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I dug the place (trip report)

Detroit
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I dug the place (trip report)

After planning and researching for 3 months, sleeping for 4 hours the night before, leaving @ 245 am and driving 10.5 hours to the Tribeca Sheraton on Canal between Church & 6th ave the last thing I felt like doing upon arrival is shut up in a hotel room and rest. But my wife needed to sleep for a couple of hours so, thinking for a second, I decided that Id walk over to the 5 points knowing that it was one something that we probably wouldn’t see otherwise. She went to sleep & I bolted out the door.

Round the corner I headed in a direction crossing the streets to the south and east walking @ a brisk pace, choosing my path according to which street lights were white or flashing. It wasn’t long before I had to cross a street & wait for the light to change and I stopped. I quickly realized that crossing streets in NYC had less to do with the color of the lights and everything to do with the “will I get struck by a vehicle,” question. In no time flat I was already @ the five points and thought to myself, “well that was fast, my wife has to sleep and getting around isn’t going to take nearly as long as I had anticipated.” It was a little after two oclock and I figured Id wake up my wife @ 4:00. Pausing for a moment in a futile attempt to contemplate the historical land on which I stood and watching the hundreds of neighborhood kids frolic and play @ Columbus park on the brilliant, sunny, 60 degree Sunday afternoon I then continued, happening onto Mott street.

Recalling that Lombardis was on Mott St and deducing that the remnants of little Italy would too be there I walked north up through China town feeling like Barry Sanders deeking and ducking the throngs of people everywhere moving wildly in every direction. There was one particular older woman, who walked at a snails pace with the aid of her daughter whom I could not get around. When I finally passed her I hurried up another block and viola, there she was again. The same elderly lady accompanied by her daughter struggling to get to their destination. Well I managed to blow by them once again and thought to try walking on the other side of the street, maybe there would be less people. I tried and there wasn’t and, after walking another few feet there she was again, somehow standing directly in front of me @ a cross street waiting for the light to change. I had little choice but to cross over to another block, these people were out to get me. Up Mulberry street I went, taking Broome st. back over to Mott. Having a look @ the long line filled with tired, impatient faces @ Lombardis it was certain that we wouldn’t be dining there due to time and the plethora of other options. Along I went up to Houston st. It was still early but I was sorta close to Katz deli and I knew my wife would appreciate a nice sandwich when I got back. “Hey, I didn’t see little Italy, it really must be gone.”

Traveling east down Houston I see the handwritten word Knish hanging in a store window and it snatches my attention. I was starving having not eaten since dinner the previous night in Detroit so I do a quick google search to see exactly what the heck they are and decide to have a go at one. At Yonah Shimmel I order two toasted onion & garlic Knish’s, one for me and one for her, and sit on the steps @ the Sara Roosevelt (I think that’s what it was called) eating mine, watching the never ending charm and energy of New York bustle pass me by. Get up, go to Katz to get a sandwich for my wife (I was definitely not hungry after the Knish)

Waiting for the Pastrami on rye the guy serves me up a slice on a dish. Before I could chew Im like, “hey, where did it go,” as the tender and soft slice of meat melted away before I could do anything about it. The stuff is amazing, I couldn’t believe what I had just tasted. Katz deli deserves its reputation, its line out the door, its landmark status (reputed or not) and to be a must visit for anybody who likes eating cows. It was time to start walking towards the hotel as opposed to away from it, along the way picking up some batteries, a 6 pack of beer and calling my cousin, who works in Manhattan, and arranging to meet her at Rockefella center the next day. “Here ya are honey, try this,” I say giving my wife the sandwich and who had just gotten out of the shower. She liked the Knish and loved the sandwich, I had to steal a bite or two.

About 5 oclock we were out the door meandering down Church st. to visit the WTC. We looked around the area for about 15-20 minutes. Whats to be said about the WTC? All words seem inadequate if not patronizing.

“Since we’re here there is one more thing I really wanted to see and its just over a couple blocks if you feel like going,” I say to my wife, continuing that its name was federal hall and where George Washington’s inauguration took place, arguably the official beginning of the United States. We go over to it, first sitting on its back steps for a cigarette then around to the front for a picture of George and a few snapshots of the NYSE. There we decided to walk the Brooklyn bridge, it was getting darker but the temp was still nearly 60, absolutely glorious.

Not being familiar with the area we found ourselves a few blocks farther E of where we would have liked to have been and were on a narrow street with gigantic buildings on either side making it much darker than most of the other streets in the area. A dollar bill appeared in our pathway lying on the ground. As my wife goes to pick it up I say in an incredulous voice, “come on L..dont..” and up into the air the dollar went via fishing line. We look up giving amusement to a couple of teenagers who were laughing and brandishing a fishing pole. “Couldn’t you see the string, you could see it so clearly, jeeze ha ha.” She too got a good laugh out of it………A buck.

On the next block we see the Brooklyn bridge rising a good 35 feet in the air meaning that we were still yet too far East. As we approach a cop looks at us and immediately knows what we are trying to do. When we get within earshot he gives us directions to a staircase, asks us where we are from and chats it up with us for a minute or two. Up the Brooklyn bridge.

We continued up the bridge taking a few pictures, ducking out of other peoples photo ops, listening to the bikers bellyache about inconsiderate pedestrians spilling into the bike lane and the temperature getting colder and colder. By the time we reached the first post (Im not sure what they are called) it felt like it was 30 degrees and the wind gusts carried the power to bluster a small child into the East river. It was way to cold up there so instead of going to Brooklyn we decided to turn around. Back into Manhattan where it was warm again.

Like the alarm clock going off in the morning I was struck with the sudden impulse to have a cold pint of Guinness. “Ya wanna go find a pub and have a drink?......Alright, lets go find one, this is NY, we shouldn’t have any problems finding a place for a drink, I think there was a pub right over here.” Finding a place to drink in the financial district proved to be impossible and, after deciding to leave the area and heading up Broadway we could not find a place to have a cold drink. Surely we had passed dozens of places meeting our criteria but we somehow managed to fail to spot them. It was now dark and over an hour since we had descended the bridge and finally were ordering our beverages at the Mercer, on Mercer of all places in SOHO (at least I think its SOHO). I was mighty mighty thirsty, and hungry and before my wife could take her first sip I had managed to make my pint disappear. While I was finishing my second pint I was searching out pubs on my phone and, after now noticing plenty places that we had missed, we decided to go to the Blue Haven on the corner of Houston and Sullivan.

The Knicks v Celtics (that’s plural for the Scottsmen) game was on and along with the 10 or so small groups of Knicks fans cheering on their team was a single cluster of 15 or 16 Bostonians rooting for the Celtics. No matter what happened on the court uproarious cheers and moans alike could be heard bellowing out of the Blue Haven. In the meantime my wife had ordered a plate of Nachos and I a basket of fries, just to get some food in my belly. The fries came with a brilliant (it was absolutely delectable) dipping sauce that tasted like honey mustard blended with mayonnaise. The waitress assured me that it was merely mayo and vinegar, Ill have to try it out at home for confirmation, it was fan friggin tastic. The game was close with the Knicks winning by a point or two all the way till the end but Chauncey went out and the Celtics won making a basket @ the very last second, to the pleasure of the Bostonians who were now standing and cheering but, to their credit, didn’t taunt the Knicks fans, who now all wore dejected , speechless countenances. The game was over and the bar emptied out. We finished our drinks and food and decided against going to times square as there was lightning in the sky and my phone showed a rain cloud stretching from about times square all the way north. In fact the TV showed it pouring on the Yankees up in the Bronx.

We stopped by an un-noteworthy place off of Mercer (I think) along the way back to the hotel for one last drink. It was empty, we were tired and left. Stopping first @ tribeca Bagels next door to our hotel for a few bagels in case we became hungry @ the hotel we went to our room to call it a day. That’s day one. Maybe more later

NY NY
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1. Re: I dug the place (trip report)

Loving it!

Queens, New York
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2. Re: I dug the place (trip report)

LOL, awesome report! Sounds like a lot of fun! Looking forward to your next installment!

New York City, New...
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3. Re: I dug the place (trip report)

Great report so far.

Ontario, Canada
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4. Re: I dug the place (trip report)

Please, do go on.

You're a most entertaining writer. I laughed out loud, nodding with recognition, at some of the scenes you conjured up.

Your delight in the city is obvious.

Detroit
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5. Re: I dug the place (trip report)

Heres a little more, I write too slow.

Before I forget I have to thank Al for the quick response. Though we didn’t buy Rangers tickets we did arrive early, just in case tickets dropped significantly in price and our hotel checked us in a full 2 hours and 15 minutes early like it was routine, as you had guessed, simply because we were there and they had a room.

At 7 am I woke up starving, forgetting to eat anything more than a couple of bites the previous 36 hours, put away one of the bagels and fell back asleep till 930. As my wife slumbered away, I jumped in the shower and headed out the door thinking that the only way to get her out of bed (she works afternoon/nights @ childrens hospital and typically wakes up after noon) was to find her a decent breakfast and a can of red Bull. To the fresh food market I go maybe 40 yards from the hotel where a friendly gentleman cooks up a western omelet for her and a steak and egg sandwich for me. While Im waiting I walk outside for a smoke and check on facebook to find out, to my delight, that Detroit was amidst a four inch snowfall and every post was somebody beatching about the never ending winter. So I skirt to Canal street, take a picture and upload it to facebook with a heading describing the brilliant sunshine and 60 degree temperature along with several taunts and jeers @ my friends back home.

“Uggh, why do you have to wake me up so early Im not used to getting up at this time,” she snaps when I walk into the room.

I hand her the omelet and a can of red bull and, realizing where she is and what an awesome guy I am, she instantly cheers up, eats her breakfast and gets ready for the day.

We had plans to meet up with my cousin @ 2:15 @ Rockefeller center, it was slightly after 11:00 and, after tossing around several Ideas, we decided to do the NBC tour. I had done it nearly 20 years ago and thought it was stellar.

Outside the hotel a seemingly unstable gentleman asks me for a light and queries us about where we are going. “To the C train,” I reply, to which he rejoins that that’s where he is headed. Along the way my wife checks out a couple of cheap scarves hanging in the souvenir shops and we carry on to the C train following the guy who couldn’t pass 10 people without striking up a conversation.

Instead of the C train we find ourselves on the 1 train. Not a big deal, we’ll just get off in times square and walk over to Rockefeller center. Emerging from the station we head straight into times square, taking a moment to read the street signs and retrieve our bearings. Being underground on subways always leaves me disoriented and turned around. Through times square we progress along with the zillion other people moving along at every possible pace and direction. “Oh look theres the ball and look at all of these familiar stores and restaurants. Can you believe there is a line down the street to eat at TGIFridays?” Without stopping we head over towards the GE building, pausing in the open space on the SW corner of 49th and 6th for a cigarette and a few pictures of Radio City, absorbing once again the intense, never ending bustle of the city. We get into the GE building, asking the help desk where to buy tickets for the tour and, not paying close attention, getting lost and putzing around the building before finding the store, where you buy tickets. It was Monday and the next available tour was Thursday. No dice. “Alright, lets just go walk around, we’re sure to find something to do. Maybe Radio City has tours.”

Outside the Radio cit music hall was a line of 50 people presumable waiting for a tour. My wife doesn’t feel like standing in a line and off we go. “Hey Ive got an idea, you know Rupert from the late show?......Maybe he’s there…Alright lets go.”

“Look there’s the Hello Deli,” I say, “and look, there’s Rupert.” We walk in, take a bottled water from the case and begin conversing with Rupert, explaining that I was a big fan and it was a thrill to chat with him. We talked a little baseball, answered a few questions about Detroit and he was more than happy to take pictures with up. He was as friendly as anybody. I got a huge kick out of meeting him. Outside the hello deli we stopped for a smoke, next to us was a couple of late show staff members , one of which was a lanky, silver headed, surly man whom I recognized from several skits. They were wasting time chatting along about this and that. We finished our smokes, I went back into the deli and bought a Late show hat from Rupert, tossing my favorite hat, which was all but destroyed from frequent use the prior several years, into the garbage.

We took a few pictures under the Late show marquis, had a slice at Rays original and moseyed back to Rockefeller center, agreeing that we would meet my cousin and her boyfriend at the United states flag.

“Did you see the line for the top of the rock,” says my cousin, “its all the way down the street.

“That’s ok, theres a ticket booth right there,” I said pointing to a booth at the corner of the ice rink. And we walked straight up to the booth and instantly had in our hands tickets for 3:35. That was easy.

Detroit
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6. Re: I dug the place (trip report)

Ill try to put up some pics and tote videos at some point.

New York City, New...
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7. Re: I dug the place (trip report)

please continue !! I'm loving this ;)

Turku, Finland
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8. Re: I dug the place (trip report)

Wonderful report! I love all the descriptions and tidbits of info here and there. Give us more! :)

Detroit
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9. Re: I dug the place (trip report)

Only one more after this I promise.

With about an hour to waste my wife, cousin, her boyfriend and I opted to find a cup of coffee in the GE building. On the lower level we found a Starbucks, which I swore would never patronize, the other 3 ordering some fancy shmancy concoctions and I a double espresso. Going first this way and then that way looking for a place to sit down my cousin noted that this is typical when your touring New York, wasting time not knowing exactly where your going. Some folks were getting up from a table and beckoned for us to have a seat. I hadn’t seen my cousin in 9 years @ a family reunion and, to be honest, scarcely had any other recollection of her. All I remember is her being a cool person and getting along well with her @ the reunion. We caught up on our family members, exchanged basic information like where we worked, lived and various other nonsense and quickly discovered that she, like most of my family was a quick witted, sarcastic goof who seemed to be able to enjoy whatever it was she was doing at any particular moment. We got up, found where we were to embark up the elevator, were scolded by the uniformed security guard who assured that if we weren’t ready to go up then to find somewhere else to be and to come back 5 minutes before the time stated on our ticket. After wasting a few minutes in the shops we were in line watching the NBC self aggrandizing videos in the waiting room. I was telling my cousin about my saunter through China town and joking that NYC had too many damn tourists. She began on a story when her and her friend visited China town.

“We were in a little shop in China town,” she began, “and she thought it would be a good idea to get a little turtle for her nephew. So she picked one out and the cashier asked her whether or not the turtle was for that day. ‘well yeah’ she thought, ‘Ill give it to my nephew later tonight.’ So the cashier takes the turtle, lops off its head, wraps it up all nice and neat and hands it to her in a bag.”

“Oh for crying out loud, I hope the kid has a vivid imagination.”

The top of the rock, of course, offered up incredible views of NYC from its dizzying heights and was money and time well spent. The skies were a bit overcast but failed to spoil the spectacular views of the surrounding area stretching on for miles and it was possible to make out the shadowy Appalachian mountains far off in the western horizon.” Lets go up another level…..how bout we go up further,” my cousins boyfriend kept saying.

“Man how high up does this thing go, are we ready to climb the antenna?” I said gesturing to the wiry antenna when we had climbed as high as we could. We had spent nearly an hour atop the rock and decided to walk to central park when we got back to the sidewalk.

Entering central park from its southern tip my cousin quips, “and see, you can have your face sketched if you want.” Strolling along a female duck is crossing our pathway followed be her offspring and me, getting a little too close, forced the group of birds to briefly separate before I passed and they could reunite before all of them waddled, with the silly way that ducks walk, into the nearby pond. Several steps later we are passing a small white dog whom I try to greet scaring the animal who rescinded its tracks and hid behind its master. “Quit torturing the New York animals.”

Central Park is gorgeous and myself, being an avid gardener and amateur landscaper, effortlessly appreciated the genius behind every inch I could espies of the man made park. But I wasn’t in NY to see parks or wilderness and, after a half hour or so I was ready to leave. So after the brief saunter, a few photos of the skyline and ourselves on a beautiful bridge and voicing our appreciation of a minstrel playing his violin, belting out a sketchy version of “twinkle twinkle little star,” or, “the ABC song,” whichever you prefer, we made our way to the edge of the park, hailed a cab and set off to Johns of Bleecker for a pizza.

The cab driver ripped through town violating every rule of safe driving but he had us at Johns lickidy split. “Im not one of those cab drivers who likes to waste time or takes the long way,” he was saying, “I want my customers to use a cab next time.”

Johns serves up a good pie. The coal oven did a tremendous job of cooking the pie @ a high temperature leaving the crust crispy and extracting the oils from the mozzarella so as they pool up on top of the pie leaving the cheese with that delicious taste only found in slightly overcooked cheese. If Johns had a pizzeria near my house I would certainly order it from time to time. Over dinner I besought my cousin to tell us how her day unfolded on 9 11 and my wife and I listened quietly and intently as she recounted her memories. And, as invariably happens when one is finished divulging painful memories, the topic turned to a lighter, insouciant nature. We finished up watching closely to where they put our money, as we had been debating whether or not the, silver antique cash register in the corner was a decoration or still operable, and, to my cousin and her boyfriends satisfaction, they had indeed rang up our bill on the antiquated machine.

“What do you guys feel like doing?” asked my cousin, to which I replied that I couldn’t care less, sighting that as long as I made it back to work next week Id be fine. We decided to walk round the village and find a place for a drink.

Within a few minutes we found ourselves in the worlds hippest bistro. We sat @ a table ordering a couple of drafts for the fellas, a saki based drink for my cousin and a bottle of Amstel for my wife. With the exception of two elderly ladies, who were both merrily knitting scarves over glasses of red wine, the place was desolate. A few minutes later the entertainment came in, sat at a piano and began performing his original song entitled “If I ruled the world.” He went on proclaiming that if he ruled the world there would be no more broken hearts, loneliness would be banished and that all of the worlds problems would come to an end. I look over and see my wife and cousin leaning in towards each other across the table laughing there arses off. “What kind of place did you bring me to?” I asked laughing, and my wife and cousin volleyed jokes back and forth poking fun @ the “bedtime bistro,” as we had renamed it.

After the bedtime bistro it was time to bid farewell to my cousin and her beau as she had to put together some presentation for work and we parted ways, they going north to Penn station and us south back towards our hotel.

We rested @ the hotel for an hour or so then decided to head out to get a couple of drinks and perhaps a bite more to eat. We walked for a short distance into Tribeca before finding a pub. I was hungry again and ordered a simple burger (somehow pubs always serve up thee best burgers) and a Czech beer which I had never before tried. The pilsner instantly became one of my favorite beers, right up there with Guinness, Grolsh, Brand and Carlsberg. It was a masterful brew. We finished up determining that we would go for a quick walk then retire back to the hotel to watch the Red Wings game. After all we would have to be up at 630 to make the first ferry to Ellis Island.

Walking much slower we found our way to the bloody angle, stopping at several shops along the way, then up Baxter back to Canal. My wife was inclined to take a picture of the chickens hanging in a shop window and we scooted back to the home, walking with neither hurry nor purpose. The hotel didn’t have the versus channel so it was no Red Wings for us and we hit the bed like a ton of bricks for some much needed rest.

Detroit
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10. Re: I dug the place (trip report)

Heres a couple of videos. Ill finish this thing soon.

Top of the Rock

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzXfx_qmy54

Rockefeller center

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0BcqNFLbFs