This time around most of our daytime hours in NYC were spent walking below 14th Street, taking in a food tour of the Lower East Side (first time for knish and bialy, which as written down reads like a detective duo) a guided tour of Brooklyn and a self guided tour of Williamsburg. One of the reasons for the Brooklyn tour was to take in a visit to the Kings County Distillery, the first distillery to operate in NYC since the ending of Prohibition, as a tour had been one of my Christmas presents. Well worth considering for fans of bourbon. Along the way the day time hours also included trips to McSorley’s (packed on NYE, but the server found us a space) and The Ginger Man. We also met up with some British friends who live in DC but were in Manhattan for the day (thanks Facebook).
This is a Trip Report from the Upper Class cabin
Food & Drink
A couple of things had been booked for the evenings. First was a Beatles Night at the City Winery which we’d tried to go to last year. I’d been really pleased to be able to get tickets this time around (when I go the email about the show there were 8 seats left over the 5 nights) but is was a crashing disappointment. The band may be great musicians, but made little effort to put on any kind of show and the lead guitarist kept playing heavy metal guitar solos through songs from ‘Revolver’ and then saying “Well, I heard that in there….”. I heard a far better Beatles tribute from Irish band Pugwash in a single soundcheck performance of “Don’t Let Me Down” at a pub in Northamptonshire early last year. My mood was not helped though by one of my gold crowns dropping out….
At the other end of the enjoyability spectrum was “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart”, a National Theatre of Scotland production at the McKittrick Hotel. Again this was something we’d wanted to see for years, having been unable to get tickets at the Edinburgh Festival some years back. Set in a room set up as a bar somewhere in Scotland (complete with a complementary Abalour or four), when you are seated at your table you start by tearing up tissues to prepare the snowstorm that starts this tale. Along the way there’s Scots balladry, the devil, folk songs and poetry taking place in and around the audience (at one point I had to become a motorbike, but that happen s a lot). The end involves singing “There’s only one Colin Syme” to the tune of “Guantanamera” and then a collective rendition of Kylie’s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” (“I cannae get ye oot a ma heid”)
On the final day we met up with MrsPJH’s nephew and partner for coffee and then set out for the garment district to go ribbon and frippery shopping, as MrSPJH has had to give up knitting due to arthritis in one hand but finds sewing still tolerable. We were to be disappointed as the NYPD were throwing up a ring of barriers, men and tipper trucks full of sand on all roads leading to Times Square and no pass = no entry. So we retired to the back room of The Ginger Man instead.
Dial7 picked us up spot on time at our hotel on Broome, and we were soon at JFK, so my plan to celebrate the UK New Year in the Clubhouse was on track. It was only once directed that we remembered that the UC check in is somewhat under emphasised, having the feeling as Arthur Dent has it of it being “at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying beware of the leopard.”
Fairly swiftly through security, with the only hiccough being the fact I was stopped for an additional search because of tissue in my pocket.
When we got to the CH we were greeted warmly and told we would be called at 9.05 as the gate is only just downstairs. The CH itself was hugely busy, and in the end we had to find seats at a table that was strewn with glasses and plates from the previous occupants. The staff were quickly over though to clean up, and were observing that the person who had left this mess had been ill tempered and demanding with the staff to ensure the table was clean before they sat down. I small English commiseration about certain people having no manners led to great service for the rest of the evening.
We dined, and though I can remember my having the CH burger the combination of bourbon and champagne has produced as wee bit of a memory gap as to what MrsPJH had. At about 7 we checked into the BBC to hear the chimes of Big Ben and sent a few “HaPPY New Year” emails. Unlike last year at EWR no-one came around with the offering of a celebratory redhead.
As time passed the number of people in the CH thinned out a little, and at 8.30 as if a bell we couldn’t hear had been struck, most of the remaining guests got up and left. This worried us a little and so I checked at the desk but no, there had been no call and we would be summonsed at 9.05.
When 9.05 came around, we said our farewells, extended our wishes for a “HaPPY New Year” and made our way to the gate. When we got to our seats we were amongst the last to board, so perhaps the CH departees were people who like sitting on aeroplanes.
Once service started, I didn’t notice any particular issues in respect of quality, though it has to be said there was one senior member of staff who was vigorously leading by example. The bar was open and staffed for a few hours at the start of the flight, though we didn’t make use of it this time around…in my case because I was quite “tired” by this time.
For supper I decided to see if a sayur kari could tickle my jaded taste buds….it didn’t. Pear and almond tart hit the spot though.
From the chatter there appeared to be a fair few staff members in UC but I didn’t notice any preferential treatment being doled out.
On waking I was asked whether I had changed my mind about breakfast, and I had but only to the extent of a palate stabilising orange juice as we were planning breakfast at the Revivals Lounge, which we were tucking into 20 minutes after the aircraft doors opening. We were through immigration with no delay, and our bags were off first.
And so here we are now, in a lather of indecision about what next. If MrsPJH retires, I’ll be watching for G’s to the Caribbean in late September…the joys of not being tied to school holidays…
We can get better, because we're not dead yet