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Xmas Eve in New York - BA001 LCY-JFK returning to LHR on 747 in F - Part 1

Xmas Eve in New York - BA001 LCY-JFK returning to LHR on 747 in F - Part 1

Old Jul 19, 15, 12:34 pm
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Xmas Eve in New York - BA001 LCY-JFK returning to LHR on 747 in F - Part 1

Please be gentle on me folks… I thought it was high time that I gave a little back to the Flyertalk community and decided I would post my very first trip report for my 4 night visit to New York which some of you lovely folk helped me to plan. It was back in December 2013 so hope this is not too late to post!

Long story short, following an 18 month illness and the tragic loss of my youngest daughter aged 11, we were faced with our first Xmas without her. So with a 2 for 1 and a fair few Avios in the bank, I decided to take myself and elder daughter (then 15) to New York for a few days before Xmas, retuning overnight on Xmas eve, so we could avoid the inevitable ‘hollow’ Xmas morning we would have had if we'd been at home.

With the forum’s help, I decided on the baby bus out of LCY on the way out (as I was fascinated with the opportunity)… and First Class return so we could experience our first F and also the CCR in JFK.

The return was originally booked on a 777 due to lack of availability, but when the 747 became available shortly after booking, I decided to change so I could experience my first (and potentially only) FIRST in the nose of the great plane!

I really wanted to keep the trip a surprise, but my daughter hates surprises so I eventually told her about 2 weeks before departure, and it was good to know she was excited about the opportunity and we started to plan the things we’d like to do.

I was especially thrilled to find that my trip which cost around £1,000 in taxes plus 120,000 avios and a 2 4 1 voucher, was tracking at almost £18,000 on a flexible ticket so pretty good use of my Avios and voucher in my book!


I consulted with a good friend who knows NY well, and decided to stay at The James Hotel in Soho as I like the look of the sleek modern interior and the fact it was in the centre of some fun shopping and great places to eat, a bit like London’s Covent Garden, but with good connections to the rest of Manhattan. (Other considerations included The Mondrian.)

The day of departure arrived, and my lovely husband drove Miss CF and I to LCY where we were dropped at the door by car (we live in West London).

We checked our bags and headed straight for the gate. I had no idea what to expect, having only ever been in the Galleries Biz Lounges (LHR and GTW). So I was very pleasantly surprised at the array of food, lovely yoghurts, smoothies, cookies and pastries on offer, plus of course, champagne!

The gate area was small, quite busy on arrival but nice chairs to sit in and we could see our plane parked up on the tarmac out of the window.


We tucked into the delicious offerings and I decided it would be rude not to join the other travellers who had started on the champagne!



My daughter went back to the duty free area to spend some holiday money burning a hole in her pocket but returned in time for boarding.

The biggest thrill was seeing MissCF’s face on getting on the plane as she was expecting a similar layout to the planes we take to Spain! She had no idea what we were embarking on and it was a real treat to see the surprise and realization that we were in for a something different and clearly a bit special!




On boarding we enjoyed more Champagne prior to a smooth take off, and having spent some time fiddling about with our seats and the switches etc, it wasn’t long before we arrived at Shannon. We quickly disembarked, went through customs and before we knew it were soon on our way. Once in the air again, the full service started.

I think it was especially lovely that it was just before Xmas and everyone on board was in a great mood. We chatted to the other passengers, including a lovely couple who were on a truly surprise trip (for the GF/Wife) .. her partner had told her that they were going on a trip to the East End to take the cable car across the river over the O2, but instead, she found herself on this amazing flight to New York!! (Well done to him for packing her bags! She was clearly a cool girl as she wasnt the least bit bothered whether he'd got everything she needed!) Anyhow, they were a very happy and chatty and excited couple who were enjoying every moment of the service and special experience - and a LOT of champagne.

The crew were absolutely phenomenal. Such amazing diligence and were just totally focused on making our journey as special as possible. Friendly, chatty but very dedicated to the task.

The food service started and my daughter wasn’t keen on the canapés, but loved the Sushi, so two further plates of Sushi were promptly found and delivered to our seats in Row 6.


We enjoyed the IFE in the form of the pre-loaded ipads, and having had a few glasses of fizz, nice wine and maybe even something else after lunch (me – not my daughter) we both put out seats into lie flat mode and had a very long snooze!

After waking from our nap, we enjoyed a delicious cream tea, and prepared to land in New York. As we had already cleared customs, our only focus was on finding our bags (which was a bit of a bun fight as they had been delivered to a office/cupboard on the lower ground floor rather than being off loaded on to a belt – I think was due to some building work or something). But before long we were reunited with our bags and then went to find a cab to take us to the hotel.

I did say a special good bye to the lovely crew who had made our journey completely unforgettable in the nicest possible way, although this doesn’t surprise me as the CC for the Baby Bus are frequently applauded in this forum.

The cab journey was pretty easy, and we found ourselves arriving at The James within about 45 minutes of leaving JFK.

(Arriving in New York to follow)

Last edited by CaroFos; Jul 19, 15 at 6:24 pm Reason: typos
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Old Jul 19, 15, 12:45 pm
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Great start to the report. So sorry to hear about your loss.
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Old Jul 19, 15, 1:49 pm
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Xmas Eve in New York - BA001 LCY-JFK returning to LHR on 747 in F - Part 2

New York

The James in Soho did not disappoint. A really modern hotel with a bright and airy reception where you can use the computers, get coffee and corn cakes in the morning, free wine and cheese snacks between 6 and 8pm, and delicious homemade cookies at bedtime! (My kind of place!)

Although it was bedtime our time, we arrived at around 6pm so after exploring our lovely Corner King room, playing with the blind that gave privacy for the bathroom, delving through the minibar items, and flicking the channels on the massive TV, we decided to go out and explore and get some more food!


The splendid Minibar

We headed off to catch a few late opening shops and wander around SoHo... it was really peaceful, clean and felt very safe. Given we were two girls on our own, at no point did we feel concerned about being in an unfamiliar city - even late at night. We found a nice Asian restaurant and had a bowl of noodles, and a couple of cokes before stopping off to get some Fruit Loops for breakfast the next morning. We then went back to the hotel by about 9.30pm.

The bed was super comfy, with down pillows and a deliciously light and warm feather duvet and we slept like logs until around 7am which pretty much managed the threat of jet lag! We were rather pleased with ourselves!

Our first morning was glorious.. It was bright and clear and I headed down to reception to get my complimentary coffee and corn cakes!

View on waking!



Morning 'cawfeee' is served!

We decided that we would go south to undertake the statutory Staten Island Ferry trip. We got there nice and early, bought our ticket and joined the queue. Before long we were bording the boat and discovered quickly that we needed to stand on the railings (at the back on the right hand side) to get the best view of Manhattan the Statue of Liberty.

TIP: The hotel was really helpful and we were advised to get a 7 day travel card for the subway. I can't remember exactly how much it costs but I think about £30 each.. we could then just hop on and off the subway as we wished.

In the queue

Leaving Manhattan




Amazing view of The Statue of Liberty!


The people on boat were very friendly and we got chatting to a lovely dad and his two sons who were visiting from Denmark. They had already been up to the top of the Empire State Building that morning ... I was very impressed by their energy but it was clearly worth the effort for the spectacular view they had given the clear, bright day. They had taken some amazing photos that they showed us.


After the ferry ride, we made another subway journey so we could go and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It was very busy with many people having the same idea!

It was fun to see the street sellers on the bridge and observe the thousands of padlocks that had been placed along the bridge by visitors.


We then took the subway all the way to Grand Central Station to have a look at the amazing building and as we were hungry by this time, we grabbed a Shake Shack Burger (thank you HENKYBABY - I believe you have waxed lyrical about these burgers on this forum in the past which gave me the idea!) Sorry - no pictures but it was delish!


The Amazing building at Grand Central Station

On coming up for air, Although I knew New York was full of sky scrapers, nothing really prepared me for how peculiar it felt to be surrounded by such tall buildings all around.


The size of the buildings was overwhelming

We then walked to Times Square, past Bryant Park where there were some lovely art and craft stalls and a skating rink.

In Times Square, my daughter was desperate to visit Sephora. The Square was absolutely heaving and it was quite stressful with so many people around but we managed to find our way into the shop.


Busy/Stressful!

While she played with all the make up and made a few purchases, I was grabbed by a sales assistant who insisted on putting a full face of make up on me! Sephora was right across from the Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant so I couldn't resist taking a pic!


Afterwards, we went to the Rockefeller Centre to see the famous ice rink and gorgeous Christmas tree and get our ticket to the viewing platform at the Top of the Rock! By this time it was getting to dusk, so I was keen to get up to the top asap so we could enjoy the view while it was still light, and then again as it got darker.. We were probably about half an hour too late to really make a proper success of this strategy but it was still a brilliant experience. Just a note to say pay attention in the lift and look UP...

Fantastic views from the Top of the Rock


It was also fun to see this iconic image outside of the Rockefeller Building.





We must have spent around an hour in all at the viewing platform and we then headed back to our hotel just in time to catch the free wine

We were absolutely shattered by this time but quite hungry again, so as we had spotted a nice looking Mexican cantina about a block down from the hotel and we went for a light supper and a couple of margaritas (one virgin!) before returning to The James where we scoffed a a couple of home made cookies from reception and then retired for the night.




Yummy Mexican and Margaritas!


Day 2 to follow

Last edited by CaroFos; Jul 19, 15 at 7:02 pm Reason: added image / corrected typo
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Old Jul 19, 15, 1:59 pm
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Originally Posted by DetailsIM View Post
Great start to the report. So sorry to hear about your loss.
Thank you. ^
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Old Jul 19, 15, 2:50 pm
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Xmas Eve in New York - BA001 LCY-JFK returning to LHR on 747 in F - Part 3

Day 2 – A lot of shopping and a lot of eating and drinking!

The plan for day 2 was to undertake some serious shopping. This involved trying to find a Target store.

The lovely concierge chap told us the best / nearest one was in Queens. We were to take the subway north, and then get on a line that would head towards JFK.

On arriving at the station, we found not only the Target store but a great little shopping Mall which also had a Bath and Bodyworks shop that my daughter wanted to visit. We did lots of shopping and bought most of our Christmas gifts for family and friends in the mall before moving on to Target where we filled our trolly with sweets, make up, lip balms and generally lots of lovely things we can’t get at home – or not at this price anyhow!

We then realized we’d messed up as we had so much stuff we were not sure how we were going to get back to the hotel!

Determined not to waste money on a cab, we struggled back on the subway with all our goodies so we could dump all our shopping back at the hotel.

It was now lunchtime so we asked the concierge where we could go for a fun bite to eat. He recommended we try Luke’s Lobster. There are a few of these outlets and one was within walking distance of the Hotel on E7 Street. We wandered along and found the delightful and tiny sandwich shop where they sold the most amazing Lobster Rolls.

This gave us some energy to do some more shopping in and around SoHo before going back for a rest at the hotel … by this time, it was nearly six o’clock and yes – Wine Time!

After a lovely couple of glasses of wine, it was time to think about supper, so another chat with our friendly helper at the desk was in order. Having told him we were looking for somewhere cheap and cheerful that the locals enjoy we were sent in the direction of an amazing restaurant in China Town called Wo Hop!

The restaurant was also great fun with the walls covered in signed dollar bills and lots of pictures of various celebrities. It’s one of those places you have to queue for, and share a table if you are a small party. People in the queue were really friendly and chatty and when it was our turn to be seated, we were thrilled to be put on a table with a couple of uniformed firefighters having a break.

We chatted about all sorts and enjoyed a really delicious and great value Chinese meal before walking back to the hotel and taking in the sights and sounds of this vibrant part of the city.

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from this day!

Day 3 to follow

Last edited by CaroFos; Jul 19, 15 at 6:52 pm
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Old Jul 19, 15, 2:51 pm
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Great report so far. What an epic adventure for your you + your daughter, a great way to spend your 241 + avios
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Old Jul 19, 15, 3:19 pm
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Xmas Eve in New York - BA001 LCY-JFK returning to LHR on 747 in F - Part 4

Day 3 in New York

On our penultimate day, we wanted to head back uptown to visit Bloomingdales, explore the area a little more, and also see Central Park.

Unfortunately it was very damp and rainy. We spent about an hour in Bloomingdales but MissCF was bored as there was nothing there she could afford. We headed off to see Central Park.

Central Park in the rain


A quick walk along the edge of the park in the rain, spotting a few carriages etc. was more than enough for us and so we wandered down a road from the Park and found ourselves outside Tiffanys and Trump Tower.


Breakfast at......

We explored both. Tiffany was beautiful and we had a lovely look at the diamonds while I told my daughter all about the film.

I was shocked at how tacky the Trump centre was. All glitzy but not very classy in my opinion. Maybe all the poinsetta plants didn’t help!

Trump tower. It was so tacky inside I don't want to post any pictures!


By this time it was lunchtime and we decided to try the Brooklyn Diner which was in the vicinity as it had been recommended by a friend.

Because of the rain and general yuckiness outside, the restaurant was full of damp, slightly cheesed off folk and we had to queue for quite a while for the table. Having waited almost 45 minutes in the queue, and been left to study the menu, we were then told that there was no salt beef and no pastrami available! This mean't that half the menu was unavailable! We had to choose again and ended up having a burger.

The wine was $16 dollars a glass, and the burgers $25 dollars so two burgers, two cokes and two wines came to nearly $100 and it was terrible service and our food was cold on delivery! Probably our worst experience in New York and we certainly won’t be returning.

Next was back to the hotel for a rest (and a glass of wine) before heading off to see Ground Zero. My friend had told me she had been in the evening to see it with her partner so we aimed to get there for about seven PM… Unfortunately we were hugely disappointed to discover we had just missed the last entrance. We pondered going back in the morning on our last day but in the end decided we didn’t have time.

We did see and take pictures of the beautiful memorials.





Indeed


The memorial was still a very moving experience and we were very glad we had the opportunity to see it, made just a little more special from our experience the evening before when we had the honour of dining with two of New York's brave fire fighters.

After we had walked around the memorial area, we we noticed we were outside of a Century 21 store so went and indulged in a bit more shopping before returning to the Asian noodle bar from our first night for a light supper.

An early night was in order as we had to pack our bags ready for our last day (Christmas Eve) and our return to London.

Last edited by CaroFos; Jul 19, 15 at 3:21 pm Reason: wanted to add title
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Old Jul 19, 15, 3:26 pm
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Great report so far! These things are never too late to post so thank you for posting!
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Old Jul 19, 15, 3:49 pm
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Xmas Eve in New York - BA001 LCY-JFK returning to LHR on 747 in F - Part 5

Day 4 (last day)

Our last day dawned bright and clear. I was absolutely thrilled as I had planned a walk along the Highline – again a recommendation from a friend.

I grabbed my coffee and Corn cake from the lobby, and returned to the room so we could pack up and have our bags ready to pick up later. We checked out at 11am and left our bags in the care of the hotel. Our flight back to London was around 9pm so we planned to leave at about 5pm to get the subway (we were starting to really get the hang of it by now!) back to the airport. This was partly as we had a paid for ticket, and also being Xmas eve, I was a little worried there might be bad traffic leaving the city!

I bribed my daughter by telling her she could spend half the cab money at the airport on guess what – yep – make up!

We took a cab to the northern end of the Highline where we got out. It was just spectacular. A gorgeous crisp morning with some sunshine and lots of happy people sauntering along.


We could not have asked for a more glorious Xmas Eve morn!


It was just lovely to see the city from this angle. Looking backwards we could see the Crysler Building and the Empire State. To the right we could see the Hudson, and in the distance in front was a view of the Statue of Liberty.


It was fascinating to see the backs of apartments, and tiny balconies, as well as lots of art work and billboards, giving us a glimpse of how New Yorkers make the most of every bit of space they have.


The attention to detail of all the plantings was beautiful, and all along the pathway there were benches and little areas to sit in, including sun beds for the summer months and also an amazing viewing area which looked down over a busy Manhattan highway.

Perfect place to sit if you enjoy watching a busy highway!


It took about an hour to walk to end which then found us at Chelsea Market.

The Market was just beautiful. The Christmas lights and happy people buying fresh produce, and last minute presents made us feel really cheerful.




We indulged in a lovely lunch of Pizza for Miss CF and a lobster roll for myself!




Can't get enough of Lobster Rolls!


We then walked around the lovely art and craft stalls in the covered building before heading back to the hotel to collect our bags and make our way on the subway to the airport.

It was really sad that our glorious trip was coming to an end but in true Flyertalk spirit we still had the journey home to look forward to.. That said I was looking forward to it rather more than MissCF as she had been informed that we were travelling home in Y! ;-)

The journey home to follow

Last edited by CaroFos; Jul 20, 15 at 6:22 am
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Old Jul 19, 15, 4:40 pm
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Xmas Eve in New York - BA001 LCY-JFK returning to LHR on 747 in F - Part 5

The Journey Home

We collected our bags and said good bye and thank you to the lovely staff at The James, promising to be back again soon and headed to the Subway at Canal Street which was becoming a very familiar journey for us by now.

Lugging our heavy cases, we managed to find our way to the correct line without too much trouble and headed for Howard Beach where we were to join the airport link. Although we had a ticket, we would have to pay another $5 dollars to use the airport rail service.

When we got to Howard Beach, there was a young man asking if anyone had any unused rail tickets so we happily handed ours over as they both had three days of travel left of them. I’m not sure if this is legal but it felt like the right thing to do given it was Xmas eve!

On the rail, we could still see wonderful views of Manhattan, and better still, it was just starting to snow a little so we were feeling very Xmassy!


We arrived at Terminal seven and given I wanted to surprise my daughter, we headed towards the regular BA queue. A man at the beginning of the queue asked to see our tickets so I showed him the boarding passes expecting him to say ‘ah madam, you can use the desks around the corner!’ which would add to the surprise.

Unfortunately, he must not have looked at them properly (and we obviously didn’t look like we could possibly be first class passengers) so he waved us into the long line.

I was a bit annoyed as it spoilt the plan of the surprise slightly so I had to say to MissCF – actually, let’s just pop around the corner and see if there’s a shorter queue.

Anyhow, we were greeted at the First Class check in by a lovely smiley lady and quickly found ourselves walking up the corridor towards the CCR! I was incredibly excited but my daughter was really just a bit chilled and not terribly interested. She just wanted to get to the WIFI and chat to her friends.



I decided not to let her burst my bubble and asked about the Spa, but unfortunately being Xmas eve the Spa was closed. So at this point there was nothing else to do except eat supper and drink the lovely wines on offer in this fabulous lounge.

Our supper in one of the little booths was just delicious and I must have had about four glasses of wine so was feeling very mellow.

Food in the CCR was delicious, beautifully presented and served by very attentive staff


After dinner my daughter went off to spend her bucks, and I studied my iPad on my own in the comfort of the sofas until it was time to board.

Now I don’t mind confessing I was absolutely beside myself with excitement about turning left for the first time into the nose of the F cabin of a Jumbo jet. I just wish I had been with my lovely dad to share the experience (he was a plane/flying nerd too!)

NB (I have actually travelled in the nose of a jumbo before back in the day when Virgin had economy in the nose. I don’t know how we managed it but somehow my friend and I were given row 1 A and B on the way to Miami many moons ago when I knew nothing about seat maps or the best place to sit on a plane!)

The crew immediately welcomed us and we were quickly offered a pre-flight drink of more champagne. The F cabin had 7 passengers in total including two ladies flying together in 1 A & K, a couple in 2A and K and myself and Daughter in 3 and 4 A. There was one other gentleman over the other side of the cabin in 3K. No one was in the centre seats at all.


We soon took off and as we climbed out of JFK managed to grab a last look at the lit up Empire State Building. The rest of the climb was spent exploring the contents of our First Class Amenity bag and playing with the fancy blinds before the in flight service began!


I have to confess I was pretty fuzzy due to the amount of alcohol consumed by this stage but I do remember the lovely steak meal (yes – I ate again!) and also being offered the famous chocolates. I think I had a small dessert wine before settling into my pjs and putting my head down.

Cosy in the F duvet and pyjamas


My daughter also went ‘off to Bedfordshire’ pretty quickly and before I knew it, I was woken to the sound of Cabin Crew 20 minutes to landing! I’d missed breakfast and we had to scramble to pack up our beds.

The captain told us it had been a very pleasant flight and that he had indeed spotted Father Xmas fly past at one stage in the middle of the night but he didn’t want to wake us.

A slight disaster as I was putting my seat back up saw my iPad disappear down the side of the chair and the mechanism came to a grinding halt. I was quickly shuffled into one of the center seats for landing while the crew struggled to pull my iPad out of the seat! It was eventually freed but with a huge dent in the back which I did not realise until a few weeks later!

All too soon the lovely F experience was over, and we had disembarked. I wanted to savour every last moment so dragged my tired and grumpy daughter into the arrivals lounge but had to eat breakfast in the CCR by myself as she wasn’t hungry.

I had to endure a little more wrath as I informed her I was going to have a shower! - I had to see the cabana things!!

So I enjoyed a delicious soak in the lovely Elemis bubble bath in the giant tub in the Cabana/bathroom or whatever it is in the arrival lounge. I then had a mini facial in the Elemis Spa because unlike New York, our Spa didn’t go on holiday for the holiday!!


Decadent way to freshen up after a long flight!

So, our adventure was all but over. My lovely OH was outside waiting for us with the dog to drive Miss CF and I to my family in Somerset for Xmas Day.

A summary of my trip will follow

Last edited by CaroFos; Jul 19, 15 at 7:05 pm
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Old Jul 19, 15, 5:04 pm
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Really nice TR - thanks for posting
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Old Jul 19, 15, 7:04 pm
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Thanks for the TR!
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Old Jul 19, 15, 9:40 pm
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Thanks for posting. Did you check out the rooftop at The James? We were there yesterday. Fun spot for some drinks and great views!
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Old Jul 19, 15, 11:32 pm
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Originally Posted by batmandds View Post
Thanks for posting. Did you check out the rooftop at The James? We were there yesterday. Fun spot for some drinks and great views!
Yes indeed! ^ I should add something in about the rooftop bar and pool. Being December and with a minor, we only went up the once for a quick look around and I didn't have any photos. But it is a wonderful feature of the hotel and must really come into its own at this time of year. I guess I should also mention the hotel restaurant too, but again we didn't actually use it!
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Old Jul 20, 15, 4:38 am
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Wow, a great trip report ^

My stomach is rumbling at the though of all those delicious meals

I think knowing a bit of the "back story" of the travellers really helps to imagine them enjoying the trip.

I loved the High Line in New York too. Getting some exercise also means it's ok to indulge at mealtimes. I would recommend walking across the Brooklyn Bridge for similar reasons and excellent views.

Glad you enjoyed your holiday.
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