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Trip Report Flying solo during day in NYC

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I was here in NYC for a week of fun while my husband was here on business. We stayed this year at the Jewel Hotel facing Rockefeller Center which is a newer sister hotel to Club Quarters where we have stayed for the last couple of years on our annual visit to the city.

The hotel is in a great location so you can easily walk over to Times Square or Central Park and is near the subways. The hotel has complimentary bottles of cold filtered water dispenser in the halls and a washer and dryer available for guests. Good location near the Today Show so you can catch the summer concert series in Rockefeller Plaza– I saw Mariah Carey perform one day and then saw her husband Nick Cannon on another day filming in Times Square.

I have been to the Big Apple many times so this report doesn’t include so many tourist sites but more of the things I like to do. May be helpful to those traveling on their own.
This is one city that I would feel comfortable traveling by myself.

Metropolitan Museum – On a rainy day, this was a good time to visit and see the fashion designer, Charles David exhibit, at the Institute of Costume Design. This is a two part exhibit which I didn’t realize until I was coming down the elevator ready to leave when I stumbled upon the second exhibit.

There is also a George Washington exhibit at the museum so check out the gigantic painting of him crossing the Delaware.

Kip’s Bay Boys and Girls Home tour of the Villard House on Madison – My third year in attending this event and is always fun thing to do if you enjoy open houses. Always held around late April/May each year. The top interior designers in the city take on a room and put their talents to work to produce one of the city’s most elegant homes. Here’s a link to this year tour photo gallery. Not all the 22 rooms are shown here.

http://www.kipsbaydecoratorshowhouse.org/Default.aspx?PageID=15955398&Page=2&A=PhotoGallery&PID=49508&Items=12

Central Park

When I have time in the city, I like exploring the top of Central Park and visit the Harlem Meer and Conservatory Gardens. You can take the subway up to the upper west side to 103 Broadway and then walk over several blocks to Central Park. At 105th you will find the tall ornate Vanderbilt Gate that opens into the Conservatory Gardens. During the spring season, it’s especially beautiful with the cherry trees and flowers in bloom in April.

On another day, we did our first bird watching tour in Central Park and met with Bob DeCandido and his wife Debbie Allen. The bird tour was $10 each and we met at 9am and it was a three-hour tour. We bought our own binoculars but you can rent from them if you don’t have any. We saw birds that we would have never seen on our own. There were other expert birders and they had no problems sighting the many birds. It was fun even as novice birders and I enjoyed it. The nice perk which I didn’t know until I returned home is that Bob sends you a blog and pictures of the birds they see each week. I get to continue seeing all the birds that migrate through Central Park.

Bryant Park – beautiful park behind the NY Public Library. There are lots of tables and benches for when you want to take a break. The cleanest public restroom is at this park. If you have never been to the NY Public Library it is also worth seeing. I had just missed the Beatle’s exhibit. Check out their exhibits schedule for both the park and the library to see what events are taking place.

Broadway Shows:

MOTOWN- I went to a Wed matinee and this was such a fun show. If you grew up listening to Motown like I did– you will love this show. It’s an interesting story about Berry Gordy and all that he did to help create many Motown stars. I even remembered watching the 25th anniversary of Motown when it aired on TV so the show gives you the background of what went on behind the scenes. The actress who plays Diana Ross was amazing and so were many others in the cast who sang so much like the real stars that I thought at first they were lip-syncing. Some people in the audience (at least around me) were really feeling these songs and it was like going down memory lane. It’s unbelievable how they packed sixty songs but I loved every minute. It was good that I got to the theater half an hour early because the line was 3-4 blocks long for ticket holders.

Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder – This show is nominated for ten Tony awards included best Broadway Musical for this year. It was a fun and interesting plot. Very creative production and we enjoyed it very much. I’m hoping it wins many Tony awards this year.


Smoke Jazz Club – Upper West side. This was my first visit and it won’t be my last. Great place to hear world-class jazz! I met a friend to hear the fabulous Mike LeDonne’s Groover quartet. They have played at the club on Tuesdays for the last thirteen years. They are amazing. The place is small and has about twenty tables so you are up close and personal. I was here at 5:30 when they opened and we had a nice pre-fixed dinner before the music started at 7.

Union Square Market – I always like coming here to pick up fruit and breakfasts treats. Nice walk through the neighborhood.

Columbus Flea Market – held on Sundays. I like coming to browse here but didn’t find my favorite clothes vendor this time. There was one guy selling beautifully made Italian leather belts that were in all colors. If I wore belts, I would have brought one. Most tables have vintage things and few craftspeople.

Freedom Towers

I happened to be in the city when the President was here to open the new 9/11 Museum for family and friends. The museum went public on the day after I left the city but I was able to see the Freedom Towers and walk around the memorial. There was a very long line but it went surprisingly fast. It was a sunny day and the clouds were reflecting off the buildings. It was a beautiful place to play tribute.

Shopping

Elie Tahari Outlet Store

He is one of my favorite designers so I was delighted when I stumbled on this place on the 2nd floor of the 501 Building on 5th Avenue (across from the Public Library). Everything was 70% off and if you don’t mind going through the racks you might find some real treasures. This was a real find since they have a full priced store just a couple blocks away on 5th Avenue. The sales person said they just opened six months ago.

Macys
I can spend a day shopping here. The largest display of shoes ever than any other Macy store is here. The restaurants were packed but you can order something to go and find tables out in Heralds Square.

HBO store (near Bryant Park)
Good place for souvenirs to bring home if you have family and friends who are fans of Game of Thrones, Sex in the City, Sopranos and other HBO shows. I bought a Games of Thrones tee shirt and they put it in a Game of Thrones bag for you. Not sure if they have different bags for different shows but it looks nice when you present it as a gift.

Century 21 – A good friend only lives a few blocks away so it’s easy for me to stop in. The long lines for the dressing rooms are insane so if you have time then it may be worth a visit.

Johanna Vargas Salon
I have heard of her as the facial guru for celebrities and Victoria Secret models and I’ve wanted to try the purified oxygen facial. The salon is on the 12th floor in the 501 building on 5th avenue right across from the NY Public Library. The salon is simple and not fancy but that’s ok with me. The gals were nice and friendly at the front desk. I had an amazing Triple Crown facial by Sarah. My skin was absolutely glowing and I didn’t even bother to put on makeup afterwards. It was expensive but the best facial I have had so far. I took advantage of the special for first time customers so that helped. I like that the products they use and sell are organic. Now I can come here and also go shopping (Elie Tahari outlet) all in the same visit.

Restaurants:

Our favorites:

Le Cirque – Midtown – Near Bloomingdales. This is one of my favorite restaurants. It’s very expensive but nice to treat yourself once in a while to a great dining experience. We dined here on a Monday night and they were very busy. The service was excellent but was a bit slow at the end but the servers are so nice and professional that I didn’t mind. We enjoyed the pre-fixed menu and surprised with the extra special treats such as a glass of Moscato wine and also a tin of caviar (Malossal) that was added to our dining experience.

Tao – Midtown – Excellent Euro Asian food. Right off 5th Ave and Madison.
Good location if you are shopping or sightseeing in the area.

Le Rivage – Theater district – This is a French restaurant on Restaurant Row. They offer a pre-fixed lunch or dinner that is good and reasonably priced. They will get you out in time to see your Broadway show. We have been here many times and the food and service is good every time.

Rue 57-Midtown – French restaurant that also serves sushi. The restaurant is a bit noisy but the food is good and service was attentive.

Pete’s Tavern-Gramercy Park – We love the eggplant parmesan dish that comes with your choice of a pasta dish. This dish is large and inexpensive. Plan on bringing leftovers back to your hotel as I can never finish eating it all. We have sat in the bar before but it’s much more quiet in the dining room in the back. Elvis Costello and Diana Krall were enjoying a meal here the same night we were here. Very exciting.

New Restaurants:

Rothmann’s Steakhouse and Grill- Midtown – This place was a very busy and noisy restaurant. I was glad we were seated in the back since we were dining with friends and it was quieter. We thought the service was wonderful and I enjoyed my salmon but others felt they had better steaks elsewhere.

Nobu- Midtown – I have been wanting to try this place for a while. I decided to treat myself and ordered the chef’s lunch special where the sushi is chosen for you. I ate more raw fish than I normally would have and it was all delicious. The tables are along the windows and the bar is in front of the tables. Fun to watch the lunch crowd head upstairs to the main dining room.

Acqua and Wine Bar(South Seaport) – Great authentic Italian restaurant. They make fresh, daily made mozzarella, fettuccine pasta, desserts and bread. We will return again.

I took the Dial 7 town car service from hotel to Newark’s Airport. The service is on time and always reliable. However, the security line at Newark’s Airport was unbelievable. They had two out of three scanners down and it appeared they have no back up plan. It took a while for an agent to finally come and get people out of the line who had 6:30am flights and move them forward at 6:25am! It took me 70 minutes to get through the security line and I made it to gate before my flight was supposed to depart in ten minutes. Flight was delayed for another 20 minutes as they were waiting for passengers. Some of the TSA employees were on a power trip as they were yelling at us even at the elderly people in wheelchairs while we were patiently waiting in line. It was really shameful and passengers on the plane were still talking about it being their worst airport experience. As one passenger exclaimed “they treated us like prisoners”. Luckily, this happened at the end of my marvelous trip.

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