14.11.2007 1 °C
I finally made it to New York City!!! Thursday afternoon I jetted out of work to catch the Chinatown bus from DC to NY. In between reading and snoozing, the view out the window on the drive up the eastern seaboard captured fall perfecetly. As I checked off Delaware and New Jersey on my list of 'States Visited' I got to see a true east coast fall. I arrived in NYC at dark and could just see Miss Liberty lit up across the skyline (which looks exactly like the pictures). Dad was there on business and after his meetings we met up for a delicious steak dinner at Capitol Grill right next to our hotel in midtown on E 42nd Street right next to Grand Central Station (also as beautiful as the pictures). After a delicious dinner, and enough protein to tie me over until Thanksgiving turkey, Dad and I made it back to the hotel (a whole 3 doors away) to relax and recharge for the Friday's activities.
Friday started with a tour of the UN building. We saw where the UN bodies sit and deliberate, learned about the UN and all its organizations, some of the structure, and its activities. Our tour guide was really knowledgable and I would highly recommend this tour if you have even the slightest interest in international affairs (plus its cool to say you left the country because technically the UN is situated on international territory and you are not in the United States while at the UN!) Then we headed down to NYMEX in the World Financial Center downtown. NYMEX is the New York Mercantile Exchange and houses the trading floor for things like crude oil. We were there to meet with Anu, the director or public relations for NYMEX. After Dad got his work stuff out of the way, I was able to pick her brain for anything useful about getting into and being in PR (financial culture and career development all in one day!!!). Then Dad was off to more meetings and I got to play tourist.
The World Financial Center is just east, along the East River, from Ground Zero. My first stop was taking a look at the World Trade Center site which is currently a literal pit of constructions equipment. You have to peek through holes in fences and peer through scaffolding surrounding the concave city block. From the river (as I later saw) it is blatantly obvious that the skyline is missing the towers. There is a huge hole where they should be making New York look incomplete.
From Ground Zero, I walked down Broadway past Trinity Church and its eery cemetery. I crossed Wall Street and made my way down to the Staten Island Ferry building where I hopped on the ferry to get a view of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the New York City skyline. I can say I stepped foot on Staten Island but I can't say I've seen much of it as I just hopped on the return ferry as soon as I got to the dock..I was just in it for the view. Once back in Manhattan, I made my way uptown (stopping ever so briefly to shop--Mom, I got you a present!) before taking the subway (New York has a long way to go to have their subways be considered state-of-the-art, or even clean for that matter...no offense NY) to change, bundle up and head to Union Square (NY) to get Dad out of another meeting (and maybe a Bellini in the process) before heading to Times Square to catch RENT on Broadway!!! We were lucky and able to get tickets for Friday night, just hours before all the stagehands went on strike and Broadway theatres were dark. RENT was phenomenal, everyone has amazing voice and all the characters were exactly like I had imagined (from listening obssessively to the soundtrack; both Broadway original and film). The day was almost perfect except for the drenching pre-show rain and a little mishap with Dad's portfolio (still locked in the Nederlander theatre in NYC) All in all, it was a great day!
Saturday was just as exciting, I got Dad all to myself as all the meetings were over, the suit was hung up and we could just explore the city. Dad, having 'done' NY before steered and I got to go along for the ride..err, walk. We walked to Times Square to see it in the day (equally as flashy and obnoxiously bright as the night) and to venture into Toys R Us, the Hershey store and to give Dad his first taste of M&M World (what color M&M would you be??). But not before passing the Grandiose Ney York City Public Library, Bryant Park (a tree lined oasis in the middle of metropolis where you can ice skate for free!!). Then we succumbed to the true tourist persona and waited in line to go up to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building for THE best views of the entire city, all the surrounding burrows, New Jersey, Staten Island and anything else you want to see for miles in every direction.
After that ordeal (and yes, its an ordeal. A sort of linear cattle herding process up 86 stories, and then back down again) we subway-ed down to SOHO (the area south of Houston street, pronounces House-ton) for a walk through an actual neighborhood and a pizza stop at America's first pizzeria; Lombardi's. Pizza and beer for lunch with Dad...kind of ideal! We walked through SOHO and all its glorious shopping and interesting food stops; you can get any flavor of rice pudding you want at Rice to Riches on Spring Street. Continuing over and up to Greenwich Village for some hot cider before stopping to watch the street performers at Washington Square Park (with the faux arc de triomphe at the base of 5th Street) before walking the 50 block back up to midtown. Walking really is the best way to see the city. We saw Gramercy Park, the only remaining private park in NY where you acutally need a key to get in the gate. And Pete's taver, the oldest continuously operating bar in NY city with the original 40 ft. bar and old hangout for Dad's literary heros! Then up through all the different neighborhoods (the few blocks between 25th and 35th on Lexington Ave reek of Curry...delicious!) and back to our hotel to rest our little tootsies.
Saturday night we headed next door to Grand Central Station's famous Oyster Bar for dinner and to people watch. Grand Central is beautiful. Its marble, high ceilings painted with a huge map of the constellations, and chandelier really do make it grand!
Sunday was our relaxing day. The sun came out for our walk in the park. We walked up 5th Avenue to Rockefeller Center where the tree was standing but surrounded by scaffolding and NBC Studios. Past all the shops and the Plaza Hotel (closed for renovation). To warm my gloved and still freezing hands, Dad and I split a bag of roasted Chestnuts and (I) marveled at all the holiday cheer...I just love Christmas time in big cities!! We made it to the park for a beautiful walk through 'the mall' where Harry met Sally on a park bench and through Strawberry Fields dedicated to John Lennon, past every dog, horse and buggy, and orange, golden, auburn colored trees, ice arena, family outing, jogger and park maintenence truck before stopping for brunch at Tavern on the Green in the east side of the park.
The Tavern is decorated in this really ornate almost gaudy french colonial style with the same ecclecticism you would find at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, but the food was phenomenal. It set up like an old carriage house with different dining rooms. The one we were in was a beatiful atrium in the middle of courtyard with lots of light and a view of everything around us.
The rest of the afternoon was lazy as we walked back up 5th as the Veteran's Day Parade crowd dispersed, stopping in just a few shops to marvel (Tiffany & Co. anyone?). That afternoon we saw a movie over in Times Square before lazily making it back to the hotel, ordering my favorite matzo ball soup from the hotel and packing up for the trip home monday morning.
Well, if you have made it this far, you are better than I. I even had to take breaks in writing its so long so, thanks. New York is a wonderful city. Very lively and bustling but still with its oases scattered throughout as a reprieve from all the craziness...and it looks just like the pictures. I had a wonderful weekend and it was great to be able to spend that time with Dad. Looking forward to finishing up the next few days before making it down to VA for Thanksgiving with Steph's in-laws!