Julie’s comments are in BLACK and Judie’s are
in BLUE and italicized
Blue skies, bright sun and mild temperatures greeted us as we began a full
day of New York city sight seeing. We started out among throngs of people,
walking along Times Square. As a person from a small town (Population
35,000-ish), the sheer number of pedestrians never ceased to amaze me. People
watching alone, would make for an interesting past time there.
The closest thing I had experienced that I could
compare such masses of people to, would have to be Mardi Gras; specifically
Bourbon Street. It was just amazing how many people were out. Doesn’t anybody
As we walked down the street, the first building that caught our attention
was The Great American Chocolate
Company. Just looking in the window made my sweet
We were very good, though – we only looked in the
Since Julie and I had a 48 hour bus pass, we decided
to get on and see what we had missed by getting off early the day before.
relaxed and listened to our guide (different than the day before) as he told us
about the sights. Even though we sat through a good portion of the tour that we
had already seen, we did learn some new things.
It was good hearing another tour guide give his
spiel. We got an older gentleman that had traveled all over the world, but had
lived in New York since the mid 60s. He could even remember when SoHo was
populated with hippies and it was affordable to live there!
When Judie noticed a restaurant on a corner called
Texas Texas, my eyes
wandered over to the opposite corner where I noticed a popcorn store called
Popcorn, Indiana! This was just too funny considering the fact that Judie lives
in Texas, and I live in Indiana. Coincidence? I think not! Well ok, it probably
One of Julie’s and my highest priorities for this
trip to New York was to visit Ground Zero.
We got off the bus at the closest stop, and walked the few
blocks to the area. Although neither of us really knew what to expect, I think
we both got goose bumps when we first saw the huge 22 acre crater where the twin
towers had once stood. The whole area was enclosed by a tall steel fence that
made picture taking somewhat difficult. Plaques were attached along the fence in
a sort of time line display of the tragedy.
People were lined up along the fence, some taking
pictures, some reading the plaques, and some just looking at the crater, which
is now a busy construction site. Here are some of the pictures we took…
The far right picture is of a skyscraper that was damaged during the attacks
and is still being repaired…
Because the second anniversary of the attacks was
only days before we came, there were many wreaths and flowers still lined up
from the memorial service.
Next, we got back on the tour bus and rode the short distance to Pier 17.
One interesting thing that had happened on the bus as
we rode towards the pier, was that the tour guide pointed out that this was the
Five Points area, which was portrayed in the movie
Gangs of New York. If
you haven’t seen that movie, you might want to check it out. It is amazing
watching how it was in the early days of New York. Even though the movie is
fiction, it is based on facts.
At the Pier, we grabbed a bite to eat in the food court, window shopped in the indoor
mall and snapped a few pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge, the East River, Brooklyn
across the river and several old
ships. We also enjoyed the fishy odor…
We thought that we would take advantage of our free
ferry passes to Ellis Island. To do so, we were told that we would need to walk
for about 10 minutes towards
Once there, we would find the ferry …
… but unfortunately when we got there, we learned that the last
boat leaving for the island had left at 3:00. It was now 3:45. Oh well… Judie was able to snap
a picture of the statue from the edge of the park…
As we were walking through the park on the way back to
the tour bus stop, we passed the
Bowling Green subway station. Seeing it from three sides, you would never
guess that it wasn’t just an ancient building on the edge of a park..
We got back on the bus again, briefly saw Central Park, and then headed back
to Times Square. Since we had been walking most of the day, we were both
starving. So, our last task of the day was to find some place different
to eat. The cool thing about NYC is the wide variety of restaurants. Like our
visit to Scotland this past spring, having such a selection of foods to try was
one of the best parts of the trip.
It was almost as if we had too much selection,
though. We would see so many different types of food that we had never tried,
that it was hard to make a decision. We would be walking along starving, but not
wanting to settle on just any old thing – we wanted to try something totally
We walked up and down the streets trying to find something different. We
passed Italian, Chinese, and American restaurants…
Thai, Brazilian, and Japanese…
didn’t really strike our fancy. As we were walking by one small store front, a
person standing outside caught our attention by handing us a menu. We looked up
to see that it was an Afghan restaurant. The menu listed different types of meat
kabobs, which enticed us enough to give it a try. And wow, are we glad that we
did! The music and decorations in the restaurant created a unique atmosphere
which made us feel like we were even farther from home than NYC.
We started with the Sambossa, which are fried
dumplings filled with seasoned ground beef with a tasty yogurt dipping sauce on the
side. The pastry was flaky and the meat was expertly spiced. These fried dumplings were
Judie ordered the Beef Kofta (ground beef marinated in fresh grated spices,
broiled over wood charcoal) and I ordered the Kebab Combo which included
chicken, pork and beef kabobs. Both meals came with Afghan bread and the
yummiest rice that I’d had in a long while. We were both curious about the rice
dish, so we asked our waiter about it. He actually had his brother the chef come
out to talk to us. We learned that he made the dish from scratch using basmati
rice and 16 herbs and spices.
As we were leaving the restaurant, we asked the man
that had handed us our menu to pose for a picture. I told him we were writing a
trip report, and that we would mention the restaurant in it. He said, "You
should have told me, we would have given you the best service!" I laughingly
told him that they had given us the best service. Everyone in
Afghan Kebob House #3 was friendly, the service was good, the prices were
inexpensive, and the food was tasty – what more can you ask for?!
With full bellies and tired feet, we headed back to the hotel, wondering what
the next day would have in store for us.
Hurricane Isabel caused Thursday to be breezy and somewhat gloomy. We spent
quite a bit of the day exploring streets and shops that we had missed during the
previous days. This was also the day that we had to do our requisite souvenir
shopping. For me, this consisted of the mandatory mini Statue of Liberty
I got Sarah a couple of shirts from the MTV store,
located under the MTV studio…
We decided that we couldn’t leave NYC without seeing a Broadway play.
Julie called the hotel concierge, and was told that
tickets to the popular shows were in the $150+ range. In our ignorance, we
figured that was probably about right, since Vegas shows can run $100+.
found out that we could stand in line at a
TKTS stand and buy tickets for
original price. So, that’s what we did, stand in line… for two long hours. The
only thing that kept us entertained as we stood there were the Times Square
flashing advertisements on the buildings, and the old man that kept walking up and
down the lines trying to sell umbrellas "$2 now, $5 after it starts to rain…"
The guy in front of us bought an umbrella because he
reasoned that if he did, it would not rain. He was right. we never had any!
While Julie held our place in line, I ran up to the front to see what available
shows were on the marquee. There were so many to choose from – but we figured it
would be fun to see one that had a star that we recognized, whether from the
movies or TV. We created a short list to choose from once we got
to the booth and knew what was still available. We really weren’t that far
back in line because we got there so early. By the time TKTS opened, the line
had looped several times along the sidewalk behind us and to our sides!
Once we got up to the ticket booth, we decided on a musical called
The Boy From
Oz with Hugh Jackman (AKA Wolverine from the X-men movie). We got the tickets
for $51 each. Not bad considering that our hotel box office had wanted $185 for
the same tickets! OUCH!
Now that we were armed with our Broadway tickets, we
were free to go exploring again. Thus began a marathon walk that included the
Rockefeller Center once again, and some of the more famous landmarks in
The CityMantis electric scooter would
have really come in handy by this time! ;o)
We were awed by the beauty of
Patrick’s Cathedral, which is the largest Gothic style cathedral in the
United States. It is just amazing when you consider how a building like this (as
well as many of New York’s skyscrapers, for that matter) was created in a time
when there were no cranes.
If architecture is your thing, NYC can keep you occupied for quite awhile.
The only thing is that you’ll end up with a pain in the neck from constantly
looking up to see the best features of some of the older buildings. One of our
tour guides mentioned that a lot of native New Yorkers don’t even notice some of
the unique carvings and details that the older buildings have.
Astoria, featured in movies such as Serendipity, Scent
of a Woman, Coming to America, Maid in Manhattan and many others, is a dirty
looking grey building on the outside. If it weren’t for the touches of gold on
the front, you might be tempted to overlook it – but that would be a shame.
Inside is one of the most opulent hotel interiors I have ever seen. I would have
taken pictures, but I thought that might be a bit gauche – especially since we
weren’t even staying there.
Actually the lobby area of the Waldorf didn’t really do anything for me… I
would have liked to have seen inside the actual rooms though.
Building is interesting because it appears to be the
end of Park Avenue…until you realize that it is actually straddling two one
way roads – very clever. The gilt trimmed clock on the outside was beautiful,
even if it wasn’t telling the correct time…
We actually thought the Helmsley Building was the front entrance to Grand Central
Terminal for quite
a while. We walked through one tunnel, then back around the other, trying to
find correct way in.
It didn’t help that there were stairs leading down
in the tunnels that went to a subway terminal. We were both thinking, "this
can’t be right!"
When we walked in the front doors, we knew we weren’t in the right
area because there was a security guard stationed there to only allow people with
passes into the building. We finally got our bearings and found the actual
terminal building and went to check it out.
I have always wanted to see
Grand Central Terminal.
Like so many New York locations, I had seen it’s interior
in movies and on TV. When we walked in, I was thinking, "this is more like it!"
The terminal was just beautiful. Evidently massive restorations were done between 1994 and 1998.
New Yorkers can be very proud of the results.
Lunch was at
Cosi, a little soup and sandwich shop on 45th street. Walking into the long,
narrow eatery, the first thing we saw was the open brick oven where they were
cooking the flat bread used to make their sandwiches. After looking at all of
the offerings on the wall, and not knowing what to choose (too many choices!), I
finally asked the woman working the line what she would suggest. She named a
chicken concoction that had a tomato spread, lettuce, chunks of pesto infused
chicken and some sort of sauce. It was heavenly! Julie got a mozzarella cheese
and grilled chicken sandwich. Since each came with two halves, Julie and I
swapped so we could have one of each. Both were very good.
We also had a choice of chips or baby carrots :o) We
both took the carrots…
With tired feet, we walked back to the hotel and
chilled out for a couple of hours.
We spent the time packing for our trip home, surfing and catching up on
email. All I can say is, thank goodness for the high speed internet access in
our room! My Fujitsu Lifebook (mini-me) really came in handy during this trip.
For dinner before the show, we decided to have
Italian once again. This time, we tried a tiny little upstairs restaurant called
Puleo’s, which was just a couple doors down from the Imperial Theater, where
our show would be. I had the Veal Marsala, and Julie had the Chicken Parmigana.
Once again, we enjoyed excellent meals.
Is it obvious that we enjoy eating almost as much as we enjoy our gadgets?
Sometimes I think we should start a food website, what do you all think? ;o)
When we got to the show, we saw that the regular
price for the tickets in the Orchestra section – where we would be sitting – was
$101. We was even more proof that we had scored a great price on our
tickets! When the show started, we could not believe how
close we were to everything that was happening. We were in Section K, seats 26 &
27, and we were no more than 20 feet from the stage. When Hugh Jackman did his
opening number, it was like we could have almost reached out and touched him
(not that we would have – but still!). The show was unbelievable! Considering
that we saw it on the 3rd night of previews, and it doesn’t even officially open
until October 16, I was expecting a performance that wouldn’t be quite perfect.
If anyone didn’t hit their notes or flubbed their lines, we certainly couldn’t
tell. Everything was just amazing.
I did notice at least a couple times during the show where Hugh laughed at or
with the audience. At one point, his character took off his shirt, and quite a
few female audience members cheered. This didn’t detract from his performance
though, because his character often addressed the audience members as if he was
actually relaying his story to us.
If you have any doubt that Hugh Jackman can
sing or dance, forgettaboutit! For anyone that doesn’t know the story
behind the Boy from Oz, it is about the life and death of Peter Allen, the
Academy Award winning songwriter that wrote such songs as "Don’t Cry Out Loud,"
"I Honestly Love You," and "Arthur’s Theme." He led an extremely interesting
life, and this play did a good job of piecing it together with original Peter
Allen songs. If you get the opportunity to see this show – do not
pass it up! If all Broadway shows are as good as this one, then I will be
returning to New York, if for no other reason than to see more.
I agree that the show was excellent! I love going to plays. There’s just
something about seeing a live performance that makes things all the more
exciting. The play lasted a full 2hrs, so at 10pm, we headed back to the hotel
to finish packing.
This trip wasn’t exactly what we had envisioned, but it turned out to be a
whole lot of fun. Although, we didn’t make any new contacts with vendors at
TECHXNY, we were able to see the sights, eat the foods, watch the people and
soak up the culture that is NYC.
I can’t wait to go back – 2.5 days just wasn’t
enough. I think you could live in New York your entire life and still not see
all of the sights. For those of you that have never been, there are a couple of
stereotypes that New York did and didn’t live up to, at least in my eyes.
I had expected Times Square to be dirty and full of
shady characters, which if you don’t count the street vendors was definitely not
the case. Everything was as clean as any other major city I have ever visited.
Judging by the number of people that were walking around with expensive designer
accessories, no one was afraid of being robbed. There was a definite police
presence, and as Julie and I remarked while we were walking together at dusk one
night, there was never a time when we felt threatened or unsafe.
I mostly expected to see a bunch of kooky people… At least that’s what came
to my mind when I thought about Times Square. I guess we did see a few… the
Naked Cowboy… And then there was the lady that had a baby lamb with diapers on
a leash! That was odd!
I had expected the food to be good, and as you can
tell from our report – I was not disappointed. Every restaurant meal that we had
was wonderful. Julie did tell me that the hot dog she bought from a vender
(after I had already left for the airport) was the worst she had ever had,
though. So unless you know of a specific vendor that has good ones, consider
yourself warned. ;0)
True, but then I got the best hotdog I ever had at the La Guardia airport. It
had a pretzel wrapped around it. YUM.
One last observation was that people seemed
extremely friendly. I had heard that New Yorkers can be brusque, but that was
never the case with the people we spoke to. All in all, this turned out to be a
wonderful trip. We hope that you enjoyed sharing it with us.