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New Year's in New York: A Trip Report

Minnesota
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New Year's in New York: A Trip Report

I had started posting this trip report as separate threads, but someone recommended I combine them into one. Trip Advisor won't let me edit my original post??? Hence the new thread to make it easier to read. Hope you enjoy!

New Year’s in NYC: A Trip Report (Prelude)

The #1 item on my bucket list has always been to spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square. It took almost 35 years, but Hubby and I finally made the trip this past holiday season. Following is a much belated trip report for anyone interested. It is the first time Hubby and I had been to NYC as adults, so this report is very much from a first-timer’s perspective.

First, thank you to all the travel experts and others who routinely post on this board. We lurked obsessively for almost a year before actually taking this trip, but didn’t have to post one single question. Why? Because all of the information we could possibly need (and then some) was already here. So thank you! I know it can be time consuming, but please know how much the rest of us appreciate it. :)

Warning: my trip reports tend to be long…:) Thank you in advance to anyone brave enough to read, particularly since I don’t have a history of posting on this board. :)

Where we stayed: We stayed at Renassaince Hotel 57 on Lexington and E 57th St. We booked via Priceline about six months out. I had hemmed and hawed about the hotel reservation, trying to find something in our price range that wasn’t also in New Jersey. We’ve always had good luck with Priceline/Hotwire, so we finally opted to go that route, and once again were not disappointed.

We booked this hotel as an Express Deal on Priceline, and paid $238/night for it. The price was on the low end of the spectrum for this time of year, and put us in Midtown in a four-star hotel, so we were satisfied. The hotel was perfect for our needs—just a couple blocks from the subway, Central Park, 5th Ave. shops, and, more importantly for us, within walking distance of Times Square. Quite frankly, I’m surprised it doesn’t have a higher rating on Trip Advisor. We really enjoyed our stay there and would absolutely go back. A hotel review will be submitted soon!

Travel: To and from MSP to LGA direct on Delta, cab to and from the airport. Not living in an area that requires frequent use of taxis, we weren’t sure what to expect upon landing, but getting a cab couldn’t have been easier. You just walk outside the airport, get in the taxi line, tell the attendant where you’re going, and then wait for the attendant to tell you which taxi to get into. For the return trip, the doorman hailed the taxi for us.

Cost: approximately $50 for each cab ride, including tip.

And for those of you who don’t spend too much time in taxis (like us), yes, you can pay with a credit card. :) There’s a touch screen system in the cab you use when you go to pay. Super easy.

While in New York, we either walked or took the subway. We were there 9 days; we stayed within walking range of the hotel the first day, and then bought 7-day Metrocards for the rest of the trip (day 9 was an early call at the airport, so the only travel on the last day was the cab ride to LGA). Metrocards were $30 each plus a $1 fee for the new card.

Okay, that’s enough boring background material. :) On to the trip report. :)

Coming Up: Even the Cops Have Never Seen Times Square This Crowded

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1. Re: New Year's in New York: A Trip Report

Day 1: Even the Cops Have Never Seen Times Square This Crowded

We arrived at our hotel at about 1PM and were able to check in a couple hours early. We dropped our bags and decided our first stop in NYC would be where else? Times Square. Since the whole reason we were in New York was to watch the ball drop, we wanted to scope out the logistics and see how long it took us to walk there from the hotel.

We were so excited to finally be in NYC, and the city must have felt the same way about us, because boy did it have a welcome in store. We wanted to freshen up and get the airport off of us before venturing out, so hubby went in to use the restroom first, and it worked just like a restroom should: turning on the sink produced a clear stream of water, and the toilet flushed properly.

I went in there a few minutes later, and could only manage to get a slow trickle of water from the sink that was a scary shade of brown. The toilet also didn’t seem to have enough pressure to flush.

We have only been here a few minutes and I really hope I haven’t managed to break the hotel bathroom in that amount of time. Hubby goes downstairs to see if there might be another cause for what we are experiencing.

“City-wide problem,” he is told. “We’re working on it.”

Now if that just isn’t a proper welcome to NYC, I don’t know what is. :) Whatever the problem, it was fixed by the time we got back to the hotel, but we had to run the water for quite awhile before the scary brown coloring disappeared.

Our trip began the day after Christmas, so the city was still decorated for the holidays. As we walked to Times Square, we got to take in for the first time many of the store front and street displays. There were giant snowflakes hanging over streets and lights in all the trees. Bloomingdale’s holiday display was by far my favorite. They did a “holiday around the world” theme and had different holiday scenes from major cities around the globe. And then of course, there was the light show at Saks. It’s amazing how walking down a street in NCY can become an experience in and of itself.

Oh, and look! There is a crew of workers jack-hammering into a manhole a few blocks from the hotel. That probably explains the brown water.

It took us a little longer to get to Times Square that first day because we kept stopping to look at everything, but it really was probably only a 20 minute walk. By the time we got there, we realized we were hungry. We decided on Lindy’s, and our experience was exactly what we thought it would be: decent but overpriced food with slower service. I had a tuna melt and egg cream (YUM), and hubby had a Reuben. And drank tap water. The bill was still about $70, including tip. Even for NYC, that seemed a bit over the top, so we decide there will be no more meals in the Times Square area.

We walked to where the ball drops to scope out the location. We decided we wanted to be on Broadway or 7th for the ball drop—no side streets because from what we could see the buildings completely obstruct the view—and no farther back than 50th or so. We gulped as we wonder how early we’ll need to arrive on the day of New Year’s Eve to accomplish this…

While deciding on our New Year’s Eve strategy, hubby had spotted Toys R’ Us, so we headed in there to appease his inner child. He knows it’s three stories and can’t wait to see all the fun and exciting toys and displays that its run-of-the-mill Midwestern counterparts might not have. (I can’t believe the first place I’m going to in New York City is Toys R’ Us. :) )

I also can’t believe how many other people are in this store. It. Is. So. Crowded. There are wall to wall people, kids running everywhere, lines so long they’re wrapping around the checkout areas and then down the aisles, strollers being pushed by people looking in the opposite direction of where they’re going…it’s total mayhem. My apprehension must have shown on my face, because hubby looks at me and says “What did you expect? This is NYC.”

I don’t know what I expected. Maybe at least a few inches of personal space? But I accept the fact that I am not going to get it, at least not here, and follow hubby as he leads the way around Toys R’ Us.

It is kind of a neat store. The Times Square Toys R’ Us is basically a Toys R’ Us on steroids. For example, if you wanted to find the Barbie section at a normal Toys R’ Us store, you would read the nondescript signs posted on each of the aisles until you found the one that said “Barbie.”

At this Toys R’ Us, you looked for the ginormous wall-to-ceiling pink Barbie dollhouse floor display and neon sign that said “Barbie.” It also comes complete with a candy section which seemed to explain at least in part why the kids were running everywhere—and wait—is that an ice cream parlor inside the store?!?

We made our way through all three levels and then decided to head back in the direction of the hotel. As we were leaving Toys R’ Us, we passed two New York City Police Officers, one of whom is saying to the other in reference to the crowds, “I’ve never seen it this bad.”

Okay, so it’s not just me.

We walked right by Rockefeller Plaza on our way back to the hotel, so of course we had to stop and see the tree and the rink. The tree really is spectacular. It’s is even taller than it looks in pictures and it has a very generous supply of holiday lights, so it is just this majestic sight of twinkling holiday glory. The rink was a bit smaller than we’d expected, and for almost $30 a person, not including skate rental, something we decided to pass on. We live in MN and have a pond in our backyard, so it wasn’t something we felt like we had to do. :) Rockefeller Plaza was even more packed than Toys R’ Us though, so after we snapped some pictures of the tree, we continued our trek back to the hotel.

We made one more stop on our way back: we had discovered a Whole Foods only a few blocks away from the hotel. We bought a few breakfast items for the week and some bottled water (total cost about $13). At this point, the day of traveling was starting to catch up to us, so we called it a night.

Coming Up: Day 2: (Day) at the Museum

Minnesota
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2. Re: New Year's in New York: A Trip Report

Day 2: (Day) at the Museum

Ben Stiller forever endeared the American Museum of Natural History to those of us not fortunate enough to have it in their backyard, so we made it our first stop on our first full day in NYC. We took the subway, after first buying our Metrocards.

Aside: Buying Metrocards took about 30 seconds. There are automated touch screen vending machines in the subway stations that walk you through the process. Super easy.

Back to the American Museum of Natural History: I had downloaded the Museum’s app to help us navigate, but our first discovery upon arrival was that it was completely useless. It needed to be connected to the Internet to work, and the public Wi-Fi at the museum kept saying it was unable to connect. I would definitely not recommend it. We decided on the wander and discover method instead—not my favorite approach to museums, but it worked out okay.

We saw almost all of the permanent exhibits: we spent a lot of time in the Biodiversity & Environmental Halls, Earth and Planetary Science Halls, Mammal Halls, and, of course, the fossil halls! The dinosaurs were really cool to see—I don’t think I’ve ever seen a display with that many specimens. The Gem Hall was my favorite. They had so many different varieties of stones. I loved seeing the Star of India. And you can’t go to the American Museum of Natural History without seeing the Easter Island head. :)

We were able to get there almost as soon as it opened and stayed for about 4-5 hours. We felt like we were able to see a good portion of the museum in that time, and definitely enjoyed seeing all of the more well-known pieces in person that so far we had only been able to see in pictures. That’s one of my favorite experiences about traveling anywhere: being able to experience in person these iconic sights and landmarks that you have only been able to read or hear about growing up. And NYC certainly has its fair share to offer. :)

After the museum, it was time for lunch, so we headed outside to see what the neighborhood had to offer. The Shake Shack? Hmmm. The line is around the building. Uno Chicago Pizzeria is just a few doors down, and it doesn’t have a line at all. It seemed almost blasphemous to be eating Chicago style pizza in New York, but it was close and we were hungry and it had a decent lunch menu. And did I mention there was no line?

Again, no surprises with our dining experience. The food was decent and the prices reasonable. Hubby and I both had a lunch combo special. I had unlimited soup and salad, and he had a pizza. The total bill was about $35, including tip. Take that, Lindy’s.

We decided to take a walk through Central Park after lunch. Central Park was a favorite for both of us. There’s something about a large park in the middle of an even larger city that was incredibly relaxing. I don’t know if it was because it smelled like the outdoors instead of city, because the traffic noise wasn’t as loud, because trees and streams and ponds and grass are just pretty anyway, or all of the above, but we really enjoyed it.

We meandered down by Bank Rock Bay and over the Ramble Stone Arch, down by the Lake and Bow Bridge, and past the Skating Rink and the Pond before finally exiting on Central Park South and 5th Avenue. We saw the horse carriages doing their loops and the bike taxis trying to compete for fares. The whole time, you can see the city’s skyline surrounding you, and it feels like you are in a different world.

By the time we had finished our walk through Central Park, we had been walking or standing for the better part of the day, and my feet were beginning to protest, so we headed back to the hotel for a quick respite before heading out for the evening.

We planned to go to Serendipity tonight, and I couldn’t wait. I’ve seen it in so many movies, I had to go. I make no apologies for this. :)

Serendipity was just a few blocks from the hotel, so after I got some feeling back in my feet, we walked over to put our names in. It was a three hour wait, so we decided to walk around and see some more holiday displays and visit FAO Schwarz.

We both preferred FAO Schwarz to Toys R’ Us. The aisles were wider, cleaner, and the toys were more unique. The doll section at FAO Schwarz had dolls that are made to look like real babies. They are cute, but a word to the wise: don’t touch them. Hubby picked up one to get a closer look, and out of nowhere a sales rep came flying over and said, “Please don’t touch the babies!” (That’s right. She referred to the dolls as babies.) Hubby quickly puts the doll down, we apologize and move on. A few minutes later, we notice the sales rep brushing the hair and smoothing the clothes of the doll hubby had picked up to erase any evidence of human contact. We both found this to be slightly over the top and therefore also slightly amusing.

We stopped in Dylan’s Candy Bar, because you can’t NOT stop in Dylan’s Candy Bar after you’ve walked right by it. :) Dylan’s has every candy ever made, and we enjoyed looking at the candy bars of yesteryear that you don’t often see anymore.

Our three hour wait ended up only being two hours, but still, by the time we were seated at Serendipity, we were hungry, so instead of just desserts, we ate a full meal there. (I’m sure the wait staff was real excited, but about half the people in the restaurant were eating full meals, so we didn’t feel all that bad.) Hubby had some sort of gargantuan chili burger monstrosity, and I had the shrimp salad sandwich. Both were really good. The sandwich came on an Irish soda bread that balanced out the shrimp salad nicely, and hubby said his burger was well seasoned and cooked.

After dinner came the real dilemma: one dessert to share or one for each of us? We opted for two desserts after realizing that it would be crazy to only order one dessert from Serendipity’s when you could order two. I had the Salted Caramel Frozen Hot Chocolate, and hubby had the Forbidden Broadway Sundae. They were both just delightful. Huge, of course. We didn’t come close to finishing either. The sundae had chocolate blackout cake and ice cream drenched in hot fudge. The frozen hot chocolate was like drinking liquid milk chocolate. For anyone with an uncontrollable sweet tooth like me, it was divine. The bill was over $80 including tip, but well worth the experience.

We waddled back to the hotel and called it a night. Tomorrow was promising to be 50 degrees, and we were looking forward to a beautiful day.

Coming Up: Day 3: Trip Planning Boo-Boo: Don’t Let This Happen to You.

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3. Re: New Year's in New York: A Trip Report

Great read! Keep it coming :-)

Hervey Bay...
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4. Re: New Year's in New York: A Trip Report

Am loving this!

Am very interested to find out what the boo boo is and can't wait to hear about your NYE experience. So few people post about actually doing the ball drop so it will be great to have another report to refer people to.

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5. Re: New Year's in New York: A Trip Report

Oh what a tease,

I cant wait for Day 3, excellent so far.

Minnesota
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6. Re: New Year's in New York: A Trip Report

Day 3: Trip Planning Boo-Boo: Don’t Let This Happen to You.

I am a planner. I enjoy planning. I particularly enjoy planning trips. Each time we go somewhere new, I spend hours researching places to stay, eat, see, etc. If I can make reservations in advance, I almost always do, because I usually find it makes it easier once you’ve arrived at your destination.

However, I didn’t make any reservations prior to arriving in NYC due to one thing: the weather. Because so many sights are outdoors, and due to the time of year we were traveling, I didn’t want to risk reserving, say, Statue of Liberty tickets on a day when it happened to be 35 degrees and sleeting outside.

So before deciding what to do each day, we checked the weather forecast. Today was supposed to be in the 50’s and sunny, so it seemed like the perfect day to go to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

When I had researched the Statue of Liberty, probably 2 to 3 months prior to our trip, the state park website indicated that you needed to reserve tickets to visit the Crown. Both hubby and I had done this as kids (well, I had tried—I made it up to the circular staircase before my fear of heights kicked in and I had to climb back down through throngs of people like a champ), and neither of us felt the need to do this again.

At the time I was doing my research, I didn’t see anything about needing to also reserve pedestal tickets (the option was there, but it also said these tickets could also be purchased same day on site—I didn’t see anything indicating that they were booked X number of weeks or months out and that they had to be reserved like the Crown), so I either missed it or they weren’t busy enough at the time I was doing my research to warrant posting it on the Web site.

We arrived early-ish (we were probably there by 9:30 or so) and planned to do the pedestal and see Ellis Island. The ticket line wasn’t long at all—when we got there, it was just to the outside of the rotunda area, and took us probably 20 minutes or so to get through.

When we had made it into the rotunda area, hubby noticed a sign on the ticket window we were waiting in line for: “All pedestal access tickets are sold out.”

What?????!!??

You know how when you receive news that’s so disappointing you don’t believe it at first? I stayed in denial about pedestal tickets until we got to the window. I even managed to talk myself into the fact that by “pedestal” they really must have meant something else, and that surely we’d still be able to access at least the stone base.

When we got to the window, we asked the ticket agent if the sign was correct (of course, it was). So then we asked her if we could reserve pedestal tickets for another day, figuring at this point we’d take our chances on weather and just come back.

They were booked 2 weeks out. We would only be in NYC for another six days.

Hubby is really irritated with me, and for my part I feel awful. “Didn’t you research this?” he asks. And I really had. I still don’t know if I missed it or it really wasn’t there at the time I checked the web site. But it didn’t matter at this point.

So note to all those hoping to visit the Statue of Liberty on your trip: Save yourselves the potential for disappointment and reserve any and all tickets you think you want in advance. When we were there, the pedestal was booked 2 weeks out and the crown 6 months out.

We were disappointed, but we decided that some Statue of Liberty was better than no Statue of Liberty, so we got the basic ferry tickets and headed over to the security line.

You have to go through airport type security prior to boarding the ferry. When we were there, the line took about 30-45 minutes to get through. A street performer helped us pass the time by singing songs in a variety of languages, which was nice, since it also drowned out the over zealous line attendant who kept yelling at everyone to “Move faster! If you move like this in New York people you get run over!”

Apparently he hadn’t been to Times Square recently. (And for the record, no one was moving fast because there was no where to go. They let people into the building where the scanners are in groups, and so once a group had been let in, everyone else shuffled forward a little and then had nowhere to go for the next 15 minutes.)

The ferry ride over was cold. Because of the wind, it easily felt at least 20 degrees colder than it did on land. But it’s so cool to watch the Statue of Liberty approach from the ferry. Hubby got some really good pictures as we approached the island.

We spent some time walking around the perimeter of the Statue of Liberty. Even though we didn’t get to experience the pedestal, it was still really amazing to stand underneath Lady Liberty and allow yourself to feel completely dwarfed in her presence. Even though there were hundreds of people there, it was quiet. It was almost like people were being reverent in the same way they would in a place of worship (or maybe they were just cold and tired because it was still early, but I prefer to think it was the former). She just commands respect. :)

And it really was a beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky, and the view of Manhattan from the island was literally picture perfect. So we got some great pictures of both the Statue of Liberty and the skyline.

We planned to go to Ellis Island afterward, but weren’t sure if we could take any ferry, or if only specific ones went to Ellis Island. We asked the guy at the information desk, and he told us that all of the ferrys went to Ellis Island except for the one clearly designated for New Jersey.

“But that one will be easy to find because it will have a short line,” he said. “No one goes to New Jersey.”

We get in the long line and wait for the next ferry. Ellis Island was still undergoing a lot of repairs from Hurricane Sandy, but the Registry Room/Great Hall had reopened as well as a few exhibits, so we decided to see it before going back.

We walked through the Registry Room/Great Hall and the Peopling of America exhibit. It was cool to stand in the Registry Room/Great Hall and imagine all of the immigrants who had gone before as they began their new lives in the U.S. As we wandered, we stumbled across an old cargo elevator that was about 100 years old. It was surprisingly ornate and intricate in design. The Peopling of America exhibit is a timeline of immigration patterns and challenges that offered historical information that most of us learned in K-12 but have since forgotten. :) So the refresher was nice. :)

Before leaving, I decided to run to the ladies room, where I encountered the tiniest stall in the history of public restrooms. There was a line (of course) and we all noticed that one stall (of the two in the room) hadn’t become available in quite some time. Just as we were all beginning to wonder what was going on, the door to the stall opened and a woman who was about 6 feet tall with an English accent came out saying “Well, that was an experience and a half.”

Turns out this particular stall was literally just wide enough to box in the toilet. The door was located directly above the end of the toilet, so in order to get in (and out) you had to wedge yourself next to the toilet and against the wall in order for the door to be able to swing open or closed. Once you had managed to secure yourself in the stall, you had to figure out how to remove your jacket and where to put it and your purse for the duration of your visit, because there were no hooks or extra space. And did I mention the floor looked questionable?

There were still a couple of people ahead of me in line. “Please don’t let me get that stall,” I think. “Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease.”

I got that stall. And it was definitely an experience and a half. The point of this story? Avoid the basement level ladies room on Ellis Island.

By the time we got back to Manhattan, it was about 1:30. The ticket line was all the way around the building, through the adjoining park, and out into the street. We weren’t even sure some of these people would make the last ferry. So if you’re going to see the Stature of Liberty, get there early. :)

Lunch was a nearby Chipotle. As we were leaving, we noticed a mob of people outside a nearby building. We walked a little closer to see what all the fuss was about.

Oh. The bull. :)

Since it was still gorgeous outside, we decided to go to the 9/11 Memorial. Again, I could have reserved tickets in advance. Did I? No. No I did not.

We got there at about 2:30. We went to the memorial site first to get acquainted with where it was, and then walked several blocks back to the place where they distribute the tickets. The building itself is kind of hard to find, but the ticket line that extends all the way down the block is not. Sigh.

I stood in line while hubby went to visit the church across the street. We ended up waiting in that line for an hour, then walked back to the Memorial, where we waited in line for security for probably another hour. By the time we were actually in the Memorial, it was close to 5PM.

Note to self: in the future, thou shalt reserve thy tickets.

But it was unquestionably worth the wait. If the mood at the Statue of Liberty had been reverent, the mood at the 9/11 Memorial was somber. Looking into the footprints is like looking into a black void, and the sound of the waterfalls is deafening in the silence.

And the names. The way they are inscribed makes them seem endless. Countless nationalities are represented, and several women’s names are followed with the inscription “and her unborn child.” We all watched and felt the horror of 9/11, but the Memorial is a stark reminder that for so many, life was irreparably shattered that day in a way the rest of us can never hope to comprehend.

Because we arrived late in the afternoon/early evening, we were able to see the Memorial in both daylight and at night. At night all four walls of each footprint are lit up so that the water shimmers as it cascades down. It is really beautiful.

Coming Up: Day 4: Broadway or Bust

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7. Re: New Year's in New York: A Trip Report

Day 4: Broadway or Bust

We woke up Sunday morning and were able to get going before most of the rest of New York, so we had the streets to ourselves for about an hour. It was heavenly. We walked down to the Paris Baguette on Lexington and 52nd that hubby had discovered the other day while on a hunt for macaroons. We tried several different macaroons on this trip, but the ones at Paris Baguette were definitely our favorite.

This morning though we opted for pastries and hot chocolate, and then walked over to Rockefeller Center to enjoy them. We literally had the whole plaza to ourselves. We sat down on a bench (it had been so crowded the other night we didn’t even know there were benches there?!?) to eat our breakfast and gaze up at the tree in peace.

When we were finished, we walked around to the front of the tree. We were much closer to the tree from this angle, and got a much better understanding of just how tall the tree actually is. It truly is magnificent.

After making the loop around Rockefeller Plaza, we headed over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Mass. Even though St. Patrick’s was surrounded by scaffolding both inside and out, you could still get an appreciation for how intricate and beautiful this building is. I’ve never seen any other Catholic church like it in the States; it definitely is comparable only to those churches you see in Europe. There are so many prayer niches, and each one has detailed sculptures of various saints. The sanctuary was richly decorated for Christmas (not even the scaffolding was exempt—wreaths were hung at intervals on the scaffolding the entire length of the building).

Attending Mass there was definitely an experience. Their ushers look more like security guards (complete with ear pieces). We were there early enough to get our pick of seats, so we were able to sit on an aisle towards the front of the sanctuary which was nice because we could see everything. Cardinal Dolan celebrated the Mass we attended, and I was interested in hearing his homily, never having heard him speak before. He has a down-to-earth style of speaking, which I appreciated. We also had the full choir at this Mass, and they were exquisite.

It was raining lightly by the time we left St. Patrick’s. We had planned to see a Broadway Show today, but did we have tickets? No! Of course not, since this was the trip of zero advance reservations. I had already regretted that decision after yesterday’s Statue of Liberty experience; today’s experience brought that regret to a whole new level.

Minneapolis has a surprisingly decent theater scene for being, well, Minneapolis, and we had already seen most of the shows currently playing on Broadway. But you have to see at least one Broadway show when you’re in NCY, right?!? So rather than paying full price to see a show we weren’t absolutely dying to see, we decided to just hit the TKTS Booth and make a decision on what to see based on what was available.

We didn’t have umbrellas, but both of us had big jackets with hoods, and it really wasn’t raining that hard, so we figured we’d be okay. And it was still early-ish (about 11:30) and raining! so we thought there was a good chance that not as many people would be waiting in the TKTS line.

Wrong on all accounts! We stood in the TKTS line for about an hour. The light rain kept up a consistent pace the entire time, and while standing in line we learned that our big jackets with hoods were not waterproof big jackets with hoods. By the time we were officially wet and miserable though, we had already committed so much time to standing in line that we decided to see it through.

Several co-workers who had made recent trips to New York had recommended Cinderella, so that was the show we decided on. Matinee tickets to Cinderella were discounted by 30% today, and we ended up paying about $70 a ticket for their best available seats. We had a couple of hours before the show started, so we decided to grab some lunch, head back to the hotel, and see if we could dry off before curtain time.

Lunch was the Subway around the corner from the hotel. When researching this trip, we read (and heard) so many concerns about the cost of everything in NYC—we found that, like any city, you could spend as much or as little as you wanted on your trip. Don’t want to spend $25 for a tuna melt at Lindy’s? There’s a Subway on every corner where you can get one for $5. There are ways to travel economically in NYC, you just have to do your homework (and be willing to eat at Subway or go grocery shopping on your vacation :)).

When we got back to the hotel, we were soaked through. There was no way our clothes were going to dry in time, so we both just ended up changing before heading back out.

We were curious to see what 30% off and an hour in line outside in the rain would get us in terms of tickets—it got us on the top level three rows shy of the last row in the house. Being people who enjoy and regularly attend the theater, we would have much rather paid full price and been able to select our seats, but for a family or someone who isn’t totally into theater and just wants the experience of seeing a Broadway show while in NYC, (or the opportunity to see multiple Broadway shows while in NYC without breaking the bank) the TKTS line could be for you. For us, this was the first and last time we do the TKTS line.

Fortunately, the theater was small, so we didn’t feel like we were trying to watch the show from miles away. And it was a cute show—it definitely “updates” the story by adding some modern themes, but it doesn’t drastically change the original Cinderella plot. The set design was well done and oh—the onstage costume changes! I still can’t figure out how they were done. They were absolutely amazing!

I don’t want to give too much away about the show in case there are others who haven’t seen it. :) Suffice it to say we enjoyed the show and would recommend it as a cute date-night experience, GNO, or something to see with kids.

Dinner was a couple of slices from a pizza place around the corner from the hotel (I don’t remember the name of it and I can’t even tell you how much it cost because Hubby picked it up, sorry :() and for drinks and dessert, soda and Tastykakes from the Duane Ready across the street. (My dad grew up in Philadelphia and even though he raised his family in Los Angeles, he taught us all to revere Tastykakes as a hallowed dessert. :))

We got three slices with our favorite (and very common) toppings, and then a slice topped with pasta (hubby joked at the idea of eating a slice of carbs topped with more carbs). It was our first true New York pizza experience, and with the exception of the pasta-topped pizza which I’ll just call interesting, :) was all excellent. I felt like I was eating pizza for the first time. Why doesn’t every pizza place in America make pizza like this?!?

It felt so good to sit down in a nice warm, dry hotel room in front of the TV that we just decided to stay there for the rest of the night. :) We still had a lot of things we wanted to see and do, and tomorrow promised to be a full day.

Coming Up: Day 5: The Gutenberg Bible

Minnesota
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8. Re: New Year's in New York: A Trip Report

Day 5: The Gutenberg Bible

Several of our friends and relatives had recommended seeing the Guggenheim Museum, so we decided to begin our day with some modern art.

Prior to the trip, I had also downloaded the Guggenheim’s museum app. Unlike the app for the American Museum of Natural History, this app was awesome. It provided you with a map of the museum and detailed information on all of the exhibits. It was well worth the time it took to download and the space it takes on your device.

Even if you’re not modern art people (which, truth be told, we are not), the Guggenheim is worth seeing just for the building. The main part of the building is its circular ramp that leads up all six stories. One of the featured exhibits was displayed all along the walls of the ramp so that you don’t feel like you’re walking from one exhibit to the next—the entire museum is an experience. The smaller exhibits are housed in wings leading off from the main ramp.

Christopher Wool was the featured artist when we were there. The exhibit included photography and paintings. Some of the photos were really cool, but some of it was a little over our heads.  They have works by Picasso, Cezanne, Monet, Renoir, van Gogh and other of their contemporaries in a permanent exhibit which we really enjoyed.

We were there for about an hour and a half and were able to see almost all of the exhibits at a leisurely pace. We strolled down 5th Avenue for several blocks after leaving, taking in the neighborhoods and architecture before making a second visit to Central Park.

Did I mention how much we loved Central Park? We couldn’t get enough of it. Today we visited Belvedere’s Castle, Turtle Pond, saw the Obelisk, and just spent some time meandering about until it was time for our lunch reservations.

Lunch today was Tao. They offered a prix-fixed lunch menu we wanted to try and the concierge at the hotel was nice enough to make reservations for us. Our reservations were for 2PM; after waiting for about half an hour and watching people who had come in after us be seated before us, we were finally shown to our table (we weren’t the only people having this experience—one gentleman with his daughter got up to complain about the same thing, so not sure what was going on at Tao when we were there).

Once seated, it was a great experience. The food was easily the best we had the entire trip. (We didn’t exactly make food a priority on this trip, but we do know the difference between Michelin star food and Applebee’s. :) Tao was good.). The ambiance and décor were well done, and the $30 prix-fixed lunch menu included an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. I had a pot sticker soup, salmon, and mango sorbet for my meal. It was all very good. So good in fact I was so focused on my food I don’t even remember what Hubby ordered. :) Everything was perfectly seasoned and cooked, and we walked away very full.

Our next stop? The main branch of the NYC public library. Why? Because the only time I’ve ever seen it was on screen when Carrie Bradshaw and Big were planning their wedding there, and being a literary nut and the fact that it looked so impressive on screen I just had to see it in real life. :) Plus it has one of the few copies of the Gutenberg Bible on display. How can you not go see it?!? :)

We basically had to go through Grand Central Station to get there, so we decided to stop and walk around the main terminal before going to the library. Grand Central Station was a surreal moment for me. You see it so often in movies, TV, magazines, etc., that walking up the steps in the main concourse and seeing the ceiling in person was just awesome. It’s so weird to be in one of the most storied buildings in the entire U.S. and imagine how many generations of people have in some way made this building a part of their own history—and then to look over and see the influence of today’s generation (Shake Shack anyone? Or perhaps an Apple product from the Apple Store?)

We headed above ground to walk to the library. It was amazing before we even got inside—the steps leading up to the building are in and of themselves iconic. The staircases when you first enter are so majestic, and walking up I felt just like Carrie Bradshaw did in Sex and the City. It truly is a regal building. We walked up the same staircase they show in the movie to the third floor because that’s where the Gutenberg Bible is!!

In college, I worked at a library that had a rare book collection, and I spent a lot of time working with the rare books. Since then, I’ve started my own (very modest) collection. The Gutenberg Bible is like the Holy Grail of rare books, and I. Couldn’t. Wait. To. See. It.

There were a lot of other tourists at the library at this time (one of the patrons even asked one of the employees if it was always this crowded—he just shrugged and said “tourists”), and I thought for sure it would take ninja-like maneuvering skills to get a glimpse of the Bible. We fought our way through the crowds to the room where the Bible was displayed and…people were walking right by it. It was displayed in a corner of a small hallway leading from one room to another encased in some sort of plexi-glass, and, truth be told, you had to know what you were looking at in order to realize its importance. Part of me felt incredibly sad that people were walking by this incredibly rare and amazing artifact (this is a priceless item, its genre’s version of the Mona Lisa or Magna Carta), but part of me was glad because that meant I had it all to myself. We spent a while staring at it before moving on and exploring the rest of the building.

I do wish the library had put it in a more prominent location. It truly is something worth calling people’s attention to.

They had several other exhibits at the library—a children’s book display that was really cool and a couple of photography exhibits that we really enjoyed. We also just meandered about the library, walking into the rooms that actually housed the collections (much to the chagrin of the regular patrons), but that building is too cool to not explore fully.

We were there until closing time, and as we were leaving a chance sighting of the top of the Empire State building inspired us to take a detour to see it up close and in person. We stumbled upon Bryant Park on our way over, which was an excellent discovery. We enjoyed seeing the carousel, watching people skate at the rink, and walking through the holiday kiosks. We bought some macaroons here (they weren’t as good as Paris Baguette). It was nice to stroll through a park filled with other people just out enjoying the holiday season with their family and friends.

We got close enough to the Empire State building to realize it is so tall you really can’t see all of it when you’re directly beneath it. :) The line was around the block and down the street, so we had no interest in going up. Hubby took some pictures and then we headed over to our last stop of the evening: the Brooklyn Bridge. It was dark by this time so we got to see it all lit up. We walked across part of it (Hubby got farther than me—my fear of heights kicked in just before the Hudson) before heading back to the hotel. We had to rest up because tomorrow? Tomorrow was New Year’s Eve. :)

Coming Up: Day 6: What It’s Like To Be In Times Square on New Year’s Eve

Launceston...
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9. Re: New Year's in New York: A Trip Report

Awesome, what a great reporting, thank-you. There is so much to take in I shall have to read it all again.

Hervey Bay...
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10. Re: New Year's in New York: A Trip Report

What a shame about the SOL, but at least you have a good excuse to go back.

I cannot wait to read about your NYE. Don't keep us waiting too long!