Our trip to New York was a whirlwind, and I loved every minute of it.
We arrived Sunday and took a cab from the airport to our hotel near Times Square. We were hungry, so we dropped our stuff and went exploring. About two blocks away, we found a microbrewery with a hilarious waiter, who kept bringing us tiny tasters of beer, and some decent food. When we could drink no more, we wandered through Times Square. What a zoo! More people than Vegas! We let a salesman from one of the hop-on-hop-off tour companies talk us into a 2-day pass (which I had been planning to buy anyway).
We didn’t last too long before we headed back to the hotel to rest up for Monday. In the morning, we found some breakfast, then got on a tour bus to go uptown. We saw many things, including Trump Tower, Lincoln Centre, The Dakota, and Columbus Circle. We got off at the Museum of Natural History, where we went into the lobby and took pictures with the dinosaurs, then walked across the street to Central Park. We took a few more pictures then got back on a tour bus. Went through the Upper West Side and Harlem where we saw The Apollo and the place where Billie Holiday sang. We went past the Guggenheim and the Frick Collection but they were closed. We got off at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was also closed, and walked down to 5th Avenue to the Apple store and FAO Schwartz. We were getting pretty hungry by then, so we found a little pub to eat (and drink) lunch, then went to the Museum of Modern Art. We were standing in line to buy tickets when a lady with a very thick NY accent came up and gave us her ticket, and ordered her friend to do the same. I guess the Museum ticket person made her mad somehow, so she decided to stick it to them by giving away her ticket when she was done for the day (we paid it forward too and gave ours to a young woman in line when we left). Anyway, apparently modern art is not my thing… it all looked like either blank canvases or scribbling on trash, so I was pretty glad that we didn’t actually pay to get in. After that, we walked back toward the hotel, rested a bit and decided to go back out. We walked toward the Empire State Building, found another microbrewery for dinner, then wandered around the area. We saw Grand Central Station, the New York Public Library and its lions, then went back through Bryant Park, where they were about to show Airplane on a big open air screen. It was packed. Eventually we made it back to the hotel. Good first day.
Tuesday morning, I got us bagels and coffee from a little wagon on the corner, then we took the tour bus downtown. We saw the Empire State building, Madison Square Gardens, Penn Station, the post office, Saks, Macy’s, The New Yorker, the Chrysler Building, City Hall, and lots of cool architecture. We drove through Greenwich Village and SoHo and TriBeCa (with all the random capital letters) and got off at the World Trade Center site. It was a little less impressive than I had expected – it was mostly a giant construction site for the Freedom Tower – kind of underwhelming. Next, we took the Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty, to Staten Island, where we got off and right back on for the return trip past the Brooklyn Bridge. Nice views of downtown Manhattan. After that we walked through the financial district, past the New York Stock Exchange (where everything was crashing – there were news crews and worried looking people in suits everywhere) and the S&P building. We found another pub for lunch. During lunch it started to rain a little. After, we walked to South Street Seaport, a funky little dock-type market and bought tickets to the next day’s matinee of Catch Me if You Can on Broadway, then got back on the tour bus. It soon started to pour rain. Fortunately it was hot and we didn’t get too chilled, but despite plastic rain ponchos from the tour guide, we ended up soaked through. The route home took us past Chinatown and up through the fancy shopping districts and Rockefeller Centre. We got off the bus close to the hotel and went back to change.
After a rest, the rain cleared and we went and got a slice of pizza in Hell’s Kitchen, the district where our hotel was located, then headed to the subway. It was hotter than a sauna, and packed with people going to the Yankees game. It took about half an hour, but we made it and emerged to a beautiful evening. The baseball game was actually reasonably entertaining (well, the people watching was at least). We made it through 4 innings, a couple of beers and hotdogs before we called it a night. The subway ride home was much less crowded and we got in around 10 or 11.
Wednesday, we took the subway again, this time to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We wandered around there and remembered scenes from The Thomas Crown Affair. When we’d had our fill of Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse and Gaugin (oh, and Richard Serra, whose work is utterly inexplicable), we walked through Central Park to get the subway back to the Theatre District. We had lunch in another Irish pub, and went to Catch Me if You Can, a musical about a con man (very good). After that, we walked past the theatre where How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was playing and I managed to score 3rd row centre seats for that night. Trevor was starting to wilt, so we had more food and drinks in another Irish pub and took an hour or so to freshen up. The play was really close to our hotel and starred Daniel Radcliffe and John Laroquette. It was excellent – Harry Potter does a great American accent.
Thursday we had a few hours in the morning before we had to be at the airport, so we wandered around Hell’s Kitchen – lots of restaurants, old mom-and-pop shops and tourist traps. I ate New York style cheesecake for breakfast and looked for a Jewish deli (there were none that appeared very authentic). Eventually, we ended up back at the hotel, packed, and got a car service to take us to the airport. We drove through Queens, which made me think of Entourage.
Overall, it was a fantastic trip. Saw tons of cool places and landmarks that had been nothing more than images on a TV before that. There were only a couple of things I didn’t do that I would have liked to – eat a pastrami on rye from a deli, go to the top of a very tall building – but nothing really worth going back specifically for. If I ever went back, it would be for a specific purpose, like a conference or more plays, and I would make a point to do those things. New York is crowded, loud, smelly, and dirtier than Vegas, but no less fun.
Thank you to Trevor, my faithful and ever-tolerant traveling companion. I pushed his tolerance to the limit, but cannot imagine having a better time with anyone else. What an adventure! Time to get back to real life :-(.