After our New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square we had spent New Year's Day stretching our legs on a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to see where Laura had planned to propose. It had led to an early night as the (freezing) fresh air had worn us out.
We were meeting the girls at 2pm so we decided to walk the 20 or so blocks from Rockefeller Centre to Union Square. The Rockefeller Centre is home of the ice rink that you think of in New York, the one in the movies and the one that has the most beautiful tree towering above it.
The Rockefeller Centre is home to some stunning artwork and the NBC studios where programmes such as the USA Office and Saturday Night Life are filmed.
We strolled down 5th Avenue and somehow Laura got distracted by the American Girl Doll store! By distracted I mean hypnotised to the point where I was unable to move her until I promised that we could go in. As soon as I entered I was overwhelmed. Unless you have grown up with a knowledge of American Girl Dolls, this store is an opening into a world I'm not sure I needed to know existed! Seriously dress like your doll! Make your doll look like you! Hair styling for dolls! Give your doll braces, like you, earrings, like you a hearing aid - like you!!!! SERIOUSLY AMERICA!
Next stop was Grand Central Station! A standard on any 'to-do' list and well worth visiting, it's beautiful! We wandered around admiring the architecture and then realised we had to get a move on. We met Steph and Corrine in Barnes and Noble and due to the freezing temperature made our first stop Starbucks!
After warming up and chatting we wanted to make the most of our day so with Corrine and Steph leading the way we headed of to find Gay Street. We were determined to get a picture under the sign and thankfully it worked out perfectly:
Then where better to head than the BIG GAY ICE-CREAM SHOP! I had images of the rainbow ice-cream but that was not at all what was going on in this unique store. There were rainbows alright but mainly on the pictures, when it came to ice-cream the choices were less colourful more flavoursome! To explain - this store likes to 'mix it up' and add unusual flavours to regular flavours. Laura stepped up first and added salt, olive oil and butterscotch to chocolate ice-cream! Then Steph and Corrine added curry and ginger to their chocolate ice-cream and I, well I added vanilla ice-cream to a fanta to make the yummiest float and I thought we may need a back up if the chocolate ice-cream additions didn't work out. To see our reactions check out the video.
Once we were feeling suitably refreshed the next stop was the Sex Museum! When the girls first suggested this pit-stop when we were planning our trip it wasn't on our to-do list but if you have time in New York you should go! It was educational more ways than you'd expected! Although I think the main takeaway for us is that homosexuality is more common in animals that heterosexuality and the only reason that isn't commonly known is because science needs funding and often funders don't think 'gay animals' will have an appeal!!!
Oh and there was also the fact that a guy from Idaho City made a sex machine - Laura proudly took photos of her fellow statesman!
After admiring, observing, learning and blushing we had worked up quite an appetite so next stop was Stardust Diner - home to the Broadway wannabes and some amazing food! Situated not far from Radio City Hall (home of the Rockettes) this is your All-American diner with all the American food you'd expect - waffle fries anyone?!
The food was not the best bit of this diner though, that would be the waiters and waitresses who, on rotation, would grab a mic and belt out classic show tunes. It turns out that more than a few previous staff now strut their stuff on Broadway stages! It was brilliant watching our waiter serenade us then take centre booth for his big finish.
The four of us chatted for quite some time over our dinner and were sad to leave, this for me was what I always though America would be like. The hustle and bustle of Times Square not to far away, hanging out with our real-New Yorker friends and eating waffle fries in a diner where it's OK to sing out loud!
Over dinner we found out that we had not done ALL of Grand Central Station, in fact we had missed out a 'must-do', the Whispering Wall! As the names suggests the wall whispers, or more accurately you whisper and the wall allows the 'whisper' to reach the opposite side - check it out on the video.
Turns out this is where Steph had proposed to Corrine here and we could see why, not only is the station beautiful this corner of the station makes you feel like it's just yours - your own piece of the world famous station! We spent 20 or so minutes 'whispering' to each other - turns out your never too old for this kind of stuff!
When it came to saying goodbye we wished we had planned more time with them. Looking back it was our favourite day in New York! I think it is definitely true that having locals showing you around adds to the experience. Everything we did that day was probably buried in a guide book but all we did was turn up and have a great day, seeing and doing great things with 2 great New Yorkers!