Where to start ? How about the beginning ? We checked in at T5 Heathrow expecting to be in Econ + (with a nifty little £100 upgrade). We got business class. Thanks BA. So a very nice flight across the pond was had by all, and we got to head the queue at JFK customs. I estimate the people at the back had to wait about 1.5 hrs to get through. What a welcome to the US !
20 mins in a cab gets us to the Double Tree Hilton 51st and Lex. We had a standard room which was very standard (and a bit smelly), but serviceable for the price. But free wireless in the lobby was a nice touch, and well used.
The next 3 days were spent having a wander, mainly walking and shopping. We did do the Empire State Building, and i would reccomend the extra $40 for the fast track. Entrance to top in 6 minutes. Thanks!
We then headed of to JFK on the tube to fly to Vegas Only take the E line to Jamica Av if a) you don’t have more than one bag and b) you are not easily intimidated. Its an interesting ride for sure.
Check in at terminal 3 JFK (Delta) is the worst organised setup i have seen in many a year. Its a pure cattle drive and SOOOO slow. and the lounge doesn’t take Priority Pass either, but from just outside you can use their wireless :).
Delta ecomomy is functional, and a bit easyjet, but does have on board wi-fi and live satellite tv on the IFE. 5.5 hours later and we are in Vegas. Maria picks us up and we are checked straight through VIP at the Excal. The room 25207, is a stunner and the view is fantastic. Big thank you to our host.
The next morning i manage to scrape through to 3rd in the 9.00 tournie, and book just over $150. I really don’t know why i play such a crap shoot, but its 5 mins from the room! That afternoon the wife is out with Maria so i play some 1/2 cash and book another 190. not a bad start. The rest of the week is spent on slots and showing my wife Vegas, literally from one end to the other. Outside of a couple of decent slots wins, not much to write home about. she would love to go back in Oct, so i think that will be more poker focused trip.
We also visited the Saraha before it gets shut and its a very sad place compared to the complex i visited over a decade ago.
Points of note. The monorail is a great idea that has been placed to provide as much hassle to passengers as possible. The Aria is a very nice setup, and to my mind knocks Bellagio into a hat. Freemont Street needs to update the canopy shows.
So with a pretty balanced win loss sheet after 5 days we had back to NYC. Now. remember the smelly room ? As we checked out the previous week, we mentioned house keeping hadn’t refilled the shampoos etc on our third day. They said as we were leaving there was nothing we could do. Once we pointed out we were heading back the next weekend, the auto upgraded us to a junior suite. not bad for 10 cents of shampoo !!
So once we took a peek around the 18th floor balconied room, we hit the pig and whistle on 2nd av for drink and errrrrrrrr drinks!. Then the night got a bit messy as we hit the beer with the locals over karaoke.
The next 3 days was the full shooting match, the best New York tourism had to offer. USS Intrepid was fantastic and the beast boat ride next door was great. The tour around NBC was a bit rubbish, but meeting Ice-T was an amazing bonus in the cafe. Top of the Rock is better than the Empire State, with more space. Liberty Island is amazing and the statue is cool, but Ellis Island is just truely inspiring. You can feel the history as you walk around. It moved me like nothing else.
You have to go to the WTC when in New York, and i’m glad to report its gettting a little less like a building site and more like a construction project, which trust me is a good thing.
Down near the Brooklyn Bridge we met Pete the fireman (at the engine no 9 station), who gave my wife the full treatment with photos in the uniform, with axes and breakers. Also near there, is Kats Deli (as used in When Harry met Sally). Sandwiches amazing, but with prices to match. And its rammed, all the time.
We went to the MSG to watch the 4th game of the Knicks vs the Celtics in the play-offs. Atomsphere great, basketball no so. The Knicks were not at the races and were bombed out by half time to be honest. However, the wife got on the big screen in the middle, so every cloud and all that.
If you ever need photo gear head for b+h. Very knowledgeable and great prices, compared to the UK at least (isn’t everything). If you want A+F don’t bother, their flagship store always has lonnnngggggg queues outside and inside is so loud you cannot here yourself think. Even the staff agree, so its not just me being an old git.
Overall a great first trip to NY, but next time, we will take the time out to see what i would call real NY, eg off of Manhattan. Vegas will be revisited in October……….
Enjoy the photos: