The Big Apple

 

View from the condo

In April of this year my eldest daughter and I discussed the possibility of meeting in New York City for a week.  I looked into the possibility of renting a condo near time square and once again Vacation Rental By Owner came through.  We found a wonderful one bedroom apartment in Midtown to rent in early Sept.  The apartment was on the 56th floor with floor to ceiling windows facing down town and the new World Trade Center construction.  The unit has 24 hour front desk service and a deli just out the door as well as a 24 hour market.  We booked our flights and awaited summer to pass.

                                              

                                       Empire State Building

                     

We had hoped my youngest daugther Angela would be able to join us but circumstances prevented her from doing so, however my neice Joy from Gibsonville North Carolina and her daugther Emily arranged to be in New York the weekend we arrived in New York.

September 8,2012

As my flight left at noon, I decided to go to Calgary and spend the night with daugther Angela. She dropped me at the airport at 10 a.m.  The plan was Kathy would fly into Newark airport and arrive an hour before I did, so she would be waiting for me upon arrival.  I arrived and picked up my luggage and went looking for Kathy.  I phoned my son in law who advise me, New York had been under a tornado watch earlier in the day, so Kathy’s flight was delayed and she would arrive an hour after me. 

Kathy arrived late as planned,  Getting a cab was very easy, we just joined the cue and away we went.  Our cab driver was espeically gruff however got us to our condo as planned.  The apartment doorman came out to the cab and our luggage and ouselves were quickly wisked inside. 

Looking towards downtown from inside condo

Looking towards down town at night from our condo living room

The key exchange went ad planned and we were soon looking out our 56th floor window with spectacular views of downtown New York.

Day 1 New York City September 9,2012

 As we were up late, we got our first day off to a late start. We started by going for a walk checking out the neighbourhood and quickly realized we were right in the heart of the action.  Time square was just a short walk, as was the theatre district.  We were a block from Tussuad’s wax museum and got this photo with Morgan who was waiting just out the door for us.

We’d had a late breakfast so lunched on Aunt Ann’s pretzels for lunch.  Very tasty…but I got plain….no mustard or dipping sauces for me.  My niece Joy arranged for tickets for “Wicked” for the matinee performance with an added bonus of back stage passes and tour. While we waited to meet Joy and her daughter Emily, Kathy and I walked along Broadway taking in the sights.  I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

I was very impressed with the efficiency at the theatre and we were quickly in our seats. The seats we had were bang on center and certainly excellent seats. The performance was wonderful and we all enjoyed the show, but I rather think the highlight was the back stage tour with Randy Danson who plays Madame Morrible.  After the show we were quickly ushered into Randy’s dressing room.  She still had her make up on but was wrapped in a robe.  To the left of her dressing table hung all her costumes and hair pieces required to play her part.

Madam Morrible Costumes

 While it’s not allowed, I did take a quick photo of the costumes as seen here on the right. I was struck by how small the dressing room was especially given Randy has a major role in the production.  Not only was it small, but old and not well appointed nor maintained. I’m not sure what I had expected, but quickly realized this was a job and a workplace for Randy.  Randy is so down to earth and easy to talk to.  No airs about her for sure.  Once she was back in streets clothes,

Dressing room for Randy “Madame Morrible” Danson

she gave us a tour back stage.  I think this thrilled me more than the play itself. We were taken all through the back stage area and able to see and touch the props, view the theatre from the stage, view the dressing room area, see the bulletin board with messages regarding the show, and most impressive see the list of longest playing shows on Broadway.  Wicked is rapidly moving up the list of longest playing shows on Broadway.  We were all sad to leave the theatre but left with a surreal feeling of a fabulous experience. 

Stage Door Gershwin Theatre with Joy, Randy and Emily

Thanks to Joy for arranging this wonderful experience and thanks to Randy for being such a gracious hostess.

Following the play we walked to Time Square to see the sights and sights there were to see.  Once again I think we were all on jaw dropping overload.  This is a real happening place with lots to see and do.  The assault on the senses was almost overwhelming with the noise ( car horns) wonderful smells ( food trucks and cart vendors) and of course the bright lights!  Of course there were many photo ops,

Pam & New York’s Naked Cowboy

not the least of which was “The naked Cowboy!”  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity as you can see. Time Square is a blast with so much to see and do.  It’s certainly one of the top spots for people watching.  At no time did we feel anything but safe.  There always seem to be a policeman on every corner which doubles and triples in Time Square in the late afternoon and throughout the evening.  The police were gracious and very friendly to all the tourists and gentle on the locals when they needed to assist someone.  They obviously knew the “regulars” and shooed the panhandlers away.

After more “walking about” it was time to eat, so we dined at the Hard Rock Cafe”.

Left to right Pam, Emily, Joy and Kathy

 I enjoyed all the Beatle and Elton John memorabilia.  This was quite a day and one I know we will remember for a very long time.  The day was even more enjoyable by being able to share it with my daughter Kathy, neice Joy and her daughter Emily.  It will be hard to top this experience…but we’ll try!

 

 

 

Look who’s taking a photo!

 

Time Square clock

Day 2 New York City Sept 10,2012

Kathy and I were up early to get a start on our day.  We went “walk about” over to Rockefeller Center, NBC studio and Today show locations.  At noon we met Joy and Emily where Joy showed us how to use the subway.

Catching the subway to union station

It was surprisingly easy and very clean but noisy and hot.  We took the subway to union square where we looked around for awhile.  They have an outdoor market with fresh fruit and vegetables as well as craft items. We hit a nearby deli for lunch but shortly after found a long line of food trucks that looked promising and smelled divine. 

We said good bye to Joy and Emily as they prepared to head back to North Carolina and home. Kathy and I went back to the condo to relax before heading out.  I took the opportunity to call home to talk to my husband.  It seems he was having his own adventure.  Our rural community was being evacuated due to high winds and a prairie fire threatening the surrounding area.

Food truck alley – Union Square

  The local firefighters did an excellent job of protecting the community and people were allowed home late that evening.

Kathy and I found that our condo was close to the area called Hell’s Kitchen which has many cafes,restaurants and delis, all at affordable prices and very good food.  We had dinner at a near by Thai restaurant and then stopped at Amy’s Bakery to pick up goodies for the morning.

Kathy had arranged for some tours and the Hop On Hop Off tour buses, so we went to the ticket office to activate the tickets.  Once back at the condo it was time to put up our feet and rest up for a long day tomorrow…….Sept 11,2012.  New York was gearing up for the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attack on what is now called by all, simply 9 11.

Playing chess in union square

Day 3 New York City September 11.2012

We got off to an early start and grabbed the “Hop On” bus to tour “Uptown” New York city.  We have been lucky with the weather, clear sunny skies and moderate temperatures, so riding on the upper decks of the bus was quite enjoyable.

Riding the Hop On Hop Off Tour bus in the Upper West side.

We stayed on the bus for the full circle tour and then got off the second go round on the west side of Central Park. This particular loop of the tour enters a small part of Harlem which was surprizingly clean and quite.  I loved seeing the Apollo Theatre and the “Brownstone” buildings.

We got off near the former John Lennon home where Yoko Ono still lives, and quickly found “Strawberry Field” and the John Lennon Memorial. Central Park is two miles long and a half mile wide and the

John Lennon Memorial “Strawberry Field” section of Central Park

two of us walked most of it this day.  We head north to the Jackie Kennedy Reservoir before crossing the park to the Upper East side of New York.  It was a lovely day and we enjoyed watching people boating on the pond as well as the joggers and dog walkers of which there were plenty.

Prior to the trip Kathy purchased The New York Pass which we planned to use for the next three days. The pass is to grant entry to 70 attractions

Enjoying Central Park

and allows you to bypass the queue. Given the cost, it was not worth our while as it turns out.  Getting around Manhattan is time consuming so it is almost impossible to get into enough places to cover the purchase price of the pass.  We did not find the lines long, so the ability to bypass them was never an issue.

I was keen to go to the Guggenheim Museum not so much to view the art work but to view this Frank Lloyd Wright designed building. 

Solomon R Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

It truly is a glorious building and makes a great showplace for the artwork.  I would have liked to spent more time but we had a number of things on our “must see” list this day.

We hopped back on the bus and swear we could have walked faster than the bus was able to go.  Our next stop was Carnegie Hall. I had really been looking forward to this tour and when it arrived, found it to be closed for renovations.  How disappointing!  Rather than “hop” the bus we decided to walk over to 5th avenue to window shop. 

Apollo Theatre in Harlem

We stopped for a late lunch and found a huge price difference in the cost of a meal.  We paid at least double for mediocre food.   

We peeked in the windows of Cartier and the Rolex stores but decided to go into Sak’s Fifth Avenue.  I was hoping to find a  low cost trinket to buy, so I could get one of their bags, but saw nothing in my budget.  We kept heading downtown and eventually found our way back to our condo.  By this time our bodies were rebelling with all the walking so we took a needed rest before heading out again

Kathy sightseeing along Fifth Avenue

to catch the evening bus to tour lower Manhattan.

As this was the 911 memorial day, the bus bypassed the former world trade center area of downtown and took us over to Brooklyn instead.  This was a disappointment but so was the fact, buses aren’t allowed on the Brooklyn Bridge…we entered Brooklyn via the Manhattan Bridge.  The lights of Manhattan were impressive but more so this evening as the had the laser beams honoring the World Trade Center.  I snapped several photos, but mine did not turn out well.  I later saw Kathy’s photos and determined it is time to upgrade my camera.

The guide on this particular tour was awful and didn’t want to use the microphone, so we really had no idea where we were and what we were looking at. Fortunately we had booked a tour of Brooklyn so perhaps the next trip would be better.

We felt the 911 Memorial site would be crowded

Entire day shift lost at the World trade Center Sept 11, 2001

so we deliberately stayed away from that area on this day, however our tour bus did pass the Engine 54 station which was hosting it’s own memorial.  The company lost it’s entire day shift on that unforgettable day and seeing this was a very poignant moment for all on the bus.

This was a long arduous day for us and we both realize we will have to slow the pace for the rest of the week and there are some things we will not be able to see on this trip.

Laser light World Trade Center tribute

Day 4 New York City September 12,2012

The famous lady of New York Harbor

 We were up early to start the day.  We grabbed the first Hop On bus to downtown.  We arrived in Battery Park by 1030,

just in time to catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and a tour of Ellis Island.  The weather again is cooperating and the ferry ride over was smooth which we were grateful for as both of us get motion sick easily.

 You normally can tour the inside of the Statue of Liberty but not this fall as it is under going more renovations and restoration.  After our long day the day before, I doubt either of us would have been up to it in any case. 

One of the first thing people had to do was go upstairs and personnel would be watching to see if the newcomers were well enough to climb stairs.  Imagine, a great many of these people were kept in steerage with no where to go and were cramped and confined and all of a sudden they were asked to climb stairs.  The people deemed not fit, were sent back to their country of origin.  If a 4 year old child was determined to be unsuitable, the family had to choose to send the child back alone, or send one or all of the family back with the child.  What a seemingly heartless system this seems to us now.

With the weather so nice we had lunch outside on Ellis Island before heading back to Manhattan to catch the bus for Brooklyn.

Entering Brooklyn

This time our Brooklyn guide was interesting and gave a detailed account of the area.  I enjoyed the “brownstone” buildings where people can hang out on their steps and have build a real sense of community.  Once back on Manhattan we toured the lower east side, the financial district, China town and little Italy.  We passed the UN building and Bellevue Hospital which turned out to be larger than I had imagined.  We had hoped to return to this area later in the week, but time ran out on us. 

Brooklyn Brownstone

We didn’t get to Wall Street and the famous “bull” statue, but I guess we have to leave some things for another visit! 

We got off the bus at 7th and 48th which left us with 2 long and 6 short blocks back to the condo.  Both of us were spent, so we just went to the deli next door and brought home dinner to eat in.  I hate to say it, but we stayed in the rest of the evening and went to bed early.  This touring around is hard work!

Tomorrow we plan to return to lower Manhattan to tour ground zero and check out China Town for knock off purses.

UN Building

Bellevue Hospital

Another Trump Building … they all look the same after awhile.

Day 5 September 13,2012

It may seem a bit odd, but we were up early to watch the Kelly and Mike show on TV.  Why? My step daughter Cindy Kurucz was in town with several friends to celebrate her upcoming 40th birthday and had tickets for the show today. 

Freedom Tower near Ground Zero

There they were with their black tee shirts with a red maple leaf and the logo ” 40 eh?”  One of their group was picked to win a prize and Kelly said…I’m just going to go out on a limb here, but my bet is you are all from Canada.”

After the show we hopped the bus to go the Ground Zero to tour the site.  The previous day the mayor of New York announced the city would pay to complete the Museum.  Construction as halted last year when no one would agree to pay for it’s completion.  What a shame.  We toured the fountains and the grounds and found it somewhat disappointing and will likely be more meaningful, once the museum is completed and open to the public.  Being a gardener

The Survivor Tree at Ground Zero New York

one thing I did enjoy was seeing the “survivor tree” which survived being buried in the rubble and has been nursed back to health and life. 

When my niece visited New York awhile back she noted New Yorkers don’t talk about the events of 911.  She was told the people who went through the experience find it hard to share what they went through with the thought ” You’d have to have lived it to really understand.”  I have to agree with my niece, the tour guides just generally point out the sight and don’t really comment.

Following our tour of the area, we walked to China Town to see if we could get a knock off hand bag for a reasonable price. 

911 Firefighter equipment found in the rubble

The bags we were shown were of extremely poor quality and no one would mistake them for the real thing, so we came away empty handed.

We caught the subway ( something we should have down on previous days) and head uptown to 51St and Rockefeller Center. We went to the “top of the Rock” for some fantastic views and while we were there took in the NBC studio tour.  I volunteered to appear before the camera ( not a real production) to try my hand at being a weather announcer.  To say I was horrible would be a mis-understatement and the camera certainly adds the pounds.  I could have purchased a video of my performance, but from what I saw on the monitor…that was enough!

View of Central Park from “The Top of The Rock”

We walked back to 9th Avenue and had dinner at the ” Five Napkin Burger” cafe.  It was very good and we were glad for the rest. Once again, we returned to the condo and spent a quite evening.

Day 6 New York City September 14,2012

View of downtown from our rental condo on west 42nd

On this day we were up late but quickly on our way by catching the crosstown bus.  We both

Rotunda of Grand Central Station

agreed if we were to visit Manhattan again, we would take time to learn to use public transit. Today we toured Grand Central Station.  I appreciate Jackie Kennedy for stepping in years ago to save this historic place and have it cleaned and refurbished.  It is a beautiful building and one we have seen in many movies and television shows.  After taking an audio tour of the building we went to the lower floor for lunch and a rest.  

                                                                                                                                                                 Upon leaving Grand Central Station we walked to near by Empire State building. Our New York City Pass expired at midnight the evening before so if we were to go up the Empire

Empire State Building – photo taken from our condo window.

State building, we would have to pay.  It was too pricey given we have spectacular views from our condo and we visited the Top of the Rock the previous page, so we opted to bypass it this visit.   We kept walking until we arrived at Macy’s.  There was a great deal of media around and cordoned off areas.  We later learned Lady Gaga was in the building promoting her new perfume.  We did ‘t see her as it was by invitation only.  I suspect the event planners didn’t know we were in town!

We wanted to tour the store so we started on the top floor and worked our way down.  We stopped at the shoe department where Kathy bought a nice pair of shoes for Naida and I got a pair for myself.  The twenty five percent discount was helpful in keeping the cost down…..that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

We left Macy’s for a long walk back to the condo

A small glimpse of Macy’s Christmas display

so we stopped half way at a cafe to rest and people watch. Manhattan is a great place to people watch and you see everything from the best dressed, to the hardly dressed and the badly dressed.

We got back to the condo and spent some time sorting things out, for tomorrow we leave.  As we have to leave at 6 am we rented a private car.  The people at the condo service desk we very helpful and arranged everything for us. The cost of the car was about $20 more than a cab. We took a short walk over to 9th Avenue and had a wonderful Italian dinner.  It was my first time trying Panna Cotta but it won’t be my last!

 

View from our condo window

 

This photo was taken from the living room of our rented condo. Obviously the neighbouring apartments have great views from their “Throne” rooms.

Day 7 Leaving New York September 15, 2012

View from Central Park

 We have enjoyed our New York visit but feel there is much unseen and undone.  We both would like to return to this vibrant city.  We were up at an ungodly hour to get ready and finish packing. 

found in the debris at ground zero

 

Our car arrived on time and as the traffic was light, we were quickly whisked to Newark Airport for our flights home…to Dallas in Kathy’s case and Calgary in mine ( via a lay over in Toronto.) We arrived early so were able to have a last minute visit before departing to our various gates.  I loved New York or perhaps I should say Manhattan, but they best part was spending time with my eldest daughter.  Sharing this experience together made it all the more wondrous.  We both hope to return someday.

 

Good bye Manhattan