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Trip Diary - August 7th - August 12th (Long!)

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Trip Diary - August 7th - August 12th (Long!)

Hi Everyone!

Just got back a couple of days ago from our trip to NYC and thought I’d share our experiences. Thank you to everyone for keeping these forums active, as we often checked in during the planning process to pick up some great tips.

This was a 5 day visit for my dad and I – I am 25, and we have both been 2 times before (once as a family when I younger, and once with my best friend when I was 19). Neither of us are drinkers or late-nighters, but we still managed to find plenty to do in the evenings and night-time!

We stayed at the Edison Hotel near Times Square (we didn’t realize how close it was – it was fantastic!) Because we were so close to Times Square, we ate in that area quite a bit – hadn’t really planned on it, but it was close and convenient. We weren’t on a culinary trip (if my mum and I had went, we probably would have based our trip around unique and interesting places to eat!) Trip report to follow... I will warn you now that I tend to ramble =)

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1. Re: Trip Diary - August 7th - August 12th (Long!)

Day 1 – Sunday – Arrival, South St. Seaport, Audubon Eco-Cruise

We left Ottawa at around 5:30am – we were driving, so we wanted to get an early start. We stopped in Mt. Pocono for lunch at Subway – this was exciting for me because Subways in the States have avocado =) So my veggie sub was extra delicious!!

We arrived at Edison Hotel right at 3pm. Driving in New York is crazy!! We were so glad that there was valet parking at the hotel, so we could just pull up and not have to worry about parking. The only thing was that we were in such a rush (you are double parked while the valet waits to take your keys), that we forgot a couple of things in the car – and once it is gone, it takes 45 minutes from the time you request the car for it to show up! So we didn’t want to get it called all the way back just to pick up our few items (i.e. our travel first aid kit!).

The hotel was really interesting... it’s an art deco style building, and we later found out that many Yankees used to stay there (before baseball players could have a NY home and a regular home!). When we checked in, the desk clerk took our valet parking ticket - we didn’t think much of it at the time, but it was a hassle when we left on the Friday. Make sure you take it back!! We were given our ticket vouchers for our breakfasts for the week, and headed up to the room. We had 1 queen bed, and a pull out couch which we took turns sleeping on. We decided to go with this option so that there would be a bit of room if we had to head back during the day for a rest at any point. The room was very smoky, and the air conditioning really didn’t work, but other than that it was perfectly suitable. It was a very basic room which served its purpose. Even though we were incredibly close to Times Square, we could not hear anything – aside from traffic down our street, and the construction across the road. We both had earplugs, so this wasn’t an issue in the least.

After checking in, we wandered over to Times Square to take a few pictures. We discovered Times Square has free WiFi, so that became a starting point to most of our days in order to check in with family back home. If there are a lot of people using it in Times Square, it can be difficult to connect, but it worked most of the time for us! The people-watching bleachers are a great addition, and part of the street is now fully pedestrian which makes the area much more manageable during the day.

After a quick visit to the Visitor Centre, we picked up our Subway Passes and headed south to the South St. Seaport for the Audubon Eco-Cruise. We were a bit early, so had a little wander around the area. The Fulton St. Market has now moved, so the fishy smell that I remember is now gone (yay!). We had dinner at Uno’s right down on the pier, where we needed to catch the boat. We both had sandwiches, which were okay – nothing exciting. We cut it pretty close with time, but managed to make it to the cruise with time to spare!

Even though we were close to the front of the line, there was a crazy dash to the top of the boat. By the time we got up there, no seats were left together, so we headed back down. This turned out to be great!! After a few minutes, they open the front of the boat for people to stand out there – it was just us and 1 couple, so we had lots of room to move around, and could see everything unobstructed. We got some great views of the Manhattan skyline, and the cruise was so interesting. It tied in history of New York City with sight-seeing many different kinds of birds. We saw where the Fulton St. Market has been moved to, and a few islands that have abandoned hospitals and insane asylums – spooky! =)

It was a great cruise, and by the time we got back, the sun had set, so we got to see the city all lit up from the water. We headed back to the hotel right after, and went to sleep for the night.

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2. Re: Trip Diary - August 7th - August 12th (Long!)

Day 2 – Monday – TV & Movie Tour, Coney Island

We headed down to Cafe Edison at around 8am for breakfast – this was where our breakfast vouchers were for. We didn’t know what to expect, but it was perfect! We were quickly seated, and given the choice of eggs and bacon, French toast, or pancakes. They are always sure to point out that the voucher doesn’t include gratuities =) Fair enough! Orange juice and coffee was also included. The cafe was really authentic, and had a lot of character. Don’t expect service with a smile – we had a mix of very friendly waiters, and some who were a little surly. But the food was good, and most importantly – FAST! We were out within 25 minutes.

After our soon-to-be routine Wi-Fi morning, we headed to the Rockefeller Centre for a quick walk around the area. Popped in to the NBC gift shop (I found an Arrested Development t-shirt on sale so I picked that up quick!)... we took a bunch of photos around Rockefeller and Radio City Music Hall, then headed to 51st and Broadway for the TV and Movie Tour. We were nice and early, so we managed to get a seat up front on the AIR CONDITIONED bus (probably the best part of the tour on that ridiculously hot day!).

The tour was great! Our guide Roseanne was really energetic, and knew a lot about so many shows and movies. We went all over Manhattan, and got to stop at a few locations, too. On one stop, we had time to grab some food to bring back on the bus – my dad and I went to Dean & Deluca in SoHo and grabbed sandwiches – it was delicious! I won’t go into detail about all the stops, because it was really neat to be surprised by some of the places that we went to. We finished at around 2:45; it was great to see Manhattan in a different way. We’d both been on general tours, so this was an excellent way to go around the city without seeing/hearing the same things.

After the tour, we stopped back in to the hotel before heading down to Coney Island. Again, we’d both been before, but I read about a Circus-type freak show that was supposed to be happening. We wanted to check that out, and my dad wanted a Nathan’s hot dog. Arrived at Coney Island after a 50 minute subway ride - and the show wasn’t on. Sigh! We took a quick walk around only to be bombarded by a 10 minute rain storm! We found cover, and it cleared up very quick. We then stopped in to Nathan’s for dinner. I had a sandwich, which wasn’t very good. We went up to the boardwalk again, and did a walk around the area and all of the rides. Took lots of pictures, and grabbed an ice cream cone before heading back to the hotel. All in all, that was one of our disappointments of the trip.

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3. Re: Trip Diary - August 7th - August 12th (Long!)

Day 3 – Tuesday – Shopping, Met, Rain, Yankees Game

After breakfast again at Cafe Edison, we had our usual Wi-Fi time at Times Square before splitting up for the day. I headed down to Century 21 near the World Trade Center. Took a moment to see the progress being made, and it’s still heart-wrenching to see such a huge empty space where one of the buildings stood. Simply unbelievable.

I had some good finds in Century 21 (a pair of $129 Steve Madden shoes for $12.49!!!), but I got kind of lost in that place – it is a gigantic labyrinth! I then headed up to the SoHo area to do some more shopping ... until the heavens opened, and New York was covered in 2 inches of rain in a matter of hours. I was soaked from head to toe in just minutes, so I headed back to the hotel. My dad had gone to the Met for the day, and had stopped in to Joon Pens and the Apple Store for his shopping fix. He headed back to the hotel early too.

We had tickets to the Yankees game that night, so we were getting worried that the game would be called off. We spoke to the security guard, who said he would imagine the game would be called because it was raining so hard and so long. However, we went to see the concierge about whether or not there was a phone number we could call closer to the game to find out what was happening, and he informed us that the game would not be cancelled... and if it was, it wouldn’t be until late that night – they would just postpone until it/if it cleared up! So we decided to go grab some dinner before heading up there.

We stopped in to the Hard Rock Cafe, which we really enjoyed. We didn’t have to wait at all, because we’d arrived at about 4:45. I had these delicious lettuce wraps, and my dad had a burger, which he really liked. We checked out some of the memorabilia on our way out, as we passed through the crowds who were now waiting for a table.

When we left, the rain had subsided so we headed up to the Yankee Stadium! By the time we got there, the skies had cleared, and the weather was beautiful. We made our way to our seats slowly, checking out all the history that is scattered around the stadium. We were up in the left field upper seats, (halfway between lower and nosebleed sections) and we had a great view! My dad was so happy to have finally made it to the new stadium, and he had a great time. He was also very surprised to see that someone (me!) had secretly paid to have his name put up on the scoreboard as a special birthday treat! (His birthday was on the following Saturday) I think it was one of his highlights!!

The Yankees lost, but not after an exciting rally in the 8th where they almost took the game back. Unfortunately, the other team came back with 1 extra run in the 9th, and that was it for the game. We stopped into the gift shop to pick up some overpriced product; I think that was the only shopping my dad did the entire trip =) We hopped on to the subway to get back to the hotel.

Oh yeah – we had also originally planned to take the water taxi to the game, but because of the rain we decided against it.

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4. Re: Trip Diary - August 7th - August 12th (Long!)

Day 4 – Wednesday – Central Park, MOMA, Movie Theatre

On Wednesday morning, we stopped at Cafe Edison again before heading up to Central Park. We took the subway about halfway up and figured we would walk down and across to come out the South-East end. We just wanted to stroll around and see a few of the key sights within the park. Our biggest mistake was that we did not have a proper map of Central Park. Our only map had the main roads that go through the park, but none of the paths. We got “temporarily misplaced” a few times, but it was a lot of fun! It was also extremely hot so by the end, we were pretty exhausted. We passed by the Boat House, which had a group of people in front of it protesting illegal working conditions – I think they deterred quite a few people from going in. We stopped off at Strawberry Fields, popped over to the Dakota, and did a pretty thorough tour around the Lake. We headed past the Sheep Field (the proper name is escaping me!) and finally came out the other end – or so we thought!

It was really weird; as soon as we exited the park we were doing a bit of a celebration that we actually made it out ... until we realized we weren’t at the south-east end! We were about a third of the way up on the east side – not too bad, but we were so disoriented =)

We were really hungry by this time, and we’d wanted to go to a Pret A Manger (a common stop for us when we visit the UK). We were passing by the Apple Store on 5th and managed to pick up some WiFi. I took a look for the closest Pret A Manger, and there was one about a block and a half away! We went there for a delicious sandwich and some crisps.

After lunch, we walked over to the MOMA. I wanted to see some Van Gogh’s and Picasso’s, but as I am not huge on art galleries (I love seeing art galleries, but I tend to go through them very quick – my dad takes his time, but as he had already been to the MOMA before, it was a good compromise for us to go there for a relatively quick visit) we went through at a pretty fast pace. I spent most of my time with the Van Goghs, Picassos, Matisses, etc... but as we started to get to the areas with 4 white canvasses in a row, we started to zip through. There was one part where I made a joke about it being my “favourite piece”... it was a 36” x 36” hole in the wall, revealing the support board behind it. I had assumed it was where they were going to be installing a piece of art, but then I saw the little plaque that said it was an actual piece of art! At that point, we pretty much gave up and left. I guess the really modern stuff just isn’t for us!

After the MOMA, we headed back to Times Square to catch a movie. We had done a lot of walking and wanted to sit for a while in some air conditioning. We watched Attack The Block – which I loved! I imagine a lot of people would have difficulties following along the accents, though. After this, we decided to go to a couple of the shops around Times Square, and then we went for dinner at Planet Hollywood. It was a little bit of a wait to get in – about 25 minutes – and there was a group of 125 people who were being seated at the same time. Our food was very good (a salad for him, and broccoli pasta for me), but service was slow (we had kind of expected that, anyway). We sat right under the bubble with Slimer in it, so I was happy! =)

After dinner, dad went back to TS for Wi-Fi, and I headed into Forever 21 to have a look around. That was all for Wednesday!

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5. Re: Trip Diary - August 7th - August 12th (Long!)

Day 5 – Thursday – Top of the Rock AM, Shopping, How to Succeed, Top of the Rock PM

We were up extra early on Thursday, as we had sunrise/sunset tickets to Top of The Rock. Again, we went for breakfast at Cafe Edison, and wanted over to Rockefeller Centre. There was a bit of confusion when we arrived, as one person thought our tickets were vouchers, so we were sent to the wrong place.

We finally made our way to the top (after a cool elevator ride!), headed through security, and began to take in the history of the building. It has a really interesting past, and I am glad we took the time to read everything. There was hardly anybody there, and when we were out on the observation deck, we had a ton of space and room to move around and get the best views and pictures of the city. I have been up the Empire State Building before, and this was so much better. No line-up, cheaper, and better views. First, we could actually see Central Park, and second, we got an amazing view of ESB (Which obviously you don’t get if you go up there!). The weather was GLORIOUS... not a cloud in the sky, and a beautiful breeze... I recommend this to anybody who goes to NYC.

After going up both levels of the observation deck (the uppermost deck was closed – which was fine by us!!), we went back down and decided what we were going to do. I knew I wanted to head to Brooklyn for a couple of shops, but my dad was still trying to decide. He planned on going to the Guggenheim – but of course, it was closed that day! So he decided he was going to head over to the UN as he had never done that tour. Unfortunately, he made it all the way through security only to find out the next available tour (audio or guided) was not for another 3 hours or so! So he took a little look around where he could before head out for a walk.

Meanwhile, I made my way down to Brooklyn (Park Slope area) and went in to a few shops. I picked up a couple of things before heading back to Manhattan. I am a cake decorator at a vegan bakery in Ottawa, so I wanted to go to a couple of vegan bakeries in New York. I first headed to Babycakes and picked up a few treats (mint chocolate cupcake, mini brownie, cookie crumble donut, salted caramel donut), then went around the corner to see The Pickle Guys. This place was so cool! There are about 15 barrels of different kinds of pickles and pickled products. I was kind of overwhelmed – I really wanted to get some new pickles, but I was flustered and order ½ sours instead. They are still yummy, but I wish I had gotten the new pickles instead! You can buy as little as 1 pickle, or opt for larger quantities instead.

After the Pickle Guys, I walked up to Cowgirl’s Baking, which I really liked. She is relatively new, and when I went in, she was really friendly and welcoming. The shop is bright (I found Babycakes very dark and difficult to see their products!) and I had a tough time deciding what to buy. I ended up with a French toast cupcake (YUM!!), a vanilla donut, and a cookie sandwich.

I headed back to the hotel after this in order to get changed for the night. The weather this day was absolutely perfect. I stopped on the way, too, to pick up some cling wrap so that I could bring home the treats that I’d bought that day. When I met back up with my dad, I found out that he had spent his day walking around the city - stopping in to Grand Central Station for lunch and photo opportunities, then making his way to Noodler’s Ink, Art Brown, and Brookstone. He also went to Sam Ash where he found his guitar (a Rickenbacker) for $500 more than what he paid for his! So he was pleased for himself.

We got changed and went across the street to Olive Garden for dinner. We were seated immediately, and were pleasantly surprised by the meal. I had Portobello mushroom ravioli, and he had Grilled Mediterranean Chicken. It came with delicious garden salad and bread rolls. On our way out, we passed the huge group of people now waiting for tables (it pays to be early eaters!!!).

From the restaurant, we walked over to the Al Hirschfield theatre to see How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. It was AMAZING! We absolutely LOVED it! Daniel Radcliffe and John Laroquette were just fantastic. This show is great to see if you have a group of people, as it has something for everyone. It was funny, and cute, and just overall perfection. I recommend this to anyone who’s looking for a show – the songs aren’t daunting, and completely add to the show. I have seen musicals in the past in which I would almost roll my eyes when another song started up. I found myself excited to hear what was coming up next!

After the show, we walked back over for round 2 of Top of the Rock. There were a lot more people this time around, but it still wasn’t that bad. We were in very quickly, and skipped the lineup to get our photo taken on the metal beam. Again, the view was breathtaking, and it was just amazing to see the black hole that is Central Park at night, and Times Square glowing as if it’s from outer space. We got lost trying to get out of Rockefeller at night, as certain exits close after a certain time – of course they were the exits we needed to get out of! We felt like we were trapped inside! Eventually we made our way out, and headed back to the hotel after our last night in NYC.

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6. Re: Trip Diary - August 7th - August 12th (Long!)

Day 6 – Friday – Home!

We had our last breakfast at Cafe Edison, and went over to Times Square to pick up a few gifts for family and friends – unfortunately the gift shops didn’t open until 9am (we thought it was 8:30) so we waited around on the bleachers using WiFi again (a common theme of our trip!) until they opened. We picked up our gifts, and headed back to the hotel. As mentioned earlier, there was a bit of a kerfuffle about us not having our valet ticket – but it was the desk clerk that took it from us at check in!! They made a bit of a big deal about finding our valet number, although it only took about 4 seconds for them to pull it up on the computer. We called for our car – which takes 45 minutes from the time you request your car to come around. We didn’t get to leave New York until about 11am – but we had a nice chat to the bell hop, who told us about the past famous guests at the hotel (Mickey Mantle and many Yankees!) and shared some really interesting Yankees-related stories with us until our car showed up. That few minutes made our stay at Edison Hotel just that much better. We gave him a tip, then made our way out of the city. A few wrong turns and a few honks later, we were finally through the tunnel and on our way home. We went through Toronto on our way back (stayed overnight before heading back to Ottawa on Saturday) to bring my brother home for a few days. We are still exhausted from the whole trip!

It was a great trip, and I really enjoyed myself. I am sorry for rambling so long – I am keeping this as a diary for myself as well, so I didn’t want to skip anything! I hope I did this right... I know people prefer to have a header post, and the days separated below... Thank you for reading!

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7. Re: Trip Diary - August 7th - August 12th (Long!)

The 70th floor at TotR was closed when you were there because a guy had just threatened to jump from up there the day before.

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8. Re: Trip Diary - August 7th - August 12th (Long!)

Enjoyed reading your trip, sounds like you had a great time you and your father will remember forever. Were having our first visit oct 2011, can't wait. I'm hoping to see how to succeed with my 16 and 18 year old sons - would you recommend the Olive Green restaurant - and was it really close to the theatre? Thanks

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9. Re: Trip Diary - August 7th - August 12th (Long!)

Wow, MCoryB - that's awful. I'd had no idea. My dad has a bit of a fear of heights, so we probably wouldn't have gone up there anyway, but I just assumed it was because it was a bit windy. Yikes.

Hi Groov - The Olive Garden is right in Times Square. It was about a 10 minute walk away from the theatre. Any restaurant you go to in Times Square is pretty much in walking to distance to any of the theatres! It's an italian restaurant with lots of pasta choices, and I think a couple of pizzas, too. I think the show is a great choice for you to take them to - there was a boy about 15 in front of us who looked like he was determined to hate whatever show he was about to watch, and at the intermission I heard his older sister report to their parents that he was laughing through the whole thing! An excellent choice =)

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10. Re: Trip Diary - August 7th - August 12th (Long!)

You didn't ramble at all. The TV and Movie tour sounds like something I'd like to do. Thanks for sharing with us!