Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Stann & Noella New York City Trip June 2-9

June 2 - Monday
We were thrilled to be able to take a bite of the Big Apple and so left here with great expectations for a great trip...and it was!

Cathay Pacific – now that’s the airline to go with – individual screens for each seat and a choice of about 30 movies to watch when you want to watch them...and FOOD...and free booze at dinner. Can you imagine!! Now if only the seats were bigger and reclined...
Clearing customs was a breeze and a $50.00 cab ride got us to our hotel pretty quick.

As a bonus we got the cab driver`s very opinionated point of view on just about everything.

We were happy to say goodbye to him.
First impressions – the buildings didn’t seem as tall or as close together as we`d thought they`d be - no feeling of claustrophobia. Not as noisy either – apparently they get a $350 fine for honking their horns.

Radio City Apartments – right in Times Square - very clean and basic...and very small. But the room did have everything we needed so within moments of unpacking our bags we were àt home`. Nice to have air conditioning and a kitchenette - and we even got an extra fake lock on our door at no added cost.

Very friendly and helpful desk folks who were there 24 hours a day...all for $205 a night. What a steal!
We were so wired and ready for action we decided to go for a walk down to the Best Western Convention Centre and get Cathy Hartwell who is in town for a wedding (although it`s now 11PM). We were at 49th and 7th and she`s at 38th and 5th. Quite a distance we soon discovered. Got there about midnight. Good sport that she is, she got dressed, and we headed back out for a drink and a snack.

By the time we got back `home` it was 3am and we were pooped but happy.

June 3 - Tuesday
We were up and out by 10:45am. Cathy is spending the day with us.
By the time we got the On Board See-it-All bus tour at 3pm my feet were very tired as we`d gone all over the place. In fact, the tour covered some of the stuff we`d covered already on our own and a whole lot more. For me it was ok but not great given the tour guide, Joel, just wasn`t enthusiastic or energetic enough for our tastes. He could have used some lessons in how to make the info interesting.

Had snacks at TGIF’s and Cathy was picked up at 10:30pm.
Stann’s still got energy to burn so she headed out for a wander and I was really happy to get my jammies on and get my aching feet up. Cathy’s pedometer said we walked 23,000 steps today and my feet believe it.

No shit, batman! I was going to have the ingrown corn taken off the bottom of my foot before coming here but it wasn’t bothering me so I forgot about it. What a time to have a senior moment.

June 4 – Wednesday
We were up and out by 10:30 this morning.
Stann had brought ginger cake for breakfast but I hate ginger and so we stopped to grab a quick bite on route. I ordered a poached egg, coffee and just tea for Stann. They brought me a huge platter with 3 eggs, fried potatoes and toast. Yikes – it cost $20. We decided we’re both too cheap to let that happen again. We’ll buy breakfast food for the room from now on.
Exchanged our money - $500 Canadian got us only $421 US funds...and our dollar is at par. What a rip off – if we’d only known eh!
A mere $25 each bought us 7 day passes for unlimited rides on the subway and the busses. Now we just had to figure out how to use the system – very confusing.

Went to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) - $20 entrance fee. Some of it was ok but lots of it was truly not what we were interested in and a waste of our precious time – especially searching for each other after we got separated. Note to self – always have a plan for when this happens...
Grabbed street lunch and then headed downtown to Ground Zero on our first subway adventure.

Fortunately everyone we met was more than happy to help us figure it out and we finally end up at St Paul’s Chapel. This chapel is right across the street from Ground zero and it was the home of volunteer effort after 911. It had no damage from the blasts and many think that that was a miracle. Very touching and emotional to be there.

We were feeling so good at the subway now that we decided to explore Grand Central Station and the Chrysler bldg. Very impressive. Then we couldn’t figure out how to get back to where we wanted to be...very funny.
Dinner and a quick rest and then we set off to see “Wicked” at the Gershwin theatre on Broadway. Yahoo.

Great production. Pinch me ...WE ACTUALLY SAW A PRODUCTION ON BROADWAY!!!
Stopped for snacks and drinks (of course) and Stann had the most expensive drink she’d ever had - $11.95 for a mochatini. Haha – no wonder they didn’t have the price on the menu.
A full day and we’re happy to get to bed.

June 5 – Thursday
OK. Today we thought we were pretty smart – actually, every day we were a little smarter than the day before. Today we both ate breakfast at ‘home’. Now we don’t have to eat til lunch time.
We were definitely acting like New Yorkers now and so off to the subway to go to the Museum of Natural History. It was overload – great stuff but way over our heads - especially, but not only, the space stuff. We were feeling a little guilty to have paid so little to get in ($10 for the 2 of us) but quickly felt better after paying big bucks for lunch in one of the cafes...and especially cause my lunch was lousy.

Took the subway yet again – this time to Chelsea to the art district. Walked a million miles – no exaggeration – it took us that long to find the right area (the cross streets between 19th and 27th) and saw nothing but very upscale (weird) art galleries – you know – the kind where there`s one piece of art on the wall and it looks like a cat got into a paint can and rolled around the canvas – It`s not what we wanted to look at at all.

Chelsea`s a disappointment.
Wouldn`t go back...except for the drink and the snacks we had before we headed back uptown to our next adventure – a look at Macy`s. Big and beautiful. That`s all we had time at that point..
Back to Times Square where we picked up a quick bite to eat and then get on the On Board 7PM See the Lights tour.

Covered much of the area we`ed already seen but it was good to be sitting down for a few minutes...and our tour guide was much better than the first there was only 9 of us which made it a lot more personal. Yahoo.
Afterwards, we walked and walked and then walked some more checking out all of the restaurants on 9th ave between 45th and 54th. – this was our tour guide`s recommendation for good food– lots of ethnic places.

OH MY GOD! Ran into Cathy and her relatives ... what`s the chance of that happening anywhere - but in New York??!!! They just got out of seeing The Lion King. Incredible!
Now that we know we can use restrooms in any hotel we used the Marriott hotels facilities and felt very good about it. Up until now it`s been a challenge trying to figure out where to do our business!

After much debating about where to go for dinner (it`s 11:30pm) we decided to buy some junk food and a bottle of wine and head back to our room. Good plan. It`s been a long day and it`s after 1am and we`re still awake.

June 6 – Friday
Great day today. Ate breakfast in the room and then headed off to Macy`s to have a serious day of shopping.
Found so many deals and BEST of all opened up an account and got about 50% off whatever the ticket said. So I bought a bunch of things and then helped Stann spend her money – I`m good at that. Macy`s sales people are very professionally dressed and very nice. It was a real pleasure leaving money there. We actually shopped all day and I loved it. Imagine that!
Dropped our bags off at home and then immediately took the subway uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Saw that very, very quickly and then went to see the Guggenheim and saw that very quickly too since they only had one exhibit open.
It really has to be happy hour now.

It has to be. Dammit it better be. We`re ready. I swear my legs are wearing down and are a few inches shorter than when we got here.
Ate on the patio of an Italian restaurant overlooking the beautiful ocean view of 9th ave.
Checked out the Amish Market and then headed back to the room. It was a cool night and we could have used a sweater. It`s 11Pm and Stann advised me that we were going to have a busy day tomorrow. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha...

June 7 – Saturday
Again we were up and out early. Gotta get more money. We`re just about out of the $750 we brought with us.
Off to Coney Island – long subway ride but nice cause some of the trip is above ground. I had a hot dog at the famous Nathan`s – good - like Harvey`s back in Montreal.
On the way back we ended up yakking with a woman on the subway, Penny. She was going to her daughter’s graduation dance recital.

It sounded good so we invited ourselves along. What a great 2 hours we spent watching such talented young people, some of whom will be going on to Julliard School of Dance. We’ll also be watching for ads for Penny’s daughter, Dimitris Lewis, who is 17, a real beauty, and already a successful model.
We left there and walked (what`s new) and walked and walked. It`s HOT – 93 degrees. We’ve decided that if we both think we should turn right, then we should turn left cause we’re bound to be backwards. All of these wrong turns in the heat finally got to us and we got cranky. All we wanted was to find a restaurant and get out of the heat.
Back to the room for a few minutes of R&R and then we set off to see Being Boeing at Longacres – my gift to Stann for her upcoming birthday. Another broadway show. Yahoo! Very funny. Great acting!
Went to an Irish Pub and after 4 drinks we were feeling pretty happy and ready to go home. It`s 1:10am. This is getting to be a habit.

June 8 – Sunday
Woke up to another scorcher – 95 degrees today. Oh no.
Went off to Harlem – 125th ave. First impressions were that there was lots of garbage laying around but it still felt safe to be there – not like the movies.
Big fun buying Stann a wig.

After a couple of hours we headed downtown to East Village to get a famous smoked meat sandwich at KATZ deli (think movie, When Harry Met Sally – that`s where it took place – you know – THE scene). It took us forever to get there but the sandwich was delicious and worth it.
Shopped in the Bargain District but only half heartedly – it`s too hot.
Went to Greenwich Village, Soho and Little Italy. All ok. Nice buildings.
Off to Bryant Park – still too hot even for the park. Back to the room for a rest where I actually fell asleep for 10 minutes).

That feels better.
Went back to the buffet restaurant for a very enjoyable dinner including drinks for a mere $20. See. I told you we were getting smarter every day...
Shopped a bit and then back to the room at 10:15 – God that feels early – it`s raining.

Mar 3 – Monday
Our last day! Time to say goodbye.
Checked out at 11am per the regulations and left our bags there for pickup later
It`s 105 degrees!!!
After a quick visit to the info centre to check on our flight and to buy a few last minute things we went and had a manicure – a French one – for $12.50 - lots of competition so the prices are pretty cheap. Gel nails are only $25 to get and $14 for the fills.
Took subway to Central Park. Our thoughts of bike riding in the park have melted away. After walking forever we were directed to Belvedere Castle – a real highlight of the park - so we`re told. Many wrong turns later we get there. Huh! What`s the big deal...we must be missing something...we`re hot and tired and exhausted and this is it???? I guess because in New York where we hear that land is money this is a big deal to have such a huge park. There are many in New York but this one is big (834 hectares I think). There is a definite shortage of bathrooms for a park this big ... and now we have to find one. Oh brother – more walking...For my money, our Stanley park beats this one hands down.

Went back to Central Station to eat. Pretty good food.
Decided to check out Bloomingdale`s so off to the subway again – we`re true New Yorkers now not even waiting for the cross walk sign – just crossing when we feel like it and oh so blasé about the subway. Bloomingdale`s...nice but pretty pricey.

Back to Times Square - we`re eating at the buffet again...after we check out Hershey`s and Toys R us. Pretty incredible – a ferris wheel inside the store!
Back to the apartment to change and get our bags. It`s early but we`re really tired and ready to just SIT in an air conditioned place – even if it is the airport and we`re really early. What were we thinking - taking the subway to the airport?

Not a chance – we can barely lift our suitcases never mind carry them up and down the stairs to the stations. Give our heads a shake. The taxi was the best $50 we spent – air conditioned and easy.
We people watched and pondered what a good trip we had. And I get to relive it all again as I do my notes up on the computer...and I love it even more second time around!

- Summary: -
Radio City Apts – great place to stay – affordable and clean and in the right location
Money – take US dollars next time
What to wear – anything you want – anything goes here
New Year`s here? – NOT – Apparently it looks like a lot more fun than it is. No backpacks or purses or bags of any sort. No bathrooms and you`re squished in like sardines...from 8PM on.
13,000 yellow cabs – costs $150,000 to get a license for a cab so most drivers rent a cab from Yellow cab for a day or week or month.

Our cabbie rented by the month for $750.
All old buildings 6 stories or higher have to have a water tower on top.
They pick up the garbage every day there so evenings there are always lots of green bags piled up on the sidewalks.

I was disappointed at the absence of buskers. I expected there would be lots of them on the sidewalks – in the parks. Virtually none. I don’t think you can count the guys coming on the subway, singing three lines of a song between stations and then passing their hat.

We came. We saw. We took a bite.

New York will never be the same!!!

Thanks Penny F and your sister and her friend

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