The US Bonanza – Day 7

>I wasn’t really expecting to be faced with a bill for $1000 on check out, but there it was. I calmly looked over the bill and said “That’s great, but could you just remove the mini bar and film for me as I’m a Royal Ambassador”. A few seconds later a new bill came in front of me for $330 – that’s more like it for two nights in a 5* suite 🙂

A moment later and we were in a cab (at another stupidly early time) and on our way to the airport.

Boston – New York in American Eagle Economy

Fortunately our BA Gold cards meant that the only thing that would be different about this flight was not having a First Class cabin. We used the First Check in desk to collect our boarding passes, and then went through security and on to the Admiral’s Club. I just sat on a sofa for a bit of shut-eye while Phil browsed the Global Hyper Mega-Net on the computers.

About 30 minutes before departure we headed over to the gate which was right at the other end of the terminal. Boston to New York is a very short flight, operated by American Eagle (all one-class) in a small plane.

We boarded all at once – considering there were only 23 of us, the queues weren’t the longest I’d seen. As we had status we’d been allowed to select good seats in advance – we went for 1A and 2A as there were only 3 seats across the plane in a 1-2 formation. 1A was a great choice as I had as much leg room as I’d had on my First Class flights.

The service was better than I was expecting. A pre-flight drink of Orange Juice, and a few more free drinks throughout the 30 minute flight. I slept for most of it, and was quite surprised to wake as we touched down.

I have to say that was one of my most hassle free economy flights to date! It was very cheap, and I’d had my AA Platinum card on the booking, which saw me get a healthy 1250 miles! Compared to the 125 Phil racked up on his BA Gold card, I was most pleased.

By the time we landed and entered the terminal, there were less than 24 hours before our BA flight to London the next day, so we could check in online. We made our way to the Admiral’s club (which we were passing anyway) and a quick flash of our flown boarding pass stubs and BA Gold cards saw a welcoming smile and 4 drinks vouchers – bargain.

We checked in for our flight, did a bit of points checking, drank a few beers, and then headed out to find a cab (after a looong walk to the other side of the terminal).

The Crown Plaza at the United Nations, New York

A $55 cab fare saw us rolling up to the Crown Plaza on 42nd and 2nd. Normally I stay at the InterContinental, but for $150 a night I thought I’d give the Crown Plaza a try.

While we weren’t upgraded (the hotel was most likely full) we had both been allocated corner bedrooms. The hotel is very narrow (about as wide as you see on the picture above) and I guess this is typical of mid-Manhatten hotels.

The bed had one of those memory-foam mattresses, and it was the first time I’d tried one. It was quite weird the way none of the rest of the bed moves… but I got a good night’s sleep, so it can’t have been too bad.

The hotel had a nice bar downstairs where we had a few beers in the evening before going out for dinner… but it was particularly pricey – each Sam Adams was about $8.

Out in New York

I’ve been to New York many times, and love it. But I think the main thing I like is meeting up with friends who live there… and this time nobody was around! I’ve done most of the sights so I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to spend the day doing.

As it was nearly lunch time, we thought we’d nip to a local Italian pizza place round the corner where we had a couple of slices. This was great, and one of the highlights of my day!

After that, Phil had to play on his computer and “do some work”, so I thought I’d just go for a wander around town. I started on wandered along 42nd Street from to hotel towards 5th Avenue, passing Grand Central Terminal. I was reminded of the great film “Inside Man” with the trivia question about how many trains pass through Grand Central Station (answer none – it’s a post office).

I then took a left and walked down 5th Avenue, past the Empire State Building and it’s 3 hour queue of people, and down about 40 blocks to Washington Square Park, where I found a small cafe, and decided to be particularly English and have a cup of tea.

The tea was rubbish so I was soon on my way again, and I thought I’d head towards Ground Zero. I’d last been to Ground Zero in 2003 when they were still clearing away the debris from the Twin Towers. Looking at it now, it doesn’t look a whole lot different, but there are a few iron bars standing from the ground with “Freedom Tower” written on them.

I continued my walk down to Battery Park, past the miles of queues of people who wanted to go to the Statue of Liberty. I haven’t done this yet, but I when I do, I think I’ll avoid bank holiday weekends! It was now late afternoon, so I jumped in a taxi and went back to the hotel to meet Phil in the bar.

We thought we’d grab an early-ish evening meal as we had an early flight back to London in the morning. I had a bit of a craving for steak, so we decided to go to Gallagher’s NY Steakhouse.

The restaurant was great – it had an old-school decor to it (well, it’s been around for 80 years) and the staff were also old-school. We both went straight in for the Surf & Turf – and was very pleased I did. Lobster and Steak – you really can’t go wrong.

After this, it was back to the hotel for a kip and an early start for London.