In late March of this year, Ashlawn School Academy Trust from Rugby visited New York and Boston on a 10 day cultural sports tour – which certainly didn’t disappoint. Setting their sights as high as the Empire State Building, and with an jam-packed itinerary, the students set off on their American adventure hoping to capture the true American spirit.
Lucky enough to share the experience with them was Rayburn Ski & Sports Tours Consultant, Gemma, who has penned down the top highlights of the tour, along with her favourite pictures. Here goes….
They say that New York is the city that never sleeps and after this tour I can defiantly see why – there was so much to experience, see and do. With an action packed itinerary we were definitely here to make the most of our time in The Big Apple!
After arriving safely at JFK Airport in the late evening, we were able to get a glimpse of the high rise buildings and bright lights this famous city has to offer as we drove to our hotel in Times Square. We quickly dropped off our bags before heading out to grab a bite to eat and getting our first taste of the city at night. Okay, we may have had a traditional New York deli this time, but the well-known golden arches definitely hit the spot! With everyone full and slightly tired from travelling it was off to bed for some much needed rest!
We were up bright and early for our first full day in New York and what better way to get our bearings of this city than by heading to the top of the Empire State Building? Getting there as early as possible meant we were able to beat all the queues heading straight up to the 86th floor out onto the observation deck. With clear skies we had fantastic views of the city we would be spending the next four days exploring. With the first photo opportunity under our belts, we made our way down-town for the Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty boat cruise. Not only did we get to spend time on Liberty Island itself, we also got the chance to get up close to Lady Liberty herself!
From here we made our way up to the 9/11 memorial pools which gave us a glimpse into the true impact the day had on everyone across the world and we made sure we could return to the museum later on in the week. Following our day of sightseeing we were off over to New Jersey for our first live sport event, an ice-hockey match between the New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets! With entertainment as soon as you walk through the doors and the team store to buy some much needed memorabilia (specifically the ‘Puck’ hat), we were able to enjoy our first taste of a typical America sport.
Our third day began with us getting the chance to experience an inner city New York High School. Heading down-town to Manhattan Village Academy, we were greeted by the Principal and tour committee before the students were teamed up with their American buddy for the day.
From American History, to English and even a large game of dodge ball during gym class, it was really interesting to find out how an inner city New York school works, such as the entrance standards (with thousands of applicants for 100 places, students need a 95% attendance rate during their time in middle school to be considered). This commitment to wanting each child to succeed is reflected in both the work ethos of the students and staff – with many staying late or even coming in at the weekend!
With the school day finishing early afternoon we made our way to Randall’s Island to watch Manhattan Rugby FC play the USA Rugby Academy team. The pitches on Randall’s island offer a great back drop of the Manhattan skyline and we were lucky enough to be able to catch a variety of sports whilst the rugby match was going on – from girls and boys lacrosse, to ultimate Frisbee! It was then time to head back to the hotel for a quick change and where we then headed just around the corner from our hotel to Times Square to shop, grab something to eat and take in the bright lights of such an iconic part of the city.
Another early start enabled us to head down town to the 9/11 museum first thing. The impact of what happened that day starts as soon as you enter the building, from the gentleman who was a survivor from the south tower taking care of our bags, through to the remains of one of the fire engines sent across town to help to the faces of every person who lost their life that day. A truly inspiring place, the museum is the perfect opportunity to pay respect to all those who have been affected by the tragedy.
It was time for our next stop, the American Museum of Natural History, where between the dinosaur exhibition and ‘Dark Universe’ planetarium show, we were mainly trying to get photos of the characters who feature in the Night at the Museum film! This proved trickier than we first realised (later finding out that most characters you want to see are split across 4 floors and opposite ends to each other!).
From here we headed west to pier 83 for the Landmark Cruise. This 1 1/2 hour tour is a great way to see the main sights of New York and get some history behind all the famous landmarks – from the lower Manhattan skyline to the Statue of Liberty right over and under the Brooklyn Bridge – a great way to see the city.
In the evening we took the subway over to Brooklyn for the Brooklyn Nets Vs Charlotte Hornets game – which went right to the wire, with the Nets unfortunately losing by 5 points! After the game we went back into Manhattan to the Rockefeller Centre to get a stunning view of the city from night.
Our final day in NYC and in true ‘Ashlawn style’ we made the most of every minute! We started off our day by setting off to New Jersey to visit the Met Life Sadium, home of both the New York Giants and New York Jets. We were guided around everywhere, from the executive seats to pitch side to the Giants Legacy club, which contains memorabilia of the teams’ storied history (not a sore point at all being a Jets fan myself).
After the tour we headed back into Manhattan, spending time in Central Park for street entertainment, as well as the Zoo. A few people even got chance to head down the iconic 5th Avenue for a bit of shopping!
It was now finally time to head to one of the most iconic areas of New York for any sports fan – Madison Square Garden! We were guided around the stadium by Gabrielle and Harrison who gave a great insight into the legends who have played here both musically and sporting!
On route back to the hotel a few of us dropped into the Saturday Night Live exhibition – a way to see how the show is put together and some of the famous scenes and memorabilia used through the show’s history.
It was a quick change around at the hotel before a group meal at Planet Hollywood and then onto a Broadway show, Something Rotten! Feeling energised from the musical a few of us then headed to Grand Central Station – a stunning piece of architect to round off our tine in NYC!
In the morning it was time for Boston…