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NYC trip report continued - days 2 through 7 (warning: long and detailed)

NYC trip report continued - days 2 through 7 (warning: long and detailed)

Old Oct 14th, 2009, 10:06 PM
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NYC trip report continued - days 2 through 7 (warning: long and detailed)

Day 2: STATUE OF LIBERTY; ELLIS ISLAND; BROOKLYN; SOUTH ST SEAPORT; BECCO; TIMES SQ.

We woke up extra early and took PATH to World Trade Center. Our plan was to walk to Jamba Juice and grab some oatmeal. We didn’t look at our map so we ended up lost on Broadway instead of West Broadway. We found Café Bravo along Rector and got some muffins, OJ, bananas and then took the subway from Rector to South Ferry.

We walked to Castle Clinton, got our tickets and waited to board the first ferry to Liberty Island. We got our wristbands for the crown access, then rented a locker. We got a briefing from one of the park rangers and made our way up the spiral staircase to the crown. We had to ‘pull over’ a few times to catch our breath but we were numbers 7 and 8 that morning to make it up to the crown. We took pictures, talked to the rangers, went down to the exhibit and followed along with our audio tour.

When we got back to our locker, we needed to add another dollar as we passed the 2-hour mark but as Murphy’s Law would have it, we left our wallets inside the locker. We talked to one of the staff and asked to borrow a dollar and promptly paid him back once we retrieved our belongings. We returned the audio tour headsets on the way to catch the ferry to Ellis Island. We knew we would have a late lunch at Grimaldi’s this afternoon so we packed some trail mix and noshed on that to hold us over.

At Ellis Island, we picked up headsets and toured all the floors until 2 pm. We were in line to see Isle of Hope but when they line started moving, we realized we needed tickets to get in so we ducked out and took the ferry back to Manhattan. From Battery Park, we did a quick look at Castle Clinton and then took the subway to Brooklyn. It was almost 4 PM when we got to Grimaldi’s and got in a fairly short line. We got a table within 15 mins. and we scarfed down a small half sausage, half cheese pie. As we were eating, we were watching the guy that was manning the line. At one point, he told the people next in line that he couldn’t seat them until there were more people in line. I’m guessing it’s to keep up their reputation. After Grimaldi’s, we went over to Jacques Torres chocolates where we shared a big chocolate chip cookie and hot chocolate.

We waddled up the path to the Brooklyn Bridge and meandered slowly taking in the views of Manhattan. We also witnessed two accidents-one involving a pedestrian and a bicyclist (who was in the wrong lane) and the other between 2 bicyclists where one stopped suddenly and got hit. We walked along Park Row to reach South Street Seaport. We went into Pier 17 where I took a quick nap while hubby people-watched.

We took the subway from Fulton St. to Times Sq and walked to Becco. We both ordered the pasta symphony which consisted of spaghetti, penne, and mushroom ravioli. We planned to get cheesecake from Juniors but ended up just hanging out in Times Sq. and taking pictures. We went into Macy’s at 9 pm and had 30 minutes to shop for shoes. I was able to pick up a pair and hubby bought himself a pair of Skecher Shape-Ups which he loved and wore the rest of the trip. From there, we took the PATH which was just a block away and in Jersey City, we went to Shop Rite to buy water, fruit and Dunkin Donuts. We had a late night swim before lights out. Oh also, I got jealous of hubby’s shape up shoes so I told him we would shift our plans for the following day so I can buy a pair as well.

Day 3: Herald Square; Lower East Side; Chelsea/High Line; John’s Pizzeria; Shrek the Musical

We slept in this day and got ready. We ate Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and then went to Newport Mall which was adjacent to the Westin. I looked for shape ups at Macys but they didn’t have them so we headed to the Macy’s at Herald Square, with me wearing flip flops as I was determined to find and buy the shape ups. I lucked out in picking up a pair at the Skechers store across from Macys. Whilst shopping, Hubby called someone at the Tenement Museum and had our 1 pm tour postponed to 3 pm.

Wearing my brand new shape ups, we made our way to Delancey Street. We were very excited to finally make it to Katz and we’ve been drooling over their pastrami whenever they showed it on different TV shows. We picked up the tickets and waited in line. The security guard directed all of us in line that there were more lines and to move over. I told hubby that I learned we should tip the sandwich maker so when it was our turn, I put $2 in the tip cup. The guy gave us samples of the juicy, yummy pastrami and proceeded to pile on more in our sandwiches. Hubby went in a different line for the drinks and he picked up Dr. Brown’s cherry sodas instead of cream sodas. As we enjoyed the juicy pastrami sandwiches, we were eyeing the dessert counter and really tempted to get a babka.

For dessert, we got tres leche, blackout, and coconut creme donuts from the Doughnut Plant and washed them down with an iced chai. We also picked up a Kossar’s bialy on the way to the Tenement Museum. We did the “Getting By” tour which was eye-opening to say the least. After, our minds wanted gelato from Il Laboratorio which was just next door but our stomachs said nope, no way, no how.

We also wanted to go to Guss’ Pickles but it was closed. I later found out from my co-worker that it was Sukkot holiday. Since I watch Real Housewives of New York, I thought about taking a quick detour to see if Jill and Bobby were at Zarin Fabrics but I decided against it because hubby can’t stand that show.

We took the subway to W 4th and transferred to get to 8th Ave-14th St. station. From the street level, we got turned around and walked away from Chelsea Market and had to backtrack. From Chelsea Market, we took the elevator up to High Line park which we loved. We people watched and took pictures. We walked along the street since the pedestrian lane was torn up and walked around Meatpacking District. I took a quick picture of Diane von Furstenburg’s store to show my other co-worker who also watches The Hills/The City with Whitney Port. Side note, hubby also hates these shows.

We then took the subway to 42nd St-Port Authority and walked over to John’s Pizzeria. We ordered a whole wheat margherita which we didn’t enjoy. I warned hubby that we were there more for the ambience and the fact that it used to be a church but that the pizza was so-so. It was here that I had a ‘senior moment’ and thought that Shrek the Musical was at 7:30 p.m. Luckily, hubby pulled up our e-mail confirmation and saw that the show was actually at 7 p.m. We told our server and rushed through the meal. We dashed over to Broadway Theatre and made it with 5 minutes to spare. Before that, we went by one theater where lots of people were milling around and we could hear them saying that Jude Law was supposed to make an appearance.

As we waited to enter, I spotted Rick Fox and his date, Eliza Dushku. We had seats on Row D left of the stage while Rick Fox and company were one row behind ours but middle orchestra. We knew Eliza was an actress but weren’t sure which movies/TV shows she’s been in so during intermission, we googled her and Rick Fox as well.

After the show, we walked to Ed Sullivan theater and took pictures. Since we skipped Junior’s the night before, we decided to make up for it. We had to google the address for Junior’s cheesecake and headed there. We bought a Devil’s food cheesecake to go and headed back to the Westin.

Day 4: Rockefeller Center; Library; Grand Central Terminal; Fifth Avenue; Central Park

We slept in and in doing so, skipped going to the UN. We had leftover cheesecake for breakfast in the room. Our first stop was Bryant Park then the library. We took the free guided tour where the guide talked a lot about the architecture and pointed out the many details. Next, we headed to Grand Central Terminal. We started the guided tour but ended up touring on our own. We went down the dining concourse to look for Little Pie Co. but the place eluded us. We went to Modell’s across the street so hubby can pick up another pair of swim goggles. From Grand Central, we took the shuttle to Times Sq-42nd street station and took the 1 to Columbus Circle.

Today was our lunch at Jean Georges. We told the hostess that we were early but we got seated immediately. They gave us one of the booths along the wall and every time we had to get up, they moved the table. We ordered the 2 course prix fixe lunch. We started off with the amuse bouche-corn and cheddar ball and watermelon gazpacho. For our entrees, we had the skate wing, beef tenderloin, parmesan risotto, and snapper. For dessert, chocolate and strawberry themed desserts, complimentary marshmallows, macaroons and chocolates. Overall, a very fine meal that lived up to the hype. Towards the end of our meal, Jean Georges himself went over to the center table in front of ours and talked to some VIP diners.

After lunch, we walked to the Plaza hotel, looked in the lobby and then headed for Central Park. We walked by Wollman Rink (which was being prepped) on the way to the Dairy. Next, we headed down the steps to Bethesda Terrace. Hubby thought it was funny the way I disappeared because I ducked into the women’s bathroom halfway down the steps. Before we reached the fountain, we watched the ‘performer’ dressed like a Mayan chanting in a high-pitched voice and dancing around. We took pictures around the fountain and we dared each other to break into song and do the bit from the movie Enchanted. Next, we went down to the Bow Bridge and took pictures. Finally, we went to Strawberry Fields, saw the Imagine Mosaic and the Dakota apartments.

We timed it so that we would be at the Top of the Rock around sunset so that was our next stop. We stayed a good hour just taking in the views from the 3 different levels. There was also a harpist performing that night inside one of the viewing decks so we stopped and listened awhile.

We went down to the concourse level of Rockefeller center and grabbed a donut from Dunkin on the way to the subway. We took the train to Broadway-Lafayette station. Once again, at street level, both our inner compasses were just not functioning and we got turned around and got lost in Noho. Finally, we found our way to Balthazar. Thankfully, we got seated at an end table because we were all squished next to each other along the banquette. I ordered the salade nicoise and hubby ordered the burger with pommes frites. Balthazar’s salade nicoise ranks up there in my book. For dessert, we got the profiteroles. After dinner, with our inner compasses completely useless, we got lost again in Chinatown.
We should have been clued in with the Chinese businesses but we didn’t pay attention until after we realized we were turned around the wrong way. We headed back to the hotel and did our night swim before bed.

Day 5: Tribeca; Soho; Wall Street; Teddy Roosevelt birthplace; Washington Square

We slept in, got ready and took the Path to World Trade Center (ride was under 10 minutes). Our first stop this day was Bouley bakery in Tribeca where we bought some yummy pastries. I especially loved the coconut banana danish. We toured Tribeca using the Big Apple Greeter tour map/guide. We saw Staple Street with the pedestrian bridge, JFK Jr.’s former residence, etc. Next, we went to Soho and again followed the tour map/guide from Big Apple Greeter. We saw the Queen of Greene Street but it was hidden behind scaffolding. Same thing with the Haughwout building.

We took the subway to Bowling Green and joined the free guided tour of downtown. We started at the Custom house, saw Fraunces Tavern, Delmonico’s, Wall Street, NYSE, Federal Hall, and ended at Trinity Church. Our guide was really good and she told as at the end that she does Onion walking tours. We learned that Trinity church gets around $80 million in rents alone.

We subway’d over to Gotham Bar and Grill for their anniversary lunch offering. We got watermelon and tomato salad, squash soup, steak and potatoes, cod and chocolate cake.

After lunch, we walked to Teddy Roosevelt’s birthplace on E. 20th St. I was able to nap as we waited for the last tour of the day at 4 p.m. We ended up being the only 2 on the tour but the nice guide still gave a great tour and was very informative. At the end, he offered to show us the shirt with the bullet hole on display and then showed us the bloody shirt in one of the books. Next, we walked to Washington Square Park.

For dinner, we ate at Ippudo. We loved the pork buns and akamaru ramen soup but we had an annoying couple sort of ruin our experience. This couple was loud already as we were waiting for our table by the bar area. By the way, they told us the wait was 45 minutes but ended up being only 15 minutes. I guess I jinxed us when I asked hubby, what are the odds the annoyingly loud couple would sit across from us and sure enough, they did. Argh! There was a single guy sitting next to them who also found them obnoxious because he ate really, really fast and bolted out of there.

After, we grabbed pastries at Chickalicious dessert club (red velvet and smores cupcakes, chocolate eclair). As it was still early, hubby wanted to go back to Wall Street and walk around at a more leisurely pace (as opposed to earlier in the day when we were with the guided tour) so we did just that. We started at the charging bull where hubby took one of my favorite pictures of the trip which is me holding the bronze ‘rocky mountain oysters’. We even got to go inside Century 21 as it was on the way to World Trade Center PATH. We walked over to the pedestrian bridge and looked over the construction site and then went back to the hotel, swam, off to bed.

Day 6: Central Park; Fifth Avenue; Met

We slept in and got to a late breakfast at Sarabeth’s CPS. Hubby got the lemon ricotta pancakes and I got the porridge. This was the only day we had on and off showers and luckily we had our umbrella. After we ate, we strolled around Fifth Avenue, went inside two churches--St. Thomas and St. Patrick’s. We walked around Rockefeller Center and ran across Magnolia bakery so we picked up a slice of coconut cake to go. We wanted to see the Waldorf Astoria so we went there next. Then, we took the subway to Central Park and toured Belvedere Castle.

Lunch today was at Café Boulud. We didn’t know where the entrance was because the hotel was still under construction so we called the restaurant. They said look for the guy posted at the door and go through there. We got a great table and ordered the 2 course prix fixe menu. Later on, I noticed a guy come in wearing a chocolate brown leather jacket. It turned out to be Daniel Boulud himself. I pointed this out to hubby and told him the reason I know who he is and what he looks like is because when you pull out Boulud’s website, his picture is the first thing that pops up. Later, we overheard the servers in a panic of sorts and one of them said that the fish served to Boulud was ‘cold’ so someone was in trouble.

We ordered skate again and pork tenderloin and for dessert, figs and chaverin. We were given complimentary soup and madeleine cookies. Throughout the meal, I was watching a table of ‘ladies who lunch’ in their dress suits, costume jewelry and botoxed faces–reminded me of Ivana Trump clones. After Boulud, we walked to the Met and sat at the steps to the entrance. We ate our Magnolia Bakery coconut cake which was delish-loved the marshmallow creme frosting.

We entered the Met around 3ish and paid the recommended admission price. We also got the audio tours. We started with Temple of Dendur and proceeded to the American Wing, Arms and Armor, etc. We joined the Highlights Tours at 6:30 p.m. (highly recommended) and finished off with modern art. After 5 hours, we barely scratched the surface. At this point, we got our appetites back so we took a cab from the Met to Shack Shack UWS. We ordered shack burgers, fries and the black and white shakes since we loved them so much from the Citifield location. We were supposed to eat at Burger Joint this night but Shake Shack was that good. There were no tables because there was a private party in the basement so we ate while standing at the counter. We got a small tiramisu frozen custard to go and ate that in front of Roosevelt park. Finally, we headed back to the hotel.

I had a to do list that included printing out our boarding passes, packing, swim, etc. But, when we got to the hotel, there were lots of people milling about in the lobby. Hubby asked me to hang back and wait til the others got on the elevators. We took the stairs up to the business center to take care of the boarding passes. Once there, hubby told me that the people in the lobby were Raiders people. Side note, the Raiders are our home team, as in their headquarters are less than 10 minutes from our house. Sadly, hubby grew up with and is therefore a Raider fan. He saw Jim Otto, etc., etc. Because of an encounter between me and then-receiver Tim Brown several years ago wherein I thoroughly embarrassed hubby, hubby has banned me from approaching any sports celebs.

The printer at the business center wasn’t working so hubby went down to the front desk and I met him there. On the way back to our room, the elevator stopped at the 3rd floor and in walks an executive looking guy and Sebastian Janikowski (kicker for the Raiders). Hubby just about had a meltdown right there and then. The executive guy asked us how we were, we said fine. Then Janikowski asked where we were from. Hubby was speechless so I blurted out, “Oakland.” He laughed and said, “Me too.” I said, “Yup, we figured. Small world.” He got off the 7th floor and we bid him good night. The executive guy asked whether we were there for Sunday’s game. We said no, we’re tourists in NYC. We bid him goodnight. After, we swam and packed as we were checking out the next day.

Day 7: Reunion with grade school mate; Lugers; flight home

We slept in, did last minute packing and then met my friend from grade school for brunch down by the lobby. After we parted ways, we took Path to World Trade Center and planned to catch the J, M, Z to Brooklyn. But at Fulton station, we found out there was no weekend service. Hubby needed a restroom so we surfaced up the street and he found the McD’s with the piano player. Nice.

We were gonna walk up to City Hall but decided to catch a cab instead. We waited and waited and waited. Finally, I hailed one and unbeknownst to me, so did hubby just a few feet ahead which turned out well for us because some woman was yelling at me, telling me that the cab I stopped was hers. I told her to take it. There was some traffic but we got to Luger’s on time.

We had missed our reservation time so we waited about 30 minutes. Once seated, we ordered a bacon strip, steak for two and for color, broccoli. We savored all that meaty goodness. From Luger’s, we walked to the subway and ended up going up the wrong platform. We talked to two agents and explained to them that we want to head back to Manhattan so they checked our unlimited weekly passes and let us through.

We had to transfer at 14th St and this is were things got really interesting. We were waiting for the F train and there was a couple and their kid. The couple were arguing loudly and then all of a sudden, the dad dropped the kid. They started arguing loudly and kept at it. Some interloper tried to intervene and they both turned on the interloper. The dad was repeatedly screaming, “Call the po - lice on me and I’ll beat yo’ ass.” Then mom directs her attention to someone else and said, “Don’t judge me. Don’t you look at me. Don’t you know, he who is without f-ing sin, cast the first f-ing stone.” I turned to hubby and said, that’s gotta be the first time I heard a bible quote laced with profanity.

We made our way to JFK via PATH, LIRR at Penn and Airtrain at Jamaica. We missed our flight because it got moved from 4:50 to 4:35 p.m. We talked to the agent at the counter and we were put on the next flight out and were given exit rows with extra leg room. We had an uneventful flight back to SFO.

Well, that’s our story and we’re sticking to it. During the trip, I had in the back of my mind the comments from this board about how we weren’t going to be able to do everything in our itinerary, how we wouldn’t have the time to eat at all the restaurants we picked out, but with persistence and lots of walking, and getting lost, we are proud to say that we did and we savored every moment. It’s like they say, if you put your mind to it, you can do it and that’s exactly what we did.
CAdinks is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2009, 11:18 PM
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Wow you sure did get a lot done, and visited a lot of the tourist spots. I am envious, and hope to do some of them on our visit to NYC later on next year.
nelsonian is online now  
Old Oct 15th, 2009, 10:23 AM
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Sounds like a great trip! I love NYC.
travelface is offline  
Old Oct 15th, 2009, 02:29 PM
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I'm amazed at how much you ate! -
Gwendolynn is offline  
Old Oct 15th, 2009, 03:23 PM
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@ Gwendolynn: What's more amazing is that when we got back, I checked the scale and I only gained 2 lbs. I think all the calorie consumption was negated by all the walking/swimming we did.
CAdinks is offline  
Old Oct 15th, 2009, 03:49 PM
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Thnaks for all the desert ideas
absolutkz is offline  
Old Oct 15th, 2009, 05:00 PM
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I really enjoyed reading your report. You did do quite a bit, and you gave me some good restaurant ideas. Thanks!
Samsaf is offline  
Old Oct 16th, 2009, 03:01 AM
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You did a great job planning and eating except I couldn't understand why you bothered with Dunkin Donuts. All the other food sounded delish. And, once again, I'm really sorry that on our recent trip to NYC my friends vetoed a visit to the MET.
dfrostnh is offline  
Old Oct 16th, 2009, 07:21 AM
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I was wondering how many pounds you gained! Thanks for sharing. GREAT trip!

Yeah - the Dunkin Donuts I don't understand either when you could have wandered into thousands of places not on your carefully researched lists and made new discoveries to share but hey - comfort food is comfort food and fast and cheap and predictable. Important when you are in a hurry.
SueNYC is offline  
Old Oct 16th, 2009, 07:28 AM
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@ dfrostnh & SueNYC: Thanks for reading my novella ;-) Re. Dunkin Donuts. That was purely nostalgic. I grew up on Dunkin and, because we haven't had a single Dunkin location in all of California in quite some time, I try to get some whenever I run across one in the East Coast (and one time even in Nassau Bahamas).

I would take another trip to NYC and just spend all my time at the MET.
CAdinks is offline  
Old Oct 16th, 2009, 08:53 AM
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CAdinks, as another long-time Californian who grew up in NY, I empathize with your feelings of Dunkin Donuts deprivation (though for me it's a seeded roll & butter with a cup of coffee from someplace like Chase & Sanborn)! (P.S. my son's apartment is above a Dunkin Donuts!)

Sounds like a great trip (although I don't how you kept moving with all that food LOL)
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Old Oct 16th, 2009, 09:26 AM
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... he who is without f-ing sin, cast the first f-ing stone.”

LOL!
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Old Oct 18th, 2009, 11:19 PM
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Thanks for the detailed report! I'm hope to go to NYC next month, so it is very usefull for me since it will be my first time.
IdaBacon is offline  
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