Forget the mega cash cow that is the Yankees (Manyoo of baseball) as a Mets game helps you get under the skin of US culture and out into New York proper where the locals live and play.
Don't expect a footy crowd atmosphere but do soak up the family-orientated game that combines Mexican waves with drinking overpriced Bud and eating as much saturated fat as you can in three hours. Over 50k in Shea Stadium and even then it didn't seem full. What a great experience!
Get your cap and t-shirt, along with your tickets from the club shop on 42nd St near 6th Ave. Paid about 30 quid for two tickets but they start from only $9 (yes, $9!) depending on where you want to sit.
Brand new stadium being built next door opening in the next couple of years so you better be quick to get a sense of the history of Shea.
Take the 7 subway all the way from either Times Sq/42nd or Grand Central. The express misses out some of the local stops. The return is very simple as they run lots of trains so there's not much jostling to get a train.
Interesting alternative would be the ferry from South Street Seaport. Think it's only about $20 return.
Shea Stadium, Queens.
Take the '7' subway line from Manhattan
Try 'top of the rock' on the 69th floor. It's got the one thing the Empire State doesn't have - a view of the Empire State!
Queues are infrequent at the Rockefeller, even on the sunset trip which was very popular.
You get great panoramic views right across the whole area and can stay for as long, or as little as you like. Doesn't get packed at the top and most people are courteous enough to keep moving so that everyone has the chance to snap good photos. The only downside is that the Chrysler Building is partially blocked by the horrible Met Life carbuncle.
At ground level, the whole plaza is a good place to chill out/ have a drink or food.
49th and 5th Ave, Midtown Manhattan
Had to adjust our hotel booking due to changes to flights. The Milford hadn't been our first choice and so a hasty decision was made in booking it.
Do we regret it? Well, yes and no. It's a bit sad and needs updating so if you are after a bit of luxury, it's not the place for you. Other than that, the staff are helpful and efficient and security is very tight. The rooms, although dated, were clean and tidy.
We were out of the hotel 12- 14 hours a day so even if it was all-singing, all-dancing we wouldn't have used such facilities. Cheap and cheerful sums it up. It was very busy with guests and we weren't aware of anyone making any complaints so I guess most people were of the same mindset that it was simply a bed for the night and nothing more. We've paid more for much worse accommodation and service in the UK and other countries.
It's a great location on 8th and 45th, with so much on its doorstep. I would expect if it gets an expensive makeover in the next couple of years then the room rates will go up accordingly. Get it booked while it's still reasonable value.
8th Ave and 45th St, Midtown Manhattan
We're normally people who cringe at the idea of organised tours but after a couple of days touring the city by foot and subway, it was nice to let someone else do the work.
It's impossible to get a true handle of the neighbourhoods in an open top bus but it's a good way of getting your bearings and snapping some good photos.
The guys selling the tours are polite but really just after the sale so don't really offer much in the way of explanation or advice. I don't think English is often their first language but that's no reason to to be fearful as all the tours are totally legit.
I do recommend the Brooklyn Tour. Although the photo opps are less than in Manhattan, we were entertained for a good couple of hours by the guide (Mr Siegel, didn't catch his first name). A true Brooklynite, he regaled us with his own family history and his own upbringing outside of The City. It was refreshing to have someone combine the official tour script with his own political opinions, his feeling about Manhattan and his hatred of the LA Dodgers! Make sure he serenades the bus with the Frank Sinatra song or ask for your money back!
Get on the main city tour and then hop off at the South Street Seaport to get your connection. Watch your timing as the last tour to Brooklyn starts about 3pm.
Get on at 8th and 49th, or 45th and Times Square.
Connection at South Street Seaport.
Along Greenwich Avenue there's plenty of bars and food stops. Enjoyed a cheap Sam Adams during happy hour (forget the name but it was Irish!).
Bleecker Street seems to cater for every type of drinker so if you can't find a decent boozer there, something is wrong with you. Blind Tiger very popular and my sort of place with good range of ales.
The pace here is more laid back than midtown.
Greenwich Ave or Bleeker Street (between 8th Ave and 6th Ave)
Search out your own gem on any of the side streets
Small cluster of Irish bars away from the madness of Times Square. All have bar side and dining side so cater for mix of crowds.
Try Perfect Pint or O Lunneys. Beer served in those not-quite-pint glasses. Adequate, but don't expect to sample the essence of NY as they're in the heart of Tourist Central.
45th St, Midtown Manhattan
Tried two of their premises. One on 44th St near Times Square (I think) and another at a prime spot at the South Street Seaport.
Good pub grub and found both the lager and wheat beer very appealing. Good choice of ales and plenty of seasonal brews. Probably equated to about 3.50-4 quid a pint but hey, good quality microbrews in the middle of NY; you'd pay the same for cooking lager in a generic fun pub, anytown, UK.
South Street Seaport, Lower Manhattan
Other venues across the city (check the web)
There are many horror stories about Main and Hastings but head south on Main, out of Downtown, and it dramatically changes. It's a very busy shopping area and from about 8th onwards there are a number of small bars, coffee shops and eateries that you can relax in. Heading further south (from 18th onwards) there are quaint antique and bric-a-brac shops to browse in. For a great value pizza check out Cipriano's near the self serve car wash (at King Edward), you will be taking a doggy bag home!
Main Street (8th Street and anywhere south)
Stock up on outdoor gear at the cluster of shops selling all the latest stuff, often at a fraction of what you would pay in the UK. MEC is worth checking out but you need to pay a few dollars for life membership. Sells a wide range of equipment and the staff seem to know what they are talking about (mind you, everyone in this city is an outdoors' specialist). You will find a bargain somewhere!
Cambie and Broadway, south of downtown. Head east along Broadway, not the prettiest few blocks but perfectly safe. Limited parking on street but bus or taxi the best bet
Great little bar in a stunning location on the south shore of False Creek. The nearest thing to proper pub food, the fish and chips are delightful, particularly when washed down with a few sleeves of Spring Lager.
Grab a window seat looking out over the marina or top up your suntan on the upstairs deck. My best suggestion is chat to the friendly locals and bar staff downstairs, there'll be some expats who'll quickly pick up your accent. They'll even put some footy on the TV if they like you.
Stamps Landing is next to Monk McQueens, one the best seafood restaurants on the West Coast. By car, exit the Cambie Bridge and turn right onto Moberley Road. Parking is easiest in the pay car parks. Best to leave the car and get the aquabus as Stamps has it's own drop off. Ideal for doing a crawl between here and the Granville Island Brewery.
610 Stamps Landing, False Creek;
tel: 604 879 0821
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