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Trip Report Quick trip to NYC

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We did a quick weekend (Sat. am to Sun. late aftenoon) trip to NYC with our two sons and their SOs. Here's the gist:

Hotel: We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria. Found a way to get a deal on a room. I went on their website and noted discounts for upgraded **smoking** rooms. None of us smokes. But I went ahead and booked the rooms anyway, warning everyone in advance. My plan was to talk to the desk people when we got there to see if they could switch us to upgraded nonsmoking rooms. I figured something might be available. When I got to the desk to ask, the clerk informed me that they had already switched us to nonsmoking. That was easy.

The rooms and bathrooms were quite large for NYC standards. Everything seemed clean and up-to-date. Staff was friendly and helpful, and location is a good one for access and walking distance to many places of interest. I guess the Waldorf has a reputation for being stuffy, but we didn't find that at all. In fact, I've stayed at several Waldorf properties and have found them all to be very good, including helpful staffs.

We normally train into the city, but with six of us, we decided to drive. We used the valet parking at the Waldorf. It's $50 for one night -- cheaper and easier than six people taking the train. It's fairly painless. The parking area is around the corner (to 51st St., I think) and underground at the hotel. You leave the vehicle there and take the elevator upstairs to the lobby. They ask for 30 minutes' notice when retrieving the car. I estimate it took about 20 minutes on the day we left.

Restaurants:
While walking around at lunchtime, we stopped at Connolly's, an Irish bar I'd been to once just for drinks. You can get pretty good basic food there for a reasonable price. My wife and I shared the Reuben -- good thing, too, as there's no way we would have finished a whole one -- and I had the vegetable soup, which was good. All the sandwiches looked monstrous.

I had been at the bar at Tao once for hors d'oevres, and the place looked interesting. Plus, some in the group wanted Asian food, so we booked it. It tends to get mixed reviews for food and service -- the staff has a reputation for being snooty. Our experience was positive. We were seated immediately for our reservation at 7, Sat. night. (We picked a somewhat early time to avoid some of the late crowd.) We made our reservation through Open Table and asked for a table upstairs with a view of the Buddha, koi pond and general activity downstairs. The restaurant gave us exactly that. Briefly, the service was excellent, when never felt rushed, and the food was good. We ordered a bunch of small plates and a few entrees, and did some sharing. Everyone liked what they had, but everyone pronounced the sea bass dish to be outstanding. The bill for six of us with two bottles of moderately priced win and no dessert (we were full) was about $400. Not bad, I thought, for Midtown. Though I think you could run up the bill if everyone went for the higher priced entrees. When we were leaving, about 9:30, the place was packed, including the bar, which is a popular spot.

I had asked here for recommendations for brunch on Sunday a.m., but no one in our group felt like having a giant breakfast. We did a google search on breakfast diners nearby and came up with the New York Luncheonette. I figured the place must be good because there was a line outside. It was. They seated us pretty quickly. The service was good and the food -- sort of basic waffles, pancakes, french toast, omelets, etc. -- was good also, just what we were looking for. The bill came to about $90 for six. Again, not bad. There was still a line outside when we left mid-morning.

Activities: Other than go to "Kinky Boots" (more on that later), we kind of wandered around Midtown and up near Central Park. Some in the group had targeted a few stores as "musts" -- a candy shop, a french bakery that makes Paris-style macaroons, a couple of small boutique-y clothing stores to browse. In short, nothing special and no remarkable cultural activities. We had thought about visiting the 9/11 memorial but the museum isn't open yet, so we just viewed the site from a distance.

Kinky Boots: It's at the Herschfeld, a reasonable walk from the Waldorf. We went to the Sat. matinee. If you decide to go, don't be too concerned about getting primo seats. The Herschfeld, like a lot of Broadway theaters, isn't very big, so sitting in the lower priced seats in the balcony is just fine. We got our tix last minute and ended up there, but everyone thought the seats were good. The play itself, a multiple award-winner, is a lot of fun, and Billy Pryor, who plays the lead "Lola," is great. If you want to take children, the language in the play is mostly clean. There is the theme of cross-dressing and homosexuality that you may want to consider, but nothing explicit (though you may have to explain to a kid why some men like to dress as women).

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