Friday, October 29, 2010

Leaving NYC

We left NYC this morning and flew back to Reno via LAX, apparently unaware that there was a terror threat involving potential explosive devices aboard cargo planes coming from at 11 no doubt.

Best NYC moment:  late night taxi ride to Queens chasing after a stolen cell phone

Worst NYC moment:  TRAFFIC!

Best NYC food:  Tribeca Grill

Best NYC cupcake:  Magnolia Bakery

Most beautiful scenery:  Central Park with autumn leaves falling in the rain

Most horrific scenery:   People standing in line for over an hour at Abercrombie & Fitch JUST TO GET IN!

Best NYC stereotype:  The guy at Lavo (Tony from Brooklyn) who said "Fuh-gedda-bout-it"

Thursday, October 28, 2010

NYC Day 4: Statue of Liberty & Ground Zero

Every American should go where we went today. 

The Statue of Liberty is THE symbol of freedom for our country.  We took the subway to Battery Park and bought our tickets. We waited for over two hours to board Miss Liberty, the ferry to Ellis Island & the Statue...but the wait was pleasant because we ate hot dogs & honey-roasted nuts from carts parked right next to the line.  Sweet!  There was a group of paramedics from France in line with us and we enjoyed hearing them discussing whatever they were discussing in French.  Anything in French sounds great.  We finally got through security, which is just like airport security, and boarded the boat for the tour.  Awesome!  It was a windy day and we were both a little queasy from the motion of the boat and the hot dogs, but we were happy to have experienced the Statue of Liberty up close.

After refilling our MetroCard (more on that later), we hopped on the subway again and rode up to the site of Ground Zero.  I really can't describe how it feels to be there.  We watched people rushing by and most of them don't even look over at the giant hole that Shelly and I couldn't take our eyes off of.  There is a church with a cemetary right across the street.  In the days after the Towers fell, St. Peter's Church became a refuge for those wanting to leave flowers at the gate and a place where firefighters and police officers could rest and find comfort.  There is a memorial inside the church where friends and family members leave photos and personal objects in memory of those who lost their lives that day. The National  9/11 Memorial is under construction, as well as a new World Trade Center tower. Cranes and construction everywhere. 

Ground Zero cranes

9/11 memorial inside St. Peter's church

St. Peter's church

rebuilding at Ground Zero

There is a cross about a half block from Ground Zero, an iron crossbeam found in the rubble.  It was temporarily located to its present location and will be moved after completion of the Memorial.  

Literally a stone's throw from Ground Zero (and in view of the new tower being constructed), is the controversial mosque site.  I could not stop myself from walking over there. It is guarded by NYPD.  Our country was founded on freedom of religion and the mosque issue will resolve with this principle being upheld, but I don't believe the motive for this proposed mosque site is based on religion.  I accept that not everyone will agree, but a religion truly based on love and having the intention of promoting peace and healing would choose another site. 

proposed Ground Zero mosque site

After leaving the Ground Zero area, we took the subway to Greenwich Village to buy Firefighter calendars (you gotta see these guys!) and visited one of the FDNY stations.   The door to the firehouse that is home to Squad 18 was painted to commemorate the U.S. bicentennial in 1976. Many stations painted their doors, but this one is the only FDNY station to still have their bicentennial door.  Shelly and I came bearing gifts of hats & t-shirts from our North Lake Tahoe Fire/Rescue guys.  They welcomed us and opened their door and took pictures of us with their truck!

Squad 18 truck

Guys receive gifts from North Lake Tahoe Fire/Rescue

Squad 18 lost seven firefighters on 9/11


OK...let's get back to the aforementioned MetroCard.  I have a bone to pick with the NYC Transit Authority.  The fare for one ride is $2.25.  When you buy a MetroCard with multiple rides, there is always $0.20-$0.50 leftover on the card - not enough for another ride.  Not a bad deal for the New Yorker who will refill the MetroCard until the "leftovers" add up to another ride...but a rip-off for the visitors who won't use up those leftovers.  The city is making some nice pocket change on the leftovers.  I'm just sayin'. 

Our last day ended with dinner at Lavo, but that is another story.  You will have to talk to us in person to get those details! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NYC Day 3: Central Park & Beyond

We got up and got started early today….NOT!   I stayed in the lobby until 1 am listening to the piano player who sounded just like Diana Krall and Shelly was up texting until 3 am. We slept until 10 am and by the time we got going it was noon.

Anyhoo…we went shopping (again) and then had lunch and took the subway to Central Park. We walked to Strawberry Fields and visited the John Lennon memorial. Then we walked across to The Dakota to see where John Lennon lived (and died). As we walked through the park, a lady walked past us and we recognized her….YOKO ONO walking her dog!

Our friend Beth, who grew up here, recommended the Tribeca Grill for dinner. Amazing food and atmosphere! The best lemon drops ever! Michael, our Lebanese cab driver, talked non-stop for 20 minutes about the time he drove Brooke Shields home…he is in love with her! He said one day he will make a movie with her.  He was very interesting - a master's degree in finance from a Lebanese university but can't find a job due to the current economic conditions so he is driving a cab and says he loves it.  The Lord works in mysterious ways.

We returned to the hotel around 10 pm and sat in the lobby having another lemon drop. We met a guy who was a Colonel in an artillery unit in Iraq, who was also a double amputee. He was here to speak at a Wounded Warrior conference. We also met several other guys who were here for the conference and they are doing great things. Shelly shared some of the things she is doing to help with case management in behavioral health and the evening turned out to be quite enjoyable.

P.S. Beth - thanks for the restaurant recommendation. We have one more day and night to finish what is on your list!

John Lennon Memorial

John Lennon Memorial

entrance to The Dakota

The Dakota

a cool tree in Central Park

Poet's Circle - Central Park

Central Park

pedestrian crossing - Central Park

Shelly & the ShoeGasm!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NYC Day 2

We said we were going to get an early start to the day…but we lied. We didn’t leave the hotel until almost 11 am. Which is what happens when you stay out late drinking cosmos and don’t get to bed until almost 1 am. We would have slept even longer, but the kids next door (the rugrats) sounded like they were on a trampoline until Shelly ripped them a new one. They were totally terrified and after she left there was not a peep heard from that room. They will probably therapy for the rest of their lives.

We walked from our hotel to Rockefeller Center and had coffee, then continued on to Times Square and shopping along the way. We tried to get on the NBC morning shows, but we got up too late. Oh well.
After Times Square, we walked down to Macy’s - the largest store in the world. They aren’t kidding. This store goes forever. And we both bought LBDs (little black dresses). We look fabulous!

We took pictures of every firefighter and every fire truck we passed…and there were plenty! We asked directions from every police officer we saw and although they didn’t always get us where we wanted to go, we loved talking with them. I could die happy today if I could slide down a fire house pole wearing a pair of turn-outs.

We ate hot dogs and pizza on the street and then we hopped on the subway to Tribeca and walked back up to Greenwich Village…to Magnolia Bakery and bought cupcakes. Magnolia Bakery is famous for the scene in Sex and the City where Miranda and Carrie are sitting on the sidewalk eating cupcakes. The BEST part was that the apartment where Carrie lived was less than 2 blocks from Magnolia Bakery. If you want to read the bakery review, you will have to go to Carpe Cupcakes! (my cupcake blog). I left them a cupcake luggage tag and told them to expect a great review. Shelly bought a very cute apron there and we loaded up on cupcakes & cookies.

A very delightful old man gave us subway directions…take the L train uptown to the eastside and then get the 4,5,6 train to Grand Central Station. Our hotel is only 4 blocks from Grand Central. We were there in less than 20 minutes. New Yorkers really know how to get around on the subway! Everyone has been extremely helpful.

After a brief time-out at the hotel we got dressed in our LBDs and walked a few blocks to a restaurant/bar recommended by our friend Cindy. Alfredo’s was Fab-You-Luss! Our waiter was a very handsome guy from Barcelona and he over-served us with their signature cocktail…a blend of citrus-infused vodka and Prosecco. I can’t even describe the deliciousness (the waiter and the drink). We overpaid him and it was worth every shift we will we have to work when we get home.

We stumbled walked back to the hotel, but a good time was had by all. WE LOVE NEW YORK!

P.S. Beth - tomorrow night we are going to one of the restaurants you recommended.

Times Square  (a big-city Gatlinburg)

Times Square - where the ball drops on New Year's Eve

Macy's - the largest store in the world




For our friend Kristi!

Empire State Building

Empire State Building (from Soho)

Magnolia Bakery
401 Bleeker Street

Carrie Bradshaw's house (from Sex & The City)
66 Perry Street

Shelly & the Magnolia Bakery Apron

Monday, October 25, 2010

NYC Day 1

NYC Day 1
Let me update you on the phone situation. The GPS this morning still showed the iPhone in the same apartment at the same address as last night. As frustrating as it is, the choice was simple: give up on getting the phone back or get arrested for harassment. Shelly deactivated her phone and bought a new one. Better than going to jail.  We had a latte and then walked to St. Patrick's Cathedral.  We sat in one of the pews and said prayers.

After the new phone was activated, we went shopping on Park Avenue (just to say we did) then took the subway to Hoboken, NJ to Carlos Bakery….where the Cake Boss is filmed. We took the D train to 34th street and then took a subway called “The PATH” to Hoboken. Relatively simple. Hoboken was great! Shelly and I could live there. Manhattan was 5 minutes away and yet Hoboken was quiet and homey. Very little traffic. Nice neighborhoods.

Carlos Bakery looked just like it did on TV. None of the cast was there, but the desserts were fabulous. Been there….bought the t-shirt. We left Carlos and walked to the Ferry Terminal where we boarded a ferry for downtown Manhattan. It let us off near Wall Street so we hiked for about 30 minutes and talked about how tall buildings surrounded us on all sides. They obscured the sun and it looked dark even though the sun was shining.

We walked and talked and people-watched until we came to an area where there were no buildings…a clear space surrounded by a fence. It took just a few seconds for me to realize where we were…Ground Zero. No buildings. Nothing between the ground and sky. I was not prepared for the moment for which I had so carefully prepared. I was standing at the site where the Towers once stood, where so many people had lost their lives, the site where I had watched planes hit the World Trade Center on CNN on the morning of September 11, 2001. We talked about how we had arrived in New York aboard a 757, the same type of planes that hit the Towers and wondered what the people aboard those planes had experienced.  We shared our stories of where we were that morning and how we felt as we watched the events as they happened. I thought I had prepared myself for this moment, but I had not.

We rode the subway to Grand Central Station, or Terminal as it is now called. I will never again use the phrase “like Grand Central Station” without remembering that I was actually there….trains going in all directions, people everywhere, shopping, dining.

We got back to the hotel and had a great dinner. The Waldorf-Astoria is beautiful and full of history. Plus, it is where the King of Zamunda stayed in the movie “Coming to America” so it holds a special place in my heart.

P.S. Beth - we are having a great time!

St. Patrick's Cathedral

a sea of taxis

Manhattan skyline from the Hoboken Ferry

Statue of Liberty at sunset

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Arrival in NYC: Girlz in the Hood

Day 1 - Arrival.   9 hours on a plane.  Taxi ride to hotel.  Missing iPhone upon arrival to room. 

Lost iPhone...$400.  MobileMe GPS phone tracking service...$99.  Taxi ride to Queens & back...$80.  Knocking on random apartment doors at 10:30 pm....priceless! 

Shelly really knows how to show a girl a good time.  Her iPhone fell out of her backpack somewhere between the back seat of our taxi and the front of the hotel.  We searched frantically and then began some most excellent detective work involving the doorman, concierge, two police officers, a taxi driver from Hong Kong, and a really nice couple who just returned from the LSU-Auburn game.  The GPS tracked the cell phone to an apartment building at 31st Road and Crescent Ave in Queens.  So what are two friends to do?  Get in a taxi and go get the phone back of course!  With Gregg guiding us by Internet, we arrived at the apartment building and began knocking on doors.  Nobody claimed to have the cell phone, although the GPS continued to tell us the exact room in the apartment on the first floor on the left.  You know who you are!

To be continued....

P.S.  Beth - we are safely back at the hotel.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New York, New York!

October 24 - 29, 2010.  Two friends...four days...the island of Manhattan!  The details of our trip documented.  Oh yes, there will be photos.

P.S.  I will be posting reviews of NYC cupcake bakeries on the blog that discusses everything in the cupcake universe:  Carpe Cupcakes!