First of all, thank you to everyone who posted trip reports, answered questions and gave opinions on this forum. Our trip was enriched by each and every one of you.
The characters: Three sisters (of a certain age), two who had visited NYC previously, one who had not.
The story: 3 sisters from the Midwest travel to NYC, share a hotel room, navigate the city, try to see and do everything on their respective wish lists and get virtually no sleep. I’ll go ahead and give away the ending: they have a fabulous time!
We booked our trip with a group coming to NYC for the International Book Expo. Although we love books, the expo group provided us a reasonable means of getting to and staying in NYC, not a reason to go there, and we didn’t attend the expo at all.
We arrived at our hotel, the Marriot Marquis in Times Square, around noon. The area was really busy, of course, despite the steady rain. Our room on the 12th floor was ready, so we made a quick stop there to check it out, and then took off for the streets of Manhattan. A few words about the Marriot Marquis: I know that not everyone is pleased with this hotel’s Times Square location. We did not have a choice of hotels since this trip was booked through a travel agent for a group, but we were very happy with the Marriot. Although it’s in an incredibly busy area, we found the side entrances (45th and 46th streets) easy to use for entry and exits. In our very comfortable, clean and spacious room, we heard virtually no noise of any kind, from Times Square or from other hotel guests. Our room faced 46th street and the Edison Hotel. We had great views of some of the electronic billboards on Times Square, the Paramount building and the crystal ball and 2009 sign, still there from New Year’s Eve. Elevators (which use the digital elevator assignment system) came fast and we had no problems with them at all, although we heard that there was an issue with a stuck elevator that had to be resolved during our time there. The location worked very well for us.
While in our room, we received a call from Big Apple Greeters telling us that unfortunately a greeter would not be available for our hoped-for tour of Soho, Greenwich Village and Chelsea the next morning. Although we were disappointed, with rain in the forecast it may have been for the best. Anyway, we had a plan B in mind.
As we headed out in the rain we decided that where to have a quick lunch was going to be the first of our many joint decisions during our trip. We headed north to the Europa Café at 43rd and 7th avenue. We had huge salads that were fresh and delicious and inexpensive. We were shortly on our way down 7th to 42nd street.
We walked through Bryant Park and despite the drizzly rain, there were a fair number of people in the park. Loved the way the park is turned into a huge outdoor reading room, with areas of books for children, and magazines, books and newspapers for adults. We entered the library at the corner of 42nd and 5th. I think it’s one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. On the third floor we spent time in the wonderful Rose Reading Room, saw the Guttenberg bible that is on display, and visited the Children’s Library, which houses a display of Christopher Robin Milne’s original stuffed toys, who were all present and accounted for, if a little the worse for wear. We were so happy that they looked scruffy, and not Disney-like at all.
We walked to Grand Central Terminal next, and as we walked, we could see the Chrysler building, with its spire hidden in the low rain clouds up ahead. Grand Central Terminal is truly grand, and we were very impressed. Back we went to 5th avenue, popping into shops and buildings, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We walked to Rockefeller plaza (stopped in at Maison du Chocolat - oh my goodness!!!) and the area around the NBC store, and then back to our hotel, wet, but at least not drenched, by the rain that was still falling.
We were very excited to get ready for our 8pm performance of Billy Elliot, just a few steps from our hotel. Because of its popularity and 15 Tony nominations, we had purchased our tickets in advance of arriving in the city. What can I say? It was wonderful, high energy, touching and funny. We all enjoyed it very much. After the performance, we zipped back to the hotel, revised our attire, and went in search of John’s Pizza. I’m embarrassed to say that, despite the extensive notes I had written about locations in the city, I forgot exactly where John’s was located and forgot too, that it was actually listed in our guidebook. Our concierge’s directions, gotten as we headed out of the hotel, were perhaps not understood by us. Long story short, we wandered quite a bit until we finally found it. We arrived at John’s only to find that at 11:30 pm on a Thursday, they were no longer seating customers. We begged for carryout, but it was not to be. We ended up at Junior’s across from the hotel where we had not too terrible grilled cheese sandwiches, fries and soup. We went back to the hotel, where we talked for too many hours before finally going to sleep. And that was the end of Day 1.