Sunday, August 10, 2008

I Heart NY

A lot of folks spend their vacation relaxing by the pool, sunning themselves on the beach, taking it easy...

We are not those people.

We like adventures, exploring new cities, eating good food (nothing too funky, though, no bugs!). So we're back from a 6-day trip to NYC. This was our first Real Vacation since our trip to Paris & the UK in 2000 and was made in honor of my 40th birthday earlier this year. (Trips to visit family do not count as Real Vacations in our book.) It was a great trip. We saw a lot in just a few days. In fact, I can't think of anything that we wanted to do that didn't get done. As I look now at my pictures I am extremely disappointed in the pictures I DIDN'T take, but here are a few of the ones I did take and some supplemental ones I found on the internet (I know, how boring, someone's vacation pictures...but they come with stories):

Day 1: Saturday/Sunday - Grand Central Station, Central Park. We took the red-eye from Portland to NYC (note: you can go almost nowhere directly from Reno). We were sad to discover that our seats did not recline and the tvs that Jet Blue is famous for were out of order...on our side of the plane only, of course. It was an extremely painful experience, but after a short nap at our hotel, we took off on foot to see the sights of Central Park, stopping first to check out Grand Central Station, which was attached to our hotel.

Observation: NYC is full of skinny, fit, fashionable people. It kind of sets them apart from the tourists. If you've watched Sex & The City, it's really not that far off of reality. We saw several of them jogging through a the park on this beautiful, warm-not-hot, Sunday.

Dinner: Becco (authentic Italian restaurant just west of Times Square) OMG. You know you're in a good place if it's crowded with locals. And it was so so so so good. They have a big list of wines that are all $25 per bottle so you can order whatever you want and not have to worry about the price. Also had the best gin and tonic I ever had (aside from those made by my dad/sister) while waiting for our table. Oh, the pasta was amazing, too.

Day 2: Monday - Wall Street, Top of the Rock, Top of Empire State Building
Breakfast: Scott was on the search for the perfect NY bagel. First try came from a coffee shop downstairs in Grand Central Station. Rating: Just Ok. Good lattes, though.

Part of the adventure when traveling to big cities it using public transportation, so we took the subway (which was conveniently attached to the basement of our hotel) down to Wall Street. I stood there for a good 10-15 minutes waiting for IGT to go by on the ticker, but apparently no one was trading in that stock that day. Then we walked down Broadway and found the Bull. Scott seized the opportunity to take it by the horns.

Lunch: John's Pizza, Bleeker Street, Greenwich Village.
Authentic NY Sausage & Pepperoni pizza. Thin crust, foldable, yet crispy, not soggy. Great crust. Deeeelicious. Scott followed the lead of so many tourists before us by carving our initial (a big E to be efficient) into the wooden booth.

Then on to Rockefeller Center. Did you know you could go to the top of the building? It has great views of Central Park and Downtown/Empire State Building.

At the bottom is the NBC news studio - where the Today Show films...other news shows, too. Also in the picture you'll notice a Toyota Sienna NYC Cab. We were hot on the lookout for these because that's what they drive on Cash Cab! Ever see that show on the Discovery Channel? We so wanted to get picked up by Ben Bailey! Didn't happen, though.

Then later that evening, we took in the nighttime views from the Empire State Building:

Dinner: Joe's Shanghai, Lower East Side By now it's about 9:30 pm but heck, we're still on west coast time and it's the City That Never Sleeps, right? Sounds like Dinnertime! We cabbed it down to the Lower East Side to another local favorite. It was 10:00 by the time we got there and it was crowded.

Observation: see the trash in the picture? Every evening businesses put out their bags of trash and every morning it's gone. In a city of over 8 million people, where the heck does it all go?

Day 3: Tuesday - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame
Breakfast: we were in a hurry to get out of town, so after renting a car we grabbed breakfast on the road. Scott's next bagel try was a (gasp) toasted sesame bagel from Dunkin' Donuts. After hearing how popular their coffee was we also tried Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Review: bagel was good - better than the Grand Central Bagel. It was coffee. We'll stick with Starbucks.

Okay, seriously. I guess I was tired or something, because from the whole day this is the one picture I took:

Didn't take a picture of the cute candy apple red Mini Cooper we rented.

Didn't take a picture of the picturesque Americana that is Cooperstown.

Didn't take a picture of Scott driving through NYC traffic (and kicking ass at it).
*sigh* Wish you could see the pictures in my head.

Dinner: Gray's Papaya hotdogs Another local favorite. They were goood.

Observation: certain food rules apply in NYC: no toasting the bagels, and no ketchup on the hot dogs allowed! Also, Scott could be a NYC cabbie. He's that good, folks. I have the white knuckles to prove it.

Day 4: Wednesday - Statue of Liberty, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Meltdown, Nap, Padres v. Mets game Shea Stadium
Breakfast: discovered there was a wonderful market in Grand Central Station with fresh fruit, fresh deli items, and FRESH BAGELS. Best bagel so far.

Got up early to beat the crowds and headed back downtown to the ultimate tourist spot. You've seen a million photos so I'll post one maybe you haven't seen: her booty.

The ferry ride back from Liberty Island was slow, warm, and there was a gentle rocking. So it wasn't surprising when I heard a few snorts and looked over to see Scott sleeping on the bench next to me. But there is no rest for the weary, so on to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Okay, so this is when we were going to subway-it back down to the Lower East Side to try the famous Katz's Deli, but the time difference, lack of sleep, and that day's high humidity finally got to us at that point. There was a mild meltdown. Instead we headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap before the game.

And what a game it was! Padres won! Trevor got a save! And we didn't get beat up for wearing Padres gear! A really nice, funny, truly NY guy sitting behind us snapped this one and only picture of us together (I think he was wearing a FDNY medallion):

Observation: People in Queens are more normal-looking than folks in Manhattan. Read: these people dress normally and aren't as religious about the gym.

Day 5: Thursday - Last Day - NBC Studio Tour, Greenwich Village
No breakfast. We were in a hurry to make our 8:30 tour.

Also no pictures allowed in the studios, so...not my fault that I don't have any. We were ushered around by a very perky page, though. Think Kenneth from 30 Rock (at right). We saw Conan O'Brian's studio and saw Rudy Guiliani being interviewed on the Morning Joe show.

Lunch: the famous Katz's Deli, Houston Street.
Famous since 1888, but you may recognize it from When Harry Met Sally. There are pictures of famous people all over the walls, including all U.S. Presidents since who knows when. We saved the best for last. Seriously. Scott had a hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut. I had the most amazing pastrami sandwich ever. Melt in your mouth pastrami. The owner wanders around and talks to everyone. Everything is made there fresh - their own sausage, own pastrami, own sauerkraut, own name it. If we had to pick a favorite place from the trip - this would be it.

Since we had time to kill, we intended to see a few more things and get a 2nd pass at John's Pizza before getting back on the plane, but we were too tired to walk much, and too full from Katz's to eat a whole Pizza (John's does NOT serve slices). So we sat on a bench in the heart of Greenwich Village and had some frozen yogurt. Very delightful. But of course, no pictures. (I'm a dope).

Observation: A good way to spot a tourist from a local is how they pronounce Houston St. You're thinking Huuston, like Houston, TX, right? Wrong! It's pronounced Howston.

Day 6: Friday - Home, James! So back to Reno, through Portland, where we've been recovering by sitting on our collective arses watching the Olympics ever since!