Most of you probably don’t know me from this board because you all are just too good!!! I have been lurking and reading everything possible for the last several months, at least. Because you all are so good, I really didn’t have many questions to ask so my name may not be familiar. Thank you all for the hard work it takes to help all of us that want to see your fair city.
Me and 3 of my bestest friends have been trying to get to NYC for years but with kids, work, and other family commitments, we finally got there in October. We are 4 ladies in our fifties celebrating my retirement, one’s 50th birthday, and other life milestones. We had beautiful weather…cool but only about 10 minutes of rain one day…yeah! Two of us had never been and the other two had been many years ago. I uses all of the information I could find on this board to plan our week. We arrived on a Sunday evening and departed the following Saturday morning so we had 5 full, and I do mean full, days. We walked 35 miles, took the subway and cabs, and thoroughly enjoyed our time. We spent a lot of time saying “I can’t believe we are in NYC.”
This is a long trip report but I hope it will help others plan their trip.
Most days we tried to get up to go to the Today Show…cold weather and jet lag kept us from making that on this trip….maybe next one!!
Just the same, we were up usually about 7:30…get ready, have a small bite and organize the day.
Today, being our first day, we started down 5th Avenue to see the shops, and all the sights along the way. We started at the Plaza Hotel. We went into the lobby to see it and had our picture taken on the front steps. We made our way to FAO Schwartz. We were so lucky to be there just before the clock struck 10am and they opened…what a wonderful way to great their guests. At 10am, the toy soldier comes out and rolls out the red carpet for the guests as we are invited in. As you walk through the doors, the employees are all lined up on both sides and clapping for you, their guests, as you enter…it was so way cool. I would definitely recommend this to anyone traveling with children. We loved it!
To avoid the crowd, we went straight up to the second floor to see the piano from the movie BIG. We were able to go on it and play as well as have our picture taken. We saw the Barbie wing, the Legos, and the Dress up section with all the dresses, tiaras, and anything pink and cute. What a store.
We started down 5th Avenue…this town is total sensory overload….I can’t even put it into words. We went into Tiffany’s, Trump Tower, Saks Fifth Ave, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmie Choo as well as window shopped all along the avenue.
We went to Rockefeller Center and saw the ice rink, Studio 1A at NBC. From there we visited St Patrick’s Cathedral as well as Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. We saw the Chrysler Building. We went to Grand Central Terminal (GCT) to look around and maybe get lunch. We wanted a spot to rest, regroup, and have a bite. Since nothing jumped out at us there, we had seen a few Irish pubs along the street to GCT. We went to Patrick Conway’s on 43rd St and Madison Ave. Very good food and service. It was nice to have a glass of wine and relax a bit.
After lunch we headed back to Fifth Ave. We saw the main branch of the NY Public Library…beautiful building and grounds. We looked in many of the NY souvenir shops and made our way to the Empire State Building (ESB).
At the ESB we had to go through security and stand in line for tickets and the elevator but it went pretty smooth. The top of the ESB – 86th floor is amazing. We had the audio tour which gave us the opportunity to hear about the areas we were seeing…it was a beautiful clear day and we could see from Brooklyn to the Bronx…and then some. When we came out of the ESB, we noticed a large group of NYPD SWAT officers. We thought something was going on but they said they are always there. Glad to know!!
After the ESB we walked down 34th St to Macy’s. We looked around some and then headed up to Times Square. It was late afternoon and we were ready for some wine!! Big surprise!! As we looked around at all the many places we could have picked, we looked down 44th St and there was Carmines. What a great historic old Italian landmark. As we ordered, our bartender was just leaving and the new one Ryan became one of our great new friends in NYC. He was helpful, friendly, and not all bad to look at either! One of his friends stopped by later and it was just fun to talk with locals as we enjoyed our drinks. We were going to head over to Sardi’s but they were closed on Monday. We stayed a while and then went over to Don’t Tell Mama’s Piano Bar on 46th St. It was too early for sing along but we had a few more drinks and visited with the locals and listened to the piano player. My parents love to come here so we had to check it out. End of a fun day!!!
We had tickets to go on a tour of Yankee Stadium. Since we didn’t know how long it might take to get there we started our day walking through Central Park for a bit before crossing over to catch the Subway to the Bronx. We started our first subway ride at the 68th St/ Hudson College stop on the green line. When we got off the subway we found a place to have lunch, the Yankee Tavern. We enjoyed soup and sandwiches and eggplant parmesan and enjoyed the tales of Casey Stengel that one of the locals was telling his lunch companion. Since I wasn’t sure where we needed to go for the tour, we only stayed for lunch and then left to walk to the stadium. It started to rain on our way and most didn’t have rain gear because I just refused to believe those scattered showers were going to catch up with us…but they did for just a few minutes. Actually, it stopped as soon as my friend and I got our New York Yankee ponchos. We spent the time looking in the Yankee Store and people watching.
The Yankee Stadium tour was very interesting and once again “we could believe we were at Yankee Stadium”. As it will be demolished early in 2009, it was a piece of history we all wanted to see. Our tour guide, Nick first took us to the Press Box. What a few of the field from there. We went to the Clubhouse which was so much smaller than I thought it would be but we got to see the locker area of Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and the shrine to Thurmond Munson. We then went to Monument Park and the area with all of the retired numbers. It was beautiful to see and also to see the stadium from that view. We walked along the warning track and were able to sit in the dugout. All in all it was a very nice tour.
After looking at the new stadium and doing some shopping in the area, we took the Subway back to the Upper West Side (UWS). We walked along 86th St and enjoyed the beautiful brownstones and residential areas. We turned on Columbus Avenue and enjoyed the small town feel the UWS has in this area with small shops, markets, parks, and playgrounds. Oh yes, and bars…we stopped at the Jackson Hole at the corner of Columbus and 85th St. We continued down Columbus Ave to about 77th St. where we walked through another residential area back to Central Park West. We then walked along to 72nd St and the Dakota Building when John Lennon was killed. From there we went into the Strawberry Fields area of Central Park and visited the beautiful tribute to John Lennon in the Imagine Circle area.
We continued through Central Park to Tavern on the Green. My parents had given us some money to have a drink on them and we chose to do it here in this beautiful, historical restaurant. We had the Tavern's "Very Berry" Cosmo.....Five Berry-Infused Imperia Russian Vodka, Cointreau, Shaken with Cranberry and Lime Juices. Best Martini we had ever had…so we had another. Wish I had one right now!!
We walked to Rosa’s Mexicano near the Lincoln Center for dinner. Different than California Mexican food but the best $28.00 guacamole in NYC (we got a double batch)…LOL!
We are headed to lower Manhattan today and Ground Zero. We took the subway to the Civic Center station. We saw the Brooklyn Bridge and City Hall here. It was a very cold and windy morning so we stopped at Starbucks for a warm-up. We were headed to Ground Zero and along the way we came across St Paul’s Chapel. St. Paul's Chapel is Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use. This is one of the oldest buildings in Manhattan and right across the street from Ground Zero, yet not even a window was broken during the attacks.
After the attack on September 11, 2001, St. Paul's Chapel served as a place of rest and refuge for recovery workers at the WTC site. For eight months, hundreds of volunteers worked 12 hour shifts around the clock, serving meals, making beds, counseling and praying with fire fighters, construction workers, police and others. Massage therapists, chiropractors, podiatrists and musicians also tended to their needs.
There are now many displays about 9-11, including one of many of the department patches of Police and Fire Fighters from all over the world that assisted after the attack.
We then walked to the viewing sites of the site of the World Trade Center. There is now much construction going on but you could still feel the enormity of what happened and the respect of those viewing this solemn site.
From here we made our way to Wall Street to pay our respects to the money we have all lost!!! (just a little humor, very little) We saw Trinity Church and the New York Stock Exchange. Lots of people and security.
We were close to the NYPD museum so we went there. They also have a whole display dedicated to the attacks on 9-11. Amazing to see some of the artifacts they had and to see the damage. My son is a Police Officer so I wanted to see the museum but my companions also enjoyed it.
We then took the subway to China town and found a nice place to eat, or they found us. It was a good stop for lunch. The food was great and the people were very nice and friendly. It was the Singapore Café on Mott St. We walked up through Little Italy and Soho and shopped some. We then got back on the subway and back to Time Square.
We went to the TKTS booth to attempt to get tickets for a Broadway play but at the last minute that idea was changed. We were just so tired from sightseeing all day. So we decided to go back to Carmines and visit with Ryan and other friends again. We ate here tonight, having Spaghetti and meatballs and then Leslie got hungry and ordered Eggplant Parmesan and Cheesy Garlic bread that could have easily fed a small country. We watched part of the 1st game of the World Series, rooting on Ryan’s hometown Phillies!!
Again we headed to lower Manhattan via the subway. Today we are headed to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
We walked through Battery Park ad saw the Sphere that used to stand at the Word Trade Center. Again another solemn reminder of all those lost. We went through security and got on the boat to Liberty Island. It was a beautiful view of Manhattan as we headed to the island. Once we got off the boat, we walked all around the statue and took lots of pictures. We then got back on the boat to Ellis Island. We got an audio tour and walked around seeing the places where so many of our ancestry had come through. Very interesting and humbling to know all they went through.
We got back on the subway and headed to Brooklyn. We were starving and there was a cute little pizza place just as we got off the subway at Clinton St I think, called Monty’s. We had pizza and salad and wine (shocking). We got directions to the Brooklyn Bridge and headed out. We passed some beautiful churches and neighborhoods. It was amazing how quiet it was in Brooklyn after being in NYC for 5 days.
We got to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked across seeing all of the sights. Beautiful seeing Manhattan and the skyline from this vantage point. The bridge brings you right to City Hall where there were many news vans and reporters waiting on the vote from City Council regarding lifting the term limits for Mayor so the Michael Bloomberg could run again. There was lots of excitement on the street and we watched the people for a while here.
Back on the subway up to Lexington and 59th. We wanted to hit the Yankee team store as well as the Harley Davidson store. We then went to FAO Schwarz and bought scarves on the street corner.
We thought we would try to get tickets for Broadway. Again after along day, once we sat down…that was it. Carnegie Deli was not far from us so we ended up walking over there for dinner. We split 2 pastrami sandwiches between the 4 of us but I bet one would have been plenty…so much food! Of course, we did have to have some cheesecake and man was that delish!
Once again we walked through part of Central Park…such a beautiful place. We headed up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We saw paintings by Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh…and many other areas of the museum. So much to see here…it would take a year to see it all.
We hopped into a cab and went to the Upper West Side. We had to have a hot dog at Gray’s Papaya…and it didn’t disappoint. After that we went next door to O’Hurleys pub for some wine and a little more to eat. Nice Irish pub!
We got back on the subway and went down to Greenwich Village. We walked around the area, enjoying the neighborhood. As luck would have it, we passed by the Tavern on Jane Street…of course we had to stop there! Again, nice people and a good stop. We walked around some more and then got back on the subway up to Times Square. We wanted to do some souvenir shopping and we were going to try one last time to get to a play…oops, guess you know the answer to that. We finally gave up and decided that that would have to be the next trip. We wouldn’t have to see all of the places we went on this trip and could concentrate on getting to a Broadway play!!
So we went to Carmine’s for tee shirts and to Sardi’s for a drink. We met a group of ladies from Oklahoma that were up visiting the city. They do it every year. I think we should too!
We ate at the Playwrite’s Tavern at 49th and 7th and then took our last subway ride.
What a trip. Memories we will have for a lifetime. It was really a terrific week with terrific friends. After so many years of trying to make this work, I am so glad we got to share this adventure together. I can’t wait to return!
One more thing i need to say...the people of New York were so friendly and helpful. I have more maps written on napkins from folks wanting to help us get to the next spot on our list. We always felt safe and met so many nice people!
Again, thank you all for your help in planning this trip. I hope this helps anyone else going for the first time to plan your days.