Saturday, November 1, 2008

NY Adventure Part IX (Last Day)

We headed back to Central Park this morning (without the frog this time). We spent some time at the zoo (its really tiny, and we will head to the Bronx Zoo the next time we are here). But the weather was so nice, and the sea lions and the polar bears were out and active. That was fun. We had a quick lunch at the little zoo cafe called "The Leaping Frog"...the food was unremarkable, but I loved the name of the place. We prowled around the park for a while longer, taking in the sights of Bethesda Fountain, the Mall, and enjoying some excellent music from some of the street musicians.

After that we decided to check out China Town. It was packed with people (not as bad as that parade though), but we strolled around town for quite a while. There was so much to see....street vendors all over the place with all kinds of trinkets, and food. We saw some freaky fruits that we ended up having to come back and google (one was dragon fruit...I never heard of it before). There were tons of shops, and interesting things to check out. We stopped in at a Chinese bakery and had some kind of coffee mousse thingie that was delicious.

Then we browsed through Little Italy and parts of Soho. We ended up walking a whole lot of today. But these were places that I really wanted to see. I did decide one thing....if I ever lived here in the city, I would just have to be a Manhattan girl. These other burroughs are colorful and interesting, but not nearly as clean and as nice as Manhattan. Even the subways down in those parts of town are a little shabby. And the trains were a lot slower to arrive, too. We haven't experienced any kind of delay as far as the trains go up here in Midtown. But we waited for what seemed like an eternity down there. We stopped by Katz's deli in Soho....The scene of Meg Ryan's famously faked orgasm in "When Harry Met Sally". We thought about eating there, but had just had that coffee mousse and we just weren't hungry. We did run inside, and funny enough, they have a sign hanging down from the ceiling pointing out the exact spot where that was filmed. Bruce got a picture of that. I've heard that the food is excellent, but most of the food here has been.

Now its time to start packing up to come back home. I'm tired and a little bit ready to get back home again. I will miss this place though. We have had a really good time. And I will definitely make it a point to come back again. The high points for me have been:
1. Shopping
2. Broadway shows
3. The Museums
4. The food....oh the yummy wonderful food in this town!!!!

And I loved it all in that exact order....Ha!

NY Adventure Part VIII (Halloween Frightmare)

Halloween was beautiful here. The weather was warm and sunny. We had an excellent time touring through the Guggenheim Museum, and then spent the majority of the rest of the day at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. My only real regret about this whole trip has been not having quite enough time at The Met. I honestly did not realize just how HUGE this museum was. Or how absolutely fascinating. We strolled through so many galleries of things: Egyptian art, Asian art, Greek and Roman art......we got lost a couple of times. And we still didn't manage to see the whole thing. Next time I will skip the Museum of Natural History (it was interesting, but not as much as the Met), and probably would skip the Guggenheim and spend much more time at the Metropolitan. It was amazing.

On our way back to the apartment we saw lots of kids out in costume. Most of the shops and businesses seemed to be sponsoring trick-or-treating in the late afternoon. And that was fun to see. So many cute little kiddies, all dressed up and all excited about the candy...haha.

Things got a little sketchy after that. The village parade that I was so excited to see....well, we never made it. We TRIED to make it. We took a subway ride down to the village where we got stuck in a huge wave of people exiting the station out onto 6th Ave. And I mean stuck. Like seriously stuck. In a tiny, narrow corridor with dozens upon dozens of people still pushing their way off of the trains, and for some reason noone was exiting the station. We were being pushed and shoved and nobody could see why the crowd wasn't moving. The way the exit gates worked, noone could get back into the train area. We were locked in. I actually came close, like VERY close to having a full-blown panic attack. I'm claustrophobic anyway. And that was tight, and airless. Bruce admitted to feeling a little panic himself, so it wasn't just me. But finally things started moving and we made it back up to the street where I thought things would improve.....

There were just soooo many people down there for this parade. We walked for blocks trying to find just one area where we might could see at least part of the parade, but the crowd was too thick and too deep. There were a couple of spots where we got jammed in, almost as bad as the subway. And people were getting irritated and mean. There was some shoving and yelling, and Bruce and I decided to ditch our efforts before somebody went completely postal and got violent. I'm really not exaggerating. It was the only time I have felt unsafe here in this city.
And also....we were so paranoid after that subway incident, that we kind of wanted to get back to this area of Manhattan before the parade was over and everybody was trying to leave that area.
We came home and watched the parade on tv. A little sad, but true, and oh so much more satisfying than being stuck in those mobs of people. We did get to see a lot of characters all dressed up down there, though. NYC really parties for Halloween. Its just a lot rougher and wilder than we anticipated.

Friday, October 31, 2008

NY Adventure Part VII (A Slight Retraction....)

Right before we left for the show this evening, Bruce happened to see that the dreaded aforementioned Empire State Building was open until 2am, 7 days a week. So, on a whim, after the show, we took the subway on down to 34th St. just to see if the whole line procedure (fiasco) was any better at night. This was around 11pm. I'm happy to say that not only were we able to walk right in, with NO wait at all...the views up there at night were spectacular. I'm glad we decided to try it. It looked like the biggest Christmas display I have ever seen in my life, and it stretched on and on as far as the eye could see on all sides. Very worth it. Not worth the kind of wait during the day, but if you ever decide to go, go late. After 10, at least.

And about the show "Rock of Ages"...I was a little nervous about this one. First of all, it was off-Broadway, which doesn't really mean anything as far as quality goes. But given the fact that my husband has never been able to stand Constantine Maroulis, I was completely prepared for him to be miserable, rolling his eyes, being bored, or even sleeping (snoring) through the whole thing. But it was extremely good. Bruce had an excellent time. He decided that Constantine had a really good voice (I knew that all this time, so no surprises there for ME). And the abundance of extremely scantily clad dancers was just a huge bonus for him. He ended up enjoying it as much as I did. The show is a tongue in cheek kind of parody of those bands of the 80's (remember WhiteSnake....anybody???). But it was hilarious, the crowd got into it, and between that and our most excellent 2nd trip to The Empire State Building, I consider the day redeemed!!! And now its almost 1 am and I am exhausted, so I'm headed for bed!!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

NY Adventure Part VI (What NOT to do in NY)

Somehow our plans changed this morning and we decided to go to the Empire State Building instead of The Met. Big mistake. HUGE mistake. If you are ever in NY avoid this tourist trap at ALL costs. Luckily we did shop a little and had some of the best pizza ever before we went, so the day wasn't a total loss. Which reminds me to put in a little plug here for "John's Pizzeria" on 44th, just off of Times Square. I saw a piece about it in a write up of some of NY's best authentic little hole in the wall kinds of restaurants. And it has spoiled me for life. I don't know how I will ever eat Pizza Hut again......and the building is a renovated church, complete with stained glass in the main seating area. Its worth a trip if you are in the area.

But back to things that are SO NOT worth it....We got to the Empire State Building with all of that yummy pizza in our bellies. We saw a long-ass line to get into the door, but hey...its NY, its to be expected, so we were unfazed (a little chilly, but unfazed still). We got inside to yet another long-ass line for something that we had no idea what it was. It turned out to be a security line. But we made it through to walk into yet another holding area with another long-ass line to buy tickets.

Here's where I started to get mad. We bought this NY Pass thing that was supposed to get us into quite a few attractions for the price of the pass. And we were supposed to be able to bypass ticket lines with these things. Well, we did get the tickets without charge, but we were still forced to wait in that line for an eternity. But we did it. And....we turned the corner and saw what most likely was the longest line of all. The line waiting to get into elevators to go up.

I kid you not, it was beyond ridiculous. Anyway, they advertised this spectacular skyride thing, that was a movie with seats that move to give you the sensation of flying over the city. And our passes also included that, so we ditched the long lines to the observatory and went to that first.
Where we....can you guess?....waited. And waited. And the maddening thing for that was that the line wasn't even very long. But the whole scene was completely disorganized. None of the employees seemed to have a clue what was going on, what line was for what....It was stupid. And that ride was stupid. And if I had paid for it, I might have asked for my money back. But the employee that ushered us in had promised that from the exit of the skyride, we would all be taken directly to the elevators, and given preference for going to this extra (stupid) thing. And he was stupid, too, cuz when we walked out, the line from the skyride to the observatory was just as bad as the other line. We took one look at it and walked the heck out of there. I was so tired of standing that I didn't even want to look at NY after all of that. I'm just glad we did it with our passes and didn't actually spend extra cash on that crap.

Also? The whole time you are standing in those infernal lines, people are walking all over you and hawking stuff. They try to get you to buy all kinds of extras like an $8.00 map of the city, so you will know what you are looking at when (IF) you ever make it to the top. Or you can rent these audio recorders to have a voice tell you the same stuff for some outrageous price. I don't know. I felt accosted by pimps the whole time we were there. And seriously....The view from the top of the Rockefeller Center was spectaculor....the wait to go up was short....the whole situation much better organized, and we were asked politely ONCE while buying our tickets if we wanted to buy an additional $3.00 map. Go there. Its much more interesting.

But hopefully our evening will be better. We have tickets to go see an Off Broadway show called "Rock of Ages". Constantine Maroulis, from American Idol is in it. And every time my husband hears Constantine's name, he makes a face. And not a good, happy kind of face either...haha.
He probably did not want to go see this show, but our morning was so disappointing that he is trying to redeem our day. I'm excited, anyway. Erica wanted us to go see Equus with Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), but hubby absolutely did NOT want to see Harry Potter naked. Like at ALL.

Tomorrow we are definitely going to see The Met.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NY Adventure Part V (Miracle on 34th St.)

This morning we went to Macy's. The Macy's on 34th St. And I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. We shopped, and I bought 2 of the most gorgeous pairs of boots. My husband was even cooperative, as far as the shopping went, because seriously, I tried on a LOT of boots trying to make up my mind. Actually, I probably only ended up with 2 pairs just because he wanted to leave...haha.

Then we headed over to TKTS at Times Square. You have to stand in line for a while (ok, for a long while), but if you are willing to brave the line, you can pick up Broadway tickets for that night's performance for half-price. We got tickets to Spamalot, you know, with Clay Aiken. We just got back from that, and it was hilarious. I am a fan of Monty Python anyway, but they glammed it up a bit for Broadway. We laughed the whole way through, and came away completely satisfied with the experience. The best part was that our seats were only 3 rows back from the stage. I could have reached out and touched Clay if I wanted to. Not that I would, because that would just be creepy, but I could have....I love seeing a local NC boy make it in live theater.

And if that wasn't enough fun for 1 day, Bruce managed to score tickets to the taping of the Dave Letterman show while we were waiting in the ticket line for Spamalot. He answered some kind of trivia question that I would have NEVER known..." Who is Rupert G.?". He got it right, and I still couldn't tell you the answer. But we were there for the afternoon taping of tonight's show.
We had a blast there, too. The show was funny, but what I did not know was that they tell you/force you to laugh loudly. We were instructed to laugh and applause no matter what. Even if we didn't think Dave was funny....haha. I took my job seriously, so I laughed. I figured what the heck? Tomorrow we are heading over to The Met. I'm looking forward to that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NY Adventure Part IV (Street Fashion)

Just a quick fashion observation while we wait on the rain to slack up this morning (its pouring, but should pass over in a while...we hope). I know that NY is one of the fashion capitols of the world. But I am not talking about those wild and extravagant runway ensembles that a normal woman wouldn't wear in public. From what I can tell as far as basic NY street fashion, the short ankle boot is IN. Especially with dresses and skirts. Which is not a combination that I would have ever put together, but its not bad. A little funky, and different. I might get some strange looks back home if I tried it, but then again, people back home would think nothing of pairing a beat up pair of running shoes with a skirt, so....? Also...tights. Not flesh colored panty-hose, but opaque tights in all colors and even prints. Again, this might look a bit odd back home, but its cool and fun here. I've seen tights in window displays in every color of the rainbow and in every print from cute little rainbows to skulls. I might break down and pick up a few pairs. Just because. If I get too freaked out by wearing them with a dress, I can always put them on under pants on a cold day, and at least get some use out of them....haha.

The 2 things that I really would love to purchase while I'm here: Jeans!! Super haute, designer jeans, unlike the Gap and Old Navy which is basically all I can buy back home without going out of town to shop (like Raleigh or Richmond....which my daughter and I do as often as time allows.
Which also means, not nearly enough.)

And boots!!! Not the ankle boots, although those would be cool. But some comfortable tall leather boots in black. Comfy being the key word here. We passed the Kenneth Cole NYC mother-store, and I saw exactly what I wanted in the window. Now all I need to do is to talk Bruce into 2 things:
1. Shopping (level of difficulty-hard)
2. Spending the cash on NY/designer prices (level of difficulty-Extremely hard)...haha!

Monday, October 27, 2008

NY Adventure Part III: (Bodies)

It was a beautiful day in NYC. The sun was shining, and it was relatively warm. We decided to make the most of the weather and take the ferry out to see Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty. We didn't disembark, but the views were spectacular. But the crowds...Oh Sweet Lord, the number of people out there was just staggering. The first time we attempted it, the park attendant told us the line stretched all the way to Texas. Dallas, Texas, in fact. I was inclined to believe her. So we grabbed a cab and made our way over to see a really extraordinary exhibit at the Seaport Museum, called "Bodies...The Exhibition". It was really interesting, in a morbid and strange way. These are actual bodies of people who left their remains to science, and they are dissected, and displayed to give the most elaborate anatomy lesson you have ever experienced.
You get to see details that only medical professionals ever see. The one that really struck me as amazing was a complete circulatory system. It was in a person-sized plexiglass case, suspended in liquid, in human shape. But the details...just how intricate the spider-webbing of veins, arteries and capillaries was incredible. It was a little like a visit to a morgue, and people were all hushed out of respect for the dead. But I have never seen the inner-workings of the body like that before. It was worth the time to see it. The picture up top is one of the actual displays. You can walk around it and see the insides of the human body in cross-section.

After that, we went back to Battery Park and got the ferry without too much of a wait. We, meaning Bruce, have figured out the subway system fairly well. Its extremely efficient, and not the dirty, scary, underground cesspool of violence that I was afraid of. It is a little bit confusing, but once you get the hang of it, its not too bad. The one thing about NY that I can NOT for the life of me figure out is that the majority of locals run around the city in heavy winter coats, boots and scarves even when its a nice comfortable 65 degrees outside....? Whats up with that? I mean, occasionally it gets a bit windy, but not enough to warrant North Pole clothing. Also? They get on the subway like that, somehow without breaking a sweat. And that confounds me to no end, because the subway??? is hot, humid and steamy. Apparently all the time. The trains are hot, the tunnels are hot. Maybe these northerners have thin blood or something. The most I have needed is a light jacket, and that was on the top deck of the ferry today.

Anyway, tonight we are feeling our age (maybe more...?). We had a late lunch/early dinner at Grand Central Station today, just to see the place (it was beautiful), and then we came back here to the apartment around 5pm to rest up a bit and to decide what we wanted to do this evening.
I woke up at 8pm. Seriously! We have pounded the pavement, and run around this city so much over the past couple of days that we were both completely exhausted. And so, I'm sad to say, that here we are in this amazing city surrounded by all of this incredible stuff to do, and we have made a mutual decision to stay in and get some rest this evening. Maybe we will regain our momentum tomorrow. Its supposed to turn colder tonight, and there is a chance of snow...???
When we left home the Weather Channel's 10 day forecast for NYC called for mid-60's all week long. Hmmmm....sounds like a really good excuse to shop. I have seen some of the most gorgeous boots here ever!!!

p.s. The frog didn't come with us today, as he is phobic about dissected bodies. Apparently too many of his relatives ended up in biology class.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

NY Adventure Part II (Frog in Central Park)

Enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful model sailing boats at The Conservatory Water.

Hanging out on a picturesque wooden foot bride.

Taking a bicycle cart tour on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Relaxing on a park bench after all the fun.

Completely exhausted, Jeremiah Frog takes a much needed rest back at the apartment. What a fun day!!!!