Wednesday, May 27, 2009

snippets and snapettes

There were many many special moments in the 6 dazzling days I spent in New York City. Thank goodness for a digital camera that captured them and therefore remembered for me! I was just telling Gladys that I wished I had kept a journal on my last trip to Hawaii, I could have recreated the entire week in my blog. But alas, I was just not that disciplined! Next time, I vow to do better.

On our first day in New York City our tour bus guide explained to us the reason that  the buildings had such unique shapes. Somewhere along the way (my memory isn't that good) it was noticed that the skyscrapers were blocking so much sunlight that large parts of the city were being bathed in darkness. We definitely noticed that some streets never saw the sun. So the Sunlight conservatory was born. This stipulated that the architects of the city had to step back certain areas of the building so that the sunlight could reach the street. Without this regulation, the city would be a much different place, and the buildings would not be so unique!

Triplets! There were three of these buildings in a row. The bus put us too close to them to get all three in the picture. While the tour guide expounded on the rent and how the window styles denoted whether or not the building was rent controlled...I wasn’t paying that much attention... I was busted trying to zoom into the interiors. Not peeping, just interested in the way people live in the city.

Would you expect to see a mosque in Harlem? I certainly didn’t, but here it is.

We did a very quick tour of the Met, yes, sad, I know.... To be honest the tour only happened because we were looking for an amazing spot to have a glass of wine and view the city and someone along the way suggested the roof top of the met. WOW . What an incredible structure awaited us. And the view was breathtaking.

This is the M&M’s billboard in Times Square. You can see by the street light in the corner of the picture just how large this is! The kaleidoscope of color they display is simply gorgeous.

Linda and I had the good fortune to run into a scalper who sold us tickets to West Side Story. Of all the musicals playing in New York, to me this one is the quintessential New York story. Yes, the seats were in the nosebleed section, but we still had a great view of the stage and the sound was also perfect. Next trip (I am so going back) I would like to spend some real cash for front row seats to whatever is the hottest play of the day.

Directly across the street from our favorite skechers store was this McDonalds.  Where else but New York City would you see a sign like this.   We heard there was one uptown that had a baby grand piano in the lobby. :)

One of the many purse rack in Macy's.  There are no words....

The elephant topiary at Tavern on the green was gigantic. We so enjoyed our stop there.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Castles in the Sky - May 2009

I have to share more of my favorites of the 1300 or so pictures that I took while visiting New York City.   If you are thinking about visiting New York ~ all I can say is GO.    It's a magical, crazy, wonderful city that everyone should experience at least once. I can't wait to go back.

I was very lucky to explore the city with two other women who's sense of adventure was remarkably diverse, we each brought to the others an experience we would have missed on our own. Thank you Gladys and Linda, this was a holiday I will never forget!  It's a good idea to make a list of things you really want to see because it's very easy to get distracted by the castles in the sky. If you have a couple of good pairs of walking shoes, some great company ( it will only add to your experience) and lots of time ~ you are in for a treat.

We spent 6 wonderful days hopping on and off buses, walking and eating.   The restaurants are amazingly diverse.  The people we met couldn't have been friendlier, the weather was spectacular and the shopping!! All I can say is I had to take pictures of the purses I left behind in Macy's :)     Many many pictures..

And don't worry about the fabulous food you are going to eat, you will walk it off in no time at all.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lanterns in the trees

There were so many of these lovely cloth lanterns hanging from the trees at Tavern on the Green , they deserve to be singled out!     It was  sweltering hot   and we were taking cover under the thousands of trees (yes ~ thousands) in the park. The ladies and I just had to stop in for a ice cold drink and some luscious New York fries... served in a silver cup no less. One of the most enjoyable treats of our trip. Somewhere in my vast array of pictures is one of our very cute waiter, alway a bonus!

This is the picture I will use for for my desktop at work (the lanterns ~ not the beer).  Every time I see it I smile and remember the sun on my face, ice cold beer, hot crispy fries and best of all the laughter of good friends. Maybe I should have the beer picture after all....
Isn't that the most wonderful thing about pictures from a holiday or special event ~ they take you right back!
Next vacation my sweetie and I are driving down the Oregon / California coast to San Francisco.
I wonder how many pictures I will take there :)

Central Park ~ Of Course!!

Our last full day in the city and we have all decided to spend it in Central Park. That is after we ride the subway. We can’t leave the city without a subway ride! So we walk to Grand Central station. Now we know what the saying really means. I didn’t expect it to be so beautiful, busy yes, but beautiful? The ceiling alone was jaw dropping. What we didn’t realize was Grand Central is really a hub for the outlying boroughs, not what we were after. Still, I am very glad that I got to see it for myself. A very nice ticket sales agent told us we could get to the park easily up Fifth Avenue.

So, we walked. Yes, from our hotel at 8th and 46th street, we walked to Central Park and entered on the corner of 5th and 59th street. Might not sound like far, but when its 85 degrees and so very humid, it feels like 105 degrees, that's quite a hike!

Along the way were the most amazing castles, butted up against glass sky scrapers. WOW.    And the stores on Fifth were in a class of their own.

We made it to The Park. This is where all the city folks go to escape the heat. Where the kids and dogs run, and lounge, or even boat. It’s gorgeous.

We strolled down trails, under trees, across bridges and took hundreds of pictures.  We even managed to witness a swing dance competition at the shell, where one adventurous photographer was trying to get a photo of everyone in the air at the same time.  It was just too much fun.
After all this walking in the heat we headed to Tavern on the Green for a cold one.  I can't hear Regis and Kelly talk about it and not see it for myself. 
We finished our jaunt through Central Park at the underpass where this lovely statues resides.  We didn't want to leave but had made plans for an Italian feast for our last night out! 

We managed to get ourselves on the subway headed in the right direction ... what a rush!  I even forgot for a minute or two how claustrophobic I am.  Our last night in the city. I am sad.

Friday, May 22, 2009

May 21 ~ Favorite day so far

I have been waiting for this since I got here. Today we got up early (what’s new Gladys would say) and took the bus down to Pier 17. We walked along FDR drive to the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. The weather was remarkable for our foray across state lines. The bridge itself is even more magnificent up close and everybody who told us we couldn’t come to New York and NOT walk the bridge was so right.

The amount of people going into and out of Manhattan Island via the bridge is surprising and the rigid division between pedestrian and bike lane startling. God help you if you step into the bike lane!

Looking back at Manhattan Island from the bridge was a real kick.  Look at those skyscapers!

Here I am with my foot in the Atlantic Ocean for the very first time.  I'm a Pacific ocean gal!

From the park at the base of the bridge on the Brooklyn side of the Hudson river, the view of the city is spectacular.  It's too bad Linda decided to go back to the city on the bus.  Gladys and I are crazy enough to want to walk back!  It must be at least 95 degrees today. Whew!  Starbucks, here we come for iced coffee.

Just look at this tower of strength. 
What a feat of engineering.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

silly to sublime ~ all in one day

Stolen cable we were told is a major problem in the city. You can see by the lines here that it's quite obvious. Many of the building looked like this with miles of cables dripping off them.

I absolutely loved this sign just outside of central park. I don’t know what made this particular area so special.    And yes, everyone honks in this city, especially the cabs. It’s part of the charm. 

As our bus headed into Harlem I caught a shot of this remarkable mural on the side of a building. I wish the car wasn’t in the way. What a shock Harlem was. Not at all what I had expected. It’s a charming part of the city that has undergone gentrification to the extreme. Although I am certain that the bus tours took us to the best and the brightest parts of all the boroughs!

Whatever you have seen or read about Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, you cannot be prepared for the real thing. It takes your breath away with its sheer splendour. It is so large I couldn’t get a picture of the entire building, but I managed to capture some snippets of this incredible site.   The Peace fountain is particularily beautiful.

favorite night in the city that doesn't sleep

The visit to the Empire State Building
We waited in line forever to get to the top. Actually we waited in two lines. Once we made it past the original line in the lobby and up to the next staging area, we waited again. I was beginning to wonder if it could possibly be worth all the waiting. The pictures tell the story better than I ever could.

The one thing the pictures cannot convey is the force of wind that whips around the building when you are 86 floors, or 1050 feet above the street. It was exhilarating. Unfortunately for Linda and Gladys they found that their cameras didn’t work very well in the dark. I had some bizarre time lapse photography (?) and some that were wonderful.

Of course, we had to make a foray past Times Square on the way home.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New York City, Day three

Day three has us running for the first bus to leave 8th street for the uptown loop. More amazing architecture! Where else can you see a beach house on top of a 50 story building and a stone castle in the reflection of a mirror glass skyscraper? Only in New York.

We passed the United Nations Headquarters. Our guide informed us that each of the current attending countries have their flag flying, in alphabetical order from left to right. I guess the house was full today.

Today we ditched the pashmina's, it's really heating up here in the city.  We could not have asked for better weather.  It's very apparent that this is a city to see on your feet (and yes, part ways on your butt on the bus) but the walking we have done is unbelievable.  I even bought a new pair of skechers, as did Gladys and Linda. We love our new skechers!
We have managed to walk, talk and eat for about 14 hours a day and we still aren't sick of each other!  The people we meet are friendly and so very helpful.  I wonder if there are any true New Yorker's left? The stories of rude, abrupt impatient people seem like urban myths.  And I even gave someone on the street directions today. Imagine that!

Tonight we found a spectacular restaurant.  Sangria 46.  Spanish. Tapas. Sangria. Need I say more?
Too much fun was had by all and yes, we will feel it tomorrow!  Thanks to Roy our fellow patron for opening our eyes to more adventurous foods.  They were really grapes... weren't they ?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Day two, New York City

It took me the entire day yesterday to get here so for me this is really day one in The City that never sleeps. Our day began with Linda getting up at the crack of dawn (even though we went to bed minutes before the crack appeared) running across the street and getting us coffee, tea and of course bagels for breakfast. What a woman!

We headed directly to Times Square to pickup our hop-on hop-off bus and New York City passes thanks to a great tip given to us by a friend from work. Once Gladys got through interviewing (and I say this with only the most love and respect) the multi-national fellows who sell the passes, we got on our first open top double decker bus and were off!

We had agreed to ride the entire tour, listen to the history and info spiel of the guide and then decide where we wanted to hop off on the next round. We didn’t make it very far when we hopped off because some store or other caught our eyes. It took most of the day but we managed to hop back on and finish the tour. Wow, this is some city. We all bought pashmina’s from a street vendor to ward off the chill of the upper deck of the bus. And we learned to duck really fast... the buses just sail under the trees and street lights. Amazing.
Battery Park

Along the way we all madly snapped pictures. This particular building is just one of the structures that makes New York an architectural wonder.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Arrival ~ The Big Apple

This can't be real. That's my first thought after arriving in New York City. Am I really here? I left my rural BC home at 9 am this morning and here I am sitting on glowing red stairs in Times Square. I flew into La Guardia, NJ from Vancouver today. It was the best flight I’ve been on, mostly because the plane was ½ empty and sadly because Sweetie wasn’t sitting beside me saying “do you think that engine sounds funny? ... I really think there’s something wrong”.    Needless to say, he really hates to fly.

So I flew across the continent by myself, rather intrepid I must say! I feel like I have arrived in another world by the time I reach the baggage claim area. I have never heard so many different languages spoken in one small area. What I would later realize is very indicative of New York City.

I met a funny interesting woman named Sandy as we were waiting forever for our luggage. Turns out she was from the Island and had traveled alone but was meeting friends as was I. We decided to travel to our respective hotels together. Best idea of the day! Our cab driver and I use the term loosely was nothing if not NUTS. For some reason he was obsessed with bad 70’s TV shows and the entire trip from New Jersey into Manhattan he was paying more attention to his DVD player than the road.   Hair raising... and oddly... entirely expected.    I was very relieved to be deposited outside my hotel in one piece but felt guilty that Sandy had to travel on.

By the time I got checked in it was midnight but I was still shocked that Gladys was in bed. I must note that she is on day 7 of a whirlwind trip to New York via Pittsburgh. Needless to say I dragged her out of bed; we met up with Linda who had also just checked in.... and off we went to Times Square. I am so glad my first look was at night. It is truly spectacular, pictures just don’t do it justice.   Thank goodness Gladys had the forsight to bring her camera because these two pictures are hers!

The first picture I have taken this trip is the view from our hotel room window.  You might not think much of it, but to me it was beautiful.   I have dreamed of this moment... my dream included a rooftop terrace complete with  billowing curtains, landscaped gardens, wonderful wine and a stereo pumping out Barbra Streisand - that should give you some idea of what year my dream began.  Not exactly the New York from my dreams, it's bigger and grittier and so much more alive than I could ever imagine....

Day one ended with Gladys, Linda and I across the street from our hotel at Smith's Bar laughing, drinking and plotting until almost 4am.   Linda fed us pizza from a nearby vendor, and this set the tone for the entire trip. I CAN HARDLY WAIT TO WAKE UP TOMORROW MORNING!