A Travellerspoint blog

New York Day 5: New York by Pedicab

Our last full day was the coldest day and of course it was the day we had a scheduled outside activity...a 10a pedicab tour of Central Park. We arrived at the pick up location early enough to grab some muffins at Le Pain Quotidien while we waited for our guide. He arrived a few minutes late but quickly whisked us off in the brutal cold to Central Park.
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Balto statue erected in 1925. Balto was a SIberian husky that led a sled team of dogs 650 miles thru a blizzard to deliver diphtheria medication.
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Bethesda Fountain and the Angel of the Waters.
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Bow Bridge built in 1862.
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After about an hour, the tour was over and our guide dropped us back off at the pick up point.
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From there, we caught an Uber over to the Spot where we had reservations for a drag show brunch. We arrived super early and since it was so cold outside and Mom needed to sit down, they very kindly allowed us to come in and wait.
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After they got set up, they escorted us to our table and we ordered drinks and brunch.
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Eggs benedict and tater tots for me.
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A little while later the show started.
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Now I didn't know what to expect exactly at a drag show but I thought it would be more show tunes and singing. It turned out mostly to be bringing bachelorettes and guests from the audience on stage for embarrassing antics...
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and walking around the crowd hassling people for money.
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It wasn't my thing. I don't think it was Mom's either but I'm glad we did it. Drag show brunch seemed like a NY thing to do. Since it was our last day, we stopped off at the I Heart NY store from a few days ago, conveniently located around the corner from our hotel, to load up on souvenirs. We spent the afternoon packing up and getting organized for our early morning next day departure.

For our last meal of the trip, I had made reservations at Porter's Steakhouse, a restaurant overlooking Central Park. Unfortunately, it was Saturday night and getting a cab or an Uber was nigh impossible. Neither liked to drive down our one-way street because it took so long to get thru the traffic. We tried walking down the block to a main street. Still didn't work although I did get a picture of one of my favorite Christmas decorations in the process. The picture doesn't do it justice but there were several of these gorgeous, giant wreaths in the lobby of this building.
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With limited options, we decided to go back to the hotel and order "room service" from the affiliated restaurant next door, Tony's. We were able to have it delivered to the hotel cafe where we watched the movie, The Intern, while we ate.
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This was not exactly the last dinner I had planned but it turned out kind of homey and relaxing. No traffic, no cold, no delays.

The next morning we were picked up by private car and taken back to LaGuardia for our flight back to Dallas. Mom continued on a San Antonio flight that evening. I was sad to leave her at the airport. We had such a special week together and it was time together I will always cherish.

Posted by zihuatcat 20:03 Archived in USA Tagged new york nyc Comments (0)

New York Day 4: Sixteen Shopping Days Left Until Christmas

My mom loves shopping. It's one of the activities we've always enjoyed doing together and Macy's has always been one of her favorite stores. All this combined with the Thanksgiving Day parade made Macy's the top place she wanted to visit in NYC. So first thing this morning, we took a short Uber ride there to make that wish come true.
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The Christmas windows at Macy's did NOT disappoint and the main theme appeared to be Tiptoe, the reindeer.
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Of course we had to see what type of decorations were inside, too.
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Not Christmas-related but I really loved this aquarium.
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We had matching hats for the occasion.
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We walked down the block to Paris Baguette for some breakfast pastries. I wanted to try one of everything.
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Next stop...Bryant Park Christmas Market which was the place I really wanted to go. I'd heard so much about it in my trip planning and was excited to check it out. The park was full of these green pop up buildings, each one a separate shop.
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There were several guys set up with chess games at tables. I guess anyone wanting to play could join in.
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There was also a small ice skating rink, carousel, and several food shops. We opted for some fried pickles.
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We browsed and shopped for a while and it began to get significantly colder. We decided to walk on back to the hotel to hang out until evening.

For tonight's pre-show dinner, we had a reservation at Trattoria Trecolori, the restaurant next door to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre where we had tickets to see Six. Trattoria Trecolori is a classic NYC Italian, red sauce type place. I was excited to see one of my favorite things on the menu...carpaccio.
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For dinner, Mom got lasagna.
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I ordered the chicken marsala.
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The food was surprisingly good and we ate too much of it before walking next door for showtime.
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The premise of Six was to tell the story of each of Henry VIII's wives. It was modernized into a competition of sorts as to which wife had it the worst from decapitation to death in childbirth to divorce. It was an all-female cast of only the six wives. I loved the premise of the show but it was, quite frankly, underwhelming. I feel they could have done more with it, added some pizzazz, while still keeping the storyline. But honestly, I probably would have felt this way about any show that had to follow Moulin Rouge the night before.

We were tired and cold after the show so we paid the extra $$$ for a pedicab to wind our way thru the Times Square crowds and get back to the hotel.

Posted by zihuatcat 18:24 Archived in USA Tagged new york nyc Comments (1)

New York Day 3: New York by Foot

One of the other good things about our hotel was the free continental breakfast each morning down in the cafe area.
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After breakfast, we headed out by foot to walk the 6-7 blocks north to Rockefeller Center. On the way, we passed lots of Christmas decorations.
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And we passed by some well-known venues.
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We reached the entrance to Top of the Rock and yet another long line that we were able to bypass due to our online ticket purchase. We were ushered straight in to the elevators and up to the 70th floor. It wasn't nearly as cold and windy at the top as I thought it would be. It was overall a surprisingly mild day for NYC winter.

View towards the Empire State Building.
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To the right, on the edge of the Hudson, you can see the faint image of the Statue of Liberty.
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View towards Brooklyn.
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View towards Central Park.
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We saw when we arrived that they were about to start pictures with Santa and we thought that might be a cool thing to do...until we found out the price. We passed on that, visited the gift shop, and made our way to the ground floor level. While looking for a place inside Rockefeller to have lunch, we stumbled across the ice rink and famous Christmas tree. We had a good view out of the cold and crowd.
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Still looking for a place to eat, we asked a security guard for a recommendation. He gave us directions to Bill's Bar and Burgers where we enjoyed good burgers, fries, and Cokes. Leaving there, we came out the nearest street level entrance/exit.
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Convenient for us, we came out right across the street from St. Patrick's Cathedral.
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We came out of the Cathedral and Saks Fifth Avenue was just next door. Saks was supposed to be one of the stores with fancy Christmas windows and decorations but they didn't seem out of the ordinary to us.
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Mom posing like the model.
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After several hours of walking, we decided on some rest time in the hotel before our evening activities started. So rather than walking the 6-7 blocks back to the hotel, we hailed a pedicab.
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Our evening activities included the 7p showing of Moulin Rouge at the nearby Al Hirschfield Theatre. I had made a pre-show reservation at a Cuban restaurant in the Theatre District but decided it was likely too much extra walking. I canceled that and thought we could pop in to a pizza place recommended by a work friend. We headed out of our hotel and thru Times Square to get there.
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We arrived at the pizza place to see a line clear around the block. Obviously that wasn't going to work. Luckily, we found a little restaurant on the corner called Smith's Bar and Restaurant. They had open tables and a quick food turnaround.
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We had a few minutes to kill before going to the theatre so we did some shopping at the I Heart NY store nearby. We picked out several items that we wanted to come back and get later then made our way over to the theatre to wait for entry.
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The theatre was much smaller than I was expecting and handicap access was atrocious (as we found overall in NY) but it was beautiful inside and our seats were outstanding.
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I wasn't expecting much from the show as I don't consider myself a musical person but this performance was outstanding. From the dancing to the singing to the song choice, it was highly entertaining and changed my mind about musical theatre.

Posted by zihuatcat 15:54 Archived in USA Tagged new york nyc Comments (1)

New York Day 2: New York by Ferry

This morning we had tickets for a 1030a visit to the 9/11 Museum but we wanted to eat breakfast beforehand somewhere close to the museum. I wanted Mom to give the subway another try. Unfortunately, although it was very convenient, it still required way too much walking and stairs. We made it back down to the financial district but I could tell that would be our last subway ride. Before walking over to the museum, we dropped into Stage Door Deli for some breakfast.
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Mom got her NYC bagel and I got a ham/cheese breakfast sandwich. And of course, the all important Coke for both of us!
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We walked the couple of blocks over to the museum.
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There was a long line waiting to get in but we were able to go right to the front with our pre-purchased tickets.
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I got Mom all outfitted with her wheelchair and audio tour.
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The exhibit was very well laid out and pretty easy to follow along with the audio tour.
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The survivors' staircase. These outside stairs were the last remaining structure standing above ground at WTC. These stairs were used to evacuate thousands of people from the towers before collapse.
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Of course our favorite exhibit of the day was the exhibit on the dogs of 9/11.
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A special part of this exhibit was a follow up with these dogs 10 years later, compiled in a book called "Retrieved." It takes pictures of the dogs working at the WTC site and compares them to the same dogs in 2011 showing their aging.
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Some of the condolences and memorabilia left at the WTC site.
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There was a special exhibit on Flight 93, the flight where the passengers fought back against the hijackers and crashed into a Pennsylvania field, giving their own lives to save the lives of many others. This exhibit played the cockpit recordings as well as voice mails left by passengers calling their loved ones for the last time.
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Outside the museum, in the locations where the WTC buildings once stood are the memorial fountains.
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We spent almost four hours at the 9/11 museum. It was emotional but very well done. We were tired and hungry at this point so we decided to take an Uber back to the hotel to rest and get a snack. We waited for our Uber in front of St. Paul's Chapel. For almost a year after 9/11, the chapel was used as a base for rescue workers and volunteers serving food and providing supplies and shelter to those in need.
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We arrived back at the hotel and spent the rest of the afternoon watching some TV until it was time for our dinner adventure. Tonight was birthday celebration night and I had booked River Cafe, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Brooklyn known for its food as well as the view. The one drawback? We had to take a ferry to get there. We took an Uber over to the ferry terminal where we had to wait in line, outside in the cold, for about 30 minutes for our ferry to arrive. Once it did, we boarded for the short trip. The ferry was very nice, clean, and enclosed from the cold.
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There was even a snack bar inside. It was mostly filled with commuters. And us.
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After a few stops to let people on/off, we arrived at the Brooklyn pier.
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Ice cream shop on the pier.
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Even on a hazy, drizzly night the view of Manhattan from the pier was gorgeous.
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The River Cafe was also right at the pier and was beautifully lit and decorated for Christmas.
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Mom started with a glass of pink bubbly. All of my pics inside here are terrible because they were taken so quickly. They had signs asking to refrain from taking too many pics.
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Dinner was a three course, price fixe affair. Mom's first course was a pear salad with burrata.
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Mine was octopus with zucchini and potato.
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While we waited for our courses, we were entertained by the group of gentlemen sitting across from us. They spoke with heavy NY accents, wore lots of gold pinky rings, and paid their tab of a few thousand dollars with a wad of cash. To be fair, we were also admiring the amazing view behind them.
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For our main course, Mom got the strip steak.
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I ordered the venison loin with mushrooms and carrots.
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For the dessert finale, I got the goat cheese cheesecake.
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And Mom got the Chocolate Brooklyn Bridge.
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We were able to take an Uber back over the bridge directly to our hotel rather than rush to get the last ferry of the night. The River Cafe gave us an unforgettable evening.
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Posted by zihuatcat 20:49 Archived in USA Tagged new york nyc Comments (1)

New York Day 1: New York by Subway

My mom has talked about wanting to go to NYC for as long as I can remember. She went with her Girl Scout troop as a a teenager but had not been back since. We've watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade every year since I was born. I've heard the story from my grandparents countless times about the woman from Lufkin who ran the parade for some 25 years. I considered a trip to the parade but ultimately decided that with the number of people, time you have to lineup, and lack of access to bathrooms, it's a parade best watched on TV. So the next best thing was NYC at Christmastime which happens to coincide with Mom's birthday. And since 2022 was her 75th birthday, we decided it was time to go.

We were flying from Dallas on a Tuesday morning so I had Mom fly from San Antonio to Dallas on Monday afternoon. I did not want to worry about delayed flights or weather or lost baggage on a same day flight. I picked her up at the airport and Alex made us a dinner of shrimp and tortellini pasta with alfredo sauce. We left for the airport bright and early Tuesday morning in time to have a sit-down breakfast before our flight.

We arrived at La Guardia around 3p, stood in the taxi line forever, and finally arrived in Manhattan at Casablanca Hotel.
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The Casablanca is an older hotel, directly off Times Square, which is just beyond the red awning of the diner next door.
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I picked it because it was located within walking distance of most our attractions and because it was the only hotel where I could get a "suite" type room at a decent rate. The other huge plus was that it offered free water, sodas, and snacks 24 hours a day.

Our room was a two-room suite with a pull out couch that would be my bed.
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And a separate bedroom for Mom.
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The staff remembered this was a birthday celebration.
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The only thing on our agenda for the night was dinner at Tom Colicchio's restaurant, Temple Court. We changed from our flight clothes and freshened up.
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Unfortunately when we went downstairs we discovered it was raining and no taxis or Ubers were available anywhere. That left us with the only option of the subway which I was fine with but Mom was more hesitant. The hotel porter was kind enough to walk us to the nearest subway station via elevator and helped us get the right tickets. I knew how to route us so we found our train and hopped on for the ride down to the financial district. Mom got to experience a wide range of weirdness on the subway and the maze of walking underneath the city. When we arrived and made it back to street level, it was pouring. We had to slosh thru the puddles, rain, and mess for a couple of blocks to get to the restaurant.
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I really wanted to eat at this restaurant and Mom was a trooper.
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The restaurant is located inside the historic Beekman Hotel which has been graced by the likes of Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Edgar Allen Poe. Built in 1883, it was also where Shakespeare's original Hamlet made its NYC debut.

Looking up towards the hotel room floors.
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The bar/restaurant area.
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I started with a martini and they served us an amuse bouche of a chilled soup.
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We also started with the highly recommended chestnut agnolotti which was in my top 5 pasta dishes of all time.
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For my main, I had the diver scallops with English peas, pancetta, and trout roe.
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Mom had the grilled pork chop.
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We also splurged on a dessert based on pineapple upside down cake.
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By the time dinner was over, the rain had let up enough that we were able to get an Uber for a direct ride back to the hotel. We went to bed full and excited for our week's adventures to come.

Posted by zihuatcat 16:34 Archived in USA Tagged new york nyc Comments (1)

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