Bloomingdale's may be a bit shite, but Macy's is fantastic. Where Bloomingdale's gives the impression that you should consider yourself privileged even to be allowed in, Macy's goes out of its way to try and make its customers happy. And the restaurant's great, too.
The Empire State Building, on the other hand, is the single worst tourist attraction I have ever been to, a total waste of money and time. You go downstairs to queue for twenty minutes or so for a ticket in a stuffy area with no air conditioning. Then you go upstairs again with your ticket and queue for about ten minutes to go up another escalator, at the top of which is a queue that takes about thirty minutes or so to reach the elevators, again in a stuffy confined space, again with no air conditioning. You finally get in an elevator, under the impression that you've made it, but it only takes you most of the way to the top: you get out of the elevator to find a long queue to get to the second elevator. That queue takes maybe another fifteen minutes. At no point in the entire experience is there anywhere you can sit down. Not a single chair. How utterly fucking crap. We got to the top knackered and pissed off and eager to get back down again (for which yet more queuing is required), and, frankly, didn't think much of the view.
Note to Empire State employees: there's this dead useful thing called "writing" that allows you to record speech permanently in a way that other people can easily access. When you have a message to give your customers, you can "write" it on a "sign" and put the sign where your customers can "read" it. That way, you can stop bloody shouting at everyone the whole fucking time.
Oh, and, no, we're not from Dublin, England. The eejit Empire State employee who suggested that is going to get a slap from someone sooner or later, but perhaps we should be grateful that he's being equally offensive to Northerners and Southerners. And the English.
On the up side, we got honey-roasted nuts from a street vendor, and they are delicious. And we got back to our hotel to find two Chinese takeaway menus shoved under our door. I love the food here.
But I am really pissed off by America's shoddy mobile phone reception, specifically the way that GPRS appears for the occasional random couple of minutes before vanishing again for hours or even days at a time. I wrote most of this post a few days ago, and it's been sitting in my phone ever since. We're leaving tomorrow, and it's looking more and more like I'm going to have to wait till I'm back in Blighty to get a connection. So much for the travelog. Yet American streets and American television are covered with adverts for the very latest photo-sending, email-checking, web-surfing phones. Why? You can't use the bloody things here. Weird.
Whinging aside, this country is truly great. We'd like to stay a few extra days. We're definitely going to go back to Chicago one day. New York's not as good, but it's pretty cool nonetheless. Central Park Zoo is excellent: I've never seen such an active red panda. The Brooklyn Bridge is every bit as impressive as it looks in films. Grand Central Station is one of the greatest buildings I have ever been in, and certainly the best train station. The eateries are great: we love Jimmy's on 6th Avenue. Went to see The Producers tonight, which was very silly and great fun. We've had a good time, all in all.
As we were arriving in Manhattan, driving over the Queensborough Bridge, our cab-driver pointed out the UN and said "We call it the National Bank of Saddam Hussein." This may be a Democrat town, but they're not stupid.
Sorry for this post's ramblingness, but phones are not the best text editors. Normal service resumes next week. For now, that is all.