New York City Visit 2022

NYC is my most favorite city in the world. I’ve travelled and lived in cities like Shanghai, Moscow, Singapore, Seattle, and more. No place continues to delight and surprise me like NYC when I visit. Finally, after two years of staying home, we were able to begin our adventures again, starting in NYC with a week long trip to visit both old and new places. Here are some tips, advice and best practices when visiting the Big Apple!

TRANSPORTATION:

Walking:

Stay to the right on the sidewalks. Only on really broad sidewalks do you walk side-by-side. Otherwise, single file and stay in your lane-no sudden changes or you’ll get run over. Be aware of bikes, scooters, roller blades, etc. Even on one way streets, look both ways. Everyone jaywalks. Don’t follow others. Check yourself before entering crosswalk. You could die.

Airport:

Travel to/from airports via flying: We’ve flown into all the major NYC airports (JFK, LaGuardia and Newark). Unfortunately, there is no direct public transportation from the airports to Manhattan so you will need a car service. While you can do a taxi or Uber, at these large airports it will be chaotic and take time. If you fly in to arrive not at rush hour, it’s best. The taxi line can be long, the Uber lot can be packed and hard to connect with your driver. I would recommend booking a car service online in advance. When you arrive and get your luggage, you call the # provided by them after you book online and they pull right up to the arrivals curb. Easy peasy and not much more than a cab or Uber would cost you. You’re looking at $92 plus tip. An Uber or taxi would probably run around $80. We used JFK Car Service and Airport Car Services – JFK, Newark & LaGuardia | By Dial7. I would highly recommend.

Uber in the city:

We walked 8+ miles a day in the city, which is our preferred mode of transportation. You soak up the culture when you walk the streets of New York. When your legs just won’t go any further, however, find a business like a hotel or restaurant to get an address to summon an Uber. Everywhere we went within Manhattan, it was $20+ per ride and, if it’s raining, it will cost more and good luck finding a ride. Then, you go to the subway.

Subway and trains:

Very convenient and fast to get around, especially if its raining, use the New York Subway System: Maps, Schedules and NYC Travel Information (nysubway.com) to plan your trip and tap your ApplePay or GooglePay at the turnstyle to enter. Watch for your stop (name on the wall at every stop) because the sign lights in the train often aren’t working and there aren’t any announcements…definitely not the same experience that you may be used to from other big cities with better infrastructure.

For the trains Home | MTA (if you are going to the suburbs like Long Island) you go to the window at the station and get a ticket and then look for the readerboards around to find the track you go to for your train. You won’t find the track assigned until very close to the time you board so be on the lookout and then walk quickly to get to your train.

PLACES TO STAY:

We usually stay at an ARBNB/VRBO when we travel but, for NYC, I would recommend a hotel. If you arrive prior to check-in time (usually around 4 pm) you’ll need a place to check your bags and that’s easier to do with a hotel. When I travelled for business, I stayed exclusively at Marriotts Discover Marriott Bonvoy | Join The Best Hotel Rewards Program and am still loyal to the brand which includes Westin, Residence Inn, etc.  Earn points when you travel and eventually your travel will be free!

Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Midtown East at 148 East 48th Street New York, New York 10017 worked really well for us. This is a business area which means it’s quiet and safe but also walkable to anywhere in Manhattan with restaurants on the block and there are deli’s just blocks away to get room snacks. Room 1419 if you can get it! Why? Here’s what we had:

Hotel amenities: laundry room, large breakfast with hot options, good safety protocol requiring hotel key to enter lobby and elevator

Room amenitites: refrigerator, dishwasher, hot plate, plates, wine glasses, 2 rooms both with TV’s, pull out bed in living room, big shower with awesome water pressure and hot water

SHOPPING:

Big department stores are grand, especially at the holidays: Saks, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s Herald Square, Nordstrom’s (new and amazing)

PLACES TO GO:

Central Park Central Park : NYC Parks (nycgovparks.org) – you could spend days here but at least set aside time to pick up picnic food at the Whole Foods on Columbus Circle and stroll along and see the highlights including Belevedere Castle. If you don’t want to do the picnic thing, then make reservations for the Boathouse which is a lovely respite in the middle of the park. Eat on the patio and then rent a boat to row around the lake (bring cash $20/hour).

The Met Home – The Metropolitan Museum of Art (metmuseum.org) is my favorite by far with the Temple of Dendur and rooms upon rooms of impressionist paintings like Monet. Take the elevator from the lobby to the fifth floor for a free awesome view of NYC from the rooftop. Enjoy a beverage and rest in between walking the galleries. Book timed entry tickets in advance to avoid lines. The cafe on the balcony is a wonderful lunch stop. Check for music and events on their site. I got $10 off discount for the gift shops in my email confirming my online tickets which I used. Love their gift stores!

The Museum of Natural History American Museum of Natural History | New York City (amnh.org) is awesome especially for kids. They have a Night at the Museum audio tour on their site if you are so inclined. https://www.amnh.org/plan-your-visit/self-guided-tours/night-at-the-museum

 Buy timed tickets online in advance to avoid crowds. Also, book a Hayden Planetarium show if you can. Truly amazing.

MIDTOWN:

Times Square: Dont touch the characters that are everywhere. If you take their picture, they will want money and aren’t the cleanest. Watch your stuff. These are all tourists so it is a target rich environment for thieves. Do not ask a stranger to take your picture if you want to keep your phone. Looks can be deceiving. Trust no one. Seriously.

Bryant Park-behind the NYC library and full of fun stuff. Free concerts on the lawn in the summer. Bryant Park – Home

NYC Library-take the free tour! Stephen A. Schwarzman Building Tours | The New York Public Library (nypl.org)

Rockefeller Center-iconic and in the winters you can ice skate and in summer roller skate on the rink Rockefeller Center | NYC’s Famous Cultural Landmark & Observation Deck

St. Patrick’s Cathedral-open to visitors and beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral | New York, NY (saintpatrickscathedral.org)

FLATIRON/MADISON SQUARE PARK:

Walk around Madison Square Park (seems like there is always a movie or commercial being filmed here) and the Flatiron building. We lived near here so we love this neighborhood.

Eataly-eat and shop Eataly New York Flatiron: restaurants, market and classes

Strand bookstore, 8th and Broadway Strand Book Store

Fishs Eddy, 19th and Broadway Fishs Eddy: We do dishes!

Allbirds 17th and 5th Sustainable Shoes & Clothing | The Most Comfortable Shoes in The World | Allbirds (my favorite shoes for travelling-you need for all the NYC walking! This is one of the few physical stores Allbirds has-mostly online sales)

Shake Shack-well known outdoor eating in Madison Square Park Madison Square Park | Shake Shack

Old Town Bar-featured in movies this is an iconic old time bar with great food Best Old Bar (oldtownbar.com)

DOWNTOWN: (all very close together)

Little Island https://littleisland.org/ is a new park built on the Hudson River. If you go before noon, you don’t need timed entry tickets. Great views!

Chelsea Market-eat and shop CHELSEA MARKET

Whitney Museum Whitney Museum of American Art

Greenwich Village To find a wealth of diverse food experiences, walk through Greenwich Village and eat at one of many cozy outside patios. More like Paris life here with cafe culture. Lots of small retail shops to explore but only during the day. Grab an Italian pasty and coffee at Home – Pasticceria Rocco.

CHINATOWN AND LITTLE ITALY-great for walking around, shopping and eating

BROADWAY THEATER:

Never pay full price for Broadway tickets! Get the TKTS app TKTS Ticket Booths – The Half Price Ticket Stands in NYC (nytix.com) and track what shows are usually offering tickets the day of performance for 30-50% off. You have to cue up starting at 3 pm on show day to buy tickets.

OR

Go online and get todaytix app TodayTix | Theater Tickets to Musicals, Plays, Broadway, More for slightly less off but you don’t have to stand in line. Tradeoff. I usually pay around $100 per ticket for good seats with the discount. Most theaters are small so really no bad seats. They will tell you if there is obstructed view which usually means you can’t see one corner of the stage but usually still a good experience.

If you really want a bargain, go to theater the morning of performance and ask about “rush” tickets that sometime are available for great value $35 or so many times these are single seats so if you don’t mind splitting up from your friends, go for it.

HAVE FUN IN NYC AND SOAK UP THE ENERGY OF THIS SPECIAL PLACE!

Exploring the NYC Public Library

nyc
View from our room at The Andaz-perfect hotel and perfect location!

SHHHHHH….the librarian tour guide at the NYC Public Library glared at Thom and I as we quietly discussed a salient point to what she was elaborating on.  DO. NOT. TALK.  The message was clear and, properly chastised, we tried to remain silent for the rest of the one hour tour.  Damn, it’s hard to be silent.  Ranging in age from super old to ridiculously youthful, our tour group cohorts smirked at us including giving us the “oh no you didn’t” shameful sign.  Being quiet did allow us to learn ALOT about the NYC library along the way on our recent stay in NYC.   Silence is golden.  Well, to most people.

Opened in 1911,  the unofficial “People’s Palace” was built on the site of a former reservoir that featured a promenade around it for the ladies with hats and gents could stroll back in the day.  NYC Public Library is a library of record that has many collection rooms scattered throughout featuring the good, bad and truthful record of people over time.  We saw rooms for ancestory, the top 10 map collections in the world, historical records including an archive of menus from NYC to record our appetite timeline for posterity.

As you first enter, the grand Astor Hall was made out of marble, 65% of which was rejected because only the best would do for this magnificent structure.  The intricate carved ceilings in the outer hallways was created in plaster to look like wood and it does.  Why aren’t modern buildings built with more interesting ceiling features?  Look up at the NYC PL because there are stunning murals in many of the main halls.  Other fun things to check out:

nyc-4

Lions are everywhere from the huge statutes out front to the small heads by what were the water fountains before they discovered the pipes were lead and not safe-now just for show.  They used to put wreaths at the holidays around the lion heads until some idiot set them on fire so no more holiday decorations for these lions.  Damn fools.

Pooh lives here.  Who knew?  You can see the real stuffed animals that inspired the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.

In Room 328 Rare Books, you can see letters from Columbus, who thought he was by the New China Sea when he was checking out the US.  I guess people were disappointed that he didn’t discover human monstrosities on his tour.  Of course, Trump hadn’t been born yet.

Also in Room 328 is Thomas Jefferson’s original declaration of independence before the Continental Congress took it over and revised it.  Also kept here is the world’s most valuable baseball card.  What ball player you may ask??  Honus Wagner.  Never heard of him.  That’s probably blasphemous but just true.  Our trusty tour guide told us that baseball cards used to come with cigarettes purchases.  Yep, encourage the kids to light up and collect cards.

Of course, we had to check out the famous Gutenberg bible on display-one of 2 copies that are rotated to keep them in top shape, changing the pages open regularly.  The black ink is typeset but the red letters were hand written.  While the Rose Main reading room (iconic site used in Ghostbusters movie) was closed for renovation after parts of the aging ceiling fell down, there were so many other areas to check out that I didn’t miss it.  On previous visits, that is usually all we saw.  Well, besides the convenient public bathroom on the 2nd floor that we knew was there and used when in the neighborhood touring and needed a facility.

There is a quite extensive collection exhibited on Alexander Hamilton who is now a rock star thanks to the Broadway hit.  Seeing the letters he wrote to his wife and all the official work he did for this country was very interesting, being the scholar and scoundrel that he was most definitely in real life.

As the tour wound down, our tour guide shared that the NYC PL was really all about inspiring life long learning and a passion for the community–one of the last bastion of civilizations–and sternly told us that libraries will never be obsolete. I hope not.  My fondest childhood memories are of the Noblesville Public Library, a downtown brick multi-level joy that is no longer used as a library, but where I could escape and become immersed in a different world with my beloved books.  A Wrinkle in Time was my all-time favorite book.  I’ve shared my love of reading with my family who all think that the best present you can give is a book and the best place you can spend your day is immersed in a great library.

Andaz is Special, Park Hyatt Not So Much

Through the generous offer of two free nights at any Hyatt property (all categories) with the opening of a Hyatt credit card, we were set for our NYC trip.  Booking one night at the Andaz Fifth Avenue and one night at the very pricey Park Hyatt (up to $1200/night), we had two very different experiences.   Andaz treated us like royalty even using points.  Park Hyatt, you disappointed and treated us like ugly stepchildren.  Andaz, you win hands down!  You have now got my loyalty for life–even as a paying customer.

Having stayed for two months at the Andaz in Shanghai for our transition housing when we moved to China, I did have high expectations.  The Shanghai Andaz had the most amazing service and amenities, including complimentary snacks, beverages, nightly wine and morning buffet.  In addition the rooms were lavish and service over-the-top.  Checking into the Andaz Fifth Avenue felt like coming home–no counter between myself and the Andaz host.  Without even asking:  Bottled water?  Yes please.  Early check-in and late check-out?  Yes please.  Even though we weren’t “paying” customers, we had a view of the NYC Public Library with a spacious especially by NYC standards, luxurious room featuring 20 foot ceilings, a marble bathroom with a shower bigger than most bathrooms and separate foot bowl/foot shower, great after a long day of walking around Manhattan.  At our last hotel, while they provided nice postcards, they did not have stamps available.  Of course the Andaz not only had stamps for our postcards but no charge and happy to mail them for us.  Classy and convenient.  We got in a little after the free wine happy hour last night so the bottles were put away but when I asked, they quickly poured me a complimentary glass to go to the room.  Ahhh….love the Andaz so much I would gladly pay the $300-400 a night to stay there if I was out of free Hyatt points, which I am now.

Now, on today to the Park Hyatt where there seemed to be a lack of service altogether and at up to $1200 a night, you would expect more.  Finding our way up to the check-in, there was no offer of water and no early check-in.  Yes, I’m spoiled.  The lobby was teeny tiny and I was already missing my Andaz.  But wait…the Park Hyatt decided to favor us with the worst room at the inn with a brick wall/construction/air vent view in a room so small you can hardly walk around the bed, which is typical for a NYC hotel but I thought the Park Hyatt would be different.  Guess I was wrong.

Now, the high tech tv in the bathroom mirror with remote control was cool and the tub is nice but don’t eat those snacks, Thom, because they surely aren’t free.  No complimentary wine for you, Ms. George!  So, we quickly escaped to the top floor pool that we had heard was very nice and it was.  Thom is taking his nap now while I write this and then we’ll enjoy the lap pool, cucumber water and hot tub.

hyatt2
Park Hyatt Pool is nice

Tonight it’s off to dinner with Ronnie and Andrea, old friends, and then Dublin tomorrow night.  Vacation is THE BEST and yes, I appreciate it even looking at a brick wall.  Life is good.

Two Gutenbergs in One Day

The theme for Friday’s Manhattan adventure was a deep dive into literature so it was only fitting that we got to see two Gutenberg Bibles in one day-first at the NYC Public Library and then in the evening at the Morgan Library.  Just blocks apart, these masterpieces are two of only 49 left of their kind, the first major book printed around 1450 using mass-produced movable type.  A beautiful and historic book to behold and the Morgan Library has 3 copies that they rotate to preserve.  wp_20160916_20_03_13_richThey’ve done a good job because it is in great repair for being so old and enduring many adventures among owners in the past before being acquired in 1815 for the Morgan Library.moran-2

Taking advantage of the free Friday deal to visit the Morgan, we sought out Rembrandt’s first masterpiece, Judas Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver, which is considered to be his first mature work.  Perhaps we are a little jaded from seeing so many Rembrandts on our Amsterdam tour but still it was impressive, along with other pieces of his work on display.  moran-1

More interesting to me though was the Charlotte Bronte exhibit that showcased all her talents from drawing to writing.  She and her sisters started early in life by creating tiny books telling stories to each other.  Charlotte was a strong liberated woman for her day (with a teeny tiny 18 inch waist-dress pic) and wanted only to write and not be a teacher or governess as the culture would dictate her to be in the early 1800’s.  She declared herself “a free human being with an independent will”.  Unfortunately, it’s still hard to make a living being a writer even in this day and age.  I respect her fortitude to follow her passion and share her talents with the world.

After soaking up the opulent Morgan Library with it’s iron staircases leading to even more books on the upper floors interspersed with tapestries and paintings and, of course, an elegant ceiling, we enjoyed a jazz trio treating the crowd to a spirited jam session.  Resting before the walk home, Thom and I smiled and agreed it was another perfect day in NYC.

 

A Tale of Two Rats-A NYC Fairy Tale

There once lived two rats in very different parts of the big city that never sleeps.  Lucky me, I got to see them both up close and personal while out having Manhattan adventures.  One rat, we’ll call him Junior due to his petite size, lived by the lake in Central Park with a view to die for.  The other deserves a loftier title, perhaps Pony, as he was large enough to saddle up, and lives in Madison Square Park near the iconic Flatiron Building.

Now in the early fall in the Big Apple, they had very different experiences.  Junior was doing who knows what but got stuck in the sidewalk swell and was rescued by a tourist with no sense of self preservation or hygiene.  Slowing down to see why there was a crowd gathered, Thom and I stopped in our tracks when we saw this gent pick up Junior by the tip of his tail, freeing him from whatever he was trapped by and gently swinging him over to the bushes to set him free.  Run, Junior, run.  Run, Melinda, run.

Now Pony didn’t experience the same type of kindness by strangers.  Walking from Happy Hour at the Flat Iron Room to Fishs Eddy to shop, we were drawn into Madison Park, our old neighborhood haunt where Thom would take Izaak every day to play in the dog park when we lived at 27th and 7th in Chelsea.  Observing all the dogs playing was great but then, streaking from the dog area to the bushes in the middle of the park  right in front of us was a small dog or was that…wait a minute, that’s no dog.  Running like a bat (or rat in this case) out of Hell, Pony, aka the largest rat I have ever seen, took off like a shot from the fenced dog area probably after one of the dogs decided he had found a new playmate or tasty snack.  Run, Pony, run.  Run, Melinda, run.

Ultimately, both rats lived to see another day in the city that I love.  Who knows, maybe next time I visit we’ll meet again.  Or not.

 

Living the Literary Life at The Algonquin

Stepping back into the 1920’s era of rich wood paneling where The Round Table met to discuss news of the day was a treat as we checked into The Algonquin hotel in NYC and were promptly greeted by the legendary house cat, Matilda.  Fat and sassy, the current Matilda is one of many felines who have graced the lobby starting with the original anointed “Hamlet” (boy cats are named Hamlet and girl cats are Matilda) by legendary thespian John Barrymore back in the day.  They even have a “chief cat officer” on staff to assist Matilda with her busy schedule and social media accounts.  Yes, this lucky cat has a Facebook page:  Matilda-The Algonquin Cat.

 

Aside from Matilda, this hotel reeks of history and luxury.  Enjoying Day 1 of our NYC/Ireland vacation, we couldn’t wait to check in and hit the streets to see our favorite Manhattan haunts.  While the rooms are small, they make up for it with top of the line furnishings from the backlit photographic headboard to the marble bathroom, this hotel experience is worth it.  Grab a complimentary espresso and sit in the lobby where classic tunes play and snuggle into the leather chairs for a quiet reading experience that is a very worthwhile use of time.

Stepping outside on 44th Street right into the middle of the hectic Manhattan experience, it’s an easy walk to all the landmark attractions like Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Times Square and even, for those of you like me who have to get 10,000 steps a day, it’s a nice long walk to Central Park.  We hit over 20,000 steps yesterday as we took it all in and walked through lush Central Park in the throes of an Indian Summer day with blue skies and temps in the 70’s.

After a long day of walking, we were still tired from the redeye flight from Hell where we fidgeted and twitched for 5 long hours but certainly didn’t sleep.  The front desk of the Algonquin couldn’t have been nicer, checking us in early at 9 a.m. when we finally arrived after a long, traffic-congested Uber ride from JFK.  Of course, Thom became best buddies with our driver, talking New York sports the whole way while I napped.  So fun meeting and talking to new people.  Our Uber guy in Seattle to the airport was from Vietnam and was so excited we had visited his country so we chatted all things Hanoi and Saigon.  Enjoying the journey!

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic at SAM

On a beautiful sunny Seattle day, we were lucky enough to use our SAM membership to check out the new exhibit:  Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic.  WOW.  DAMN.  If you are lucky enough to live in Seattle, go check it out.  I am totally impressed with this artist’s vast talent.  Not only can he paint scenes that you can’t help but stare at in awe and examine up close to ponder how he can paint so realistically but his sculpture and stained glass pieces of art are equally fantastic.WP_20160220_11_02_54_Pro

Unfortunately, we missed Kehinde in person at the opening event but we did watch the documentary on his “An Economy of Grace” paintings last night after seeing his work.  The story as told on this PBS video really brings to life the paintings on display and I would suggest you take the time to view it either before or after you visit the SAM.  Kehinde works in both New York and Beijing.  In the documentary, we loved seeing how his artists help with the background work in his Beijing warehouse, the trip that the art took to get from China to the first showing in NYC and how he recruits his street models.  You don’t realize how much work goes into prepping the space to showcase the art–the right wall color, the right frame, etc.  WOW.

So why is his art so different?  Kehinde picks people off the street to be his models, focusing on street culture, black masculinity and hip hop as portraits of these individuals set in historically famous poses of European works.  The contrast between the Nike-wearing regular people in their lavish portrait settings is striking and stays with you long after you leave the gallery.  WP_20160220_11_08_52_Pro

A self-identified gay man, Kehinde grew up in LA and began painting at an early age.  As the SAM gallery guide explains, “He challenges long-held assumptions by opening new doors of perception, offering unprecedented interpretations and reimaging the black figure as subject, object and agent.”  As I watched part of his documentary in the gallery, the large audience included a diverse crowd, including children learning about this interesting exhibition.  Well done, Kehinde and SAM for a breathtaking experience.  We plan on going back again to savor the creativity before this unique show moves on to the next lucky museum.   WP_20160220_11_08_30_Pro

World Series Time-Thom’s Dream Comes True!

I made the decision that Thom MUST go to the World Series if the Mets, by some miracle, beat the Goat-cursed Cubs. It wasn’t a hard decision.  A lifelong survivor of so many losing seasons, this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Okay, twice in a lifetime, since he went to the World Series the last time the Mets made it–way back in 1986 when tickets were $30.  DAMN, he’s old!  My daughter Hannah, who is also married to a huge Mets fan, had the very same idea  and called me to collaborate on what could be the best father-in-law/son-in-law road trip of all times.  THEY’RE GOING TO NYC TO THE WORLD SERIES!

Mets going to the World Series!
Mets going to the World Series!

Miracle of all miracles, the 7 Line company that sells Mets gear sponsored a lottery for true fans (and customers) but only had 589 tickets for each of the three games at CitField.  After they sent out 25,000 fan codes to access the site, it was all up to luck and good bandwith to “win” the opportunity to buy max of 2 of these $250 tickets.  SCORE!  My son-in-law got through and so on Saturday, October 31st, Thom and Mike will spend Halloween cheering on their Mets to victory in NYC.

The agony of waiting for the end to come!
The agony of waiting for the end to come!

Personally, I can’t wait for it all to be over.  The stress is so overwhelming at times that Thom’s face is bright red and he can hardly function.  I have my fingers poised to dial 911 at all times during games just in case of a stress-induced medical emergency.   We had to wrap an ice wrap around his neck to cool him down at one point during an especially close game.  Pathetic–over a silly ball game!  He is constantly texting his NYC friends during games, sharing the excitement and pain as the players cause anxiety galore among all.

Game-induced stress = ice wrap around the neck
Game-induced stress = ice wrap around the neck

On Thursday night, when the Mets were set to sweep the Cubs in game 4 of the NLCS, when Thom would normally be glued to the television, we were instead sitting at Century Link Field cheering on the FIFA WC USA women’s team playing Brazil, tickets purchased when the thought of the Mets playing in post-season was just a dream.  Earbuds in, I warned Thom not to shout out random profanity as he listened to the game moving closer to it’s conclusion.  AT LAST, the smile lite up his face like a small child experiencing their first Christmas morning.  Flights now booked, they will arrive in time to watch the game with loyal fans on Friday night at legendary Mets sports bar, McFadden’s with hundreds of other fanatics and go to the game on Saturday.  Send good karma to the Mets and pray that Thom makes it through the series with his blood pressure intact.  GO METS!

New and different in NYC

Brooklyn Bridge at sunset
Brooklyn Bridge at sunset

It’s a bit of a challenge for us to do new things when we are in NYC because we have lots of favorite haunts and habits from our prior life here. But this trip, we actually managed to have some never-been-done-before adventures. HALLELEUJAH! From new events to new stores to new walkabouts, we had a fantastic time getting out of our comfort zone and taking that road less travelled.  Well, there is no road in crowded NYC that is “less travelled” but you know what I mean.

Summer Streets on Park Ave
Summer Streets on Park Ave

Stumbling into a NYC outdoor experience, Summer Streets, we got to join the crowd biking/walking/skating down Park Avenue that was closed to all but pedestrian traffic from lower to upper Manhattan. Taxi’s were hating it but we loved it! Very well organized, there were free bikes and rollerblades along the way, water stations, singers to entertain us and all played out on a beautiful sunny day. Free fun for all!

Music along the way celebrating Summer Streets
Music along the way celebrating Summer Streets

Our destination on Saturday was my favorite store, Fishs Eddy, but along the way we found a new, first-in-the-US store that I just love. Flying Tiger from Copenhagen is filled with under $10 stuff that you probably don’t need but have to have. I got super cute hostess gifts with a mustache theme for my boss—something about that crazy black curly mustache just makes me smile so hopefully she will find it amusing too especially in the form of mustache scrubbies for the kitchen and potholders to match. Just what ever kitchen needs to make it a happier place!

After buying as much as I could carry and storing it all away in my new canvas “RECYCLE OR DIE” bag (how Seattle!), we were off on the subway to visit Thom’s niece who had a baby and moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn so they could buy a house. And what a beautiful house it was! After visiting with Thom’s sister and brother-in-law too who were in town for the baby’s 1st birthday, we Ubered it out of there to go to Dumbo to meet up with Thom’s best friend since Kindergarten, Ronnie, and his wife, Andrea.

Our group caught up on our busy lives and walked along the East River and right into a Hindu Lamp Ceremony, called Aarti, complete with make-your-own ceremonial containers that you lite up to signify life and the burning of negative tendencies to purify our hearts and serve others with humility. What a great message to guide our existence! Thoroughly embracing the custom, we watched the containers drift out into the waters and listened to the chanting taking place to honor the ceremony.  Cool.

Wood fired pizza joint-cash only and gin-infused lemonades!
Wood fired pizza joint-cash only and gin-infused lemonades!

Eschewing the long lines at the local popular Brooklyn eating joints, we pooled our cash for a pop-up pizza outlet, no wait, and happily munched on wood fired pizzas and gin-infused lemonade. HAPPINESS IN A GLASS!  I was struck by the message of life that the pizza guy was putting out there on the back of his shirt, “Eat Pizza, Make Love”.    HELLO!  Another great message for all to heed!

Enjoying the suite life!
Enjoying the suite life!

Going back to the lovely Grand Hyatt, we enjoyed watching the Mets win (again!), drank wine and relaxed in the Presidential Suite that the hotel was nice enough to upgrade us to. SPOILED ROTTEN, WE ARE!

We appreciate every moment of our blessed lives and don’t expect to be able to visit NYC again, though we can always hope.  My work here is done for the foreseeable future and budgets are tight at work.  With friends and family here plus our love of this urban wonderland, the connection to NYC is so strong.  If the stars align, we hope to live here again some day.

In the meantime, we will continue to expect nothing and appreciate everything! Life is so good.

Savoring the Manhattan Experience One More Time

Back in NYC after a business trip to Orlando (in July…HELLO, event planner, what were you thinking???–so hot and humid I was always moist) I couldn’t help but immediately take to the  streets.  It’s what I do and makes my FitBit so happy.   On the way to work on Sunday morning, yes I work 24/7, I managed to walk by Rockefeller Center, the LOVE sculpture, Central Park and St. Pat’s Cathedral.  Only in Manhattan is that all in a morning’s walk.

FishEddy's is my go-to store every time I am in NYC
Fishes Eddy is my go-to store every time I am in NYC

St. Pat's Io's always awe-inspiring and iconic
St. Pat’s Io’s always awe-inspiring and iconic

Waiting for Thom to join me later in the week so we can celebrate out 27th Wedding Anniversary, I wanted to save the fun stuff so we could do it together but I did manage a walk to my favorite store, Fishs Eddy, on Sunday.  The lure of kitschy hand towels, Hillary mugs, and fun stuff always has me leaving with a bag of goodies to bring home.  Putting in 17,000+ steps = 7+ miles on Sunday left the feet hot and tired for sure but, fueled by my beloved $1 cheese pizza, I just kept on walking, walking, walking….

With Thom finally here, we set off for the TKTS booth in Times Square to get a deal on Broadway tickets.  Having scoped out the Tony Awards and the NYTimes reviews, I knew exactly what shows I wanted to see and, sure enough, at 7:00 p.m. last night we scored 50% off 4th row seats to see Taye Diggs in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  AMAZING.  GO.  He’s only been the lead for 7 shows yet I can’t imagine anyone else pulling off that story with the grit and sassy bravado he showed off in this explosive drama musical.  We were just shy of the water spout he shot out into the crowd and three rows away from him grinding on me like he did the lucky gal in the first row who really was into it.  That’s cool–little too up close and personal for me anyway.

Despite some microphone miscues, Taye just rolled with it and shook his fist at the so-called ghost who haunts the Belasco Theater and cussed him out.  Leaping out into the audience, he picked on the preppy guy in the second row, licking his glasses and then politely handing them back.  Sharing spit is caring!  This is the type of show I could go to again and enjoy it even more.  If you’re in NYC, go to TKTS, get your tickets at 50% off and enjoy it–may want to avoid that third row middle seat, however, unless you wear a raincoat.

Classic theater and explosive drama musical
Classic theater and explosive drama musical

Adding to my Broadway sippy cup collection makes me so happy!
Adding to my Broadway sippy cup collection makes me so happy!

Today, we celebrate our 27th anniversary.  Seems like yesterday that I was in NYC at the Cadillac Bar picking up the cute guy with the long hair, earring and fur-lined leather jacket.  We went dancing the night away at the trendy Limelight Bar in an old church and have never stopped the adventure of enjoying our lives together.  While I had to work today, Thom braved the rain and got to see his Mets play (and lose-pity!) but enjoyed the experience thoroughly.  Tonight we will go to Toshi’s, our favorite bar in the Flatiron District with Hello Brooklyn singing on stage and will thoroughly enjoy the Presidential Suite the lovely Grand Hyatt just upgraded us to.

Using my many Diamond status perks, we had been promised last night to be moved but there were Secret Service here who took priority, watching over somebody far more important than us.   Hmmm… wonder who??  Could Thom be wearing the very hotel robe that a foreign President just wore???  Yes, we are not only blessed with ridiculous adventures but, more importantly, we have each other.   I don’t have to worry about anything because, no matter what, I know Thom has my back and will be there to support me and love me and, really, what else matters??  Best friends and soulmates for the last 27 years.  How lucky I am.

Presidential Suite at the Grand Hyatt is amazing!
Presidential Suite at the Grand Hyatt is amazing!

The adventure continues...
The adventure continues…