A Travellerspoint blog

Heading home

July 20/21, 2015

So no photos or anything today. Today was our travel day back up to Maine and a spot called Saco, which is very near to Old Orchard Beach and Portland. It was another really hot day. When we were crossing the bridge (I think it was the Washington...but it could have been the Manhattan). Whichever bridge it was, it was $$. $14 toll! Yikes. When crossing the bridge, the temp on the thermometer sensor in the car said 35C. That's mental. So we had a long hot drive ahead of us.

Along the way when we were getting hungry (and thirsty - we didn't want to keep drinking soda) we pulled into one of those lovely rest stops they have in the US with a gas station and a big food court and got some pizza from Sbarro. We also knew that we were going to stop at a Walmart to get some stuff that we can't get at home. I think we went to a Supercenter near Portsmouth. We went a little crazy. $135 later. There are so many great food items that we can't get here at home. Cheesy Garlic Bread Lays chips (the best). We got 6 - 12 packs of pop - cherry coke/pepsi/7up and vanilla coke/A&W/dr pepper. We picked up chicken helper (which they stopped selling here years ago) and some diff ham helper flavours. Some cherry and mint filled baking chips. Cookie mixes. Almond Joy chocolate frosting. Caramel hot chocolate. Some fancy Pringles flavours. We had a blast. I had also been looking for some new dinner plates and found some here as well. Not sure what the cashier thought...looked like we were going on a junk food binge.

I had decided that I wanted to try Olive Garden. We don't have Olive Garden in our neck of the woods. I've heard good things and horribly jokey things about it. But you know what? Compared to the meager meal we had at TGI's, this was awesome. Hubby had a meal that came with soup or salad (neither of which he eats) so I had his Minestrone soup. And also got some of the bread sticks. I had a lemon chicken thing with mashed potatoes and hubby did the make your own pasta thing and had rigatoni with chicken strips and sauce. Neither of us are big eaters and the soup would have made me happy. But I managed to eat most of my meal (there were two pieces of ckn!). They also had a promo where you got a free dessert (or another serving) with the pasta thing. Well, I made the mistake of looking at the dessert menu and spied these little dessert cup sampler things and got three of those while hubby has his free dessert. I had a strawberry one, a lemon one and a chocolate one. All were very good. All were squished in on top of all the other food I had just eaten. But we left fat and full and happy with the meal and the price.

After Olive Garden we made our way to Maine Mall. We only had about 90 min before closing, but a lot of the stores were ones we weren't interested in. Hubby was actually beyond happy to find a Newbury Street Comics which is always a must see for him in Boston...so he was able to pick up a few more t-shirts. Basically shopping in there was just to kill time. We found our airbnb - which I was a little disappointed in. It wasn't super clean and it was quite warm. And the bed was against a wall - hubby came in after me so I was against the wall and had to crawl out over him in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

We got up pretty early...made our way to a Tim Horton's for breakfast and just drove for home. There is a gas station we always stop at on the outskirts of Maine and we picked up a Moxie soda. It is very popular in Maine. We finally drank it a few weeks after getting home and all I can say is...it was interesting. Hard to describe. Not sure if I liked it or not. If you ever get to Maine, try a Moxie! We had no issues getting over the border - there was one car in front of us.

Oh - I have a karma story. You know how when you are driving on the highway - doing a little over the limit and someone goes flying by you and you say...where are the cops when you need em? IT FINALLY HAPPENED!! As we came over the border, there is a traffic circle and there was a big Expedition from NY in front of us. He started going down the wrong turn so I noticed he was stopped. Well, he got himself sorted out and a few minutes later, went flying around us doing at least 130kmh in a 110 zone (we generally do 120 - cops will rarely stop you for that). I commented about the speed and saying where are the cops...well, about 30-45 min down the road - guess who we passed pulled over. Oh, my heart sang. It was a 'ghost' car that had them pulled over (unmarked cop car). And the kicker is there were two children's bikes on the roof, so this person had a couple kids in the SUV driving that speed. Perfect ending to our vacay!

Thanks for reading!

Posted by u2traveller 12:07 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Our last day - SOHO/Little Italy and soooo hot

July 19, 2015

Our last day in NYC and we start out with...another walking tour! This was our SOHO/Little Italy/Chinatown tour. It was with the same company that did our Highline tour. Again, it was quite a large group, but they had 3 different guides to break us up into. And it was the start of another hella hot day. Even before we sat down, we were starting to sweat. We met in a little park and actually arrived about 20 min early. To my disappointment, I didn't realize we were only a few minutes walk away from Dominique Ansel Bakery (home of the famous cronut). That was the first stop our guide pointed out to us. I had really wanted to go to this bakery and thought maybe we would come back around at the end. Unfortunately, the tour didn't circle around and it was wayyyy too hot for us to feel like going back - about a 20 min walk - will save that for next trip, I guess.

So we started in SOHO and our guide told us they film lots of TV and commercials here...what was funny was after we got home and I was watching a car commercial - and there it was filmed in SOHO! There were lots of really beautiful buildings...I was most fascinated by the fire escapes! He pointed out some of the more 'famous' buildings and told us a 'ghost' story about one of them...it's now a store - but apparently the well is still in the basement! Here is the story:

The Manhattan Well In the winter of 1800, the body of a young woman named Gulielma Sands was found at the bottom of the Manhattan Well at what is now 129 Spring Street. The ensuing trial was one of the great scandals of nineteenth century New York, with Levi Weeks (brother of influential builder Ezra Weeks)accused of her murder after he reportedly impregnated and promised to marry her. Weeks retained the city’s top attorneys (including Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton) and was acquitted, despite growing public outrage. In 1817, the Manhattan Well was filled in and built over, but it was rediscovered in 1980 and has since become a notorious destination for paranormal enthusiasts claiming that the ghost of Gulielma Sands still haunts the area. http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/10/31/the_13_most_haunted_buildings_in_new_york_city.php

So we kept walking along and passed a little park where some sprinklers were going off. After taking us to the next spot which was only a minute away, he let us go back and run thru the fountains to cool off. Not everyone took advantage, but I got a little wet. It felt VERY good. He showed us the oldest pizza place in NYC...Lombardi's Pizza - where we debated returning to for lunch - but they only sell whole pies and we were not really hungry because of the heat.

Then it was thru Little Italy...it actually was quite little...maybe 4-5 blocks. We stopped and had a 15 min break and got some gelato at Ferrara (yum) and then heard the story about the assassination of Joey Gallo:

Tony Soprano frequently had a desire to “hit Umberto’s for some scungilli and calamari,” as this Little Italy eatery has been featured numerous times on The Sopranos. Its real-life mob roots run deeper as the site of the assassination of New York gangster Joey Gallo, aka”Crazy Joe.” In the early morning of April 7, 1972, Gallo was celebrating his 43rd birthday at Umberto’s Clam House in Little Italy when a group of gunmen from a rival mob family burst in and shot Gallo five times in the elbow, buttock and back. A gunfight between the assassin and Gallo’s bodyguard ensued in the restaurant and street, during which 20 bullets were fired. (The bodyguard was injured, but assassin escaped by car). Gallo dragged himself outside after his murderer and collapsed in the middle of Hester Street before dying in the hospital. The killers were never arrested. http://untappedcities.com/2013/07/17/notorious-new-york-city-crime-scenes-part-1-murders-suicides/

Then it was off to Chinatown. We didn't see much (and for some reason I only took one photo). I don't really remember much of the talk. By now, everyone was pretty hot and tired and just ready for it to end. It ended at a park with another sprinkler going so we sat to rest in the shade for 10 min and splashed some water on our face.

I think after this, we hopped the subway and went to a spot hubby wanted to visit - Forbidden Planet. We always go to the one in London (well, he goes, I got the Hotel Chocolat across the road)...so he went in (while I hung around bored) and bought a few more t-shirts. We were pretty close to the Flatiron building so we went to that (and watched a model getting ready for a photo shoot!) and sat there in the shade for another 15 or so. Noticed a LEGO store nearby and wandered around there...and went in the Eataly shop - oh, what I could have bought there if I'd wanted to lug a heavy bag around with me (which I didn't). Lots of yummy looking Italian products, desserts and a few different restaurants. They were a little rich for our blood, so we were heading down the road and passed a place called Clarkes Standard which had a hamburger special on, so that was where we went. Good burgers and fries there! http://www.clarkesstandardnewyork.net/

After that, we were at a bit of a loss, so we decided to head to Central Park to wander. We were going to take a subway part way up, but for some reason it wasn't stopping at the stop we wanted (midway point) so we just wandered up to where the Natural History Museum was. We did a lot of sitting. We debated a bike rental (with the pass) but not only was it hot (did I mention that already?)...it wasn't too long until the rental places closed. So we just meandered and sat under a tree, then found a bench where I decided to lay on hubby's lap for 10 min or so (oh - we did get some rocket popsicles - soooo good in the heat...and were able to fill our bottles at the water fountains). As we were walking along...I noticed some flickering lights...fireflies! All in the greenery - it was so pretty. We do have fireflies where I live, but I rarely see/notice them. So that seemed like a fitting ending to our day. We debated going back to Times Sq, but the thought of the crowds was just too much, and we were drained from the heat so we headed for Port Authority and caught the bus back over to Weehawken and got back to the room about 9pm. It was a good chance to get things packed up since we were leaving the next morning.

Posted by u2traveller 12:06 Archived in USA Comments (0)

OMG...our U2 concert! And another walking tour!

July 18, 2015

Today was the BIG DAY and the reason we came to NYC. Our U2 concert at Madison Square Gardens! But we had to get thru the day first...first up...you guessed it, another walking tour!

This was the Brooklyn Bridge DUMBO (down under Manhattan Bridge overpass) tour by inside out tours. http://insideouttours.com/wordpress/brooklyn-bridge-and-dumbo-3/ Another use of our NY Pass. The tour started out at the Tweed Courthouse where we got a little history about the courthouse itself. I won't go into it because it's dry, but google is your friend! Then we walked over to begin our journey across the Bridge. What may or may not have been a godsend (yes because it kept it cool, no because no blue skies in the photos) it was a little overcast this morning. We were told some of the history of the bridge and then told to meet in the middle of the span. And to watch out for the bike lanes - those bikers can get pretty cranky if you are walking where they are supposed to be biking (totally understand). While waiting in the middle, we were passed by a protest for the Black lives matter movement. The Bridge is beautiful and very full of people, so sometimes it was hard to stay in the walking lane. I'm really glad we got to walk over the Bridge, and when we get back to NYC someday, I'd love to do it again on my own...on a sunny day...and explore more of the DUMBO area as well. It took maybe 20-30 min to walk over (with lots of stopping for photos and hearing more history when we met in the middle).

When we got to the other side, our guide stopped for a quick bathroom break and a lovely view of the Manhattan Bridge framed between the buildings...then, our treat - Jacques Torres. Oh my, if you are in the area, be sure to stop in. They had some cookies all cut up for us to try...chocolate chip, pb choc chip and I think choc choc chip. And hubby and I got the plate with the leftovers set in front of us...so guess who ate the rest of the bits and pieces when everyone was done? :) We had a raspberry gelato, then picked up a couple of giant cookies to go (the choc chip and PB). https://www.mrchocolate.com/ And if it hadn't been another hot day, we probably would have picked up some of the delicious looking chocolate for the road. I guess they also do a really tasty hot chocolate (another reason to go back in the cooler weather!).

Our tour ended over by some docks where a lot of the tour boats depart from. We checked out our trusty NY Pass and decided to do the NY Water Taxi ride. It was about 20 min or so until the boat was to come around. Another nice way to cool off. We decided to stay inside the boat instead of riding outside. It first went to Redhook area (barely anyone got on or off) then for a photo op past the Statue of Liberty. One thing to mention - it is an all day hop on hop off, so if you wanted to get off at certain spots, you could just jump back on later. Next stop was Pier 79 (back up by the Intrepid area), then Christopher St then our stop was at Battery Park. http://www.nywatertaxi.com/ We got off and by now the sun was out and blazing hot. We would have probably wandered the area a little more but the heat was too much. We found some shade to sit in and eat our cookies (it was about 3pm or so and we hadn't had any real lunch to speak of). We found the Wall St Charging Bull statue but couldn't even really get close to it. We were getting a bit famished and spotted a TGI Fridays. So we jumped in there. And...we forgot the last time we were in NYC we ate at one at Times Sq and the food was so expensive for what we got. The only thing I can say is it was super fast. We ordered, I went to the washroom for less than 4 min, and it was on the table when I got back. So we had two drinks (soda/lemonade), a plate of 6 mozza sticks, and we shared a plate of chicken fingers and fries (because of the heat, neither of us were overly hungry). It cost $44! (So in Canadian money we are looking at about $55-60). Nutso. We can get beautiful big meals here at some of the better places in town for $40 Canadian. We made a mental note to not eat at TGI's again...ever. (I will compare this to our Olive Garden meal in my post for near the end of our trip). DO NOT EAT AT TGI FRIDAYS!

So after our meager expensive meal, we thought we'd check out a few of the churches in the area - except they closed at 4pm, and it was now close to 4:30. We decided to head to the 911 Memorial Museum (free with NY Pass). I didn't take any photos in here - it felt a little weird (and wrong to me) to be taking photos and selfies here - like taking selfies at a concentration camp. Not erally 'happy' vacation memories. They showed a movie first about the day it happened. I got a little choked up (OK, I may have shed a tear or three). It still gets me to this day thinking about it. Like most, I remember with perfect clarity the day it happened. I was at work. It was overcast and raining. I went up to the local coffee shop up the street for a break(Tim Horton's) and got a hot chocolate. Saw my mom and sister there. Remember hearing about it on the radio (we are an hour ahead here so we probably first heard the news about 11am or so). I went home for lunch at 11:30 and just sat transfixed in front of the tv. Hubby came home at noon with this wild look and said did you hear what happened? I filmed some of the tv on my camcorder and took it to work. Just...horrific. Seeing the personal items of some of the people who were in the towers at the museum...seeing some of their stories, the wreckage...it's very moving. We hurried near the end as we were getting closer to the time of the concert. We went outside and looked at the memorial fountains for a bit. It's very nicely done. The material (metal?) used around the fountains was quite cool to the touch because of the water that flowed underneath...even in the heat of that blazing hot day. Again...very poignant. I took some photos there and when I got home, I looked up the names of the people in my photo...I felt I owed it to them to read about them. I'm kicking myself now for not going into the 1WT. Even to go into the lobby. Not sure why we didn't...didn't think about it I guess.

One other thing I want to mention - we came across a few places where they had portable water stations set up - it was so awesome to be able to fill (and drain and refill) our water bottles.

So it was off to Madison Sq and the concert. We got in fairly easily, and decided to get a t-shirt. My only disappointment of the concert. Most of the shirts were generic concert shirts, but they had ones with Madison Sq Gardens specifically on the shirt with a sunburst pattern. We could hear them telling people they were sold out, so we scooted over to another booth that was still displaying the t-shirt - but they only had small. Bummer. So I had to settle for a generic. We found our area...I had on my HOME tshirt (with Nova Scotia as the 'o') and a girl is like...I have that exact same shirt! She was from Dartmouth, NS (about a 40 min drive away from Truro). How cool to meet a fellow Maritimer in NYC. So we get to our section and row and almost died. The main stage was RIGHT THERE! We were slightly to the back side and I think one row in front of us, but a few times Bono came over and he was like 25 feet away...(well, maybe a bit further, but so close). It was so funny because as we were going to our seats, and getting closer and closer to the front of the section, we thought there was a mistake. LOL. Of the four U2 concerts we've seen, these were by far the best seats. I was so excited. And it felt the most 'intimate'. The other three concerts (in Boston at TD Gardens, at the Patriots football stadium, and at Stade de France in Paris - which held 5 times the people that live in my town and surrounding area!) were all so large. MSG with about 18,000 felt small in comparison. They did some new stuff, the old chestnuts that every one loves, and one song (October) which they haven't performed for 26 years! The sound was amazing and they perform so well together. The screen in the middle - which they were playing in the middle of at one point (!) was a cool idea. I couldn't stop grinning. I wish they had played 'Bad' (and a few others)...but...maybe next time. I really wish we had gotten tix for the next night as well. But they will be around again and we will for sure be seeing them. When we go to France in Oct, they are too far away to get there easily - Barcelona and Antwerp. Sigh. So with huge grins and buzzing ears, we headed back to our room!

Posted by u2traveller 12:04 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Highline tour and yummy food

July 17, 2015

This morning we had an early walking tour of Chelsea, the Highline and Meatpacking District...it started at 9:30am, so we had to be up and out the door early. Luckily, we got over with no issues and found our way by subway to the right stop. We even arrived 10 min early! There was quite a large group, so they split us into two. (The tour was with New York Tour 1).

Our guide was a pretty funny guy named Kevin ('looks like Brad Pitt' was his quote...lol). He was handing out high 5's when people answered his trivia questions correctly. So his first question was about Nabisco's most famous cookie (Chelsea Market used to be the Nabisco factory)...I stupidly said Arrowroot, but of course it is Oreo. No high 5. But then, my chance to look like a brainiac. He asked the name of the cookie that Nabisco stole the Oreo idea from. He said...no one ever gets this one...but thanks to the magical powers of podcasts, I knew the answer (Hydrox). Thanks 99PI (99% invisible) podcast for making me look super smart...I got like 6 high 5's. Lol. Then he gave us 15 min to go take a run thru the building (and to cement the fact that we would be coming back after the tour ended). Lots of neat shops inside. The area is also home to a lot of tech companies (Google owns a whole block there)...YouTube has offices there. Also home to Food Network - so if you like super expensive food, some of the star chefs have restaurants nearby (I think 4 within a block). I don't do Food Network, so it was lost on me a little. Well, I shouldn't say that - I did use to get the FN magazine in the mail, but we don't do $$$ food.

http://www.thehighline.org/

Then we were off to the Highline. It's quite a feat they did there - we had been going to visit in 2011 but parts were still under construction. And we ran out of time. But it is amazing what they did with this old elevated railway track to make a beautiful park. Our guide Kevin took us up on the highline and showed us where they kept some of the original rail laid to give people an idea of what it was like before. There are lots of beautiful flowers planted so lots of butterflies and bees. There was one area nearby with a 'pop-up' shop with some artisans selling art, t-shirts and other things. Some of the interesting harbour things were pointed out (including another question I got right that not many people get - which ship left from the port and was sunk by the Germans, effectively pulling the US into WW1 - I had just listened to the audiobook about the Lusitania a few weeks before, so I knew that one as well. The book is called Dead Wake by Eric Larson if anyone wants a good read). He pointed out the Standard hotel (where Beyoncé's sister famously smacked JayZ, I think it was...lol). Not a particularly striking (pun intended) building. But popular with the rich folks!

We saw a short section of the Highline before heading back down and seeing a little of the Meatpacking District. We heard the lurid stories about decades ago when it literally was the meatpacking district, then the stories about back in the '80's when it was figuratively the 'meatpacking' district (as in, a hangout for gay men). Kevin pointed out Gansevoort Market which is still a bit 'undiscovered' so less busy and we had a few minutes to take a walk thru and decided we would go back for lunch as there are some really nice little food stalls there. We were told a little more history of the area (most of which I forget - google is your friend) and Kevin left us with some restaurant recommendations - there are so many amazing looking joints in the area - you can't go wrong. We decided to head back to Gansevoort Market and got some meatball sliders from the Meatball Guys. Very yummy and just the right size to hold us out until supper. It was one large meatball with pizza sauce and cheese on a lovely fresh bun. Messy, but whatever. And some lemon soda from Italy to wash it down. We wandered the market a little more and picked up 4 macaron cookies from Dana's Bakery. I can't rem the flavours we got (strawberry, orange, there was a blue one and ?? - but they were so delicious). http://www.gansmarket.com/

Nearby was a pastry shop I had marked on my map (BTW - CityMapstoGo is a great app I use on my iPad. You can use it offline to see where you are in real time. You only have to connect to the internet once when arriving in the city, then it is good to go. I love to pin places on the map I want to see - whether it is sights or restaurants or stores - then when we are in the area I can look at the map and make sure we aren't missing anything.) Well, I marked a lot of pastry (and ice cream) shops on my map, and unfortunately, this was the only one we got too. I'm not going to try and spell the darn French name... http://www.auxmerveilleux.com/home_en/
...but they have shops in London, Paris and NY (among other places) and I am determined to visit all three stores in the three cities this year. That is my goal! So I had this delicious little confection made of meringue, chocolate whip cream and rolled in chocolate shavings. I would have had a few to go, but they are so delicate, they would have melted in no time in the heat. So yummy. They were also baking what looked like raisin bread (but I'm sure it was some fancy bread). It smelled delicious. I'm glad I made it in. I just checked the other meringue flavours and I could be in trouble when we get to Paris...lol.

So now I was all hopped up on meringues and macarons, so we went back over to Chelsea market and popped into some of the shops. There was one that had lots of imported foods and we got some orange choco chip shortbreads from Scotland, and a raspberry soda from Britain. There was also a store with a bunch of stalls selling artisan goods and I got a really cute black Labrador key chain (Marc Tetro - very funky) and some lovely smelling soap that will probably come to Europe with me as it can be used on your hair from LimeGreen. The scent is zinnia and it smells quite nice. If I really like it, I'll probably order online from her. http://www.brooklynlimegreen.com/ If we hadn't just eaten a bunch of sweets, there was a doughnut shop there that I would have loved to try.

We decided to walk the length of the highline. It was getting quite hot by now, but we had a bit of a cooling breeze from the River. The other good thing was there were a few water fountains along the way - tho it was hard to fill a water bottle from them. Most of the benches with shade were occupied and it was too hot to sit in the sun. As we got near the end of the line, we found a covered/shady area with benches (near Penn Station I believe) where we could sit and cool down. We weren't too far from the end, which comes out not too far a walk from the Intrepid. When we got off the line, there were a couple guys selling drinks and cart food, so we got a nice ice cold bottle of water (at $4 a pop - whew!).

We walked the 10 min or so walk along the waterfront to where Circle Line has their cruises - which was covered by our NY Pass. Luckily, we arrived about 10 min before one was to leave, so we did that one instead of having to wait over an hour for the next. I had really been hoping to do a harbor lights cruise, but we were never in the right place at the right time - oh well, something to do next time. I had also hoped to do a schooner cruise, but again...never in the right place. We ended up doing the Liberty Cruise which sailed out to the Statue of Liberty and back. One scary thing that happened - I opened my bag to get my zoom camera lens out and there was a big ass spider in my bag! Lucky I didn't throw the whole thing overboard and thank God the spider crawled right out. It must have gotten in while we were on the Highline. *Shudder*

So back to over by the Intrepid at the end of the cruise (which went a long way towards cooling us down) and I was determined that today would be the day we would have Shake Shack, but first, we had to slog those long blocks back towards Times Square. It was pretty much supper time, so there was even more horn honking than usual. One intersection we came to basically had people going into the intersection and getting caught by the red light. Then the people going the other way tried threading thru the ones stuck and then they got stuck...pretty much gridlock. I stopped to take a photo (because it was hilarious to me) and there was a man walking and laughing and he said he was a bus driver and had to deal with that crap every day and that people were so stupid and never learned...at least he was amused. I think today we made a run to the library before hitting Shake Shack and were able to get the bookends that we missed the day before.

So we did pretty good at Shake Shack. The place is bonkers crazy. Most times we walked by there would be a few dozen people in line on the sidewalk. When we hit, there were maybe 6 in front of us. By the time we got to the counter, the line was about 2 dozen long again out the door. Took less than 10 min to get to the counter and less than 10 to get our meal. We even managed to snag a few chairs by really keeping an eye on who was finishing up and getting ready to leave. They messed up hubby's order, but we didn't want to go thru trying to get it fixed (he ordered bacon and didn't get it). The burgers were good...certainly better than your average fast food burger, and the fries were good, and I really enjoyed my vanilla milkshake...but I guess you hear so much about these places that you really build them up in your head to be the absolute best you've ever had...well...they were above average, but not super duper. If I'd spent 30 min standing in line, I'd be a little upset. So, if you are wondering about Shake Shack...if the line isn't too long...go for it.

After Shake Shack we went to Midtown Comics (snore...for me) and hubby picked up a couple of t-shirts so he was happy. Because of the heaviness of the bookends and the heat of the day, even tho it was only about 7pm, we decided to head back to the room so I could do some night shots of the city. We walked down to the waterfront again and meandered along the path, stopping to rest and take photos along the way. There was a pier with a bunch of food trucks (oh, I would have loved to try the waffle one) that were just starting to close up for the night. Oh, we also got to meet an absolutely adorable golden retriever pup...who seemed very tired and didn't want to move once he stopped so we could pet him...soooo adorable. We got back to the room a little before 10pm and decided to just get an early night. This may have been the night where at 2am, the smoke detector decided the battery was dying...so it started beeping...and beeping...OMG. But our host heard it and must have heard me come out of the room (I thought maybe it was something in the hallway before deciding it was the smoke detector in our room). So he came down, piled two ottomans on top of each other (!)...the ceilings are quite high...and got the battery out, apologizing profusely. Of course, hubby can fall right back to sleep, but I have a hard time once I'm up...so if probably took a good hour + for me to get back to sleep. UGH.

Posted by u2traveller 12:04 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Art Deco and more views

July 16, 2015

Today we had a walking tour booked with Inside Out tours called Highlights of Midtown Architecture. We met outside the UN Building at 11am and the tour was three hours long.

It was a great tour actually - we saw parts of the city we would have otherwise overlooked, and went into a few buildings that we would not have known we could go in. Of course, the UN Building is off limits, but we walked up thru a part of the area called Tudor City...here is my cut and paste info...'Tudor City is a historic district in Midtown Manhattan developed in the 1920s by Fred F. French. It comprises twelve buildings in Tudor style...The area became a historic district May 17, 1988. It comprises an area from 40th street to 43rd street between First and Second Ave...'

(Link...http://www.aviewoncities.com/nyc/tudorcity.htm)

We went into the lobby of the Ford Foundation building - pretty unassuming from the outside, but lovely inside with a huge open area and even a garden! Our guide pointed out some of the unique Tudor architecture. Then we moved on to the News Building...which was an inspiration for the Daily Planet building in the old Superman buildings (as the globe inside was the inspiration for the globe on the top of the building in the movie). After the News Building, it was over to the Chrysler Building. (Enjoying some great photo ops on the way up the street). Little did we know you could go in and have a look around the lobby, which was quite neat. I must mention that our guide was totally into art deco architecture and had quite the passion for it, so he was a great one to give the tour.

After Chrysler, we popped into the Chanin Building which had some beautiful art deco décor inside (see photos)...and we didn't realize...there is a subway stop that pops out there (as we did a few nights later). Then it was on to Grand Central Terminal, which we had already did the audio tour of the day before, so we didn't really learn anything new. After that was the Public Library (again...we had seen it the day before). Then we walked to the theatre area where we learned some info on some of the old theatre buildings there.

By now, it was getting on to 2pm, so we were getting pretty hungry. We decided we would give Shake Shack a try, but the line was quite out the door when we got there...well, John's Pizzeria was close, so we went in there. I won't say it was the best pizza I've ever had, but it was good. Again with the heat of the day, we weren't extremely hungry...and we shouldn't have ordered the bread rolls apps - we would have finished the pizza if not for that. And I think there was a kid's birthday party on the 2nd floor unless they kept a zoo full of children up there. The decibel level of the noise made it hard to talk/think.

Not having a writ in stone plan for the rest of the day, we decided to walk to the Intrepid which was 4-5 long blocks away. We had seen it last trip, but there is now a display of the space shuttle Enterprise that hubby wanted to see. We used our NY Pass but still had to pay the extra for the space exhibit. We had about an hour and a bit to look around - the good thing was...we had seen it before so hubby really only wanted to see the Enterprise and we looked around at the planes on deck again...we didn't have to go inside other than to cool down. The other nice thing - there were people handing out free packs of crispy M&M's...so we scored 3 of them. Nice.

Afterwards, we came out and just sat in the shade for awhile. If I'd been paying attention, I would have realized Circle Line harbor tours were right there and the NY Pass included a free cruise...but I wasn't paying attention. Hubby decided he wanted to try and get to the library and get the crow bookends. My info said the library closed at 5:30, but he said the lady at the gift shop told him the shop closed at 6pm. Which it probably did on the day he asked. So we had to walk the 5-6 long blocks back (no subway from that area) and got to the library about 5:45 - you guessed it...it was closed. So now what...

Rockefeller Center/top of the rock it is! We also did this last time, but with the pass decided to do it again. There was quite a line to get up from the first elevator to the second, and one of the workers was saying...if you don't want to wait for the elevator, you can take the stairs...it's only 6 floors....except two of those 'floors' didn't have doors, so it was more like 8 floors. I don't do extremely well on stairs, but I will say we got up ahead of the group waiting for the elevators! It was quite crowded and very hard to get around with everyone in the way. You would have to lurk and wait for someone to move away from the edge and jump in to get your spot. We spent maybe a half hour before getting fed up with the crowds.

Then just some general wandering about. We had an early walking tour the next day, so we decided to head back and relax.

Posted by u2traveller 12:03 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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