DAY 5: Bodyclock still out of kilter - I arose at 06:30 to watch Day 5 make its appearance. The sun arose at 07:30 in almost cloudless skies, reflecting across the waters of Lake Ontario. Another train journey was not such a good idea - it arrived on time, but left late because the US staff weren’t around to replace the Canadian ones. The trip, once under way, very soon came to halt at the border and the expected 50 minutes delay turned into more than 90 minutes as everyone was grilled by ‘Customs’. A ‘couple’ seated opposite us were led off the train, the young girl in handcuffs; the man seated behind us was fined 250 dollars for carrying meat in his baggage and not admitting to it! We were asked to fill in a green visitor’s card and pay 6 dollars each, but they forgot to return for it – does this make us illegal immigrants? Most of the journey was through unremarkable flat scrubland, punctured by a couple of massive quarries and many car dumps. The area around Buffalo was picturesque, mainly because it was under two inches of snow. 10 hours on a train is too long!
DAY 6: Beautiful, cold day. Walked up Broadway, passed Empire State and through Macy’s. Then bought subway passes, checked out Time Square and the Rockefeller Centre - including the ice skating rink and a fast lift to 86th floor observation point (top of the GE Building) - well worth 14 dollars each - amazing 360° views. Airport type security, as there is in many places - and usual US friendliness wherever you turn. Tried to buy a 1gb Compact Flash card but couldn't find it as cheap as I found it in the UK - one shop quoted 22 dollars, then spent ages trying to sell me a great little printer I didn't need and finally discovered they hadn't got any cards when they didn't get the sale! Billy Joel’s musical, Movin’ Out, in the evening, was a story told in dance, with a great band on a moving platform above the back of the stage – well worth seeing.
DAY 7: Second cloudless but cold day. Off downtown to find the Staten Island Ferry and the Brooklyn Bridge area. Took a ride to Staten and back, then walked to Wall Street and southern Broadway, entered amazing mosaic-covered Woolworth Building foyer, to be told there was no public access - so we walked half-way across Brooklyn Bridge instead, before taking the subway for Grand Central Station, the Chrysler Building and the New York Public Library - three more amazing buildings. If everything here is amazing, astonishing and magnificent, what superlatives will be left for Las Vegas!DAY 8: Warmer cloudless day! First off to see the spiral design of the Solomon R. Guggenheim [Art] Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Admired the building, but chose not to check out the art – went for a stroll in Central Park, crossing from East to West to the American Museum of Natural History - here we first visited the Butterfly Collection (live butterflies flying around us in an 80°F observatory), we then took in their many windows of wild [stuffed] animals set in their natural environment (impressive switch from 3D to 2D backgrounds), checked out a few dinosaur skeletons and finally the very modern Rose Centre for Earth and Space. We then crossed back into the park and Strawberry Fields (a memorial garden for John Lennon), where we rested and listened to three buskers, singing Beatle numbers, of course. Back on the subway, we aimed for Herald Square and a meal before taking the lift up the Empire State Building, floors 86 and 102. Views were stunning (it was now dark); the queues to get in and out and the disorganisation between floors wasn’t so impressive. We both much-preferred the Top-of-the-Rock visited on Friday.