An eventful day despite the fact it was mainly a car ride. Woke up and got ourselves together after an OK breakfast at the hotel got some gas and change and then packed the rest of the stuff for another 4 hours plus drive from Corning to Manhattan. After a relatively smooth car ride for most of the way, baby boo was well asleep. The last 30 min were horror! She woke up, my boy was tired, we were exhausted and the traffic was crazy for the last 2 km or so. Took a small break at a gas station so that I wouldn’t be short on the way back out of the City. But the last 15 min were rough as baby girl’s wail really got to me, didn’t help that I made a wrong turn on Broadway just 350m away from the hotel and had to go around again for another 1km.
Finally made it to the hotel and checked in relatively smoothly. The room (Suite) are very spacious and we quickly made ourselves home – which it will be for the next 8 days. Went out for a walk to go to Barney’s but it was packed as it was closing, and frankly we weren’t feeling it so we made a good 30min walk around to see where we can grab a bite. Everything was packed so on the way back (we were prepared to have a street vendor hot dog which was actually something I was looking forward to) we went in for Chinese at the Peony. The portions were massive and the dumplings were great; had our good fill and then made it home with a baby packing “heat” in her diaper. Got our stuff together and resting for Times Square walk tomorrow (a weekday). Didn’t help that the stroller didn’t sit up but figured that out just now. All in all it was a tiring trip surprisingly (I was really tense not knowing the traffic in the City – thank God for Google Map!!). Ready to start our real NYC trip tomorrow straight to the heart in Times Square (Wellington Hotel, New York City, Dec. 22, 2019 – 8:10p.m.).
Yesterday was fully packed which is why this entry is a day late. It was all about Times Square – lots of picture moments. We headed out to M&Ms world where got an expired Advent Calendar, a blanket, and a cute striped baby shirt. Then off to World of Hershey, Disney Store, Saphora for the wife and Kinakonya (which wasn’t very fruitful) for me. Although I did get a book about symbols which looks interesting but couldn’t’ find the the 2020 year in review economist magazine I was looking for. The lights were spectacular, the crowds were truly crazy – it was a crowd mad house. What struck me was how safe this City is and there is a real strong police presence everywhere. It felt even safer than home.
Amazing Time Square
The weather is warmer than usual which made it great for walking, and the town is relatively physically small; so it looks longer on the map than it actually is, a 30 minute radius takes us to most landmarks! The down side is the hotel – great location and very spacious…amazing price. But boiling hot at night (central heat) and there is weird random clanking of the heat pipes at night which makes for a very noisy night. But overall, a great value. At night we made our way to the flat iron building (which was under construction so hard to see at night) but had delicious food at Eately – memories of Dubai days, the food was incredible. Then on the way back had a Belgian waffle with Nutella near Macey’s with a nice warm side of a cappuccino.
Also made a stop at Walgreen’s and got our little baby girl a few Winnie The Pooh toys on sale, a great productive day. Looking forward to a slightly less hectic day with the Empire State Building as the main sight to see today.
As for today I had a great morning walk, saw a lot of the streets early in the morning just before rush hour – went to the United Nations HQ, Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station (finally got my 2020 Year in Review magazine) and saw the great Grand Central market, Met Building, The Atrium, and amazing restaurant and views along the way. Saw the Rockefeller Centre in passing and the great Christmas Tree (as well as the Atlas Statue). Back in the hotel for a quick rest before heading out for a “Breakfast” and then the Empire State Building (Wellington Hotel, New York City, Dec. 24, 2019 – 9:25a.m.).
Beautiful sights of the Big Apple
So yesterday I actually followed the schedule, went to the Empire State Building, which was really impressive, especially the history and the displays they had before you go up – the elevator ride was a particular highlight with the ceiling video – and got some great day views. Then had amazing Korean at Miss Korean BBQ in Koreatown just next to the building capping it off at Grace Street Coffee with some Rose and Lavender milk teas and a generous portion of Churro waffles. The servings here are larger and more generous than Canada and the prices are the same if not slightly cheaper which says a lot given that it’s New York!
Korean BBQ and Milk Teas – Yum!
Came back for a much needed rest and break for our feet before going for an experience at Becco Italian Restaurant (owned and operated by the famous Italian Chef Lidia). We took the pasta tasting option and had incredible Shrimp Fettuccine, Potato Ravioli, and Tomato and Basil Penne, it completely exceeded our expectations.
Becco was a highlight!
After we went home I couldn’t resist to take full advantage of my day ticket for the Empire State Building and went again at night, took the subway which was very user friendly and clean. Tons of families are walking everywhere, giving it a great safe atmosphere (even though I headed out solo). Got treated to a concert at the subway station on 34th and Herald Square and then off the Empire Building. What a difference, line ups were non-existent and so I had my fill of pix (amazing night views) and actually made it outside to the balcony. Granted it was Christmas Eve and many people would have been home celebrating, but it was so worth the second visit, especially after a very awkward and tiring first visit with the baby and stroller and a talkative 8 year old. Had my fill and capped off a great day of views. After coming back, had to rejig the schedule for tomorrow to give the family a more relaxed and easy going day. Might do Chinatown later in the trip and keep the focus on Central Park (with a just reserved – albeit pricey horse carriage ride, only one I can get on Christmas day morning) and then hanging out at Rockefeller Centre with more views from Rock on the Top. Hopefully it goes well and smoothly given and expected lower crowd; famous last words (Wellington Hotel, New York City, Dec. 25, 2019 – 6:45a.m.).
Chinatown – Fish Broth Won Ton!
Another productive day with lots of sightseeing. Had an early Central Park Carriage ride with a friendly Irishmen driver. Beautiful weather made the ride relaxing, and it was relatively warm and sunny (except for a cranky baby girl). Then headed to Rockefeller Centre but it was such a madhouse we decided to go to Chinatown instead via a cab. The dumpling restaurant that I had my heart set on (Tasty Dumpling) was full so we took a side alley and found a great gem, specializing in fish won ton soups. Great for this weather! Since mine was slightly spicy, it really helped clean my sinus. All with chicken nuggets, sprite, and and extra order of steamed rice – make that two orders, it was less than 13 dollars!
Came home, everyone was still recovering from yesterday and hopefully they would rest up before a busy day tomorrow to Liberty Island, so I opted to go out by myself at night, went to Top of the rock with the first available time (6:45) and got some more great views, especially those at night looking out to the Empire State Building in Christmas lights. Then off I went to see the Vessel (got ripped off buying a pretzel by an Egyptian vendor, when I spoke Arabic he was embarrassed and offered to give it for free). Then off to Brooklyn bridge where I took surprisingly clear night pictures of the bridge. Then came back home to relax for tomorrow, on the way got some food from a nearby diner (looked great) some sandwiches, cannolis, and a salted almond Toblerone Bar! Here’s to lady liberty tomorrow (Wellington Hotel, New York City, Dec. 26 (25), 2019 – 12:32a.m.).
More awesome landmarks!
Today did not go as planned – as usual, but more so. So it was about time we got scammed, I’m actually surprised how long it took before our first scam here. We took the taxi to Battery Park Ferry Terminal after grabbing coffee, and then we got caught by a con artist – 3 hour wait line, why not upgrade – no wait time! You go now, only $25 per person…then it began….with tax for three of you $90 cash (gave him $100 – guess what no change).
Had to walk and wait 25min for a raggedy school bus, we were last on so we had to stand, with a baby seat (with a baby), and a stroller in the school bus aisle….it was a 40-45min bus ride!!! No air conditioning, stuffy, we ended up in New Jersey. Waited another 20min for the boat to board. Very tacky three floor boat with loud club music and bare bones furniture. No stop at Ellis Island, no stop at Liberty Island….a mess! Needless to say we probably should have waited the 3 hours (if it was really 3 hours). Read the trip adviser reviews and they were all terrible. Long story short money lost, and what’s worse – time lost, very unprofessional. But snapped a few pictures.
Went back to the hotel after the ordeal; just before that though we had a delicious Greek lunch at GR Souvlaki restaurant near the hotel. The Souvlaki (Lamb), Greek feta fries – with no ketchup and Octopus appetizer were amazing. This is after we had our heart set on Wagamama which apparently wasn’t open yet. I booked for this place but had to do it at a different time given the scam and all!
Then I went solo, off to Guggenheim for slightly more “sophisticated” trip. Beautiful building and very interesting exhibits. Made our way to a Brazilian restaurant for dinner. Tomorrow will be a pure shopping day for the wifey and I will head out in the morning to try my luck for a real Liberty Island visit using my City Pass ticket – with an actual stop on Ellis and Liberty Islands. Will take the subway and do it early to maximize my time. Here’s hoping for a smoother going day tomorrow (Wellington Hotel, New York City, Dec. 26, 2019 – 10:17p.m.).
Guggenheim and Brazilian – perfect way to end a long hard day!
A full catch up day. Started early going solo to see up front the Statue of Liberty and then Ellis Island where the museum was actually quite interesting (especially the information about the wrongs done against natives and African slaves). What a difference, took the subway with almost no line up, security was a breeze, got to see everything and by the time I made it back to the ferry terminal at battery park, the line-up was crazy long – at least 2-3 our long, so glad I did it early (and the scammers were right).
Inspiring Liberty and Ellis Islands
Made my way back to the hotel and then off we went for a breakfast at Le Pain (PQ) – great food, memories of Dubai!
Yummy Le Pain Shakshouka
Walked our way to Fifth Avenue then down through the stores. Tried to get into the Plaza hotel but that was highly restricted. Lots of high end stores, but my boo didn’t seem all that interested in shopping, other than the window displays which were works of art. Passed by the Nintendo store which we couldn’t do yesterday due to a lineup (today no line up), nothing super interesting but my 8 year old had a fun time playing some video games, and there were some nostalgic displays of old Nintendo systems (including the one game handhelds we had in the 80’s). Then had some amazing Peruvian/Japanese fusion at Sen Sakana nearby. So good, the flavours that were so different and exotic. My little baby boo was a bit of a handful (two poops in one restaurant sitting, that’s a first). With a third one at Le Maison Chocolat where we got a nice box of different tasty chocolates. Saw a nice toy store emporium nearby, but again – long queues so planning to fit it in tomorrow or our last day (only two days left…crazy!).
Chocolates – and Peruvian-Japanese Fusion – Wow!
I made my way to MoMA but apparently it was a huge lineup because the last Friday of each month they give away free tickets. So decided to go to the Met which was amazing. Had an hour and a half to see it, but could have easily done double that time (only saw one half of it, didn’t get a chance to see the Egyptian temple). Walked back through Central Park which was another treat and got some magnets for the fam a a nearby souvenir shop. Great catch-up day and ready to get back on track tomorrow with the schedule – planned for a nice fancy breakfast at Soho/Tribeca with Bloomingdale’s as the highlight. Hopefully will have time to see the 9/11 Memorial as well (Wellington Hotel, New York City, Dec. 27, 2019 – 10:52p.m.).
The Met was Amazing
Yesterday was day 8 on this trip, just about the time tempers begin to flare up within the crew. Started off well though as we headed for a fancy breakfast at Laduree in SOHO. It was great and delicious, got macaroons as well, everything we come to expect from Laduree; an yet it didn’t quiet have the wow factor as we had in other Ladurees (i.e. Tokyo or Dubai) – but fancy and still an experience none the less. Then we walked to the One World Trade Centre, I was actually impressed by the Oculus which I read about but forgot to add to my list of things to see on this trip. The outside fountain was sombre and well designed. Wanted to go in the museum but the line ups were crazy and things began to unhinge.
Tempers flared and fits were thrown; we couldn’t even make it to the nearby Brookfield mall as planned or the Westfield mall nearby at the Oculus. The City pass tickets still required me to stand in line for at least an hour just to get a timed ticket which at this early point of the day was at least by 4:00p.m. So headed back by an expensive taxi to the hotel and dropped the family off (still fighting), then headed out. I had to be real with myself at this point, I want to do everything and get the pictures for the memories and experiences but at what cost? I was exhausted, the lineups are time wasting, and do I really need to go to the museum to understand the story, the memorial was touching but the museum is….well just a narrative.
World Trade Centre and the Oculus
So instead, after going back to One World Trade Centre area solo via the subway, I decided to focus on the more interesting – for me – Oculus. Then I thought to get my city pass money’s worth and go back to the Met and see the missed out wing (Asian, American, etc.) but again I had seen what I wanted to see except the Egyptian temple, was it worth it – opted out (in hindsight would have liked to see the recreated Egyptian Temple there).
Headed to MoMa, again line ups were insane so other than the Van Gogh which is what I was really interested, other modern Art pieces would have been nice to see, but not enough to waste another 1-2 hours just in line. Headed to the MoMA store instead and saw some books and bought knick knacks and souvenirs instead. I had to be real with myself about spending my time on things I enjoy – which at this point I have a good sense of, rather than just ticking boxes, wasting time and in some cases more money. After all, I can always come back again to this great City if I really wanted to fill in those gaps.
Lovely MOMA Store
At night we had a great Greek dinner at the restaurant connected to the hotel (Molyvos) and the food was incredible, more Italian I thought than Greek, especially with my seafood risotto (called pilaf) – but the sardine appetizer was out of his world! Wanted to grab dessert and coffee but we thought let’s go to nearby Magnolia Bakery and maybe try our luck at FAW Schwartz toy emporium. Again we regretted our decision the crowds were insane, at some point we got trapped and my little guy began to cry – told off people and started to feel claustrophobic. After miraculously making it out, we quickly headed back and got our coffee/sweet tooth fix at nearby Buttercup bakery, where accidentally they gave us our order plus someone else’s so we ended up with a lot more than what we bargained for (I called them back out of courtesy to let them know about the mistake, naturally they said just to keep it).
Mylvos was a revelation
At this point I was too tired to stay up and watch SNL, I was completely beat – hoping tomorrow we can see one more museum (Natural History – which we did and it was incredible!) before leaving this City. Other than that not much more is planned for tomorrow, as it is our last day. Mainly rest up and pack up for a stopover at Syracuse.
American Museum of Natural History
Love this City and have been trying to read as much as I can about the fascinating 70’s and 80’s “dark” era…so interesting to see where it’s been and how it became so liveable and safe today (Wellington Hotel, New York City, Dec. 29, 2019 – 6:59a.m.).