Apples, Oysters and Strawberries

NIGHT EIGHT – Monday 28th March

What the hotel lacks in character is more than made up by its location. I’m right on the corner of Central Park and Fifth Avenue, close to some of New York’s best known shops and buildings. Huge, expensive brand names shout from beautiful buildings full of beautiful people. But one sign in particular reminds me that I’m getting old – and pretty fast too.

Showbiz age, natch...

You see technically, it’s my birthday tomorrow. But time differences permitting, I’m about to cross over into my forties. Life doesn’t quite begin at that moment, but Bill’s Burgers near St Patrick’s cathedral fill the who left in my stomach (and wallet) by the price of the hotel minibar service. And within a couple of minutes, I’m in Times Square – right at sunset – the best time of the day to see New York being lit up

Signs of the Times in Manhatten

I’m on Broadway, considering whether to grab a late ticket for a show, when I see and hear one happening in a juice bar in front of me. Seventies rockers Blue Oyster Cult are doing a live radio show. So what do you do in that kind of situation? Well, if you’re me you join in,

Don’t Fear The Reaper – hanging out with Blue Oyster Cult

The guy in the middle at the back is a DJ with WRCN Radio, and sounds as wacky as he looks. Full of showbiz, I head a couple of blocks west for a game of bingo. I kid you not. But hey – some of what happens in New York stays in New York.

DAY NINE – 29th March 2011
Horrified by my earlier air conditioning crisis, Duty Manager Gabriel has offered me a free breakfast. Given that I’m just spent $45 on laundry, I feel it’s the least he could have done. And the arrival of fresh fruit, warm bagels and organic tea also persuades me to get out of bed before midday.
It’s a beautifully sunny morning, though still chilly. A walk though Central Park blows off the remainder of my hangover (OK, there wasn’t just bingo last night…) 
Central Perk - the Helmsley hotel has some advantages
The sheer size of the park makes its feel peaceful – even though there are probably thousands of people in it. Most seem to have gathered around the anti-climax that it Strawberry Fields, which is mostly fenced off for replanting. About two dozen people wait to pose for photos around the Imagine memorial to John Lennon.
After that, it’s time to go to the Top of The Rock – the Rockerfeller Centre that is – one of the best places to see the city from.
Manhatten and Central Park - what a view
Lovely day for it - but bloody cold!

The Rockerfeller also houses the legendary studios of NBC. So naturally  I decide to spend the afternoon in a TV studio. The history of the network is amazing, though it helps to be American if you’re taking the tour, as there are multiple references to shows I know nothing about. Like something called “The News”.

Radio on the TV - it'll never work

It’s a small picture because NBC likes to look after its visitors by banning any photography in the building. So they take one for you and try to sell it online.

On the walk back to the hotel I discover a lovely place called Angela’s Deli : the kind of New York cafe I’ve been looking for. And if Gabriel doesn’t do the double for breakfast tomorrow morning, I know where I’ll be eating…

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