On a very wet 9th February at 4:15 am thirty-two year 12 and 13 students met 4 staff for the New York trip. We sheltered from the rain waiting for the coach to arrive to whisk us off to Heathrow for the first flight out with Virgin Atlantic to JFK airport. Luggage was loaded aboard and off we drove in the dark towards London.
We arrived with plenty of time to allow for a toilet break and passport check before we checked in for the flight. All bags were under weight and all passports were correct and present. It went extremely smoothly, surprisingly another 6 schools were checking in for various flights.
We left on time and arrived on time in New York. 5 hours back on the watch gave us more hours before bed time to explore the city.
The rest of the day (9th February) was spent travelling into the city to our Holiday Inn Express in Midtown, to be precise in the area called ‘Hell’s Kitchen’. We then headed out on a walk to our evening meal at Hard Rock Cafe on Times Square. Then once everyone had eaten we headed to the Empire State Building for an evening view of the city, and wow…. what a view it was!
After a well deserved nights sleep (many were still struggling with the 5 hour change in the clocks) we woke to Saturday which involved lots of walking, at least 10 miles within Manhattan. Well, we cheated a little bit and jumped on the subway to head down to the last station on line 1, South Ferry, for our visit to the world famous Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
We made the short ferry trip over to the Statue and picked up some fantastic photo opportunities of the city skyline. The Statue was donated to the USA by France and attracts millions of tourists every year. Once we had spent time walking to the feet and taking many photos we jumped back on the ferry to Ellis Island and back to the mainland.
Following our return to Manhattan we headed north on foot towards the 9/11 memorial and as the heavens opened it made the location even more poignant. As the sun began to set, or what we could see of it through the rain, we continued north towards Times Square. An evening of looking around the shops wore everyone out and we decided to head back to the hotel for more sleep.
On Sunday 11th was our day of exploring Times Square, Manhattan some more and then on to the Rockefeller Centre to head to ‘Top of the Rock’ for a different view of the city. Unfortunately Sunday brought the worse of the rain and the clouds covered the building for our view to be blocked. We did manage to get a few pictures and gift buying completed before we heading down to street level.
Monday was our last day before flying home later in the evening, but we managed to squeeze in even more walking! This time we heading out after checking out from the hotel early to Macy’s, the largest department store in the world’. We got our very own guided tour of the store and heard about the history and success of the business.
Once complete at Macy’s we headed to the East Harbour for a very special tour of the United Nations Building. This is not your normal tourist venue, but if you have never been in you are missing out! To see first hand the place where history is made is very thought-provoking.
We then headed back to the hotel to grab our bags and make our way to Newark airport for our evening flight back to Heathrow. We had a fantastic time in NYC and hopefully it has encouraged many to want to return some day in the future.
Last thing…. a few pictures from aboard the coach travelling back to Swindon on the M4.