Travel diary: New York, Chertsey and Bristol

28/6 Monday After our relaxed Sunday evening, we weren’t too tired on Monday morning – which was good, because getting across Manhattan east to west (and vice versa) is a bit of a mission. We managed to leave the apartment at a reasonable hour, and were only half an hour late to meet Christopher at his place, where we stayed for Monday and Tuesday nights. Christopher is one of listeners, it was awesome to meet him — and he took really good care of us, starting with a traditional American diner breakfast.

After breakfast we chatted for a bit then Craig and I headed out to do some sightseeing – we walked through Central Park on our way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was closed (being Monday) so we had to rethink our plans. The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) was open so we sped through there, enjoying the Picasso more than anything. After a quick stop in the pub to be disappointed by Chile’s last performance in the World Cup, we headed up to the Top of the Rock viewing platform only to be drenched by a sudden downpour. Luckily it was warm so we dried off quickly. We spent the evening eating corn chips and watching 30 Rock – it was nice to be in the right city for it!

29/6 Tuesday We’d heard the Circle Line cruise was worth a go, and we had free tickets for it, so we set off early (for us) to make the 11.30 cruise. The guide was knowledgeable and descriptive, and we had some spectacular views of the city. It was a pity there were so many people on the boat though, and they all rushed from one side to the other every time there was something interesting to see. When we got back we ate bagels and deli sandwiches before finally visiting the Met, which was incredible. We only had two hours, and I think I could have spent all day in there. The variety and quality of art is truly amazing, and it’s all laid out in imaginative ways that displays the art to its full potential.

In the evening we went to Riverside Park, which runs along the Hudson River and is a lot more tranquil than Central Park. We were there for our ITP meetup, and it was excellent to meet some of our listeners, as well as to spend a bit more time with some other TBEX attendees.

30/6 Wednesday One of the things I really wanted to do in New York was to visit the new High Line park, which is built on an old raised railway line. So we headed that way in the morning, stopping en-route to have a coffee and a bagel with Anna, a fellow TBEXer and travel writer. The park was great, the designers have made really good use of the space – I particularly like the way the flower beds have fingers of space reaching out into the walkways, making the area seem more wild. Next we wandered through Chelsea Markets, Little Italy and Chinatown before heading back uptown to meet Christopher for a drink. In fact we were waiting outside his favourite pub at opening time, managing not to bang on the door. The Pony Bar is a fantastic place, it has a three-page beer menu and several cask beers on offer – a rare thing in the States. After that, it was time to head back to Christopher’s to pick up our stuff and hop on the subway for the long long ride out to the airport.

1/7 Thursday After arriving back in Chertsey at 10am, and not having slept on the plane at all (I watched a terrible movie, it was great), I basically just crashed out. Craig worked, apparently.

2/7 Friday Another lazy day. We did a bit of gardening, a bit of shopping, a bit of watching the World Cup, and a bit of work. Nice mix, actually. In the evening we headed to the pub to drink with Gail and Kevin’s golfing friends.

3/7 Saturday We slept in a bit, then had to hurry to pack our things for our train to Bristol. It’s not too far but we had to change trains twice which made the journey a bit longer – it’s a gorgeous journey though. We’re staying with Heather Cowper and her family — Heather’s a fellow travel blogger, and we spent the afternoon chatting with her. In the evening several of her friends came around and we had a really pleasant dinner party.

4/7 Sunday Today was a sightseeing day. We set off a little later than planned due to me sleeping in, then headed out to explore Bristol. We started with the harbour area, which I was already a bit familiar with, having seen Heather’s video on this subject. We visited a modern art gallery and saw the SS Great Britain, then caught a little ferry across the river to go to the Bristol Food and Wine Festival. I really enjoyed it – we went to a cooking display (and got to taste things), then tried a lot of wine in the wine tent. I particularly liked trying the English wine (and mead), it’s so great that the British wine industry is starting to take off.

After pie for dinner, Heather and Guy took us to see the Clifton suspension bridge, which is very impressive. It spans a rather deep gorge and there’s a little tower up on the hill behind it. We finished off the day with a drink in a pub nearby.

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