Friday, March 14, 2014

NYC - Day 1 (Thursday)

Last weekend, my sister Lisa had to go to New York for a business trip. She invited me to come along so we could hang out and do some sightseeing in NYC for the weekend.

We planned the trip, and I hoped it would be warmish by then. Since we have had such cold weather lately, I was a little worried about being cold all weekend on the East coast.

The weekend turned out to be so much fun, and the weather turned out OK.

On Thursday morning (March 6th) my son Chris dropped me off at the airport.

I have to admit, I absolutely LOVE the Kansas City International airport. It's design makes it so easy to get in and out quickly. The airport is made of 3 big circle buildings. You pull your car to the inside of the circle and get dropped off right in front of your departing gate.
The planes pull up to the outside of the circles. No long walk through the inside of the building to the terminals. When Chris dropped me off in front of the airport, I was about 50 yards from the ramp to  my plane. It's so easy to get around this airport compared to other airports I have been to.
(web image)

I got to the airport a little early, so I waited a little bit before I went through the TSA security checkpoint.
While I sat there people watching, I noticed a woman pacing around excitedly waiting for some passengers to come off of a plane that just arrived. She was obviously eager to see someone and since I'm nosy, I hung around to see who she was meeting.

As the passengers came out of the plane, I understood her excitement. Her daughter, a US Soldier was coming HOME!!! The greeting and hug between this mom and daughter was so incredibly touching and I had to look away so they wouldn't notice I had tears in my eyes too.

After I composed myself I also noticed there were other soldiers arriving too. One daddy soldier was throwing his 3 year old daughter up in the air and catching her. I was so touched to see all of this. That was my best people-watching experience, ever.

When it was time to go through security, I grabbed a tub to put my shoes and purse in, so it could go through the x-ray machine. The tub I grabbed had the perfect message written just for me on the inside of the tub.

It was a nice reminder of my Grateful Dead hippie days that seem so long ago:

My flight to LaGuardia was uneventful. I was lucky enough to get the whole row of seats to myself for the 3+ hour flight.

My sister landed just after I did, and we met in the baggage area.
We collected our bags and got in our car to take us to Manhattan.

We got to go through a long tunnel. (We don't have tunnels like this in Kansas)

When we arrived at the Marriott, it was already dark out.

This is the Marriott in Herald Square. It's in mid-town Manhattan. I didn't get a piture of the outside of the hotel, so I pulled one off the web:
(web image)

The lobby of the hotel was on the 2nd floor:

We checked in and got our room key cards and headed to the 13th floor.

This is the hallway going to our room. This building used to be a bank before Marriott bought it a few years ago. I thought it was interesting that someones office was here before.

I thought buildings weren't supposed to have a 13th floor? Good thing I'm not superstitious

It was a very nice room. We expected it to be small, but it was really a nice size for the 2 of us. We weren't squished at all:

I took these pics the next day, but I'll add them in here:

As soon as we dropped our bags, I went right to the window to see what our view was.
It was very "New Yorkish" with buildings and traffic down on the streets. I could hear honking and city noise down below. It was very different from home in the Kansas suburbs.

I have been to New York many times, and I have visited Manhattan during the day several times. This was my first time in a high rise hotel in Manhattan.

Lisa and I were starving!
We took a walk outside to see if we could find food.
We found this Irish Pub/restaurant about a half block down. Our dinner was good, and hit the spot!

Inside Jack Demsey's pub:

After we ate, we walked around a little bit, but we were both tired from traveling. Lisa had to work early the next day, so we went back to the hotel, read books, and went to bed around 11ish.

Day 2 is HERE

NYC - Day 2 (Friday)

We woke up fairly early because Lisa had to get ready for work. I looked out the window and this is what I saw. Taxi cabs and busses everywhere! 

We walked outside our hotel and got bagels from this cart. They were fresh and warm.
Two "everything" bagels with cream cheese and 1 apple juice was $3.25
We were amazed at how inexpensive that was

We took our bagels back to our room. 
A real New York bagel:

Lisa had to go to her work meeting, which happened to be in our hotel, so she didn't have far to go. I stayed in the room. I watched TV and went back to sleep. 

I wasn't brave enough to venture out on the Manhattan streets by myself. That was way out of my comfort zone. I was perfectly happy in the hotel room, and I caught up on my sleep.

Lisa came to get me around 11:00 and we went out to get some lunch.
Her co-worker took us to a place called Brendan's that was down the street. They had very good food!

After lunch we went back to the hotel. I went back to the room and read my book (something I never get to do at home), and Lisa went back to work.

She came back sometime in the late afternoon and we got ready to go out exploring.

When we went outside and walked around for a bit we found we were only a block away from the Empire State building. It was really tall, and so close!
We couldn't see it from our hotel window, or from the street in front of our hotel. The buildings around us were too tall and blocked our view. 
One block over from our hotel:


Our hotel was also across the street from the Macys store. Not just any Macy's store. this is THE Macy's store of all Macy's stores.

This particular Macy's is special to me for a few reasons. My mom worked for Macy's as a cosmetics buyer for much of my childhood. She used to travel to this Macy's A LOT when I was a kid. The corporate offices are in this store. 

Also, we were on 34th street. The same exact 34th street that the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade goes down. I love that parade and I watch it every year. I also love the old version of  the movie "Miracle on 34th Street" and I watch that every year too. I thought it was so cool to be there, even if nothing was going on. 

Looking down the parade route on 34th street. Macy's is on the right. The store is so huge, it takes up an entire city block.

R.H. Macy never saw this particular store on 34th street. He started the first Macy's store in 1850 in Massachusetts and expanded to New York in 1858 at  Sixth ave and 14th street. He died in 1877.

This Macy's was built in 1902 and has had many owners including Isador Straus, who died on the Titanic in 1912. His brother Nathan Strauss continued ownership after that, and now it is owned by a giant corporation called American National Holding Company (they also own Bloomingdales)

Here are some pics I found on the web of the 34th street Macys.
This was in 1907 There are horses and buggies, and women in long skirts!
(web image)

You can see the cut-out in the corner of the building in the picture above. The company that owns that building would not sell their building to Macy's for a reasonable price, so Macy's built their giant building around it.

(web image)

(web image)

This is pretty much what it looked like when we were there, with the giant shopping bag sign.
(web image)

Lisa and I walked down to the main entrance on 34th street

It was really nice inside, and very crowded. 

We were looking for something for Lisa to take back to our Mom. We thought she might want something that said "Macy's New York".

They still have 2 old wooden escalators in the store, and they still work!!

After our trip to Macy's, we went back to the hotel for a few minutes.
Later we went up to the rooftop of our hotel, and we could see the Empire state building from there.
It was really pretty at night:

We also had a really good view of the Macy's from the rooftop of our hotel:

We were heading to Times Square for dinner and some shopping. 

We passed police on horses. Why are they on horses? I don't quite understand.
What do they do if they have to chase someone? I can't imagine those horses running down those busy streets or sidewalks. Hmmmm...........I should have asked them when I was standing there.

A few more blocks and we were in Times Square. I've I've been here during the day but never at night.

It was neat to be here (I found myself thinking that a lot on this trip).

The huge signs, the lights, the people, the smells coming from the restaurants and food carts we walked past...........

It was a very cool experience to be in Times Square at night.

We went in a few stores like Disney, the M&M store and the Hershey's store. We did buy a lot of chocolate!

We decided to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe.
Before they seated us, they wanted to take our picture, and the lady handed us guitars with no strings.
We took the pic but we really weren't being serious about it. My guitar is upside down!

Later when they brought the picture to our table, we liked it and ended up buying it!

They had a place where we could take our own souvineer pics

Jerry Garcia was on the wall right near our table

This was one of my favorite pics at the Hard Rock

We stopped at Crumbs Bakery for cupcakes on our way back to the hotel.

We had a long day coming tomorrow, so we went to bed around 11:00 PM


NYC - Day 3 (Saturday)

We woke up pretty early because we had a lot to do and see today. We wanted to get a good head start. 

We left our hotel around 8:00 AM to begin our exploring.

On the corner of our street, there was a subway entrance. I had never seen a subway before so we went down to take a look.

I forgot to take a pic of the subway entrance, so I got this one from Google Earth

(web image)

Heading down to the subway:

It was really empty down there on a Saturday morning:

Back out on the street, we started walking toward NBC studios. Lisa wanted to see if we could see the TODAY SHOW being filmed.

As we walked, we went past the Wall Street Journal building:

We walked past this sign on a bank:

We walked past Bryant Park:

We walked past Radio City Music Hall:

We walked past Rockefeller Center:

It was so early, there was no one skating on the rink in front of Rockefeller Center yet:

We made it to the TODAY Show, and we were just in time to watch them film the last segment of the Saturday morning show our in the plaza.

They had an area where we could make a sign to hold up during the taping. 

We were in a hurry to get over by the area where they were filming, so we didn't take much time to make our sign. We weren't planning on trying to get on TV or anything, we were kind of just playing around, which is why our sign looks kind of dumb :)

We got through the small sign check area. They were checking signs to make sure we didn't put anything awful on it before they let us into the area where they were filming.

There were only 30-50 people there, and it wasn't crowded like we thought it would be.

I went to the back of the row of people and held our sign up so Lisa could take a pic. (That's why I'm the only one holding up a sign in this pic.............they weren't even filming!)

We stood there for about 20 minutes and watched them film this exercise segment:

My sister was on cloud 9 watching this live:

After the Today Show was over, Lisa and I went back to exploring NYC.
We walked back past the ice rink at Rockefeller Center and there were a few skaters out there. I think it was around 9:00 AM

This is THE Park Avenue  - the one I learned about as a kid when I played Monopoly

Our next stop was the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for breakfast. 
This is a crazy expensive hotel, so we wanted to have a meal here just to say we did it. Breakfast seemed to be the most logical choice for us. We knew it would be expensive and we were right. It was the most expensive breakfast I have ever had. 
We had the breakfast buffet, and everything we tried was very good. They have some amazing chefs there.

Here is the famous clock in the lobby at the Waldorf Astoria. It was made for the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1893. I'm sure it was solid gold. It had several old Presidents pictures etched on the panels.
We were trying not to look too much like tourists taking pics inside the hotel, but I'm pretty sure we looked like tourists taking pics inside the hotel, LOL!

We decided since we paid so much for breakfast, we should use their restrooms before we left. Each stall inside the ladies room had its own marble sink inside.

Back out on the New York streets, we walked toward Grand Central Station, I mean Grand Central Terminal. (For some reason we aren't supposed to call it "station".

After we took pics at Grand Central, we went outside and found a cab. It was time to go to Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, and it was a bit too far to walk. 

We weren't sure what to expect at Ground Zero. I guess I thought it was a park and we could just go walk around. Had I done my homework, I would have known it's not that easy.

There were thousands of people there, and we were all directed to an entrance. After seeing the amount of people waiting to get into the area where the World Trade Towers stood, we decided not to go inside. It looked like it might take a few hours to get in there, and we didn't want to wait that long.

We went into the gift shop and watched a film about 9/11
It was really sad to be there, even 13 years after the tragedy. It was very emotional and very somber.

The tall tower in the center of this pic is called One World Trade Center, and was just finished being built in 2012. It's 104 stories tall.

They had the area fenced and roped off. These were the best pics I could get without actually going in to the site.

After Ground Zero, we walked toward the water. There was a little park, so we sat down on a bench for a few minutes to re-group, rest, and take a few pics. It was hard to shake off the sad feeling of being near Ground Zero.

I was able to zoom in on the Statue of Liberty

Here is Ellis Island. I was there several years ago, and it was worth the visit if you are into US history or family history. We were sorry we didn't have time to go there on this trip.

We were ready for something upbeat so we found another cab and asked the driver to take us to Chelsea Marketplace.

It's the old Nabisco factory. The Food Network has their kitchens in the upper floors. The bottom floor was made into many market type shops, restaurants and bakeries.
(See the old wooden floor left from when it was a Nabisco factory??!)

We walked in several shops, and I was AMAZED at how fresh the vegetables were. I wanted to shop!!!
I couldn't believe we were seeing all this fresh beautiful produce in the middle of the city.

Back in Kansas, were we have lots of um.... farms...........our produce NEVER looks like this.

Look at the bowls of spices!

And of course, the bakeries had really good looking sweets:

By now it was about 2:00 PM and we were a little tired.
We found a cab and went back to our hotel to rest for an hour or so. We also had shopped a little bit and we didn't want to keep carrying our packages around the city.

We relaxed for about an hour and we were ready to explore some more.
This time we headed for the Empire State building. Since it was only a block away from our hotel, we thought we would be able to get there fairly quickly and get up to the top.
There were another 3000 people who had the same idea we had.  

Inside the lobby of the Empire State Building:

We waited in line to buy tickets ($27.00 pp - Yikes! Can you imagine how much money they were making just from visitors?) I wasn't joking about the amount of people there. 

After we bought tickets we waited in line to go through security, then another line to get free headsets (we didn't want to do the headset tour), then another line to get into the first set of elevators to get up to the 80th floor.

I was fine until I got in the elevator. After being at Ground Zero a few hours before, I was feeling a little uneasy about going up so high in this building. 

On the 80th floor, we had to wait in line again for another elevator to take us to the 86th floor observation deck. This time there was only one elevator going up, and a really long line. They told us we could take the stairs up the last 6 flights, so Lisa and I took the stairs.
 6 flights of stairs cant be that bad, can they?

What a dumb idea!!! My thighs were SCREAMING  on the 85th floor, and I barely made it up the last flight of stairs. WHEW! (I'm not doing that again!)

On the 86th floor:

They had an inside area up there:

We headed outside, and it was really windy up there. And cold!
The view was fantastic, and totally worth the pain of climbing those stairs to be up there.

I held my camera outside of the safety bars and tried to take a picture straight down.

I got a nice picture of a gutter:

We were really high up!
Of course, we found the Macy's and got some pics. It really is a huge store!

Looking at lower Manhattan. The tallest building is the new One World Trade Center, standing very near where the twin towers stood.

I was able to zoom in on Miss Liberty again.

We didn't stay up there long, maybe 20-30 minutes. We walked around to all 4 sides of the observatory and took pics.

We went into the gift shop before we came back down and I bought myself an Empire State Building Sweatshirt. I'm such a good little tourist! 

Getting back down was a lot faster than going up. We didn't have to wait long for an elevator, thank goodness, because I was still a little creeped out being up there.

We walked back to our hotel and got ready for dinner. We hadn't eaten since our Waldorf Astoria breakfast, and we were both starving.

Lisa chose a Brazilian steak house called Churrascaria Plataforma, where they bring unlimited meats to your table if you have your "YES" sign up.

Yum! I love meat and I was very happy with the restaurant choice for the night.

We were stuffed when we left the restaurant, and winding down from a very busy day.
We felt sure we had seen everything we wanted to see,
until we spotted CAKE BOSS!!!

Of course we had to go inside!

I couldn't pass up a photo shoot with a cardboard cut out of Buddy

Looking through the windows at the Cake Boss bakers working their magic:

The cakes they had on display were gorgeous!

After visiting Cake Boss, we walked back to our hotel.
We were SO tired!! We had quite a day in NYC

Tomorrow we were heading to the airport to go home.