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Trip Report NYC April Trip Report

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I don't write enough trip reports, but I'm trying to do better. Your reports always are helpful, so here is mine.

Please see the end of this report for links to the places I mention below.

Last month (late April) we had three wonderful nights in New York City. We drove from Western Pennsylvania and it took about 6 hours from home to the HSBC branch in midtown that has a Kees chocolates counter in the lobby. DH parked at the curb and I went inside for 16 pieces, which was too much, but we left some with our daughter who is pregnant. This will probably be my last Kees for awhile, since I must lose a large amount of weight for health reasons. Luckily for us, it was early in the day, and a week day, so the selection was good. We’ve been when there was very little available. All of it was delicious but I think I like the dark chocolate covered cherries the best.

Straight from Kees we drove to our hotel, The Kimberly. I had researched hotels forever, and played with Priceline and Hotwire quite a bit. For a brief moment, one of our favorites, the Kitano Hotel appeared on Hotwire for our dates, but since the Kimberly amounted to a few less dollars, my cheap streak took over. I probably wouldn’t let that happen again.

The Kimberly had promised a studio on a higher floor with no view of the hotel’s power plant in back. What we got was a handicapped studio with no furniture for placing luggage, just over the power plant. The handicapped room had a ridiculous bathroom that was one large open room with a drain in the floor, and a little tiny corner next to the sink had a little tiny shower curtain around it. No shelving in the bathroom, and no way to prevent the entire floor from getting wet.

We begged for another room, but were told we couldn’t have one until the next morning. They threw in breakfast on their very expensive rooftop to make up for it all. They did move us the next morning but here is the kicker: they charged us for the higher priced room for all the nights we were there. I have written to the hotel, sending along all relevant reservations, receipts and proof that we spent one night in the cheaper room. (pictures of us in the room, the shower, the suitcases, the bed after we slept in it). I haven’t heard back yet, but after this week I’m calling my credit card company. If we must pay for two nights in the room they switched us to, so be it. But I refuse to pay the higher rate for the cheaper room we spent the first night in.

If The Kimberly corrects this, I would highly recommend the hotel. Great location, nice big and clean rooms, a tiny business center for email, and Wifi and parking at a rate that was better than many other places we checked.

(Update: The Kimberly wrote today, fixing everything and offering an upgrade for our next stay. We will stay there again, maybe in July or August.)

After finally settling in for the afternoon at the hotel, we took the train a short distance up to The Frick Museum. Born and bred Pittsburghers and fierce labor supporters, we aren’t wild about Henry Clay Frick but generally try to enjoy all that he preserved; we might as well because some of our ancestors died for it.

The Frick was showing 8 incredible full length Renoirs, at least 3 of which I’d never seen before. They were gorgeous and after we spent some time with them, we wandered the rest of the museum.

That evening we had dinner at Maialino. Dinner was great and again, since I’m off pork I’m glad I went and had my fill of piggy. Very delicious piggy I might add. Maialino is huge and bustling, but the wait staff had the complicated dance of serving so many so much down really well. It was almost like watching a performance. We started with a plate of prosciutto di Parma, followed by two orders of fried baby artichokes, and then I had an extra wide pasta with roast pork and a reduced jus, and my husband had pasta with a meaty sugo. Both the pasta dishes were great. We also ate a lot of bread dipped in oil. Dessert was a trio of gelati that we split. I really like salted caramel, but this one was too salty. We demolished the other two flavors. A very good dinner.

After breakfast the next day we met our daughter, her husband and our grandson at the Central Park Zoo. They had driven in to spend the day and have fun with us before we left the city for their house.

Despite dozens of trips to NYC, this was my first time at the Central Park Zoo. Generally, I dislike zoos, and I really hate big ones. This zoo was a great size for me, and for my little grandson. We especially loved the bird house, the penguins, and the polar bears, where we met our cousins from the UES for about an hour. After that, we went to the Children’s Zoo, where we had a ball discovering things and feeding the animals. It was a very nice afternoon.

After the zoo, we went to FAO Schwarz, which was bigger, brighter, louder and more expensive than I thought it would be. The good thing about that foray into retail hell was that my little grandson finally learned to give his item to the clerk and politely wait for it to be scanned. He did a good job.

From there, we went to the UGGs store, and I tried on every shoe but bought nothing. I have an old pair of UGG shoes (not boots) that I love, but I couldn’t find anything that didn’t look like a polar bear paw on my feet. Ah well.

We took a taxi downtown to 2nd Ave and Enrico loved it. The cabbie didn’t love Enrico, but my baby was really having a good time. We met my brother and his dogs for a quick hello in front of Spice and then we went in and had dinner. My pregnant daughter had cravings for this, but we were all a little disappointed. We still had a nice time and Enrico ate everything. At 18 months, spicy calamari is one of his favorites.

After that we strolled to Veniero’s and Enrico had a hard time deciding between cake and ice cream. My daughter had her favorite chocolate cake. I think Veniero’s is just middling, so I kept busy feeding Enrico. The men had cheesecake and no carb cheesecake.

We all got in a taxi to The Kimberly, then the kids went on to the lot where they had parked near the zoo.

The next day we had lunch at The National which was fun and buzzy. I had risotto with eggplant and my husband had a burger and fries. I thought the burger was too wet and sloppy, but the fries and especially the restaurant's ketchup, were wonderful.

Then we wandered around a bit, enjoying the food hall at Grand Central. Grand Central is so gorgeous that we spent a bit of time before meeting my brother there, just looking around.

We met my brother under the clock at the center of the Grand Hall or whatever they call it, and we got a train out to the Bronx Botanical Gardens for the Orchid Show. We loved this. It was a nice day outside, and inside, the Orchid Show was incredible. If this is a yearly event, I highly recommend it.

After coming back to Manhattan, we went to my favorite standby restaurant for dinner, Lavagna. As usual, it was delicious. I had the artichoke and white bean appetizer, followed by my favorite garlicky linguine in a light marinara sauce. This is what I always order when I come here, and even when the meals are a couple of years apart, the quality is always there and the food is great.

We were at the end of the trip. We checked out of The Kimberly the next morning, and had a casual brunch around the corner. There were many spots nearby for casual meals.

We made one last food stop on the way out of town; I ran into Crumbs and got a half dozen yummy chocolate cupcakes to take with us. We then drove up to Greenwood Lake to stay with our kids and baby sit our grandson so that his parents could go out without him for the first time in 6 months.

The rest of the weekend was spent visiting and we had a grand time. Then the long drive home. Next time we’re there, our new granddaughter will be there, too.

Links:

Kees Chocolates
http://keeschocolates.com/

The Kimberly Hotel
http://www.kimberlyhotel.com/

The Frick Collection
http://www.frick.org/

Central Park Zoo and Childrens Zoo
http://www.centralparkzoo.com/

FAO Schwarz
http://www.centralparkzoo.com/

The UGG Store NYC
http://www.mystore411.com/store/map/10325852/UGG-New-York

Spice
http://www.spicethainyc.com/spice/home/index.html

Veniero’s
http://www.venierospastry.com/

The National
http://www.thenationalnyc.com/

Grand Central Market
http://www.grandcentralterminal.com/go/dirlisting.cfm?currcat=2138210767

Bron Botanical Gardens
http://www.nybg.org/

Lavagna
http://lavagnanyc.com/

Crumbs
http://www.crumbs.com/

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