This trip was a gift to my parents, ages 81 and 85. We decided that in place of all future gifts for two people who don't need anymore "things", we would instead give them an experience. We were excited to have the opportunity to take them back to a city that had been a big part of their lives and that they love so much. I had researched carefully and planned our itinerary, including purchasing all show tickets, museums, etc....
Because of Hurricane Sandy, we thought we would have to cancel the trip. As it turned out, LaGuardia opened in time for us to fly in. It was with mixed emotion that we left for New York. Was it fair to enter the city as a tourist, when the locals were suffering so badly from the effects of the storm? We really debated this.
I think our question was answered by the cab driver who took us from the airport to our hotel. He THANKED us for coming. Told us they needed the money. He and his friends had gone many days without pay and it was taking its toll. The gas shortage was also cutting into his pay. Cab drivers were allowed a max of $40 gas per day while we were there. This poor guy was dealing with half of his home's roof missing as well. The theme of our trip became:
TIP OFTEN AND TIP WELL!!!!
Surprisingly quick trip into Manhattan from LaGuardia. Did a pre-check in at Night Hotel. Great hotel literally steps off Times Square. (See separate review- I will post detailed reviews of hotel, all restaurants, attractions, and shows- each on their own pages).
They stored our luggage til the room was ready so we could head out and begin exploring. Funny thing happened within 30 seconds of arriving on Times Square; we were pulled aside and asked to be on tv! They were shooting live on VH1. We all got a kick out of that, and amazingly, by way of a quick text- were able to alert one of our kids, who saw us on tv!
Had lunch at Maoz on 43rd and 8th - a felafel place recommended to us by a friend. The food was so yummy. The felafel included one trip through the toppings bar, which had a huge variety of interesting and delicious choices.
We were scheduled to tour the LES Tenement Museum, but it was closed due to no power at that end of the island. Instead, we wandered midtown and took the folks back for an afternoon nap.
Dinner at Bali Nusa Indah, a great little Indonesian place on 9th Ave. Then, just a short walk down to the Westside Theater on 43rd to see "Old Jews Telling Jokes". This was a cute show. Old jokes told well...Much more "R" rated than I expected, which we found enjoyable but others might be surprised by.
Put the parents to bed and headed downstairs with the hubby to the cute little hotel lounge. We enjoyed talking to the sweet bartender. Due to the storm, she had been holed up in the hotel for 5 days, as her home in Brooklyn was inaccessible. It was crazy to hear everyone's stories of how they were affected by the storm. So sad.
Breakfast at Cranberry Deli, across the street from our hotel. This place was a favorite of ours from a previous trip. Lots of options for breakfast and a large upstairs dining room. Very reasonably priced.
After breakfast, we walked to Grand Central station by way of Bryant Park. Such a beautiful, sunny day. Lots of opportunities for photos of the gorgeous buildings. Grand Central was bustling.
Took the subway uptown for lunch at the 2nd Ave Deli. What a delicious meal! This is not a tourist deli. Just a neighborhood place that knows how to do it right. Truly, this is some of the best corned beef and brisket that we have ever eaten. Expensive, but worth it.
After lunch, we went to the Frick Collection (thank you NYWhiz and others for recommending!) What a great suggestion. All 4 of us really enjoyed this "museum" which is actually one man's home/art collection. The audio guide/ wands that they provide are wonderful. Quick, interesting snippets of info for each photo/art object. Made the visit so much more interesting than if we had not used them. We were lucky to catch one of the docent led introductions to the museum, which gave some great background on the Fricks and their home.
Time to get the parents back to the hotel for their nap. Hubby and I hit the Forever 21 store on Times Square and picked up gifts to take back to the kids.
Walked to dinner at Toloache- a lovely little Mexican restaurant on 50th. We had been here before for lunch and were excited to try dinner. It did not disappoint! Had a nice, relaxing meal with great service.
Taxi to Lincoln Center to see Warhorse. Thank you to NYWhiz, again for this one. Wow- what an intense, amazing piece of theater. Hard to imagine that one could become so attached to a wire/leather puppet of a horse.... Well worth seeing! A beautifully produced show.
Back to the hotel, this time my parents JOINED us in the bar. Sure don't know where this pair of 80 somethings get all their energy...
Breakfast once again at the Cranberry Deli. We've got this ordering/pay thing down now:) Saw some of the same people upstairs in the dining room. It's beginning to feel like one big family...
Took the subway downtown to 23rd. Walked through Chelsea towards the High Line. This is when we began to see some of the damage in Manhattan. Talked to some nice people on the streets who related their stories of no power, no water, etc.... Saw rows of Port-o-pottys on the sidewalks.
Unfortunately, the High Line had not been re-opened, but we enjoyed just walking through the neighborhoods. Came upon an Air Force unit unloading cases of water "bucket brigade" style from their military truck. Lots of buildings pumping out large amounts of water from flooding. Whole facade blown off one hotel or apartment building. You could see the beds and furniture clearly from the street.
Had lunch at the Chelsea Market. Lots of options to choose from. We enjoyed some sushi from the Lobster Place, as well as brownies from Fat Witch Bakery and a great espresso from the coffee place. Had time to pick up a few items at a store I love there: Chelsea Market Baskets. Caught the subway uptown to get back to the theater district.
Went to a matinee of the musical "Once". Got there early enough to join the cast on stage for a bit of pre-show entertainment. Neat idea, and a lot of fun. What a great show! The talent on that stage was mind boggling. Not only were the cast members all "triple- threats"- proficient in voice, dance, and acting- but for this show, a fourth element was required. They also needed to be accomplished musicians. Every member of the cast played at least one instrument throughout the show. Very impressive.
Dinner at Basso 56. Wonderful food, lovely setting, and a terrific server all added up to a very special experience. Everything was perfect.
Walked up to Columbus Circle. On the way, we were able to see the crane that was fresh in everyone's minds from the news coverage of its dangling boom. We could see where they had tethered the boom to the side near the building. Scary to think of the catastrophic outcome had that thing fallen...
Enjoyed walking around Columbus Circle and taking a brief look around the mall to warm up before taking the subway back to the hotel. One last stroll through Times Square, then time to pack.
Where did the time go? It seemed as if we had just arrived, and already it was time to leave. What a fun trip we had. My parents loved seeing the city again after not having visited for a number of years. We loved seeing how excited THEY were to be in the city. We all agree that it is the most amazing city in the US.
Can't wait to return!
(One side note- sad to report that our dear friends on Long Beach suffered huge losses in the storm. Their cat drowned in their flooded home. They lost the entire contents of the first floor of their home and both of their cars. We are so sad for them and everyone who has been affected by this powerful storm.)