Boston Spa students head to the Big Apple

Boston Spa Academy Sixth Form students have recently returned from a trip to New York. Here student Jack Berry, Laura Birdsall, Rebecca Cass, Emily Hawkins, Bethan Kelsey, Baljit Roda and Deanna Smith blog their account of their experiences.

Tuesday 19th February

3.45am: Tired but excited we met at Leeds Train Station boarded the 4.17am train to Manchester Airport.

6am: Check-in was quick and easy. We managed to grab a bit of breakfast and do a bit of shopping before heading to the gate. The flight took a little under 8 hours. Most of us managed to get a bit of sleep. We watched four films, including Bohemian Rhapsody!

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12.30pm (New York time): After we landed and passed through customs we headed by coach to Manhattan and our hotel, the YMCA Vanderbilt, just round the corner from the UN and Trump Towers.

3pm: We checked-in and took the opportunity to snack on some 99c pizza before walking through Central Park, along Broadway and into Times Square.

6pm: After a little time to explore we ate tea at the Hard Rock Café and then headed up to the ‘Top of the Rock’ observatory on the 70th floor at Rockefeller Plaza in midtown. Despite the ice cold wind the views the Manhattan skyline were memorable and helped us orientate ourselves with where we would explore over the next few days.

Wednesday 20th February

7.30am: Any tiredness was quickly forgotten in the tower of pancakes and maple syrup that awaited us at the Morning Star Café, as typical as any American diner we imagined.

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8am: Full up and fed we took the subway downtown. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge getting the perfect view of the lower Manhattan skyline, including the new World Trade Centre building. From here we walked into the financial district and visited Federal Hall, Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. One of the highlights of the trip was our visit to the World Trade Centre and the 9/11 museum. The installations were sensitively presented resulting in an emotional experience allowing us to reflect on how we come to terms with events such as these. Whilst in the museum the snow had started to fall but the city continued to function as if were normal.

1pm: We took the opportunity to head up to Central Park on the subway and walk through an idyllic snow covered Central Park. Dozens of snowballs later, mostly in the direction of Mr Brennan, we arrived at The Met to view one of the most famous collections of art in the world. Fermanagh was especially pleased to see the work Chuck Close up close, an artist she is studying in her A level Art class! We headed back across Central Park to the Natural History Museum and marvelled at the enormity and scale of it all. A particular highlight was the planetarium and the 680+ slices of 99c pizza we ate on the way to Broadway!

6.30pm: We arrived at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway to watch ‘Mean Girls: the musical’. The atmosphere was electric. The incredibly talented cast delivered a joke a minute script and plenty of catchy and powerful songs. It was a truly unique experience and an amazing show.

Thursday 21st February

7.30am: Another big breakfast at the Morning Star Café. This time we went for a fruit salad, some cinnamon toast and a coffee. No snow today and surprisingly warm!

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8am: We took the Metro to the Centre for Social Innovation on West 23rd Street where we met Mark Levy, a prominent civil rights activist who we learnt was part of the 1963 March on Washington and 1964 Freedom Summer. His talk was fascinating, from his views on the importance of grassroots activism to enact change, to the 160,000 slices of bread and 80,000 slices of cheese needed to feed the 1963 campaigners in Washington (true story!).

11pm: We headed south on the High Line, an old elevated train line now pedestrianised into a 1.5 mile long west side walking route. This took us into Chelsea and onto the picturesque Meatpacking District.

12pm: We took the Metro to the Statten Island terminal and boarded the ferry. From here we got a perfect view of the Statue of Liberty. Set against the backdrop of lower Manhattan it was just as green but much smaller than we had imagined!

2pm: We took the Metro back up to Washington Square Park where the brass bands were blaring and the sun was shining. Emily took the opportunity to buy a few anti-Trump badges. From here we walked up the spine of Manhattan headed for Madison Square Garden and our date with the New York Rangers Ice Hockey team (did we mention we walked over 20km a day?!). En route we passed a number of New York landmarks including the Flat Iron building and Madison Square Park.

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7pm: Night time was Ice Hockey time at Madison Square Garden. We were there to watch the New York Rangers play the Minnesota Wild. We took off our hats and stood for the national anthem as is customary – the atmosphere was electric. The game was quick (almost too quick to follow at times) and rough with lots of big hits and we joined in with the chants of “Zuuuuuuc!” (for Rangers player Mats Zuccarello who Emily named a Rangers stuffed toy dog after). The biggest highlight, however, was unquestionably being on the jumbotron during the second period just after Anthony Joshua!

Friday 22nd February

7.30am: Another massive breakfast, this time bagel-based!

8am: A quick walk to New York Public Library and then on to Bryant Park to watch the ice skating before heading back to the UN for a 10am tour. As with every other attraction so far security was tight and bags and passports were checked. Unexpectedly the tour took us to a live General Assembly meeting and to the Security Council meeting room. We got an insight into the various UN initiatives throughout the world such as their campaign to end the use of landmines and nuclear testing and also work in Palestine and Kosovo. It was a truly remarkable tour to end on.

12noon: Our last few hours in Manhattan were spent on the iconic Fifth Avenue, shopping and eating!

3pm: We packed up the coach and headed to Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey for our 7.30pm overnight flight back to Manchester Airport. Given the distances we walked and the little time we spent sleeping you’d have thought more of us would have managed to sleep a little longer on the plane. As it was we arrived, picked up our bags and took a train to Leeds Station where we were met by our parents.

New York 2019 was an amazing trip full of great memories. We’d like to thank Mr Brennan, Miss Miller and Miss Morgan for organising it.

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