Thursday, May 23, 2013

The City That Never Sleeps

Midtown Manhattan looking to the northeast from the Observation Tower on the 86th floor of The Empire State Building - May 16,2013

We went, we saw, we conquered!  We also decided we are too old to try to do as much as we did in the four days we were in New York City.  We had a great time, but I think the highlight for both of us was spending time with friends, both old and new!  It was the first time we'd ever been in NYC in the company of people who actually live there and it gave the whole experience a completely different dimension, one which makes us excited to return sooner rather than later.  For me particularly, that's a pretty significant admission.  My disdain for large crowds, enclosed spaces and other people invading my space make it difficult for me to relax, but this time felt different and with the exception of only one or two tight spaces, I really did have a great time.  

This post will just include some highlights as there is no way to recapture all the moments in writing and I'm sorry to say there will be only a few pictures.  The only negative we have to say about our home in Greenport is that the internet connection is woefully slow and pictures are almost impossible to load.  The one above took over three minutes!!  And speaking of our home in Greenport, I am writing this on Thursday morning because we are relaxing on what is the first truly rainy day of this entire trip.  We have been so fortunate with cool, dry days and truthfully, we are both exhausted, so this day is more than welcome.  In retrospect, we've tried to cram lot of activity into a shorter period of time and are paying the price in terms of just plain old physical exhaustion.  But it's all good as we have the day and the time to recoup!

We arrived in Queens early last Thursday morning and checked into the Fairfield Inn LaGuardia/Astoria.  There was a method to our madness.  A hotel outside of midtown was within our budget and this one had EXCELLENT reivews on Trip Advisor.  It offered free shuttle service to the nearest subway station and most importantly of all, offered free PARKING!  We will likely use this hotel in the future as it also offers free shuttle service to/from LaGuardia airport and with such easy access to the subway, one can easily be in Times Square in 20 minutes tops!  

But we were headed for Rockefeller Plaza and a meet-up with a dear friend we had not seen in almost three years.  Candra has been living and working in NYC for almost seven years and we had a blast getting caught up while doing the touristy thing.  She herded us up and down the street, through the subway maze and got us to where we wanted to be in half the time it would've taken us on our own.  Lunch of traditional NY pizza (eaten while standing up of course) was followed by a trip to the top of the Empire State Building and then a journey to the Upper West Side for the best cookie I've ever had in my life eaten while sitting on a rock in Central Park after paying homage at the John Lennon Memorial.  Thanks Candra, for a perfect day.  Hopefully, there will be others.

Three happy friends on the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building
(It was so crowded up there, I'm amazed we got this pic with no other faces/bodies showing!)  - May 16, 2013

On Friday, we visited the 9/11 Memorial and were very lucky to be one of the first admitted when it opened at 10.  The place is large (which you can certainly understand if you ever saw the Twin Towers) with the two Memorial Pools following the exact footprint of the towers.  To have a picture of the south pool with no other people in it is truly special and we are glad to have made the effort to arrive so early.  It is very moving to walk around the pools and see the names inscribed in the granite. 

Leaving the memorial, it was time for lunch so we headed to Chelsea Market, one of the places on our "list" that we had never visited.  We knew about it, but hadn't really paid much attention until it started becoming so frequently mentioned on Food Network, whose offices and kitchens are now actually physically located on the upper floors of Chelsea Market.  We had a wonderful lunch at Friedman's which Bill had picked out for their reputation of the best hamburger in NYC.  It was good, but I'll have to admit, I didn't see that it was any better than a burger at my much-loved Five Guys and this was one of those places where the noise and the crowds really got to me.  It was wall to wall people and the tables were so close, you could hardly cut your hamburger without elbowing the person next to you.  Even Bill mentioned how enclosed it felt.  Normally that isn't bothersome to him, so at least I knew it wasn't just me.

Next up was the 3 1/2 hour Circle Line Tour which boasts a trip around the entire island of Manhattan, 101 of the most popular city sights and close up views of the Statue of Liberty.  We had done this tour on our very first visit to NYC in 1986, but did NOT remember it being as wonderful as it is.  Perhaps it was our young age and acting silly rather than paying attention or perhaps, we just had a better tour guide, but this trip was amazing.  I cannot believe all that I learned about NYC, its history, its people, the boroughs, etc., etc.  Despite the fact that our boat was VERY crowded, we both highly, HIGHLY recommend this.  Once the boat got moving, the crowds began milling about and didn't feel quite so oppressive to me.  

Our boat trip ended at 4:30, so we walked back up to Times Square where we enjoyed a snack and walked through that area until we realized how tired we were.  At that point, knowing we still had a .6 mile walk from our subway stop back to the hotel (it's faster to walk than to call and wait for the shuttle), we headed back.  Grabbing a slice of genuine NY pizza and a bowl of fruit from the deli near the subway station, we made it back to our hotel where we ate the pizza and talked about our day.

On Saturday morning, we headed back into the city from our hotel in Queens for another visit to Chelsea Market and a walk on The High Line.  The High Line (please read about it) was recommended to us by Blog Friend now friend IRL, Carol.  I had never heard of it, but when I read about it, I knew it was something I wanted to experience.  It seemed like a laid back Saturday morning thing to do before checking out of our hotel and heading back to Greenport so off we went.  It did not disappoint and along with Carol, we highly recommend it as just one more unique experience in NYC.

Walking The High Line - May 18, 2013

Following our meander along the entire length of The High Line, we headed back to Queens, checked out of our hotel and enjoyed an easy drive back to Greenport.  And this is where the story gets somewhat interesting because the next morning, we actually returned to the city for another 24 hours.  That story coming up next!

Thanks For Reading!


  1. Thank you for sharing!! I love to travel thru your lens!!

  2. What a wonderful trip. Love your photos - looks like you had perfect blue-sky weather.

  3. I've been to NYC once with my mom and once for work years ago, both were after I was living in KC rather than just a hop, skip away in Boston. I had lots of deli:) We visited Ellis Island. I also very distinctly remember going to FAO Schwartz to buy a gift for my oldest who was a baby at that time. And we saw two Broadway shows.

  4. I want a levain cookie!

    I have been to the city a hand full of times and there is always something amazing to do and see!

  5. I do hope to go back to NYC sometime! So much has changed since I was last there, plus I really want some Ray Bari pizza now. :)

  6. I love seeing my city through your perspective. This IRL friend is so grateful that you came to New York and I had the best time. My only question...When are you coming back?

  7. I love the way you tell your story... I can feel your love for that area and your enthusiasm. You two have really gone-gone-gone... Glad you are enjoying yourselves so much. You'll have stories to share with us for a year or more!!!!! So glad it is going so well.

  8. Yes, I'm with Lori. Drooling over the levain cookies. Didn't you get one for each of your bloggy friends LOL?

    Very fun tour. I'm exhausted reading it! I went to NY way back in the 70's (for a dog show!) and we did quite a bit of touristing, but none of what you mentioned.

  9. Fabulous! I am going to bookmark this for our next visit to NYC, most likely spring of 2015. We'll be looking for a series of things to do different from our first visit and this post is full of them. :-)