|Day 1: Sunday October 2, 2011
||We left home at 7:30 am and had breakfast at McDonalds. At the
airport, our check-in went fine. Karen tried to buy the new novel by
Lee Child called The Affair about the character Jack Reacher, which
had finally been published last week. That was what she planned to
read on the plane. NO LUCK. At the terminal, the only bookstore was
a Borders Bookstore (and all the Borders Bbookstores SHUT DOWN a few
months ago). Instead, she had to settle for a People magazine.
Great flight to NY, just 1 hour and 10 minutes. Long walk to
baggage claim. No problem getting bags. We went outside to find the
limo. The driver was not there. So we called limo dispatcher.
Dispatcher called driver. Dispatcher called back to say driver on
his way. He finally showed up.
It took one hour to get to our hotel. Driving through NYC is
totally crazy. There is a lot of weaving in and out of lanes. We
checked into hotel. After settling in, we went out to lunch at
Hell’s Kitchen. The restaurant was extremely crowded and loud. Food
was good but nothing spectacular. Karen had a salmon burger. After
lunch we walked all over Time Square. Found where to pick up our
tickets for our bus tours. Around 5 pm we wandered over to Central
We were beat. We decided to take a bicycle ride tour of Central
Park in the rain. Lou thinks it was a total ripoff $100 + tip. Lou
would not do that again. Good thing the buggy had a canopy because
it was really raining rather hard. This meant we got partially wet.
We then walked back to hotel in the rain. Buggy driver gave us
We had dinner at Caprizza Pizza right around the corner from our
hotel. The pizza was totally awesome - real pizza. Big slabs of
meat, veg, and cheese with thin but very crispy.
It was about 10PM on a Sunday night, and the streets were crowded
with people. There was this one guy screaming at a woman; that was
the only moment that was sort of scary during the whole trip. We
then walked to the drugstore, Duane Reed, which was a 3 story
building. We loaded up on water, soda, etc. and walked back to the
hotel and crashed.
|Day 2: Monday October 3, 2011
||We got up around 7:30 am. Karen made coffee in the room. Hung
around for a bit then took showers and went down for complimentary
breakfast. Hotel breakfast was actually fairly decent. They had
omelets, bagels, bacon, fruit, sausage gravy biscuits, etc.
We finally left the hotel and walked over a couple of blocks. We
did like New Yorkers and hailed a taxi. We took the taxi over to
Wall Street for our walking tour. Cost us $25 for the ride. Taxi
driver wanted a cross street instead of an actual address.
Apparently that’s how it is in NYC. It took us awhile to figure out
what he needed.
Got to the tour starting point early, so we walked around and
went inside Trinity Church. We then had coffee at Milk Street Café.
It’s a huge coffee shop and restaurant, really nice with awesome
staff. They made fresh sandwiches for the lunch crowd. Coffee was
We met the tour across from the Museum of Finance at 55 Wall
Street. We had a lady tour guide from South Africa. The tour guide
asked where everyone was from, and she hooked us up with a woman
from South Carolina. (North Carolina, South Carolina, same thing,
right?) Her husband was there for a conference so she was on her
own. She was quite awfully pretty.
The tour was quite nice. The tour showed us Dow Jones, NYSE,
NASDAQ, and gave us the story of how Dow Jones got started. In
addition we saw the Rockefeller building, heard about how buildings
used to be straight up and are no longer so in order to let in more
We walked through Trinity Church cemetery and saw where Alexander
Hamilton was buried. Finally we walked down to ground zero. We saw
the new Freedom Tower. We did not see the memorial because you need
tickets to get in due to the fact it is a construction zone. The
Freedom Tower will be 1776 feet tall.
After the tour we had a fantastic lunch at China Chalet. To get
into the restaurant, you had to go up a real long stairway. Karen
thought it was going to be a dump because the carpet was rather
beaten up. But when we got to the top a man in a suit welcomed us
and sat us at a wonderful table. We had awesome Hot and Sour soup.
Lou had Shrimp in Garlic sauce with huge jumbo shrimp and crispy
vegetables. Karen had Hunan Lamb. Service was wonderful.
After lunch we found an ATM machine on Wall Street. We hailed a
cab and went to the American Museum of Natural History. Saw lots of
rocks, minerals, meteors, and of course dinosaurs. We saw one meteor
that was 34,000 tons. It was so huge it had to be on a platform that
was anchored through the foundation of the building into the bed
When we walked into the dinosaur section, Karen said “Oh my God”.
They were so big. We saw a presentation on Sorapods who where
vegetarians. Their necks were so long they didn’t have too move
around much and expend energy. They could just move their necks
around from tree to tree. Tried a few gift shops but the shops were
Left AMNH and walked down Central Park west. We got slightly lost
but Lou saved the day. We ended up at a fantastic Cuban restaurant
called Guantnamera, like the song, which we googled to get the
lyrics. The people, décor, and food were absolutely authentic Cuban.
We had maduros, yucca, and started off with croquettas. Karen had
Vaca Frita and Lou had Bistec Palomillo with congre. Lou had two
double Grey Goose Vodkas with lime juice. They were quite yummy.
After dinner Lou just had to order the flan even though he was
stuffed. Karen tried it and loved it. The owner came over and talked
to us for a while. She was a hot babe. Bill was $108.
We then walked back to the hotel. On the way to the hotel, we
stopped off at another Duane Reed drug store for more supplies.
(There was practically a Duane Reed on every corner.) Karen was
exhausted. Karen loves NYC.
|Day 3: Tuesday October 4, 2011
||We crawled out of bed around 7:30 am. Neither of us slept well.
We think it had to do with too much sun on Monday. We had breakfast
in the hotel. It was packed so we ate breakfast standing up against
the wall in the hallway outside the breakfast room.
After breakfast we went to Starbucks for coffee and found our way
to the bus tour. The bus tour office was in the Museum of Wax. We
had to go in there to turn in our vouchers and get our tickets. We
chose the Uptown Tour to start with.
Harlem had beautiful churches. We saw the Dakota where John
Lennon lived and was shot. We saw lots of churches, buildings, and
granite. The island of Manhattan is mostly made up of granite.
We got off the bus and went to the Guggenheim museum. A big part
of going there was to be able to walk up the circular ramp and see
all the art. Unfortunately the ramp was closed while they installed
some new show! Bummer. We didn’t care for the museum because we
don’t care for modern art. Especially when the description goes off
to say this painting depicts the struggle between technology and
politics as well as the energy between East and West Germany… Yikes.
We went outside and grabbed a sausage in flat bread at a truck
lunch cart. It was very good.
From there we went to the Metropolitan museum. We spent a lot of
time at the Egyptian exhibit, since this was the next best thing
after our trip to Egypt fell through last spring. We saw sculptures
over 4,000 years old. We saw pink granite from Aswan in Egypt! How
many times did we hear about “pink Aswan granite” during our Egypt
class? Like a million times. And we finally saw some. Pretty! Pink!
Karen got to touch the pink granite and was very excited.
We walked through a tomb. We saw a few sarcophagi and many
statues. From there we went to the European art gallery where we saw
Rembrandt, Vermeer, and some Russian artists.
We got on the bus and returned to our starting point. After
getting off the bus, we walked back to the hotel. We took an hour
nap. We then got up, freshened up, and walked over to Starbucks
where we hung around upstairs for 40 minutes. We had coffee and
items (baked goods). We had to call Pat so she wouldn’t freak out
when she found out there was a helicopter tour that crashed in the
east river earlier in the day.
From there we walked over to see Spider Man “Turn off the Dark”.
Spider Man flew by us at least 6 times. He landed on a platform that
was about 3 feet away from us. He was close enough we could have
reached out and poked him ;-) The show was SPECTACULAR. The music
was wonderful. Broadway shows on Broadway are definitely a notch
above Broadway shows elsewhere.
After Spider Man we walked back to Hell’s Kitchen and found an
Italian restaurant. Like most stores and restaurants in NYC, they
have a narrow exposure to the sidewalk but they go back a very long
way. This restaurant was maybe 8 feet wide and 30 feet deep. The
food was well, what can I say? In NYC if the food is not A++, you
simply can’t make it as a restaurant. There was an Italian babe on
the sidewalk encouraging you to come in and enjoy the food.
Lou had the special Lamb Shank with roasted potatoes and garlic
broccoli goo. Lou also had the Buffalo Mozzarella salad. Karen had
the Caesar followed by Veal Picata. We had sorbet for dessert. The
dessert was incredible because they hollowed out the center of a
piece of fruit and put the sorbet in the center and then froze the
whole thing. One was an orange, and the other was a peach. It was
all quite yummy. They brought us dessert wine so Lou had to drink
both his and hers. Bummer. The Karaoke machine was on the fritz
because it kept coming in and going out.
|Day 4: Wednesday October 5, 2011
||We are pretty sick of having breakfast in the hotel. Every day,
there are more people crowded in!
This morning we went on the Downtown Bus Tour, and we got off
pretty quickly at the Empire State Building. It took quite awhile to
work our way through the line to be searched/inspected and then buy
tickets. The line zigzagged back and forth just like at Disney.
There were a lot of foreign tourists in line with us, which made it
interesting, listening to different languages. Lots of fashion
forward young people to look at!
After we got our tickets, it took three different elevators to
get to the tippy top, at the 102nd floor. Most people seemed to go
only as high as the 86th floor. The top was pretty cool, but you are
completely enclosed in glass. We worked our way around and got a lot
of pictures of the amazing 360 degree view.
Then we went down to the 86th floor. Now that was CROWDED! It was
crazy. We got to go outside, which was really nice. It was sort of
cold. There was a wind. It was actually really hard to get to the
glass to see out. You had to stand behind a crowd of people for
awhile till they cleared out, then you got to move forward to the
glass. Stayed there for awhile, soaking up the views. Then it was
time to move to a different spot, wait for different people, and
finally move forward. That got old fast. Oh, yeah, there was an
audio tour, which was entertaining.
The best view was on the ramp from the lobby down to the deck,
but a guard would not let you linger on that ramp.
We had read about the New York Skyride, which is a simulation of
flying around the city. We had to find it, which was not easy. We
wandered all over. The hallways were marked for people exiting the
building, not for people trying to reach the skyride. We had to
backtrack more than once, which is not something that Lou enjoys.
Finally we found it.
You got strapped into a seat on a platform and then the platform
moved as the movie played. Kevin Bacon was our “pilot” who flew us
around the city and almost got us killed a couple times. But the
movie screen was not actually that big, and the projection was a bit
dim. It was fun but not something we’d ever repeat.
Lunchtime. We used Karen’s map app on her phone to find a
restaurant. We chose Chicken Ba something, which served Korean fried
chicken. We had a mix of various chicken bits, fries, potstickers…
it was all good. No vegetables. So maybe I ought to say it was tasty
but perhaps not so good for you.
Then we had to get oriented and figure out how to get back to the
place where the bus dropped us off, and we waited not too long for
another bus. (The whole hop-on hop-off bus thing really worked out
great for us.)
We went through Chinatown, Little Italy, and SoHo next on the
tour. Our tour guide this time was awesome. She was a beautiful,
young, mid-western, African American lady who really know how to
hold your attention. We got off at Battery Park so that we could
jump on the Brooklyn Tour. We hadn’t planned it that way, but
someone explained that this was the most efficient way to do that
tour. If we wanted to hold off and do it the next day, we would have
had to repeat quite a lot of the downtown tour just to get there.
Our Brooklyn tour guide was AMAZING. He was a senior tour guide,
who is also a taxi driver, and he’d been called in that morning to
fill in. 100% Brooklyn born and raised, with attitude. We went over
the Manhattan Bridge, not the Brooklyn Bridge, because of some
height limitation. Our bus was high! We were on the kind of tour bus
where the people sit up top, exposed to the elements.
The Brooklyn Museum is supposed to have the largest collection of
Egyptian artifacts, outside of the museum in Cairo! Maybe next time
we’ll go there. We saw a lot of pretty brownstones, even getting a
glimpse of the one where the Cosby show was supposed to be located.
We heard a lot about famous people from Brooklyn. We heard a lot
about how much Brooklyn pays in taxes to support NYC and how
Brooklyn used to be its own city. Lots of Brooklyn pride!
The tour guide also explained about how you need to look for an
“A” on the outside of a restaurant, which means they passed their
health department inspection with flying colors. A place with a “B”
grade, ugh, not as clean as it ought to be, so don’t eat there.
Forget about eating at a place with a “C” grade.
We stayed on the bus and pretty much finished the downtown tour.
We jumped off at 34th and 1st Ave East, near Macy’s, so Karen could
shop. We asked the guy where to eat, and he suggested a hole in the
wall burger joint that would be cheap but good. It was! Jackson
Hole. Excellent burger for Lou. Excellent salad for Karen. Great
service. Strangely tiny bathroom.
Then we headed to Macy’s! Karen had been totally excited about
going there. There would be a much bigger assortment of clothes
there, and she was hoping to buy a winter coat. Lou sat down on a
couch with some other husbands, and Karen took off. She tried on
every winter coat, but couldn’t find one that fit well and looked
Meanwhile Lou was having fun talking to a New Yorker waiting for
his wife, too.
There are 7 Starbucks in that Macy’s!
We walked home to our hotel. Lots of people of the streets. We
stopped for gelato on the way. Lou got chocolate chip cookie dough,
and Karen got coffee. We had some really great views of the Empire
State Building, all lit up, in the night sky. It was really
beautiful. It was about 9:30 when we got back to the hotel. Long
day! We crashed.
|Day 5: Thursday October 6, 2011
||Wow, what a great day. We started at a deli called the Hot and
Crusty. We had walked by it every morning and never even saw it. But
that map app on the phone helped us find it. We were desperate to
have bagels and lox in NYC. What a perfect breakfast! The bagels
were unbelievable, crispy outside and chewy inside. The salmon was
as good as the premium stuff we get from Costco. Lou said it was the
best he had ever had in his entire fitty years! We had exactly the
same thing: sesame bagel, toasted, with scallion cream cheese and a
mound of smoked salmon. Heaven.
We both checked in on Foursquare. (By the time we left NYC, Karen
would become the Mayor of the Hot and Crusty!)
So we backtracked to Starbucks for coffees, and then we got on
the bus for the Uptown Tour again. The morning was chilly, so having
a hot coffee to hold onto was nice.
Our plan was just to use the bus as transportation up to the
Dakota Building, where the fictional Special Agent Pendergast lives.
We jumped off right there at the stop for Strawberry fields in
We crossed through the park, hoping to go straight across, but we
got off track and ended up a lot farther south than we expected. But
it was fun. Once we were on Park Avenue, we meandered to the Whitney
Museum of American Art, which Karen really wanted to visit. When we
finally got there, the museum wasn’t open yet, but the café was. It
was called Untitled. Hobbits always enjoy a second breakfast. Karen
had apple pie a la mode. Lou had chocolate croissant. Even the
coffee was great. (Karen’s was iced.)
Oh dear God, the museum was a disappointment. It took 15 minutes
to get the audio tour machine, because the woman in front of us had
no official ID card that she would give the museum staff lady in
exchange for the audio machine. Finally we handed over our IDs and
got our audio machines and headed into the museum. But we lasted
like 15 minutes in the museum. All modern art. Bleugh. We didn’t
have enough time in NYC to be wasting it on modern art. So we
decided to split. When we in our audio machines, and the lady was
like, “You’re done already?!” as she gave us back our IDs.
There was actually one installation that was sort of cool. There
was a big empty room, and the walls were papered with real dollar
bills. The bills formed patterns on the walls.
Anyway, we hot the street and Lou suggested that we go to the
Frick instead. It was more in line with what we like. It was not too
far, so we walked. Oh, at one point, we passed a coffee shop with a
plate glass window, and everyone inside was BEAUTIFUL or HANDSOME
like movie stars, and exquisitely dressed, and lounging about in
leather chairs. It was almost as though they could not be real.
The Frick was AMAZING. They did not accept our New York Pass, but
it was worth $18 each. The collection is fabulous and the house was
awesome. Must be nice to be a multi-billionaire and have a mansion
and fill it with great works of art! Then to think that after you
die, your house becomes a museum that people love.
There was a sort of central atrium courtyard with a reflecting
pool and plants and benches, which is where Karen left Lou so she
could shop in the gift shop.
We wandered to the Carnegie Deli for lunch. Lou died and went to
heaven. Just what he expected: a mountain of pastrami on his
sandwich. Half of the meat fell out and had to be eaten with a fork.
Karen had an open-faced turkey-dinner type sandwich which was super.
Ooh, the cheesecake was amazing. We shared one with blueberries on
it. Lou got the bigger half. Even though we were sort of full, we
knew we had to get cheesecake. Accidentally Lou got the bigger half.
Lou chatted with the people at the tables around us, of course.
There was what seemed to be a double blind date who didn’t really
seem to be clicking and who liked talking to us instead of each
other, and then there was a big family group who Lou exhorted to
order the pastrami.
Our waiter was from Bangladesh, which is NOT part of India. We
left him a big tip. They don’t take credit cards, so we paid cash.
From there we went to the Coach store. Since Macy’s had been a
bust, we thought maybe Karen could spend some moolah at Coach
instead, get something amazing. Nothing really jumped out at me,
there was a saleslady showing me a small purple bag, and then this
huge green bag jumped out at me like TAKE ME HOME.
It was so beautiful: funky green with a combination of stamping
to simulate both ostrich and alligator. It hung well, it looked
great… Lou said to get it! So the lady has them go upstairs to get
one for me. We are waiting and waiting… then she tells me they are
going to bring it down gift wrapped, but I say NO because I need to
look it over. Good thing, because it had a flaw. There were folds in
the leather, and every fold had stressed the leather so that instead
of being green, it was white. Yuck. I examined three bags! Then I
gave up. No way would I buy a bag with a flaw like that brand new
because what would it look like in a year? I apologized and we just
At the same time, I started to feel bad, my stomach was bothering
me, my back was bothering me. And we were so far from the hotel.
We walked a different route and saw different things. I started
to feel better. It was really enjoyable to just walk around
So we got back to the hotel, and I rested and surfed the web. We
were resting so that we would be able to go off and really enjoy our
last bus tour, the night time tour. We would be up late, and wanted
to be fresh and energetic for it. It was a lot of fun, to see the
city all lit up. It was a little cold, but we had brought our
|Day 6: Friday October 7, 2011
||We slept a little later this morning. Before we left the hotel,
we stopped to talk to the hotel concierge about getting tickets to
How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. At first, we
hadn’t wanted to see it because we had seen it years ago in Seattle
with Matthew Broderick in the lead. We didn’t feel that we needed to
see it again with Daniel Radcliff (Harry Potter). But then we heard
that John Larroquette was in it! Oh man! That changed everything!
So the concierge suggested that we head to the theater
immediately. The box office would be open, and we would have a much
better chance of getting seats from then instead of waiting till the
discount ticket kiosk opened at 3PM.
Hot and Crusty again! But they were out of salmon. The guy
remembered us from the previous morning. We had egg bagels instead.
When we arrived at the box office, there might have been 15
people in line ahead of us. We inched our way forward. Eventually
another line joined the line behind us. She told us that the theater
has great prices on the day of the show. And she was right! We paid
$30 each, and we would be just 4 and 5 rows from the stage. (The
seats were waaaay off to the right, but it was still excellent.
There was just one scene where John was doing something funny – and
the audience was flipping out -- but we could not see him.)
We couldn’t believe we got seats for just $60, so Karen said,
“Now if you can only get us dinner for $60,” and the guy was like,
“I am not a miracle worker.”
We headed toward Grand Central Terminal. Karen popped into a
chocolate shop, and Lou stayed outside. He started talking to a cop.
Karen came out and found them discussing Mediterranean cruises.
We were at Grand Central Terminal to meet Helen-Anne and John,
who were coming in on the train for the day to hang with us. So we
planned to get there early and do the audio tour. The building was
really impressive. The tour was a lot of fun.
The current station was constructed in 1913. It took 10 years to
build, and the construction went 90 feet below sea level. A lot of
the dirt that they excavated was used as fill on Ellis Island.
W met them near the clock, a four sided round clock on the top of
the info desk in the center of the space. It’s a popular meeting
place. The clock is an atomic clock, so it always shows the correct
The stars on the ceiling were accidentally put on backwards!
Once we found Helen-Anne and John, we went to lunch first. We
sort of wandered all over looking for some place to eat. The map app
on our phones again came in handy. We chose an Italian place that
was really wonderful but pricey. Four stars and three dollar signs.
There was a prix fixe lunch menu that we all went with.
The men started with an amazing mozzarella and tomato salad, and
the ladies started with a minestrone soup which was not as exciting
but equally tasty. Lou had chicken franchese, Karen and John had
salmon, and Helen-Anne had pork medallions… Near the end of the
lunch, Karen slipped away to the bathroom and grabbed our waiter and
arranged to buy lunch. He actually just took my credit card because
he wanted to give us the opportunity to get dessert. We did get
desserts and coffee too, which were also amazing.
Helen-Anne and John were not that happy that we bought lunch, but
PLEASE they took vacation time and a train to come hang out with us!
We had to do it!
We had a goal to get chocolates for Karen to bring to work. We
found three different chocolate shops, but they were all so
incredibly expensive. It was prohibitive! The prices alone could
make you lose weight. One place, the price was $73 per pound!
Karen and Helen-Anne walked ahead of the men, who trailed behind
us. Helen-Anne is a DARE DEVIL darting into the street right into
traffic! There were a couple times Karen was frozen on the curb
gasping at her.
At one point, we saw an awning that said Rachel, and Helen-Anne
figured it had to be the Rachel Ray show, so she boldly barged in a
door and took off down a dark service corridor and went deep into
the building. The men stayed outside, which proves how smart they
are. Karen trailed doubtfully behind Helen-Anne, wondering how much
trouble you could get in for breaking and entering if the door
wasn’t locked. “Hello? Can I help you” It was a security guard! He
must have seen us on close circuit TV. Helen-Anne peppered him with
questions, which he answered, but he refused to let us see the
studio. He politely but firmly ushered us back out to the street.
Eventually we gave up on the chocolate hunt. Earlier, in the
grocery store inside Grand Central Terminal, Karen saw dark
chocolate-covered figs, and so that was what I decided to bring to
work. We had been blown away by the grocery store. Next time we come
to NYC, we need to get ourselves a picnic lunch from there. A loaf
of bread, a chunk of cheese, two Diet Cokes, and thee.
We walked all over and then ended up in an Irish pub for drinks
and conversation. It was a lot of fun. Karen drank two pots of tea.
Then it was about time to get them back to their train. We said
goodbye and hoped to see them at Christmas, because our plan was to
go to FL for Lou’s birthday. Gosh what a great day! We had a blast
with Helen-Anne and John!
We bought the figs and some other chocolates – and Karen finally
bough the Jack Reacher book for the flight home at a bookstore in
the Grand Central Terminal.
Then we hustled back uptown to see the play, How to Succeed in
Business Without Really Trying, at 8PM. There was a young woman
swooning on the sidewalk outside the theater at the chance to see
I am so glad we saw this play. JL really mugged it up a lot. DR
was impressive too. It was a lot funnier than I remember. The
dancing was amazing.
Afterward, we were hungry and went back to the Trattoria Casa di
Isacca again. It was a lot busier on a Friday night. So we are
sitting there waiting for bread and water, and four cops come in and
talk to the owner. They kiss, they hug, they laugh, they talk… huge
distraction, we are never going to get to order. They walk to the
back and disappear. Then another cop comes in and the owner gives
him something small and he leaves. Strange.
Anyway, dinner was super awesome again. Lou drank both glasses of
dessert wine again.
We finally got back to the hotel at like 12:30AM and we crashed.
Trip over! So much fun!
The next morning we packed and headed home. At the last minute,
we looked out our window and realized that we had an excellent view
of the new towers being built to replace the World Trade Center Twin
Towers, so Lou took a million pictures. It’s so funny, we had been
admiring our view all week, but never noticed the towers.