We're baaa-aack! Hubs and I just returned from our first non-baby vacation since Clay was born two years ago. We spent a romantic, exciting week in New York City! Read on for the trip report. (If any of you are planning a similar getaway to the city, I hope the info will be helpful!)
We flew out of the Jackson airport on Saturday morning. Flights were on time! (The "trend" watch in this month's Sky Magazine is bacon. I need to write the editors and let them know that, where I come from, bacon is not a trend. It is a mainstay.)
We got to NYC mid-afternoon and took Super Shuttle from the Newark airport to our apartment. (We chose to fly into Newark because the flight times there matched our desires most closely). They picked us up at the airport and dropped us off at our apartment door for about $35. (A cab would have cost $45, plus tolls and tip.) Our little studio apartment was spacious, clean, and much quieter than I thought it would be. (We were on the 9th floor, which helped.) We booked it through Homeaway.com, which we've used to book properties before. The apartment was near Times Square on 41st Street. If we'd been a few blocks farther downtown, we would have been in a gritty neighborhood. As it was, though, we were super-close enough to attractions and a major transportation hub, and we got the place for a steal.
After getting settled and freshening up a bit, we headed out to Times Square, which is a total assault on the senses. It's crowded, gaudy, and full of tourist traps. A hot mess. But we had to go and check it out. That night, we stopped for dinner at Nizza, a wonderful little place on 9th Avenue. I had a delicious arugula salad, the broiled clams, and a glass of wine, and hubs had the veal. We really loved this little place. There were a ton of great little restaurants on 9th Avenue - delicious, reasonable, not too crowded. It became a favorite place for us to troll for lunch and dinner.
After that, we went to an improv comedy show very much like the old "Who's Line Is It, Anyway?" television show, over at The Broadway Comedy Club. (Yep, we got hustled there by one of those hawkers in Times Square. Totally fell for that one, but we didn't have plans that night, and the show was funny, so it worked out.) Lots of audience participation (which you KNOW I love).
Sunday morning, we started out with a full breakfast at a little deli near the apartment. Then, we hit the stores (in the rain) for some essentials. We had to go all the way to Macy's to find towels. TOWELS! "This is the greatest city in America," I thought. "Surely we'll find a purveyor of towels close to our apartment." WRONG. If someone was selling towels in the blocks surrounding our apartment, I sure as hell couldn't find them. No, I had to take the subway all the way to the freakin' GARMENT DISTRICT, in the RAIN, and go to the SIXTH FLOOR of Macy's. Yeesh. I was rather hoping to avoid Macy's altogether, but it was not to be.
At any rate, I felt much better after a long shower. Hubs and I headed out to the Upper West Side for a delightful lunch at Savann. I had a delicious salmon fettuccine with tomatoes, scallions, and a light cream sauce. Hubs had a GORGEOUS steak sandwich. Loved this little place, too. They brought these sweet little rolls and muffins out to you when you were seated. We wanted to try the bistro next door (Nice Matin, I think?), but we didn't get back over there.
Much restored, we went to the American Museum of Natural History to escape the rain. And what an escape it was! I LOVED this museum! We gave short shrift to the "people" exhibits, but we covered pretty much all of the animal exhibits, including the amazing dinosaur skeletons. What I really enjoyed about this museum is that the building itself is historic. In addition to the scientific value of the actual exhibits, the facility presents the visitor with a wonderful, evolving idea of what a museum should be, and how that ideal has changed over the course of American history. Riveting. Before leaving, we also stopped by the planetarium to catch the current show. It was short and very entertaining!
Since we'd spent virtually all day at the museum, we were starving by the time we left. We ate dinner at Bella Vita, a boisterous, crowded little Italian restaurant a few blocks off Times Square. I washed down my heaping plate of spaghetti and meatballs with a nice glass of cab sav, but the pizzas and the salads looked absolutely amazing, too!
We started Monday with an early trip to the Empire State Building. We got there at around 9:15 a.m., and we'd already bought our City Passes online (which include admission to the history museum, the Empire State Building, the Met, and many other must-see attractions), so we didn't have to wait to buy tickets. As a result, we absolutely whizzed up to the top of the building. The Empire State Building is a beautiful structure, and it's obvious that it was built to impress. (Take a look around the lobby. Not only is it razzle-dazzle, there are images of the silhouette of the building everywhere. I wonder what Freud would have to say about that . . . )
Views from the top are amazing (you get a great view of the Chrysler Building, in particular), and I was really glad we'd decided to do this early in our trip. It helped us orient ourselves in the city as we explored later in the week. We got the audio tour with our City Passes, and I thought it was extremely informative. Hubs and I took goofy pictures of ourselves at the top that look strikingly similar to the goofy pictures we took of ourselves atop the Eiffel Tower in 2002. (The Bradshaws - goofy for at least seven years, and counting!)
After that, we legged it up 5th Avenue to the New York Public Library. Now, I'm sure many people go to New York and never feel the need to visit the New York Public Library, but it was important to me. I observed the lions, standing guard over the library's entrance and keeping a wary eye on the street traffic. Then, we went inside and poked around. There are a few public exhibits inside on the library's history and restoration. In addition, I wanted to take a peek into the reading room, which is probably the most beautiful room inside a library that I'll ever have the occasion to be in. Huge windows let the sunlight stream in, there are gorgeous chandeliers in addition to table lamps, and even the roof is decorated, painted with the sky and clouds. All of this, plus loads of books. Heaven.
We crossed the street in front of St. Patrick's to check out Rockefeller Center. It's a large complex of buildings that houses television studios, shops, and performance venues. We had planned to take the Stage Door Tour at Radio City Music Hall here, but I have to admit that by this time, we were pretty pooped! Instead of the 1-2 hour tour, we headed back to the apartment to take a load off.
Later that day, we ventured out to Grand Central Station so we could see the rush-hour traffic hit. We parked ourselves in an out-of-the-way location and watched as people ran all over the terminal, lugging bags, listening to their headphones, and looking terribly worried they'd miss their next train.
The terminal itself is a feat of architecture. You could clearly see what parts of the structure were older and what had been added, and I loved the painted, illuminated ceiling. I was getting a little hungry by this time, but we had dinner plans with friends, so I satisfied myself with a fig balsamic gelato from the dining concourse. (By the way, there is no excuse to be hungry at Grand Central Station. There are tons of cheap, tasty options in the dining concourse, as well as a few nicer restaurants on the ground floor.) We stepped outside while I licked my cone to get a better look at the Chrysler Building from up close.
After that, we headed to Gyu Kaku on 3rd Avenue to meet a very sweet friend of mine, Anna Lise, and her boyfriend for dinner. We loved this place. You basically sit at a table that features your own little grill in the center. You order raw meats and veggies, then you can cook them yourself on the grill. It was fun!
I started with a mango mojito and the delicious house salad. Then, hubs and I ordered Chateaubriand, garlic chicken, and sausages (which were dang good), as well as broccoli and mushrooms. I finished up with a great crepe/cream/green tea layered dessert (which tasted soooo much better than it sounds). The company was wonderful. I hadn't seen Anna Lise in so long, and she seems to really be thriving in New York. It made me happy to see her so happy, and her boyfriend was perfectly lovely! Yay for meet-ups!
After that, we headed straight back to the apartment and collapsed!
More to come . . .