Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

DD’s First Bite of the Big Apple – Marigross’ New York March 08 Trip Report

DD’s First Bite of the Big Apple – Marigross’ New York March 08 Trip Report

Old Mar 27th, 2008, 05:18 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,790
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
DD’s First Bite of the Big Apple – Marigross’ New York March 08 Trip Report

BACKGROUND

Since DD was six years old she had been asking to be taken to Italy for her 15th b-day but as the happy date approached our family finances and circumstances were sadly not up to the challenge. A quick re-assessment of the alternatives yielded the �nearly- perfect solution: a five-day mother/daughter trip to New York City!

I had been to NYC several times on business trips but DD had never been there. Needless to say, the dreams of the Tuscan countryside were immediately superseded by metropolitan excitement and her disappointment was not too devastating - naturally after multiple promises of a Roman Holiday next summer had been elicited and duly recorded.

Under normal circumstances I prepare and research for a trip months in advance. For this trip I only had a couple of weeks with very little available free time to setup an itinerary. I printed out hundreds of Trip Reports from Fodors but only managed to read through half of them. I bought guidebooks that mostly went along for the ride. I made several silly mistakes which should have easily been avoided with a bit more thought to the day-by-day schedule.

The dates in which I wanted to travel were not particularly favorable for airfare deals as Easter weekend and the week after is Spring Break in Puerto Rico are the absolute peak travel periods for the island. I finally found decently priced airfare at $256.00 (saving FFs for another, better use) from San Juan to Newark and committed to the trip. The rate was found through Kayak and booked directly with Continental.

Next step was finding adequate lodging! This is where Kayak, Quickbook, SideStep, et al came in. After multiple bookings and cancellations I finally settled � with the help of editors Katie and Doug � on 6 Columbus Circle, Thompson Hotel. The rate booked through Quickbook was $189 for 4 nights and $144 for the fifth.

GETTING THERE

I had purposely selected a 6:00AM flight for two reasons: (1) having an almost full day in NYC and (2) avoiding the sheer madness that engulfs LMM over the Easter weekend. I had kind of neglected to think that this required us to be out of the house by 4:00AM. Anyway, we made it with ample time, the security lines were manageable and the flight departed on time.

We landed in EWR at 10:00 AM. We picked up our luggage which we found to have torn TSA-approved locks. Between the two of us, we had one medium suitcase, a carryon suitcase, a handbag that goes over the carryon and a small backpack. This amount of baggage was within the upper threshold for manageable transfers in the subway. A couple of minutes later we found the AirTrain station, bought tickets ($15ea), boarded, stood all the way to NYPenn Station, bought 1week unlimited MTA subway passes ($30ea), transferred to the #1 Subway, disembarked at Columbus Circle and checked into the hotel by 11:45 AM.

I found this method of transportation into the city efficient, cheap and not very stressful. Would I want to try it more luggage, during rush hour, with small children or with persons of limited mobility? NO!!! But for the two of us it was quite acceptable and we returned to the airport the same way.

Note on First Item Lost: During the first 15 minutes of landing DD lost her cell phone. She took it out of the baggage, turned it on, put in her back pocket and poof! By the time we were in the train station it had vanished. The good news is that I had DD�s undivided attention for 5 days, the bad news is that those phones are not cheap. I count this loss as a gain.

THE HOTEL

When I started my hotel search I was mostly horrified at the prices that I was getting (I know, I know, but its one thing to read about the outrageous prices in Manhattan and another thing to actually book a hotel at that price!). As the days went by I was even more astonished to see the prices going steadily up instead of down. I made three reservations: JW Hotel through Venere, Super 8 through Applecore and 6 through Qickbook. The JW reservation did not go through because of a glitch between my overzealous bank and the hotel so that one was out.

I posted for advice in choosing between the two reservations. Doug Stallings and Katie_H both recommended 6 CC. One of the trip reports I had read with great interest was klam_chowder�s NYC Thanksgiving were she reported on her stay at 6 Columbus Circle (Thompson Hotel). I found her comments to be absolutely accurate.

DD absolutely LOVED the retro-chic lobby. The room was small but comfortable, perfectly fine for one person and certainly suitable for two. The bed was great, the sheets and duvet soft. The minbar stock was excellent. I did not �find� the two drawers underneath the bed (they were on the side close to wall) until the third night so storage was a bit of an issue but since we had not overpacked too seriously, it was still manageable.

The bathroom was really nicely done in dark blue tiles. The floor was nicely heated. The lighting was adequate. Shelf space was OK thanks to a window niche. We had to let the blow drier and flat iron hang down to the floor as there were no hooks for them.

The location of this hotel is absolutely great. I would definitely stay again. DD rated it in the Top 5 highlights-of-the-trip list. So THANK YOU for the recs!

Next: The First Day a.k.a. The Long March and an Unfortunate Dinner Choice
marigross is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2008, 05:32 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 82,488
Received 46 Likes on 17 Posts
Great report so far and amazing timing for me. I was looking at Manhattan hotels last night for a future trip. Can't wait to read the rest!
starrs is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2008, 07:11 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,253
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Looking forward to the next installment of this report . . .
ellenem is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2008, 12:22 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,790
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The First Day:The Long March and an Unfortunate Dinner Choice

After dropping the bags in the room we headed out into the brisk, sunny afternoon and walked up to the Museum of Natural History. After eating two hot dogs from the street carts we entered and the museum purchased two City Passes ($65 adult and $49 for DD) at the information desk.

Note on the City Passes: If you are planning to go to any of the sites included in the package, GET THEM! Not only for the discount on the entrance fees, but their true value is in jumping the ticket lines. This made a significant difference in two museums. This time of the year is not supposed to be high-season but every museum that we went after noon had a loooooong line – some outside in the cold. Can’t imagine what high-season is like and I don’t really want to be there!

We wandered through the exhibits and made our way to the planetarium for the 3:30 showing of Cosmic Collision. Getting there was not really easy as an attendant pointed out that the map we had was not updated and everyone gave us different directions. The usher was a hoot! In her best TSA agent manner (with a heavy Brooklyn accent): ‘PEOPLE, gather your party’ followed by ‘Do NOT step over CHILDREN or SENIORS’. I’m sure that Cosmic Collisions is a great show, the first ten minutes were certainly interesting… but the light was low, the temperature just right, the seat was comfortable, the narrator had a soothing voice AND we had woken up at 3:30 AM. We both fell asleep.

After being rudely awakened by the departing crowds, we wobbled our way up to the dinosaur exhibits. We really should have done this first as we were only halfway through it when they started announcing that the museum was closing in the next half hour. The dinosaurs are #5 on DD’s Top 5 list (#4 was the hotel itself).

Once we had been officially kicked out and had waited a good 15 minutes at the coat-check line we headed out onto Central Park. I was aiming for the transverse street but somehow we wound up doing a long and unintentional loop around The Ramble. Since the leaves were not out yet there was visibility and we managed to find our way out, if it had been summertime we might still be wandering around. We came out in the EXACT same spot where we started in front of the Natural History Museum. We decided to walk parallel to the street.

Around 6:30 PM we wandered into Tavern on the Green. I had never been there and was willing to give it s try. We took a few pictures and went to wait on the bar. This place has been recently described by a fellow Fodorite as a ‘ski chalet on crack’. I found this to be a rather accurate description. I just felt like I has wandered into Alice’s Tea Party and I must say that I got a little claustrophobic (there is a long story involving childhood nightmares and the Cheshire Cat, but I won’t go there) so we turned around, gave the beeper thing back to the host and headed back out in the real world (I later regretted this decision).

So now we keep walking down CPW, and walking past the hotel until we come all the way down to Times Square. I was keeping an eye out for a decent place to have dinner but I couldn’t spot any, I usually have good luck with this so it was a surprise to me how absolutely difficult it was to ‘find’ places to eat in NYC. I understand that this sounds utterly ridiculous but it was certainly my experience. Now I know that it is better to walk along the streets and not the avenues and that I would have had 100% better chance wandering the area north of the hotel or any more residential area for that matter. But I will claim that (1) I was tired and (2) I didn’t have my Fodor’s notes with me.

So DD and I are standing in Times Square on our tired feed -we had walked at least 6 miles over the afternoon, the temperature is dropping 1 degree per minute (it was 39 at that point), DD suddenly looks at me and states in a Supernanny (or Dog Whisperer) tone of voice: ‘OK Mom, that’s enough. Either we take the subway back to the hotel or we find a place to sit down right now’. I think she did quite a good impression of myself talking to her at 5yrs old. I find it always funny to hear myself coming out of her mouth.

Since I was honestly feeling pretty much the same way I started to head towards the first door that I saw. And what was it –to my eternal shame and regret- that we saw? The Olive Garden. What can I say, there were two seats in the bar, the wait was only 20 minutes, there is a #1 Subway entrance nearby that would take us back to the hotel in a couple of minutes. Yes, fellow Fodorites! I must sadly confess that we ate our first NYC meal at the Times Square Olive Garden.

Less than two hours later we were showered (in other words pleasantly simmered) and collapsed in the very nice and soft bed (could have been a nail-studded mattress for all we care at that point!).

Next: From down in the Battery up to the Midtown heights a.k.a. Why did we want to come here?
marigross is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2008, 01:47 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 981
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great report so far - can't wait to hear the rest! Don't beat yourself up over the OG thing, everyone makes mistakes and in the grand scheme of things no harm done!
Margo_Chester is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2008, 01:54 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,871
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
marigross,

you had me just in the title of your trip report! Some of us truly admire inventive titles to trip reports!

Inspiring writing....please, continue and mahalo

aloha
g'lou

gyppielou is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2008, 02:00 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 21,921
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great trip report! I can't wait to hear the rest.
kureiff is online now  
Old Mar 27th, 2008, 02:10 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 2,825
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
marigross, I love hearing your story. I have a dd of 15 yrs. old and we are going in the Fall for her 16th b'day. Too bad about the cell phone, but yes, I can see the silver lining. I can't wait to read on.

I've been watching airfare for awhile and as I have watched, it has gone up.
claire_bluesky is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2008, 02:21 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 2,804
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hey marigross-- I'm glad I saw this! I'm really glad that Columbus 6 worked out for you. I only stayed there one night---and definitely didn't note any drawers under the bed so they must be very sleek or something!

Olive Garden!

I jest...we certainly all know that feeling of being utterly exhausted. I'm looking forward to hearing the culinary highlights of the rest of the trip...

Great report so far...
Katie_H is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 12:02 PM
  #10  
dmlove
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Your report is terrific!

Regarding the Olive Garden, I can't believe you admitted you ate there - just kidding! We've stayed at the Renaissance (Olive Garden on ground floor) and actually once checked the wait, and it was TWO HOURS. I don't hate Olive Garden, but I'd rather eat at Nedick's than wait 2 hours for a table at Olive Garden.
 
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 12:13 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,365
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I was at the Natural History Museum last Friday (which is the day I believe you were there). It was mobbed. I got there early to avoid the mob (moderately successful) then rambled around Central Park.

Great trip report. Please keep it coming.
tchoiniere is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 01:42 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,525
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Excellent trip report, marigross! Keep on posting!

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 02:28 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,790
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks to all!!! I will try to post Day 2 tonight or -if the Chardonay interferes- tomorrow.
marigross is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 02:39 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,871
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We welcome the Chardonney with the tr
gyppielou is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 05:52 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 2,637
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
marigross:

NYC HOTEL: Decided yesterday to make a quick weekend visit in less than a month so I was searching last night for a decent place that wouldn't break the bank. Doesn't matter how many times I do this the price is always a bit of a shock. Ended up booking 70 Park Avenue one of the Kimpton hotels which I found on www.travelzoo.com

I am enjoying your report and glad you got to do this with your daughter - great memories for you both.

Looking forward to more.

Sandy
SandyBrit is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 06:54 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 82,488
Received 46 Likes on 17 Posts
It's wonderful!
But, so must have been the wine
Patiently waiting...
starrs is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 07:19 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,868
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
<sigh> I just knew you were going to say Olive Garden @ Times Square! I won't say how I knew...

But it was an adventure and what the hey, right?

Quality time with DD > Olive Garden in my book.
Deb
DebitNM is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 09:43 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 9,914
Received 19 Likes on 4 Posts
Okay can someone explain what is the matter with Olive Garden, is it a chain, don't have them here in NZ and never saw one when we were in New York nearly a year ago now.

Loving your trip report, brings back lots of memories.
nelsonian is online now  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 10:13 PM
  #19  
dmlove
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
There's nothing really wrong with Olive Garden. Yes, it is a chain, and there are so many better places to eat, especially in cities like NY. But it's reliable, and not terrible, hence the very long lines all the time, usually people who want "safe" not "adventurous", and certainly not "local".
 
Old Mar 30th, 2008, 08:35 AM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,790
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi all, I'm back! Sorry... had a loooooong Friday at work and had not really recovered from the trip.

I have to say that I don't have a major problem with the Olive Garden. We don't even have them in Puerto Rico so in a way it was kind of OK. What I regret is the lost opportunity to go to a really nice and unique place. Or at least typically New York.

So here is the next installment:
marigross is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -