New York Re-visited Sept 2013

My sisters and I had hoped to arrange a “sister” trip and we all wished to return to New York City. It turned out it just wasn’t going to work out, but I had longed to return to New York and was very disappointed not to be returning.  I did the “death bed” test ( will I regret not going back when I’m on my death bed) and the answer was a resounding yes! I decided to bite the bullet and booked the same condo and my flights. A couple of months later I was telling our friends Murray and Sue and they were surprised I was going to undertake this journey alone.  Sue’s face lit up and I knew what was coming……was there room for one more person? She did ask and the answer was a resounding yes.  Another “girls” week in New York City!

On Our Way Sept 11, 2013

Susan invited me to arrive the day before our flight, therefore sparing me an early morning drive to Calgary. Her husband Murray got us to the airport early so we breezed through US Customs and security.  As Susan booked her flights weeks after I did, we were not sitting together but she had an open seat beside her, so we were able to sit together and start our week long chatting early.  Despite leaving on time our flight was delayed as we had to detour as far east as Montreal to avoid a big thunderstorm.  I felt so much more relaxed arriving at the airport this time as I knew the layout, how to get a cab and where the condo was. It seemed very auspicious arriving in New York on Sept 11.  I asked our cabbie what that day was like for him years ago, and like many New Yorkers, he could describe it in detail.

Upon arrival at the condo we quickly dropped our suitcases off and head out for something to eat in the Hell’s Kitchen part of Manhattan.  We went to an Italian restaurant Kathy and I had frequented the year before.  Despite a very long day and not much to eat, neither of us were hungry so we ordered appetizers to share.

Taken from the condo window

Taken from the condo window

The daytime high had been 100F and the evening was still very hot and very humid.  We decided to take a short walk around the area and I discovered my favorite deli was gone!  Oh no…where could we find those marvelous bagels I enjoyed last trip? Despite being late at night, Time Square was very busy. A long day and a big week lies ahead.

Sept 12,2013 Touring Downtown

Susan and I we up early ready to start our day. I thought a good start for Susan would be to ride the “Hop On Hop Off” bus so she can get an idea of where things are in Manhattan. 

Taken from the Staten Island Ferry

Taken from the Staten Island Ferry

We disembarked at Battery Park.  Hurricane Sandy damage was still quite visible and we weren’t able to walk the area as planned.   To get a good look at the downtown skyline we opted for the Staten Island free Ferry ride. The day is hot and hazy which makes it difficult to obtain long range photos.

After our return trip we walked to Bowling Green. Bowling Green is a small public Park at the foot of Broadway  next to the site of the original Dutch fort of New Amsterdam.

Clinton Castle -Located 2 blocks from Fort Amsterdam

Clinton Castle -Located 2 blocks from Fort Amsterdam

Built in 1733, originally including a “bowling green”, it is the oldest park in New York City.

A short distance later and we were in the heart of the Financial District and home to the New York Stock Exchange, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

For good luck they say to rub his nose, horns and testicles.

For good luck they say to rub his nose, horns and testicles.

It’s here you will find “Wall Street” and the “Charging Bull” or the “Wall Street Bull.”  The bull is a symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity. People on the street say you’ve got to rub the nose, horns and testicles for good luck. We passed on that one. This area is also home to the newly build One World Trade Center aka the Freedom Tower. Due to the extremely long lines we did not tour the 911 Memorial.
This piece of art was found in the rubble of the Trade Center and has been saved as another "survivor"

This piece of art was found in the rubble of the Trade Center and has been saved as another “survivor”

I was disappointed the Museum still had not been completed.  I hope someday I can see it.

By this time we were a little tired so we caught the Hop On again through the lower east side back to Midtown. After a short rest we went out for dinner.  As it was raining we opted for the Chinese Café beside our condo.

While I stopped to get my photo with the bull, Susan got hers with these two studs!

While I stopped to get my photo with the bull, Susan got hers with these two studs!

This was not a good choice as the service was slow and they “lost” our order so we left in disgust.  A quick three walk block in a heavy downpour we found a French Restaurant.  By this time we both looks like drowned rats but the service staff were very kind and polite and didn’t seem to mind we looked pretty scruffy.  The food was wonderful and the service better.  Back to the condo for the night and to put our sore feet up.

Never too tired to check out the shops.

Never too tired to check out the shops.

Friday the 13th 2013 New York–

Central Park - A Park for everyone - plays host to 35 million visitors a year.

Central Park – A Park for everyone – plays host to 35 million visitors a year.

We were off to a slow start this morning after a very busy day the day before. We grabbed the “Uptown” Hop On bus for our days’ tour. We disembarked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You could easily spend a week here but we toured for just a couple of hours. 

The amount of detail that has been preserved is incredible.

The amount of detail that has been preserved is incredible.

The Egyptian display caught our attention and we happily spent two hours looking at the unbelievable displays. When we left we walked across Central Park, stopping for a hot dog lunch at the “Boathouse” café. 
Enjoying our walk through Central Park

Enjoying our walk through Central Park

What a great place to people watch. We continued on across the park stopping briefly at Strawberry Field ( John Lennon) memorial.  We would have liked to stay longer for a better look but the area was loaded with foreign tour buses and the line to the front was a long one.

We grabbed the bus again for another tour through Harlem and got off again, this time at Rockefeller Center and a tour to the “Top of the Rock.”  We crossed over the street to tour St Patrick’s Cathedral

View from the GE Building ( part of Rockefeller Center) looking over Central Park

View from the GE Building ( part of Rockefeller Center) looking over Central Park

but were disappointed as much of the building was being renovated and that certainly destroyed the sanctity of this magnificent church. We started strolling down Fifth Avenue and we went into Sak’s Fifth Avenue where Susan was treated to a mini make over.  A slow stroll back to the condo and a “dinner” stop on the way, completed Day 2.

A pretty lady made even more pretty by the make up artists at Sak's Fifth Avenue

A pretty lady made even more pretty by the make up artists at Sak’s Fifth Avenue

Sat Sept 14, 2013 Midtown with Susan

In planning our trip both Susan and I were hoping to attend a Broadway play, however we didn’t want to empty our pockets doing it.  We walked over to the Eugene O Neill theatre to see if we could get matinee tickets for the following day but were told they had better seats for today’s performance so we snatched them up and changed our day’s plans. 

Looking for bargains at the open air market - just north of Times Square

Looking for bargains at the open air market – just north of Times Square

We weren’t going to get to Bloomingdale’s today. After purchasing our tickets we wandered over to 7th Avenue and found several blocks closed to traffic with blocks of vendors set up on the street selling their wares.  Finally we found a bargain or should I say bargains. I bought Tee Shirts, Hoodies and Scarves and Susan made out just as well. A little early Christmas shopping ( that’s our story and we stuck to it.) We grabbed a light lunch then took our goodies back to the condo, before heading to the theatre. We had “nosebleed” seats but were able to enjoy the show in any case. 
Waiting for the show to start

Waiting for the show to start

We were shocked at times and laughed a great deal.  Both of us enjoyed the performance.  After the show we walked to the Empire State Building and got in line. It was about 6 pm with plenty of day light left…or so we thought.  There are several stops n the process of getting to the observation deck and each one came with a very long line up. By the time we finally made it, all traces of the sun were gone but the evening skyline was stunning.  Unfortunately my little camera doesn’t take nighttime photos very well so I didn’t have much of a chance to capture our experience in photos.  We hadn’t stopped for dinner so needless to say we had a late one at about 10 pm at Ruby Tuesdays. Two very tired women were making their way back to the condo on West 42nd when our trip was rerouted due to a shooting in the area. Both of us had felt “safe” in the area but were now wondering about our decision to be out at this time of a Saturday night.  We later found out the three shots fired, were fired by the police department. A very drunk man was walking in traffic and when they called to stop him they thought he went for a weapon.  The officers fired, everyone of the three shots missing it’s intended target, but hitting three innocent bystanders. ( By the way…the drunk was unarmed.)

View from the Empire State Building

View from the Empire State Building

Sunday Sept 15 2013

The most reknowned "meeting place" - The Clock at Grand Central Station

The most reknowned “meeting place” – The Clock at Grand Central Station

After such a long day yesterday, we treated ourselves to a sleep in and a long shower.  Today we head out on foot to Grand Central Station. The actual name is Grand Central Terminal and is a commuter terminal serving commuters traveling on the Metro-North Railroad to Westchester, Putnam and Duchess counties in New York State as well as Fairfield and New Haven counties in Connecticut.  Until 1991 the terminal served Amtrak until it moved to Penn Station. Travel & Leisure Magazine rated it the sixth most visited tourist attraction with roughly 21.6 million visitors annually. It has the world’s largest number of platforms(44) serving 67 tracks…..41 tracks on the upper level and 26 on the lower level.

The main concourse is jaw dropping beautiful and in the center is the perennial meeting place… the four faced clock on the top on the information booth. Each of the four clock faces are made of opalescent glass and the clock itself made of brass. 

You can walk the walkway that runs through thee windows

You can walk the walkway that runs through thee windows

It has been valued at between 10 and 20 million dollars.  Inside the clock is a secret door that conceals a spiral staircase leading to the lower level of the information booth.

It seems inconceivable that this building was considered for demolition.  Thanks to Jacqueline Kennedy and her committee,the building has been restored.  It took 12 years to remove the grime from the ceiling ( mostly tar and nicotine) and a single dark patch remains untouched to remind visitors of the grime that one marred the beautiful ceiling. The building has an incredible history which we were briefly able to learn about by renting headsets and doing the self tour.  We enjoyed touring the marketplace but decided neither of us could afford to buy our groceries there.

A little to pricey for us.

A little to pricey for us.

We did take advantage of the various food vendors and had lunch in the terminal. Their famous Oyster Bar restaurant was closed (Sunday)  but we found lots of other options in the Dining Concourse below the main concourse. Besides the delis, bakeries, newsstands and market you can find 40 retail stores and the New York Transit Museum.

After our rest we trekked north to the Museum of Modern Art aka MOMA.  MOMA is often considered the the most influential museum of modern art in the world. 

Andy Warhol Campbell Soup Painting

Andy Warhol Campbell Soup Painting

The museum’s collection offers works of architecture, design, drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, prints, illustrated books, artist books, films and electronic media.  We spent two hours touring various parts of the museum before heading back to our condo to rest sore feet and backs. I hate to tell…but our short break turned into a longer one as we watched a favorite movie……Pretty Woman, before walking to the Marseille Restaurant for a wonderful dinner of Tuscan Chicken.

Taking a view of the Main Concourse - Grand Central Terminal

Taking a view of the Main Concourse – Grand Central Terminal

Monday Sept 16,2013

One of the things I missed on my last visit was a tour of the United Nations Headquarters. Prior to this trip I did a bit of research and found one must pre book the tour so Susan and I set out today on the Cross Town Bus with tickets in hand.

If these walls could talk - UN Security Council Chamber

If these walls could talk – UN Security Council Chamber

The General Assembly Hall is under reconstruction and as luck would have it, they were meeting today, so all nations have their flag flying outside the building. Although the building is located in New York city, the land is occupied by the UN and administrated solely by the United Nations. The General Assembly were waiting to hear the report of possible chemical weapons being stocked in Syria, so media and security were out in full force.  Going through security is similar to airport screening. Once through that we waited in the front hall for our tour to begin.
UN Building New York City - great tour

UN Building New York City – great tour

The tour guides are people from all over the world and our tour was a young man from Ghana ( I think). I had two highlights of the tour – one – being able to enter the security council room.  I could just visualize the members sitting around the table during the Cuban missile crisis. If only these walls could talk.  Outside of assembly was a display of the weapons of war including landmines and weapons from various wars.  On display was a marble statue which had survived the bombing of Hiroshima. 
This statue survived a nuclear bomb, however the back was largely destroyed by radiation and heat

This statue survived a nuclear bomb, however the back was largely destroyed by radiation and heat

The front was very much intact while the back was deeply etched with the effects of heat and radiation from the bombing on Aug 6 1945.
The statue's heat and radiation damage

The statue’s heat and radiation damage

We each bought a postcard from the gift store and I mailed mine to myself.  The UN has it’s own Post Office and stamps.

We started our walk west along west 42nd after our tour and stopped to visit the New York Public Library. The Manhattan branch(Main Branch on Fifth Ave between 42 and 43rd Street)   is housed in a magnificent building as funded partly the John Jacob Astor estate to the tune of $400,000 ($10.9 million in todays dollar).

First Edition Guttenburg Bible

First Edition Guttenburg Bible

The library is home to the first Guttenberg Bible and many other rare books and collections.

After touring the library we walked across the street to Bryant Park. This is a lovely inner city park. It is 9.6 acres in size and is managed by a not for profit corporation. The park is almost entirely build over an underground structure which houses the Library’s archives. Many people my age may remember Oct 15, 1969 where a rally of 40,000 people attended to protest the Vietnam war.  By the next year the park was taken over by drug dealers, prostitutes and homeless and was considered a “no go zone” by visitors and residents.  A group of individuals formed the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation (including members of the Rockefeller family) and the park and been restored to what you see today. 

Bryant Park - a great place to stop and enjoy and ice cream and give the feet a rest

Bryant Park – a great place to stop and enjoy and ice cream and give the feet a rest

A great place to visit, relax and refresh, which is just what we did.

Upon leaving the park we walked through the fashion / garment district on our way to Macys. Less than one square mile is area, the garment district is home to the majority of New York’s showrooms and home to numerous major fashion labels and caters to all aspects of the fashion process – from design and production to wholesale selling.

We were very weary from our days walk ( we walked from one side of Manhattan to the other,) we settled for a rest at the condo and went to a movie in a near by theatre.

This evening we were treated to a glorious sunset.

 Evening sunset taken from the window of our rented condo

Evening sunset taken from the window of our rented condo

Sept 17, 2013 Our Last Full Day

While we have been enjoying the sights, we haven’t done much in the way of shopping.  I think we decided early on while the shops along 5th Avenue were wonderful to look at and explore, they just were beyond what we are used to paying for merchandise.  We opted for Macy’s this morning and started by buying a subway pass and off we went.

Anothr version of the "Naked Cowboy"  They now have naked Indians, Naked Policemen...what's next?

Anothr version of the “Naked Cowboy” They now have naked Indians, Naked Policemen…what’s next?

The Macy’s flagship store in the Herald Square location in Manhattan and is advertised as the largest in the world.  We toured the store and did a bit of shopping as well.  We spent most of the time in the shoe department and both of us picked up a pair of new shoes.  Turns out neither of us were in the shopping mood.  As it was near lunch time we opted for Macy’s Stella 34 Trattoria Restaurant.  It has an open kitchen with three wood burning ovens.  It was fun to watch the chefs at work. We were delighted by the service and the food and had a very enjoyable lunch.

We slowly walked uptown towards Times Square.  It was a pleasant day so we decided to sit on the delightful red chairs and just people watch for awhile.  It seems that we have been going hard the past few days and speaking for myself….I had run out of gas. 

This is me - Pam - looking just a little tired as we people watch in Times Square

This is me – Pam – looking just a little tired as we people watch in Times Square

After a fine afternoon of conversation and people watching we strolled back to the condo to start packing for our early morning flight.

We will set the alarm for 330 am for a 5 am departure.  We decided to splurge on a private car to pick us up and take us to the airport.  It’s been a fun week and I am so happy to have been able to share it with Susan.

Sun going down on our New York Adventure

Sun going down on our New York Adventure