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Trip Report Back from DC and NYC

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Well, Hubby and I are finally back from our long-awaited vacation to DC and NYC. You know you've thought about it a lot when friends say, "you've been talking about this since forever...you're finally going?" Overall, a really great trip!

Day 1 - Flying to DC

Living in Fresno means there a few direct flights, so our initial leg to Dallas took off around 6:30am, with a 2-hour layover there. Becuase we didn't book directly with the airline, our "assigned" seats from Dallas to DC were not really assigned. We got THE last row! Right by the engine, so lots of noise and no view. At least I remembered the earplugs. A bit more travel-savvy, we had packed some sandwiches to eat during the layover

Thanks to advice on the forums here, we had no problem finding the Metro machines, though the station manager walked us through the process. One transfer later and we were at our hotel in the Dupont Circle area, just over a block from the Metro station and a Starbucks. This was the hotel that AAA.com had the wrong price, leaving off the "2" from the $265--so we got it for $65/night.

Dinner was at Food Corner Kabob, because I had read about it nine and knew Hubby liked the food. Since it was still light, we wandered through the area a while, familiarizing ourselves with the area and seeing how "regular life" was there. Already enjoying, but we have an early tour the next morning.

Day 2 - the National Mall

Starbucks oatmeal for breakfast, and we're off for our first tour--the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. A bit confusing as to exactly where we were supposed to be, but we joined the others also confusedly waiting. Our pre-tour intro talk was interrupted by a woman--who Hubby thought looked suspiciously like the woman in the portrait on the wall. It was the Secretary of the Treasury! She gave the talk, mostly about the new $100 bill coming out, and signed bills we had that already had her printed signature.

We picked up a DVD with the "perfect" pictures of DC, those we could never take. And my phone, which had my info for the trip, was acting up, making it near-useless. Of course.

Next up was walking the Monuments, starting with the Jefferson Memorial. Unfortunately, we missed all of the Japanese cherry blossoms, so the Tidal Basin trees only had some green leaves. We walked our way around the Mall: Lincoln, MLK, FDR, Vietnam, Korea, WW2, and Washington. Hubby had heard about the Old Ebbitt Grill, so we hiked up the hill and had lunch there. My fish and chips was okay, Hubby's burger (I had a taste) was great! We shared a blood orange creme brûlée--very nice.

We decided to get help with my phone, since I would need the camera the next day. We had to go to Pentagon City for the nearest Apple store, but the problem was a funky setting I had inadvertently put in, and easily solved.

After this detour, we returned to the city and went to the Museum of American History--where i found out Hubby wanted to go after consulting people on these fora. We were surprised, we didn't stay long, just enough to walk through and see the exhibits. I know Hubby and I are history buffs, but there wasn't a lot of new info for us. Lots of kids, though. Lots and lots of kids. Since we hadn't spent as much time as we thought we would, we went "next door" to the Museum of Natural History. We got a nice pic of the Hope Diamond, and enjoyed this museum much more. Dinner was Pizza Paradiso, another place I had read about online, and we were in the mood for something light.

Already, our feet are complaining!

Day 3 - Library of Congress and the White House

We were feeling rather comfortable with the Metro by now, and took off for our early tour. We had received worex that our White House tour was rescheduled, bumping out our tour of the Supreme Court. We opted for the bump.

What can I say about the Library of Congress? It is our favorite building in the world. So beautiful, though some might consider it overdone. Had it been decorated by a single person, the decor might've been edited, but since (we were told) artists from the World's Fair were invited to do various parts, I suspect they were trying to outdo each other with beauty. We wandered around the floors after the tour. I think that if we lived in the area, we'd be there on a regular basis.

We wandered through the Capitol Visitor Center, having lunch there, right before it got busy. I was surprised that the burger and sandwich tasted as good as they did, and that the prices were not exorbitant. We made reservations for thr Capital Grill while sitting there. Since we had time, we walked to the White House.

Though our tour was scheduled for 1:15, they let us in an hour early. We got some pics outside, to show that we'd actually been there, inside the fence. This was why I needed my phone--for its camera, since purses were not allowed and we didn't want to go back to the hotel.

Since we had time before dinner, we decided to go to the National Gallery. Well, one building of it at least. The buildings themselves are just gorgeous! Dinner was good, as one would expect of such a place, but, actually, nothing that we wouldn't get at a good local steakhouse in terms of flavor.

Day 4 - Air & Space, Botanic Gardens, and the Capitol

We were wearing out at the early morning and walking--and I had a couple of blisters. So we slept in a little bit and decided to not rush.

We saw every single exhibit at the very popular Air & Space Museum, taking probably more photos than needed. Many of the "space" portions were craft that my father had worked on while employed at Jet Propulsion Lab--so we had seen models and full-size mockups of them before. But it was good to see them. And I have a fondness for Viking--Dad had us at Caltech at 4am when the first pictures from Mars were coming in, so happy memories.

We backtracked a bit to the Mall and Smithsonian Castle. Not much to see there, but the Castle itself is worth it. We basically bid our farewells to the Mall, and made our way to the Botanic Gardens on our way to the Longworth Building, where our Rep's office is and where we were to meet for our tour. The Botanic Garden? Omg! I love orchids! Not enough to actually grow any, but I do love to see them. Ok, I'm lazy. Sue me.

We had wanted to try "Good Time Eatery," a place owned by Spike Mendelsohn, whom we had seen on Top Chef. Too crowded! Next door was Spike's "We, The Pizza." Not tired of pizza, we opted to share a cheese pizza, the true test of crust, sauce, and cheese. Time for our Capitol tour!

Returning to the Longworth Building, we had no problem finding our Rep's office, and we joined the others waiting. Our district is so haphazard that the others lived nowhere near us--at least 40 miles away! After going through the tunnels, we were at the Capitol Visitor Center again, then the Capitol itself. Again, very busy, but our guide (an unpaid intern) was very friendly. I believe the only thing we missed was a demonstration of the whispering spots. It was 4:30pm and the Capitol guards were almost shoving everyone out.

We had hoped to find a laundromat and do a bit of wash, but no luck. Fortunately, we had anticipated and brought some travel detergent, having packed quick-dry clothing. Good enough! Dinner was with a group of people I had never met in person--people from an online board I've "talked with" for years. Very good time. Hubby enjoyed and was impressed by the group.

Day 5 - union Station and lots of other places

We decided to check out Union Station while we weren't burdened with our carry-one's, since we'd be taking the train the next day. Once upon a time, it must've been yet another beautiful building. At least it's currently undergoing restoration. Got advice on what to do, and to use a red cap. We did pick up our tickets from the kiosk--very simple process. The man at the information booth was just that--informative. And friendly.

We stopped at the Postal Museum, walked past the Supreme Court (closed on Saturday) and the Capitol, making our way to the National Archives. We had tries to go there earlier, but it was so crowded, they weren't letting people in. While we still had to wait around a hour or so, we were in the mood to sit around and wait, taking a load off our feet. We got to see what everyone is there to see--the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence, and Constitution. Amazing to think that these were the actual documents that laid out the foundations of our government!

Hubby saw people with shirts about a 10k run and wanted to get one for his brother, who kinda collects them. There were at the National Bulding Museum, a place I had wanted to go but Hubby had veto-ed. Looks like I'd get to see it a bit after all! While it ended up that only those registered for the Rin could have a short, and it was too late to register, we didn't care too much, since we got to see a very impressive building.

Dinner was at Zaytinya, another place I had read about online. Very busy, since there was a Capitals game nearby that night, but we got a table in the bar. Expensive but very tasty. We still had time, so we opted for the National Potrait Gallery. Oh! Had we known, we'd have gone here earlier. So much to see and we barely saw any of it! We stayed until it closed.

This is long, so I'll do NYC in another post. DC is just beautiful. While we missed the cherry blossoms (at least the Japanese ones, we did see others), the weather was fine. A bit of rain, but no problems. I could see us returning.

We we able to see far more than I had expected, but our feet paid for it. Not a problem of shoes (thank god I was wearing good shoes), but a problem with my feet--more my tendons. I tend to get tendinitis when I try to walk fast and with long strides for very long. With all the walking we did, I had no chance.

I would recommend taking quick-dry clothes if your vacation is extended and you're using only a carry-on. Because some tours must be arranged in advance and scheduling is not in your control, I'd advise to have a rough schedule, based on the tours, then fit in other things to do in the area you're in. We did that, but were enjoying enough that we didn't mind walking, for all the tired feet issues.

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    Great trip report, propita! You really made the most of your time in DC. Agree with you about the Kabob House and Zaytinya -- both are delicious though very different ambiance to each.

    Which hotel did you stay in? Lucky break with the pricing error!

    Looking forward to hearing about the NYC portion of your trip.

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    Yikes! I cannot believe all the typos. But that’s what I get for doing this on an iPad with a little screen.

    @Michelle: Yup--Treasurer of the US.
    @obx: We stayed at the Fairfax at Embassy Row. An older-styled hotel, but the interior was quite nice, with all the amenities.

    Continuing on....

    Day 6 - Amtrak to NYC

    No problems checking out. We were kind of sad to realize this was our last Metro trip. We had marveled at how smoothly it had run. Growing up in the LA area, I wondered of the feasibility of such a system there. I know LA now has MetroRail of its own, but the area to be covered is, I believe, so much greater.

    Anyway, we followed the advice and used a redcap. I cannot stress how good an idea this was. The train was to be full at some point, so being escorted to the train first, and having our seats picked out for us--ones with A LOT of extra room in front of us--well, best $10 tip we ever spent!

    We passed through state after state in just a few hours. I realize to many on the East Coast that means nothing, but an equivalent drive in California only gets us from Fresno to Pasadena. So I took pics of the station stops in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, just to be able to say, “I was in that state!” Yeah, I’m like that.

    Penn Station was huge and a bit confusing, though the signage was excellent. It just took a bit to understand what it meant. Once understood, no problems. But we figured we’d just head over to our hotel, right across the street, the Affinia Manhattan.

    We got there before check-in, so they held our bags while we went for a walk. Hubby likes to acclimatize himself. It was colder here, though, than in DC. In Fresno, we can get cold weather that it doesn’t matter what coat you’re wearing, you can still feel the cold in your bones. In DC, not so much, but in NYC? Yeah, same kind of cold. We were to find out that it was a very good thing that I had packed some cheap stretchy gloves and a scarf.

    Back at the hotel a half-hour past check-in, our room still wasn’t ready. I half-jokingly suggested a complimentary upgrade from our just-above-lowest-tier room. As it turned out, the desk clerk couldn’t find another room, so we got a few-steps-up free upgrade--one that included a second bathroom with shower and kitchenette. Checking later, it was about an $80/night upgrade. Pays to be friendly and flexible, I guess. The room was just fine, and we did our bit of laundry, finally, before heading off to dinner.

    Hubby had expressed interest in a NY steakhouse, so we picked Keens, where we shared the King Cut. To be honest, it was a bit smaller than I had thought, but maybe that was better. On the other hand, our friendly neighbor at the next table had some truly awesome-looking short ribs causing his taste buds much pleasure. Being a fan of short ribs, especially soft flavorful ones, I was a little sad to have missed them. We each had a salad first, our usuals--Hubby’s wedge (again, no bacon--is bacon a CA thing?) and my mixed green. I loved the dressing. Imo, vinaigrette can often be too oily or too vinegary. This was a great balance. Just as well we split the entree, because we wanted dessert. I had the “famous” hot fudge sundae. Very good, but then I’ve had sundaes at decades-old hand-made ice cream shops. Hubby had the bananas foster with dark rum. He liked the balance; he could taste the rum but it wasn’t overpowering everything else.

    It was early enough, so we decided to use the first ticket of our CityPass and see the Empire State Building, even though it was darkening. It was dark; it was a bit rainy; it was definitely windy; and it was very, very cold. Naturally, the pictures sucked, but we didn’t care. We could see New York City laid out before us.

    We were surprised that, though NYC is huge, it is actually quite small. Tomorrow was ticket #2--Circle Line Cruise.


    Day 7 - Cruising Manhattan Island

    We found out that that nearby construction crews start fairly promptly at 7am, but didn’t mind since we wanted to get up around then anyway. Still no subway passes, but that didn’t matter since we were out early and wanted to walk a bit. Riding the train had given our feet a much-needed rest.

    So we walked to Circle Line, hoping to stop at Ben’s Deli for breakfast. Uh...I hadn’t checked. They’re not open for breakfast. Plan B. We stopped at a Metro Cafe, where many locals were picking up their breakfasts also. It worked just fine.

    Arriving at Circle Line, we find out that the 10am cruise is not 2 hours, but only 75 minutes! Huh? I checked my phone--they had changed their website and why-would-I-check-that-again? Another waitee was reassured that she was not going crazy; and we backed each other up when our respective husbands were commenting that we hadn’t been checking on things. Looks like we would miss the UN and Brooklyn Bridge. Darn!

    Ok..how many pictures can two people take of the Statue of Liberty? Evidently, waaaay too many! From every angle. We also talked with a very nice pair of younger Canadian women on a break from their husbands for a few days. Honestly, it wasn’t just the tourists who were very friendly. Total strangers were very nice. Anyway...the views of Lower Manhattan were just great, and we saw the World Trade Center from a distance. We had not been planning on going there and had not reserved any tickets, something that really seemed to bother my sister. It was during the wind of the cruise that I surrendered “my” gloves to Hubby. Yay! Cheap stretchy gloves sized for small hands can stretch to fit a man’s hands! That saved his fingers. My scarf was doing triple-duty: keeping my hair from flying, keeping my ears warm, and keeping my throat warm. And Hubby clearly said “no” when I had asked if he wanted me to pack his gloves and scarf. HAH!

    After the cruise, we did some more walking. To Times Square, again with obligatory pics, then the very beautiful NY Public Library. Okay, if the Library of Congress is our favorite building in the world, this is our second favorite. We like beautiful buildings, beautiful iron work, beautiful woodwork, and this building had it all. I tried to get “artsy” with my pictures. Let’s just say being a professional photographer is not in my future, and let it go at that.

    Next up was Grand Central Terminal, another unique building. A nice young woman helped us buy subway passes and we decided to try these out right away on a very jaunt--to the 2d Avenue Deli. Hubby has a thing for delis, as you might already see. I swear, this was THE best pastrami sandwich! Butter soft but still something to chew; not too fat or too lean; peppery but not too peppery. Hubby had corned beef, something I’ll eat, but not order for myself.

    Back to the subway to hone our skills, and off to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Hubby took tons of pics for his very religious aunt. I just love stained glass. After that was Top of the Rock, with our third CityPass ticket. A clear, sunny, perfect...ly cold windy day. Gloves and scarf time again, but worth it! Yes, the view of Upper and Lower Manhattan are exactly as they always look in pictures from TofR. Again, far too many pics--most are going to be “hidden” in iPhoto.

    Stopped at the Starbucks at Rock Center, where Hubby bought “us” a treat to share--then promptly fell asleep sitting there, leaving me to have it all. Strangely, he was surprised at that upon waking up. Not sure why.


    Day 8 - Museum Day

    Having two showers sure made getting moving in the morning easier. We took the subway to the west side of Central Park and walked to the East Side. Since things had been going well, we waited for the Museum of Natural History to open, not intending to stay long and using CityPass ticket #4. Okay, so we like dinosaur bones and stayed longer than expected. We didn't realize that the Jellyfish Exhibit was an extra charge--Hubby didn’t want to see them all that much, so we made our way out.

    Central Park is very nice, very big, and quite hilly. We had heard that “Manhattan” meant “Island of Hills.” Not sure if that’s true, but I’d believe it after our short trek across the Park. We pretty much went straight across, though we did detour to Belvedere Castle. Amazing miniature castle, like Disneyland done small. Another “if I lived in NYC, I’d be spending a lot of time there” place.

    Finally finished our walk and used CityPass Ticket #5 for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Hungry by now, we grabbed something to eat and were on our way exploring. Yeah, we needed the map--and referred to it quite often, though we mostly kept walking. While we like art, I guess, neither of us is knowledgeable on the subject. So our appreciation is more of the “I like what I see” type of thing. I did like the Egyptian Exhibit, and Hubby has a thing for Grecian nudes (female ones), but nothing I should worry about. We had to see the Duncan Phyfe and Japanese portion of the Asian Art section. We were walking through the rooms when I turned my head and called out to Hubby--there was one of the paintings he had really wanted to see, “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” Why it mattered so much to him, I don’t know. But it did and he got to see it in person. So, acknowledging that we would not see everything in the museum, we added it to our list of “come back and spend more time on another trip.”

    We strolled down the Avenue, stopping at Temple Emanu-El (more stained glass for me) and the Frick Collection. Shorter than we had thought. They had free audio tour--a mistake on our parts to not use it. I’d advise anyone spending the $18 admission to use the audio tour. Continuing down the Avenue, we made a quick stop at FAO Schwartz, just to see it and because Hubby loves the movie “Big.”

    After that, we were getting hungry and Hubby wanted yet more deli! So off to try Katz’s Delicatessen. I have to say, their pastrami just did not measure up to 2d Avenue’s. Not at all. And the pickles? Again, not as good. Maybe it’s a tastebud thing.

    Wanting to burn off that food, we made our was over to the 9/11 Memorial Visitor Center. Yes, I know, we weren’t traveling in a logical manner. So? The island simply isn’t all that big to worry about backtracking, tired feet or not. The Visitor Center was quite moving, with its displays, and Hubby had to hold me as I just burst into silent tears. That night, we determined that we could get tickets for the next day after all to the 9/11 Memorial.


    Day 9 - Our Last Day

    We had reserved tickets for 11:30 am at the 9/11 Memorial. For those who haven’t been there, it’s a lot of waiting. Wait for the tickets, walk 5 blocks and wait in line, then wait in another line, then go through security a few times and wait in another line. I swear, I thought I was going to start moo-ing, I felt like we were being herded around.

    The bad part--the fact that there’s a Memorial at all. Everyone there taking pictures of being there, but unlike every other place we had been over the past week, people were NOT smiling as they posed. Very sad. But for some reason, not as upsetting as the Visitor Center to me. Maybe it’s because there was no museum, nothing to personalize things, except of course for all the names. Yet that wasn’t registering; perhaps a defense mechanism or just fatigue from having been herded for the past hour. I don’t know. I’ve decided not to dwell on why I didn’t cry there when I had cried the day before.

    So we moved on.

    Hubby had seen a place called “Minetta’s Tavern” on Food Network, so of course we had to try it. We shared the French Dip sandwich and the Minetta Burger. What’shisname Van Zandt from Springsteen’s band was there. We didn’t bother him and didn’t even notice when he left. When asked if I had liked the sandwich, I told the waitress (and the manager she then called over) that I had had French Dip at Phillipe’s in LA (the “home” of the French Dip) and had wondered what the big deal was. Now I knew. This sandwich was butter soft as promised. The dip was wonderful, not too salty as they often are. Hubby basically drank what was left, as broth. We walked a bit, passing by City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge--too far and too under construction for us to walk with our tired feet by then. Time to leave Lower Manhattan. I swear, to have so much so close together! In LA, you’d be driving all over the place but mostly stuck in traffic. Here we could criss-cross without really spending much time doing so.

    Back uptown, to the Museum of Modern Art, using our last CityPass ticket (yeah, they were worth it for us). Our primary purpose at MoMA? Hubby HAD to see Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” a painting that I’ve also always liked. And I love Monet. I just love his water lilies. Don’t get tired of them. Ever. Ever. And we confirmed that, some “modern art” we just don’t get. Nor do we care that we don’t get it. If an artist says his art means whatever the viewer wants, it sounds like he had no idea in mind when creating it. We’re not being forced to look at it, so I can’t complain much.

    And back to our hotel for our last night. We had bought some bagels for breakfast. I don’t know--some people tout New York bagels as something unique, but I didn’t taste much differences from some bagels I’ve had in CA. And we tried some from a few places--Russ & Daughters (when at Katz’s) and some other place I can’t even remember.

    I will say that the water tasted good. Sometimes local water doesn’t taste “right.” You know what I mean.


    Day 10 - Leaving New York

    Checkout time was 10am; flight at 3:50pm. So we’re getting up early because I’m paranoid about security waits at JFK. And we had been seeing quite a number of National Guard as security. We followed advice from these fora and got tickets on the LIRR to Jamaica Station, then the AirTrain to JFK. No problem. Getting to Terminal 2 was a bit of a walk--why did we have to go upstairs at one point, only to have to go downstairs at another? Strange. Taking Delta on the way home, so proceeded to check-in. NO ONE in line. Proceed to security. NO ONE in line. Seriously. We just walked right up, no waiting.

    We found our gate and waited. And waited. And bought some sandwiches for the flight. And waited. Okay, so maybe I was too cautious. But as we waited, we noticed that there were a lot more people and they were commenting on how long the check-in and security lines were. Personally, I’d rather sit on my butt for a while than stand in line.

    We had taken American Airlines from Fresno, and yes, economy sucks. Especially having been in the back row. But taking Delta back? Even tighter seats! And the flight was late and we had only a 45 minute layover in Salt Lake City. So I was nervous until I told myself there was nothing I could do and it might not be a problem anyway. This was a looooog 5 hour flight in such a tight space. And there was turbulence.

    Now, I’m not “afraid” of flying (though there really is no reason for a plane to actually remain IN the air), but I was blessed with an unusually sensitive equilibrium. No nausea, more migraine-y; and adrenalin rushes. With accompanying heat flush. Boy! It gets hot! By the time we landed at SLC (early, by the way), I was burning off that adrenalin by walking from one gate, halfway across the entire damn airport, to the departing gate. And it was cold, which really helped dispel my remaining overheating.

    The final leg was on SkyWest, on a little 2-seats on either side of the aisle plane. Quaint. Still, the crew was friendly and put all carry-ons in the hold. I gotta tell you, loading the plane was much simpler and faster with people carrying-on only what they used to carry-on, before the airlines started charging for everything.

    Nice flight, safe landing, and sleeping in my own bed. Great vacation, but nice to be home.

    The next day was sorting mail, doing laundry, paying waiting bills, going shopping, etc. Back to the real world. What was funny was, the next morning, there must’ve been a police chase or something--because I heard multiple sirens--and I thought I was in New York. It took me a couple of seconds to realize that I wasn’t. Same thing went through Hubby’s mind. Funny.

    So, thanks to everyone who provided such good advice. I hope I haven’t bored anyone with these rather long posts. I’ve learned a lot about traveling. With each trip, I expect I’ll learn more.

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    Thank you for your informative trip report. My husband and I are going to Washington and New York in October for our first trip to the US. So, reading of your travels has been far from boring for me. I cant wait to be walking around the streets of Manhattan. I am not sure I will get my husband into art museums but I will take him to Yankee stadium for a tour as a trade off. The other alternative is to threaten him to accompany me to Macys, Saks etc and shop for hours. Are there any nice sports bars I can drop him off at while I shop and collect him a few hours later? Better still, any I can drop him off at and leave him there.....indefinately? I am surprising him with the trip for our 30th anniversary so I suppose I better make sure he gets back to Australia!
    Once again, I really enjoyed reading your posts. It has given me good information.
    Cheers

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    Great report! I loved the way you highlighted what seemed exotic to you as a Californian. I am driving to Virginia tomorrow and will pass through eight states in one day and could add PA very easily for state 9. Seems normal.

    The two strangest things in CA for this easterner/southerner: First, bad areas in LA with single family homes and palm trees. Everyone in the northeast "knows" that slums are caused by too much crowding and too little light and air. The other is traffic lights on freeway on ramps, which may be something I saw elsewhere in the southwest. In Boston, you can mostly roll right down the onramps -- the traffic jam starts on the expressway!

    When was your father at JPL?

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    What great reports. I'm glad you loved DC, I do too. And though I've lived outside DC in Va for decades, I'm from Texas and will never get blase about going to a different state to go to dinner. And I never take the beauty of DC or all of the things to do here for granted.

    You chose some good restaurants and really lucked out on a hotel ($65 in Dupont Circle!!! or ANYWHERE!). Hope you bought a lottery ticket while you were here. Sounds like you're pretty lucky...

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    @octoberfun: We had wanted to go to Yankee Stadium, or a Broadway show, but our time was limited. I’m not sure of any sports bars around Macy’s, but there’s lots of places to just sit and eat (though most don’t have tv’s). There’s even a Starbucks in the Macy’s. One thing we noticed about it--it was VERY busy and VERY crowded. To the point of appearing disorganized. Maybe it was that areas were blocked off for redecorating. Maybe the aisles just are smaller, and we’re used to CA earthquake codes on minimum aisle width. I don’t know, but the streets were less crowded.

    @Ackislander: Though you may already know this, the traffic lights on freeway onramps are there to meter the incoming traffic in high-traffic hours. Yeah, that’s most of the time in LA. But there’s usually some road to come up to speed. The point is to avoid causing the jam on the freeway itself by regulating the number of incoming cars. Makes sense. Can be a pain when the lights are on and traffic is light.

    My Dad was at JPL from the early 60s to the early 80s. All the great spacecraft years. He worked on thruster rockets, so I guess he was a real “rocket scientist.” And, yeah, he had a terrible memory. Which got passed to me.

    @conbrio: Yup, we bought a mega ticket--for the BIG one! Nope, I’m not a multi-millionaire. Wish.

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    Propita we have never been to a Starbucks. They have only been introduced over here in the last few years and only in the cities. Could someone tell me what type of food one gets in starbucks or is it primarily coffee and cakes/snacks (hubby only drinks tea). We will bypass anything that looks too crowded simply because if am sitting down for a coffee I want to relax and enjoy it before I head off to the next site on the list.

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    Starbucks? They have a little bit of food. Aside from pound cake and coffee cake and scones (American ones, usually a little sweet or with fruit) and that stuff.

    They have oatmeal, usually less than $3 for an amount that will qualify as a quick breakfast. Comes with (or optional) brown sugar, nuts, or dried fruit.

    Some by us have some, well I would call them breakfast sandwiches. An English muffin (that’s what they’re called in the US, but I think the British might consider them scones) with cheese, veggie, and/or meatless-meat. Again, a quick breakfast for those who want SOMETHING but not a lot.

    Some also have pre-packaged sandwiches and salads. They’re okay in a pinch, like if you were going to be traveling during the day, were making just this one stop for coffee/breakfast, and wanted to take something with for later because nothing would be available where you were going or you’d have no time to stop. I saw a guy do just that. Coffee & snack for breakfast, sandwich and juice for lunch--he was set for the day.

    I was amazed how many Starbucks receipts we had accumulated on this trip! And I don’t drink coffee!!

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    Thank you kayd and propita. I think we may be visiting there often just to sit, have a hot drink and relax (and use the free wi-fi to send hello emails to the family). Not sure we will use them for breakfast as our hotel has a tiny kitchenette so we will prob have some eggs and toast before we head out each day in New York. The other cities we are visiting we will be searching out our own breakfasts but I know that if all else fails I can get oatmeal (i assume its the same as our rolled oats in Australia or at least similar)
    Sorry to interrupt the flow of your thread with my question too.
    Thanks

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    Sounds like you had a great trip! We did too when we did NYC/DC back in February.

    Just a couple of comments: I am amazed that you found Zaytinya's expensive. We thought it was great value...but then again we were coming from Paris, where you will never find restaurant deals as good as they have at Zaytinya's...maybe in Fresno it's different (I have been to Fresno but not since the late 1990s!).

    And I hope you didn't ONLY look at Starry Night...the thing that amazed me when we went to this museum was the number of people looking only at Starry Night and walking straight past Van Gogh's equally lovely other paintings right next to it :p

    I am already jealous reading your trip report and cannot been it's already been 2 months since my trip. Will have to start planning another!!

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    Well, Zaytinya was more than, say, a good-tasting hole-in-the-wall Mediterranean place. The flavors were great!

    Oh, we looked at most of MoMA. We're not the types to stand and stare at a piece for minutes on end. But we wandered through. I love Monet. The Video Game Exhibit was interesting. And the overall museum layout was wonderful.

    I would say that we could've slowed down a bit, miss a bit doing so. But it just gives us a reason to return.

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