New York New York

My sister Frances has lived in Rochester, NY for about 3 years, and has visited New York City several times. My little sister, Anita, is interning at Frances’ work for the summer, and they planned a trip to the Big Apple while Anita was visiting from California, and since I had never been there either, I was invited along.

Rough weather around JFK put the airport on ground stop for several hours on Friday evening, so I was stuck in the Raleigh airport, and my sisters stuck in Rochester, calling back and forth for each subsequent delay. Finally both of our flight arrived around 1am (8 hours late for me!!), but the fun wasn’t over. Their luggage didn’t come out, and it took over 2 hours to find out that it had never gotten on their plane. So we finally rolled into our YMCA guest room in midtown Manhattan around 5am on Saturday. We slept for a few hours, and then rolled out on the town to explore the city. The first stop was an awesome bagel place that had tons of bagels and anything you would want on top of them. Then we headed to Central Park with the goal of getting free Shakespeare tickets for the performance in the park. When we talked to the people in the front of the line who had been there since about 6:30am, and then walked and walked and walked back to the end, we weren’t too surprised when we didn’t get tickets, but it was a good opportunity to see the park, and to people watch. From there we headed down 5th avenue, stopping at FAO Shwartz to catch a concert on the giant foot piano, and peeking into Trump tower. Frances did a little shopping but I was proud of her for keeping it to a minimum, and anyway, her luggage was still not found at this point, so she needed some clothes! We walked around Rockefeller Center, and then went to Mass at St. Patrick’s cathedral. That night we ate at Islands Burgers and Shakes , and then walked through Times Square, which I was disappointed to realize is not really a square!! We headed back to the hotel, hoping to find the luggage there. When it wasn’t Frances decided to go back out to the airport (a 1 hour subway ride), to see if she could find it there. Luckily I stayed behind, because just after they left, ONE of the bags was delivered, so I was able to relay the message to them, and then when they got to the baggage area, they found the other one. Whew!!

So with clean sisters in clean clothes, on Sunday morning we headed to a Viennese bakery and got muffins for breakfast, and then headed to the top of the Rockefeller Center. At 70 floors, it is about 16 floors shorter than the Empire State building, but you have a great view of the Empire State Building and of Central Park. Unfortunately it had gotten quite cloudy (Saturday was totally clear), but we still got to see plenty of great views in all directions. After that we took a subway out to Brooklyn to have one of pizza that claims to be the best in NY. Grimaldi’s had good pizza, for NY style, but we planned to have dinner at another place that claimed the same thing, so we had to reserve judgment. We concluded our tour of the base of the Brooklyn bridge by going to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. We worked off some of lunch by walking over the bridge back to Manhattan. From there we toured lower Manhattan, including the World Trade Center site, the site of George Washington’s inaguration next to the New York Stock Exchange, and some of the waterfront. From there we made our through China Town and Little Italy, and eventually got to Lombardi’s for our second pizza of the day. Given that I am not a huge fan of thin crust, I liked Lombardi’s better.

On Monday we stocked up at Ess-a-bagel again and subwayed down to the ferry to go out to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. For such a well known monument, I found myself still very awed by actually being there in person. We were too late for tickets to go up in the base of the statue (going to the top of the crown is now prohibited), but even from the ground, the views back to Manhattan and around the waterfront were fantastic. From there we took the second hop on the ferry to Ellis Island, which was also very interesting and moving. The museum was very well done, and the stories of the immigrants who made it into the United States and who were detained or sent back were all very heart-wrenching. From there, back to Manhattan, where we ran up to Greenwich Village to have Gray’s Papaya hotdogs and juice in Washington Square Park, and then to try to get some famous cupcakes that Frances kept going on about. We found the bakery, but the line was too long (probably all the NYU students back for the semester needed a fix), and we needed to get going to the airport, so that will have to be for next time.

Most of my impressions of New York are good – it is amazing how you can go just 6 blocks and you are in a totally different neighborhood with a totally different feel. Frances did a fantastic job as a tour guide, in dealing with the transportation and picking what to see. Everything is international – I don’t think I heard much English spoken anywhere! The people we interacted with were friendly, and of course the food was awesome. Here are some the pictures of the trip.

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