USA Tour 2015 Day 10 – Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Day Ten – Sunday 12th April

Today has been an incredible day, very busy and hectic but another enjoyable time experiencing another aspect of the city that doesn’t sleep. This is the last day we were spending in New York with our flight leaving tonight for Los Angeles.

The day started early for me, not because of breakfast or early morning tour commitments but because it was a Sunday and I wanted to go celebrate Mass. I was up by 6:30am, quickly got ready and then headed off towards St Patrick’s Cathedral. The walk too me about 10 minutes which meant I arrived just before the beginning of the 7:00am Holy Mass.

St Patrick’s Cathedral is a beautiful cathedral, it’s size is difficult to describe accurately – it’s massive. The interior and exterior are still undergoing restoration work, this means that throughout the cathedral there’s a lot of scaffolding up on the pillars and covering a significant part of the sanctuary. It’s a bit disappointing as I would love to see it when the work is complete and the church is restored to its fully glory.

After Mass I enjoyed my walk back to the accommodation, we needed to have breakfast and then get our bags down to specific rooms where it was being stored until the end of the day. On the way back to the accommodation I came across a stunning view of the Chrysler Building, the one I have found most difficult to get a good vantage point to see during the past few days. Unfortunately I did not have camera with me so I haven’t managed to get a photo, total fail on my behalf!!!

Once we had breakfasted and emptied the rooms we all headed off for a day of exploration. I went with the majority of the boys and some of our girls up towards Central Park, our destination was FAO Schwartz, a world famous toy store. There are many cool and exciting things in FAO Scheartz including the giant keyboard piano that Tom Hanks played in the movie Big, I also found Zoltare the fortune teller from the same movie on the ground floor. FAO Schwartz also are the only shop in the world where you can design, create and design your own Muppet.

Once we had finished in FAO Schwartz we headed to the New York Subway, our destination was the trendy area known as SoHo, short for South of Houston Street. The New York subway is quite an incredible and elaborate system of over crossing tunnels throughout the city, at some points there are additional lines running both above and below the track you can find yourself on.

Having arrived in SoHo with all of our students we separated into smaller groups to explore the precinct. I ended up in the Converse shop to begin with before continuing down a side street. The whole area is known for having a series of small cobblestone side streets, having explored some of these we ended up n a local cafe for lunch. The meal was quite interesting, it was a steak sandwich and chips, I thought it would be fries but it wasn’t, they were potato crisps (quite different). Once we had finished eating it was back into the exploration including looking through a bike shop and the Adidas shop before waiting at the meeting point for all of the students.

The frustration of students being late continued, this resulted in us getting less time to spend at our next stop, Greenwich. Greenwich isn’t far away from SoHo (about a 10 minute walk), we continued down Broadway and turned at Washington, heading through some of the buildings of NYU to arrive at Washington Square, the heart of the Greenwich precinct. time had gotten away from us by this stage and it looked as if we would only get 10 minutes in this incredible place, however we got news that our flights had been delayed so this time got extended to explore the park. There were many musicians including a pianist playing Rachmaninov and Chopin on a grand piano, various jazz and folk bands. I would have liked to spend a lot more time in Greenwich, it’s a cool place and a lot of famous people have lived in this precinct over many centuries. We located Charlie Parker’s house in East Greenwich, unfortunately this was too far to get to so we had to leave it.

Our trip back to the subway was interesting, we managed to lose half of the groups due to them falling behind on the walk, they were located (thankfully). At the subway line we separated into two groups, some students needed to ear back to FAO Schwartz to pick up the Muppets they had made whilst the rest were going to go back to the hotel. I accompanied the students needing to go to FAO Schwartz, we got on the subway and exited it at 5th Ave 59th St exit. The tie was tight after having collected the Muppets so it was decided that we would catch two cabs back to thew accommodation, this has managed to tick another box on my “to do” list in NYC.

Arriving at the hostel we immediately got started on the loading of the buses, this was an interesting experience and more thought should probably be put into how this can be done more effectively by the tour guides in the future.

Our delayed flight was supposed to be leaving JFK at 7:45pm, we took the Queens bridge out of Manhattan and drove through the county of Queens. The organisation of all our students collecting their bags from the buses was quite effective and then we headed into check-in and security. Once again the check-in and security has proven to be one of the biggest aspects of this trip that I have not enjoyed. The lines continue to be long and the process extremely slow. It seems over the top for every person to need to need remove their shoes to go through a ginormous x-ray machine. Anyway, that took a while, once through we proceeded to the gate and handed out the money for students to have their dinner.

We experienced another USA airport phenomena when the students were gathering at the boarding time – more flight delays with our flight being pushed back to an 8:05 brooding time. Eventually we got on the plane by 8:30pm and then took off after sitting on the runway for another 15 minutes.

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