah, foam Statue of Liberty hat on head, and I heart NY t-shirt on her back and a $3 hotdog in hand posed for the ultimate NYC tourist trifecta photo. By the way, skip these $3 hotdogs, you can get them for $1.50 in other parts of town.

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The Statue of Liberty from the free Staten Island ferry

A short walk from Battery Park lets you take in the heavily guarded Wall Street, which houses the New York Stock Exchange. A longer stroll then takes you to Ground Zero and the September 11 memorial. Be sure to walk around the Freedom Tower as around the outer side, looking directly up, what appeared to be a square building becomes a pointed pyramid façade that looks to reach forever into the sky.

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September 11 Memorial

Ladies hopefully you’ve all now taken our advise to visit the NYC library steps made famous in the SATC movie, but who could pass up the opportunity to pose for a photo on Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment steps…Sarah definitely couldn’t. You won’t be able to get on the steps as the owners have put up a chain, but a strategically taken picture can remove them from your frame. The apartment is located at 64 Perry Street in the much hyped but justified beautiful Greenwich village. Still not feeling fattened up enough we pedaled around the corner to Peanut Butter & Co, a must for any peanut butter loving connoisseur (their website is www.ilovepeanutbutter.com which says it all!). These guys know their peanut butter, you can get maple, chocolate, even chilli flavour PB at this joint. But we were here one reason only. Peanut butter, bacon, banana and honey between two pieces of lightly grilled bread…a sandwich of this calibre can only be called one thing…The Elvis (aka The King). Served with a side of potato chips and carrot sticks like the owners mum used to serve them as kids (random combo we know) one is enough to share as any more than  half will induce a heart failing attack on your arteries. Walk it off with a quick stop at the Little Lebowski shop where the guy is dedicated to his passion of The Dude. White Russians optional at any of the local bars in the vicinity.

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‘The Elvis’ sandwich from Peanut Butter & Co

If you’re a Picasso fan, detour down Bleeker Street where you can view the giant 60 ton 36 ft concrete statue of a face titled “Bust of Sylvette” which Picasso had input into. The location is a little drab (tall grey apartment blocks surround it) but if you’re walking this way you might as well tick the box.

We couldn’t leave NYC without hitting up another of it’s much loved movie locations – the Big piano at the FAO Schwarz, the oldest kids store in NYC. Londoner’s who love Hamley’s will feel right at home, but anybody would have a ball walking the floors posing with lifesize lego replica’s of Star Wars Boba Fett, the Statue of Liberty and Batman. I mean seriously, a lifesize lego Batman? Who could pass that up! Joining the queue of pint sized kids Sarah didn’t stand out…too much, and finally got her much awaited chance to tickle the giant ivory.

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Sarah having a ‘Big’ moment at FAO Schwarz toystore

Opting for the perfect view of the NYC skyline which includes the iconic Empire State Building, we unwillingly handed over the over the top ticket price and set out to waste some time until our 9pm ticket slot for the 70 floor (259m) ride to the Top of the Rock. This option came highly recommended over the Empire State Building because let’s be honest, if you were at the top of the Empire State Building, would you even know which building was the Rockerfeller plaza? Of course not, so it makes sense to part with a fist full of dollars to capture the most iconic building in town lit up to perfection. Just be careful not to carry a pocketknife in your backpack or you will be accosted by a group of 5 security guards in front of everybody else in the queue. Sarah is now less one pocketknife. Matt on the other hand had packed his sideways in his bag and got away with it not even registering on the xray.  Something not to miss while you’re up here at night is the surreal glow radiating from the edges of the almost pitch black Central Park.

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Eerily dark Central Park from the Top of the Rock

Planning to leave NYC but not wanting to cook, we made the trek out to Katz Delicatessen, famous for their Ruben sandwiches. Upon entering you’re given an old school paper ticket and instructed not to lose it as it’s your exit token. Take them seriously, we got stuck behind somebody who’d lost their ticket and were told it would cost them $50 to leave. Whether they were serious or not, DON’T LOSE YOUR TICKET! Matt took a seat while Sarah joined the sandwich queue, ordered the sandwich and was handed a small plate of the meat offcuts too small to make the cut to munch on while our Ruben was freshly made in front of her. Again opting to go halves was a smart move. This sandwich was HUGE, with enough pastrami to feed a pride of lions and even Matt could hardly fit it in his big mouth, and that’s saying something. It took us half an hour and $23 (yes the Ruben costs $23….) to realise we were sitting in the restaurant made famous as where Harry met Sally, and it was only upon looking up and noticing the hanging sign above one particular table where the scene was actually filmed. Another Hollywood tick in the box.

A $20 sandwich, so much pastrami. Katz Deli, New York
What a $20 sandwich looks like from Katz Deli

A quick stop off at Brooklyn Bridge on our way out of town (don’t expect it to be lit up too spectacularly, it’s not) we took a pimped up Betty out to stretch her legs. We didn’t manage to hit the road until just after midnight and drove a fairly uneventful couple of hours through the night. Uneventful until Matt began to get tired and pulled off the interstate in small town middle of nowhere to swap drivers. Pulling into a supermarket back parking lot at 2am apparently draws a lot of attention, as it only took two seconds for us to be followed out of the lot by a waiting police car, who then waited a whole of five more seconds before pulling us over. Handing over an Australian Drivers license, in a British Colombian registered vehicle which is registered and insured in somebody elses name did not raise any red flags…much…but Matt reaching down to look for Sarah’s international license raised major red flags and he was quickly reminded to ‘keep your hands where I can see them’. Not at all impressed, officer returned to his partrol car after a torchlit snoop through the windows (hope he enjoyed the dirty dishes and unmade bed in the back!) before returning with a completely different tone, returning our documents as he didn’t have time to even work out if it was legal or not and laughing at us in the process. No more back parking lot pit stops in small US towns at 2am then.

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New York city skyline from the Top of the Rock

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