NYC trip 3/31-4/3

Apr 6th, 2007, 04:01 PM
  #1  
maj
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NYC trip 3/31-4/3

I wasn’t going to write a trip report since the information for almost everything we did was obtained from this forum without my having to ask any questions. But then I thought that isn’t really fair since I love to read trip reports. So here goes. Thanks to all the regulars who answer questions about New York and also those who write their trip reports.

This was my second visit to NYC. First trip was last May (if you don’t count a half day visit from New Jersey into the city about 40 years ago). Last year I went with friends and we are planning to go back again for shopping, food tour, nice dinners, etc. This time I took my adult daughter (who had only been to NYC once before about 10 years ago for a day also). We arrived about 10am and used Carmel Car Service from LGA to the Belvedere Hotel. I had used them last year and was again pleased with them. We only had to wait about 5 minutes for them to arrive at the airport after I had called. I did see where the people were lined up for the taxis and would not hesitate to do that the next time if we decide to go that route. (Got more secure using the taxis during this trip) We were also very pleased with the Belvedere Hotel. . The rooms were larger than I had expected, clean, quiet and every staff person we came in contact with was friendly and helpful. Great location for us this time. We checked in and dropped off our luggage.

We strolled up to Hello Deli (Rupert wasn’t there, but it was fun to see it) and by the David Letterman studio (sign on door said he was on vacation that week so we knew not to wait for a phone call – we had signed up for tickets on their web site).We stopped at the Visitor Center to get a Subway Map (a great asset – much easier to read and more detailed than the ones we had in our travel books).Then through Rockefeller Center to the ice skating rink. Walked over to St. Pat’s. Walked back through Times Square to the Producers Club for Kenny Kramer tour. DD is a huge Seinfeld fan and I have watched most of the episodes and like it but am not a fanatic – we both loved the tour. Kenny Kramer is a great entertainer. The first hour and a half he talks and gives background on the show, Larry David, etc. It was interesting and enjoyable. Then we got on a bus and he took us through Hell’s Kitchen, by Columbus Circle, Lincoln Center, Central Park, (passing by places that were on the show) and up the UWS to Tom’s Restaurant where we got out and took a group picture. I was glad that he went that route, because that wasn’t on my list of places we were going to see on other days. On the way back to the studio we went past the original Soup Nazi restaurant.


It was about 3PM now and we were hungry so we had our first hot dog from a street vendor near Times Square. (delicious) We then took a taxi to Washington Square Park. I had been there last year and love that park. It was a really nice day and the park was full of street performers, dogs (love seeing the dogs in New York City) people playing chess, etc. We wandered around Greenwich Village for a while and ended up on Bleecker Street. Found Roccos where we bought cannolis, and a bracelet from a street vendor. We then took a Cab back to the hotel to change for dinner.
Walked up to Roberto Passon (reserved through OpenTable – very easy, will use again) which was excellent and then to see Curtains. We enjoyed this musical very much.

Walking back to the hotel we stopped outside a Sports Bar (we were going to go in to see the last part of the Final Four game, but it was almost over) and ended up talking to a young aspiring actress who had just been in an off off Broadway play. That is my favorite part of New York – the people who live there. We had people (of all walks of life – in all parts of the city) ask if we needed help when they saw us with a map or looking like we were not sure where we were going. I love to see the different neighborhoods, numerous squares of basketball courts, green areas throughout the city, gardens on rooftops, etc. We saw a young girl (about 8) running to catch a school bus at 48th and 8th Avenue – you forget that people live above the restaurants, gift shops, etc. that you are shopping in.


maj is offline  
Apr 6th, 2007, 04:15 PM
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More,please!
lovetolaugh is offline  
Apr 6th, 2007, 04:29 PM
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I'm glad you decided to post. It's always nice to hear when our suggestions work out (or not). But I'd better stop sending people to Roberto Passon or we'll never be able to get in ourselves! Thank goodness for Open Table.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Apr 7th, 2007, 06:30 AM
  #4  
maj
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The next morning (Sunday) we took a cab to the Met. (you can see different areas of the city while riding around in cabs). Saw the Temple of Dendur and took a highlights tour. The guides are volunteers and she said that they have certain parameters, but they get to pick which exhibits they show you, so each tour will probably be different. She took us to 8 different areas, and they were spread throughout the museum so you got to see quite a bit of the museum just walking through it. Since we didn’t have another specific area we wanted to see, it was fun to just wander around and come across interesting collections (like the Arms and Armor). We could have spent all day there, but we had our own highlight tour of the city to continue. We got another hot dog from the cart outside the Met.

We then started walking through Central Park. We walked by the Boathouse, Lake, Bethesda Terrace, Strawberry Fields, Dakota, Tavern on the Green, (where we got a pretzel from a vendor), Ballplayers House, Sheep Meadow, Carousel, Mall and Literary Walk, Balto, by Children’s Zoo, Dairy, Wollman Rink, and the Pond.

We took a quick peek in FAO Schwartz and then walked down Fifth Avenue for a few blocks (also quick peek in Trump Tower since we had seen it on the TV). Walked down Park Avenue a short way (just wanted to see it) and the over to Lexington. We took our first subway to Astor Place (I had read everything I could on this forum, MTA site,etc. on the subway – had even HopStopped some routes to get a feel for it. We had no problem and found it very easy, but wouldn’t have if I hadn’t learned about it ahead of time.) Thanks again for all the information you all have contributed to this forum.

We walked through the East Village, had a chocolate egg cream at Gem Spa, and ended up at Tompkins Square Park where we people watched for a while. Definitely a different group of people there than we saw in Washington Square. We went into Coyote Ugly, had a drink and watched a bar dance. DD had left her sunglasses at home and had been looking for a cheap pair which she found from a street vendor in the East Village. When she asked him how much, he said $8, but when she went to pay him he said to just pay him $7. They were probably worth $2, but we thought it was funny – she didn’t have to bargain him down, he did it himself.

We walked back a different route, enjoying the neighborhood, to the Subway at Astor Square and took it to the Empire State Bldg. We had to wait in line (already had tickets) for about an hour and it was really cold and windy on the top. We got the audio tour which I highly recommend. Then we walked by Macy’s. They were having their Flower Show and the windows were beautiful. We walked up to Times Square and ate at John’s Pizza. (fantastic) Then walked back to hotel,stopping in delis and gift shops along the way (have to bring home black and white cookies and Drakes cakes).

This was the only day we had rain at all. We had a couple of very short showers. We had allweather coats on with hoods, and didn’t even really need our umbrellas.

maj is offline  
Apr 7th, 2007, 07:31 AM
  #5  
maj
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Monday.
Woke up and made my daily run to Starbucks while DD got ready for the day. We took the subway to H&H Bagels on 80th and Broadway. Got back on the subway to go to the Staten Island Ferry. I knew that you had to be in the first 5 cars at some point (and there was a sign in the car stating this), but we had no idea which car we were in. After a few stops, people (obviously tourists) were leaving our car and going to the one ahead. So we decided to do the same. While doing this, I got on a car just as it was closing and my daughter didn’t make it. I told her I would get off at the next stop (another tip I had received from here) which worked out well. She went to the place where the front of the subway was going to stop and could see which car she got on and when the subway stopped at my station she called me and I got on the car with her. As it turns out, they actually held the train (the announcer kept repeating “go past the conductor to the first five cars”, so people had time to get where they needed to be). Tip: cell phones don’t work down there (duh).

We sat in the Terminal and ate our bagels – DD wanted to take some home (and will probably order some online). The terminal is very big and pretty full of people (can’t imagine what it is like during rush hours), but when we got on the ferry it wasn’t crowded at all – holds a lot of people. It was foggy, so didn’t get great pictures of Manhattan or the Statute, (I have pictures already from Harbor Tour last year, so didn’t really care). Now we have the Statute of Liberty in the fog. We enjoyed the experience of taking the Staten Island Ferry since it has been in so many movies and TV shows.

We walked through Battery Park to Wall Street, Trinity Church and walked around Ground Zero. We had our first ever falafel from a cart near Ground Zero. (very good).

We walked up to Canal Street. That is an experience not to be missed. Every couple of feet someone is asking “purse, purse” or “watch, watch”. Filled with tourists. Even saw a crowd of people (mainly Chinese) standing around a man on the sidewalk demonstrating a slicer (infomercial on Canal Street). Continued along Canal to Mott St. and had dim sum at Mandarin Court (first time for dim sum also – enjoyed very much).

We then walked back to Mulberry and through Little Italy and Nolita to Houston.

Walked to Katz Deli where we split a pastrami. Another first. Delicious. We then took a cab to Union Square to see the Greenmarket and just sit and people watch. The sun had come out and it was full.

We hopped on the subway to Grand Central Station to wander around and see the food court (no, we didn’t get anything to eat – just wanted to see it). We took the Shuttle Subway to Times Square. Picked up some Junior’s cheesecake to take home.

We then walked to H&H Bagels on 46th and 12thAve.. We were going to take a cab back because it was a little further than we thought, but it was rush hour and traffic was stopped on the main streets so we walked back through Hells Kitchen/Clinton to the hotel to drop off our food. I ended up enjoying that walk on 48th street. Walked by some more basketball players, a young girl riding her scooter up and down the block, dog walkers, and Clinton Community Garden. Still can’t believe how clean this city is.

We took the subway to Soho. Walked through Soho, Greenwich Village (NYU and saw the Arch at WSP lit up). Caught the subway back to 50th. Topped off the day with drinks and nachos at Kevin St. James while watching the final four game. On the way back to the hotel, watched a tour bus trying to navigate a turn onto 48th st from 8th Ave. Took quite a while with help from people walking by. Another case of people helping others.

Next morning we ate breakfast at Pigalle’s and used Carmel back to LGA. Love New York – next trip will be more shopping, fine restaurants, plays and still need to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, food tour, tenement tour, etc.

maj is offline  
Apr 7th, 2007, 07:47 AM
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I always love that subway where they keep announcing that you need to move to the first so many cars. But there is no earthly way I'm aware of to know which car you're in -- so all you can do is to follow what other people are doing.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Apr 7th, 2007, 10:01 AM
  #7  
maj
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Along with the not knowing which car you are in theme, how do you know which car the conductor is in? One of the things they told you to do in the safety section was to get in the car with the conductor near the middle of the train if it was late at night? Never saw a conductor. The trains we took were pretty full, so maybe he was hidden, but I looked for him and never saw one.

Also, can't seem to find anywhere why you have to get off the Staten Island Ferry and board again to come right back.
maj is offline  
Apr 7th, 2007, 01:16 PM
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NeoPatrick re: "I always love that subway where they keep announcing that you need to move to the first so many cars. But there is no earthly way I'm aware of to know which car you're in"

That's really screwy, I know, but I can't tell you how many times I've been on that train with tourists who got on the train at the same stop with me, at what is obviously the first car of the train (since you can see the train coming in and when it stops in front of you) and then panic and say "how do I know if I'm in one of the first 5 cars of the train?"

Maj,
About having to get off and then on the Staten Island Ferry, I assume it's just standard procedure so that passengers who start in Staten Island can actually get on the ferry and have a chance to get seats. Don't forget it's primrily a commuter ferry, not a tour boat even though so many people use it that way.
Also, though I don't remember there being any turnstile to get on the boat at either end, there may still be a need to count the actual number of passengers on each ride which couldn't be done if people just stayed on.

Also, the conductor in a subway is not going through the cars (and collecting tickets)like they would on a regular train, they are in little booths in the front or back end of the car, usually in the middle car (not that you can easily tell where that car is!) On the other hand there has to be a motorman actually driving the train (who is obviously in the compartment in the front of the very first car)
janie is offline  
Apr 7th, 2007, 01:29 PM
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janie, that IS funny, and I suppose if I got on the first car of the train I'd realize that, but not thinking ahead that this is a train they're going to have to be in the front of, normally most tourists would be standing somewhere in the center of the station, get in the car that stops in front of them, and later not have any clue if it is the third or the seventh or whatever.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Apr 7th, 2007, 02:19 PM
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maj,

I am going to NYC for first time and am reading everything I can. Please tell me how to HopStop. My family is making fun of me, but they will appreciate my 'expertise' in the city when I know how to get around.
uga1015 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2007, 02:27 PM
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maj----I'm not understanding the Staten Island ferry/subway portion of your post, and I really want to understand it, in case I'm traveling with a companion (or group), and we get separated! "I told her I'd get off at the next stop". How and when did you tell her that? before your actual trip? through the window? on your cell? (but you said the phones don't work underground). and also, when she got to YOUR stop, you said she called you.....how did she call you? Did she just yell your name? or use the phone...."that doesn't work" (it doesn't take much to confuse me, but I really want to know!) I also couldn't figure out the "first 5 car" thing, so I got off the train and tried walking towards the "1st 5 cars", but when I tried to get back on, the doors were closing and I couldn't. So I simply waited for the next train, and when it arrived, I made sure I got on one of the 1st 5 cars that arrived at the station. I actually was wondering if it was "legal" to go from one car to the next while the train was in transit.....but I didn't see anyone else doing that so decided against it. But I was traveling alone.....I could see this being quite a problem if you were with other people that are trying to travel together! Thanks for explaining...and thanks also for your great trip report.....I was in NYC from Mar. 27 - 30, and still haven't posted MY report!!!
Colette is offline  
Apr 7th, 2007, 02:35 PM
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Hopstop.com is a website that helps you plan a subway/bus trip.

The URL is http://www.hopstop.com/

Put in a start and a destination and it will help you get there...

gb944 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2007, 03:57 PM
  #13  
maj
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http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...1&tid=34907074

Hopefully this is the correct link to a topic that gives alot of good information about the subway.

I had read on here somewhere about having a plan with your kids (or anyone else for that matter)for what to do if you got separated on the subway. I really hadn't discussed this with her (and obviously should have), but when I got on the train and turned around she was standing outside the door and I mouthed to her "I'll get off at the next stop". She shook her head that she understood. When she got on the next train, she stood waiting for it at the beginning of the platform (where the first part of the train would stop) and she counted the cars as they came in and got on one of the first couple cars. When that train reached the station where I was waiting (also towards the beginning of the platform), she stepped off the train and called me. I wasn't far away and we both got back on her train. If the train had pulled away, we both would have just waited for the next one to come. There were many confused people around us. We knew we were now on one of the first cars, but when they were at the place where they were separating them (I assume) the overhead voice came on a few times repeating "go past the conductor and get on the first 5 cars", and we stayed there for a while, so I guess people had time to get ahead. There were quite a few people leaving the cars and running to the next all the way down the line -- don't know if it is legal. The best advice is not to panic, but it is hard to do when you're in a strange place and not used to using the subway. Hope that helps.

Re. HopStop

On our first trip to NYC last year we figured that we would learn the subway system when we got there. It was a Saturday and we managed to get to 4th st/Washington Square without a problem. Coming back was an entirely different story. We found out that some of the stations are closed for construction on the weekends and we wandered around (with other tourists I might add) for quite a while and finally found a station (Spring St), but when we got down there we only saw Downtown (and we were going up). We were so tired and frustrated by this point and there was no one around to ask that I picked up the emergency phone and asked what to do. The lady was very nice and told us to go through the turnstiles and turn left, walk down a ways and go over the tracks to the other side which was an uptown route. We didn't take any more subways that trip and that is probably why I made sure I knew what I was doing (as much as possible) this time.

HopStop is great, but you need a computer available on your trip unless you know for sure what your route will be.(another reason to get a laptop) I ran off some tentative routes, paying attention to whether it would be on the weekend. It also helped us to decide whether to take the subway or a cab. You can also check what the route is (it gives you each stop etc.) against a subway map before you go to get a feel for how the system works.

Also, the subways are a little different. When we rode on the 6 line, there was a chart in the cars that lit up to show you which station you were at and had all the stations listed. The overhead voice was audible and easy to understand -- telling you what stop you were at. It was much better than the C (which we took last year also). It was hard to hear the announcer and we had to look at the wall when entering the station to know where we were. So, again, my advice is to study your route and know what stop is ahead of the one you want to get off at. It really is easy once you feel more comfortable with it and have a fair understanding of the system, but can be very confusing at first glance.
maj is offline  
Apr 7th, 2007, 04:24 PM
  #14  
maj
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Uga,

My daughter also made fun of my "research" before the trip, but after the first day she was reading the subway map and helping to plan our routes. I'll always remember my husband on one of our first trips saying "let's just wing it" and then after we got there asking me what we were going to do every day.

Also, if you haven't yet, get a good map of the city streets. We used both a small book with fold out pages of each section of Manhattan and a larger flat one with the whole city on it. Easy to carry with you and read.

Have a great trip!
maj is offline  
Apr 7th, 2007, 05:52 PM
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Maj....thanks for taking the time to explain your "great subway caper". !!! I was laughing out loud
when you were describing your husband's "let's just wing it".......yea, I like to wing it too...but then again, when you've only got a few days in your destination, you don't want to miss something "awesome" that was just around the corner from your hotel 'cus you wanted to "wing it". I'm thinking our husbands are probably brothers. Thanks again for your post(s)!!!
Colette is offline  
Apr 7th, 2007, 08:32 PM
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This is my story...while on the subway heading towards the Staten Island Ferry we realized we needed to be on 1 of the first 5 cars. After doing the hop off hop on for a few stops and felling confident we were in the front cars I looked over at the doors between the cars as they opened and a person walked thru. At that time I felt a "Lucy and Ethel" moment. I just cracked-up LOL. MY ? is --> are those doors available for civilians like you and me??? Or What???
ibob is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 10:19 AM
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The conductor is the one who opens and closes the subway doors as well as makes those often unintelligible announcements. He or she is in a little closet/booth in the conrer of the subway car--you won't see the conductor when you are on the train, but you will see him or her at a window when you are on the subway platform.

One way to be near the conductor's car when you get on: The conductor is positioned so that when the train pulls into the station, the booth window is directly opposite some TV monitors directly facing the train. The two monitors show the platform in either direction and the conductor opens and closes the doors based on viewing riders on the monitors. Standing on the platform, you'll hardly notice these monitors unless you're looking for them. You'll find them somewhat in the middle of the platform.
ellenem is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 11:32 AM
  #18  
maj
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Thanks janie and ellenem for answering my questions. And also to NeoPatrick for all your suggestions -- I've already saved some for our next trip (Joe Allens, Sardis for drinks, water taxi from 44th st to Brooklyn Bridge -- just to name a couple).
maj is offline  
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