22 July 2010

new york city – the trip home

my trip home was not what i had planned.  something you need to know about me is that i like to wind down from travel.  when i plan my flights, i factor in a good chunk of time before i have to jump back into my routine.  this allows for a time of rest (from the travel, usually), but also gives me time to get some things out of the way, post-travel chores, such as unpacking and laundry, getting items ready for the next day (especially if i’m coming back to a work day), and even groceries.  i might even have some mental strength to put together my blog posts.

but things did not go as i had planned.  my flight from jfk to cincinnati was on schedule.  but my flight from cincinnati to knoxtropolis was not.  when we touched down in cinci, i turned my phone on to find email from delta waiting for me to let know my thirty minute layover was now about two.  when i got off the plane and found a monitor and found my gate, it had been bumped to three hours.  when i check my email again, the flight had been cancelled.  in fact, delta’s computers had automatically booked me on a later flight, the 7:00p flight out of cinci.  7:00p?!

i talked to ticket agent.  first lady, not so customer service-y.  having some time, i grabbed lunch.  upon returning to the gate, i asked again about matters.  i asked dude, who was more customer service-y, if i could get my bags if i could get a rental car.  he said sure.  i stepped aside and checked for cars.  none at hertz and avis.  i called AAA and asked for their magic powers to be invoked.  no cars available despite AAA magic.  i was really stuck there.

i told delta dude i would be staying.  he told me he would be working the gate from where my 7:00p flight was to leave and would work out my exact seating when i got there.  hours to kill now.

i put together the first few blog posts during the time.  i felt like i could have used a nap.  i really wanted a nap…and to have my laundry started and to even have my grocery shopping done.  time passed more quickly while putting together my blog posts.  time to find my gate.

hey, look, my gate.  hey, there’s delta dude.  he gave me seat one-charlie.  right up front!  it’s almost like riding shotgun except you can’t see out the front window, and the airlines don’t like that term used no matter where you sit.  flight was short.  i got home actually twenty minutes earlier than schedule.  points to our pilots.  and i was the first one off the plane.  never had that happen before.  i got to be first in line at the baggage area!

i ended up waiting for all the bags to make it off the plane.  mine was not among them.  great.  talked to delta lost baggage lady.  she informs me my bag never got put on at jfk and as we were talking was either en route to or already in hotlanta.  (she didn’t call it hotlanta.  that’s my term.)  great.

my bag didn’t actually come for another twenty-four hours after i had gotten home.  about 10:30p on tuesday night after i had gone to bed.  i am at least glad delta didn’t lose my bags going to new york.  that would have really set me off, i believe.  i’m also glad i didn’t burn extra pto because of bumped fights.  and despite this end to the whole vacation, i did have an extremely good time.

i’ll be back, new york.  i’ll be back.

21 July 2010

new york city – final evening

after i left my family to drive back upstate, i headed back to my hotel.  i needed to get my gear ready for my flight back the next morning.  i had calculated the time i needed to get up, the duration of the train ride to jfk, the time to check in and get through security, time for a quick food stop, and the wind resistance.  this being done, i could enjoy one last thing before i left nyc.  dinner out.

i did a quick search for a decent place and found aged steakhouse just around the corner from my lodging.  (they actually have two places, this was the most recent addition.)  from the time i walked in the door, i was treated very well.  the atmosphere was relaxed.  the food was good.  i had a green gazpacho made of green peppers, green apples, and green grapes.  (wasn’t familiar with gazpacho before this trip.)  then i had their hanger steak which was the special that evening with garlic, steak fries, and steamed asparagus (if i recall correctly).  for dessert, i had new york cheesecake.  you gotta have new york cheesecake in new york, right?

when i was finished, i walked back to my room on a very less humid evening in new york city.  ahhh.  it was a good ending.

>> trip home

20 July 2010

new york city – day 5

this was the day my sis and her girls were coming down to visit the big apple.  i had gone to bed rather tired and woke up still a bit tired.  but i knew a visit to some starbucks would be my power up.

she wanted to see the “today” show first thing, so i hopped on the train and headed for 50th street.  after a bit of sms-tag, i found my fam.  while the girls stood in line for the show, dan and i found a starbucks.

once her cameo was done, wen listed the things she wanted to do/see; and i now having a good grasp of the subway system, we plotted our course.  our journey started at the top at belvedere castle in central park.  i hadn’t seen central park so this was something i got to add to my list of sights.  walking through the park takes you momentarily out of the city life.  we walked to the top of the castle, took some pics with the buildings peeking over the trees, and saw turtles.  i like turtles.

from the top to the bottom, we headed to lower manhattan to ride the ferry to staten island so we could see statue libby.  this was my second visit to see her.  it was less overcast letting more sun light her up.  we pulled a round tripper and rode back to manhattan to find some pizza.  (it was good pizza, but ray’s was fresher.)

the statue of liberty is in the background between the girls, just next to k2’s head.

next, we walked over to wall street and ran with the bulls.  ok, no bulls, but we walked wall street to brooklyn bridge.  it was still there, right where i left it a few days before.  some clouds had started to cover up the sky and before we got to the bridge, drops of water spinkled us as we started our crossing.  about midway, it cleared up for a while.  more views of libby and empire state building.  on the other side, we caught the train at high street.

next destination was ground zero.  it had been raining some more.  the humidity wasn’t going to give us a break.  yet we started our walk toward the world trade center…going in the wrong direction.  i might have figure out the trains, but i never did figure out which way to walk when the street names weren’t numbers.  (unless i knew the streets well enough, which i didn’t after just four days.)  after we doubled back to our train station it was just a few blocks to get to the site.  since it was a weekend, however, some of the side streets were blocked off and our visibility of the area wasn’t as good as i had found it on friday.  you could still see a couple of the building rising out from behind the fence.

the sun had started to come out now, but all of us were tired.  the k’s felt it worse and wanted to head back.  it was starting to get later in the afternoon so the decision made to go back to dan’s car.  while looking at the map, we decided to make one more stop at grand central.  we walked (underground) to the station.  it’s just like you see on the televisions.  and after a brief stay, we headed back out at street level to the garage.

whew!  it was quite the day walking around.  i did get to see the first and last stops as something new.  seeing all the other stuff for a second time was actually rather fun.  i enjoyed hanging out with my fam.

>> final evening

15 July 2010

new york city – day 4

where was i?  oh, right.  day four.  woke up…tired.  this was my day to see the play.  but that wasn’t until the afternoon, so i had time to fill before then.  best plan was to find times square.  i jumped onto the train and got off around 42nd street and walked the few blocks in that area.  saw the fox news building and the nbc building.  times square was a tourist mad house.  people in lines purchasing tickets for same day plays.  it was crazy.  i found a starbucks and fueled up and watched safely behind the glass.

i had three separate people tell me junior’s cheesecake was the best evar!  if three people independently tell me that, it must really be.  i had located my theatre for my matinĂ©e play and lo and behold!  it was right across from junior’s.  (the one in brooklyn is the original, i believe.  but these guys had the cheesecake too!)  my plan had been to watch play, go to grimaldi’s in brooklyn for pizza, back to this junior’s for dessert, then rockafeller building for view of the city.  but since it was right here and it had been a while since i’d eaten breakfast at this point, why not?  and so i ate cheesecake.  mmm!  extremely creamy.  i was indeed impressed.

walked around a little more.  picked up a copy of the new york post and read it for a while.  see what i did there?  i bought an actual newspaper!  paper!  to all my newspaper people out there, you’re welcome.

ok, time for play.  lend me a tenor was definitely the best choice.  i considered wicked, but the seating choices when i was purchasing tickets weren’t the best.  i did get great seats for this performance though.  anthony lapagliatony shalhoub, and justin barthaentertained!  all the characters were cast very well, actually.  and for his first play, stanley tucci came out strong.  it was slapstick, layers of misunderstanding, and singing delivered like clockwork.   too bad this show closes in august.

after this since i’d already had my cheesecake, i was ready for some pizza.  the sky has been overcast since i had left the hotel.  i jumped on the train and headed for brooklyn again.  when i stepped out of the station, it started to rain, slowly at first, and then it picked up.  i ended up waiting for a few moments under an awning and asked for more specific directions to grimaldi’s.  after the water let up, i walked up to a line which didn’t seem to be moving.  i heard a local girl walking up the street telling her friend the people wait in line two hours for pizza there.  two hours?!  rain might start up again, i was already wet on the outside from the first shower and was already sweating on the inside from the humidity.  i decided two hours of dripping even more not worth it.

i walked around looking for another pizza place in brooklyn.  i came across a fire station and asked the locals for a good spot.  after a bit of asking among themselves, they recommended lombardi’s in little italy.  back on a train.  found lombardi’s but they only take cash.  didn’t have enough on me for dinner, so after an hour of trying to figure out my pin to my credit card online, i finally gave up.  i was running out of time to make it rockafeller.

i got there in time to see the sun set from the top of the rock, as the event is billed.  my empire state building experience was hazy compared to what i was able to enjoy here.

after spending some time high above, it was time to find a missing dinner below.  when i reached the bottom, i asked one of the guards where a good place for pizza was.  she directed me to ray’s in times square for fresh pies.  i found it.  i had three slices.  three honking big new york slices.  and i was very full.  and i decided that i was going to walk back to the hotel since i was so full.  and so i did.  twenty-five blocks uptown past central park, past lincoln center, past a good part of the city.  took me a while, not sure how long, but i was ready for bed when i got there.

good night, new york.

>> day 5

14 July 2010

new york city – day 3

i’m starting to get a little tired in the mornings now.  i had to get moving today.

first up is the statue of liberty.  i had checked online the evening before for tickets to go up in the statue, but they were sold out.  apparently, you have to get those a month in advance (as do you tickets to late night with jimmy fallon).  but the ferry ride to staten island was free and takes you by the lady libby twice.  so, i took the boat.  it was cloudy morning casting a shadow on libby, but a few moments when the sun broke through gave me shots like this one.

the next time i visit, i want to make it to liberty island.  this time, however, it worked out well.  i had to make it back to town to find spaz (aka ryan) and have some lunch.  i got off at the wrong stop and ended up walking more than i wanted.  this turned out for the best as i hadn’t made plans to find park avenue and madison avenue.  my trek took me right through that part of town.  after a bit of searching, i hooked up with spaz and and some sushi.  it was a good catch up lunch.  in fact, i don’t think i’ve been to lunch with spaz before when he was still in knoxtropolis working for scripps.

my next stop was to visit ground zero.  this area is under a lot of security, and i wasn’t able to see as much as i would have liked.  diagrams and mock photos showed what the future of the site was to look like.  you could see the construction so far of the two new towers.  i found the memorial mural.  the changes to the block are significant.  the buildings in that part of town are very picturesque.

i didn’t stay too long there because i needed to head back to clean up to meet rebecca at lincoln center.  she was kind enough to grab some tickets to that evening’s concert of the new york philharmonic playing their summer classic.  (we ate some sushi before.  yeah, more sushi.  more good stuff.)

rebecca works there so she has access to the tickets–what a deal that is!  before the concert, she showed me around the plaza of lincoln center.  i saw a little of fordham university’s campus and heard some salsa tunes for a midsummer’s swing.

the concert was incredible.  it was one of the highlights of this trip.  the box seats we had gave us a good view of alexendar gavrylyuk’s fingers as he flew across the keys.  he performed amazingly.  the conductor bramwell tovey entertained beyond his conducting.  rebecca told me his interaction with the audience was worth the evening.  she was right.

we finished up with some pinkberry yogurt not far from lincoln center.  it was all-in-all a grand evening.

>> day 4

13 July 2010

new york city – day 2

after getting some rest, i woke up and strapped on my dslr and took to the streets!  well, right, i found a starbucks first and grabbed some coffee and fuel in pastry form.  then i made my way to the trains again.  my next lesson:  pay attention to uptown/downtown mentions on some of the entry points before you pay for the train.  some stations don’t have access to the other direction without leaving and paying again.  it took a couple of times to learn this lesson.

my first stop was the empire state building.  the morning was overcast so visibility wasn’t as good as it could be.  but i got to the top and took some pictures from the 86th floor and then journeyed to the 102nd floor to see more.

i spent over an hour up on top of the world.  then i realized i was hungry.  i ate in the restaurant at the bottom of the building.  bacon on my burger.  good stuff.  while there, i found spaz (aka ryan) and made next day lunch plans with him.

ok, next stop:  brooklyn bridge.  subway again.  i am starting to get the hang of this transit stuff.  i made it to the bridge after a little wandering around to find the walkway entrance.  the walk across the top was one of my favorite walks.  the sun was hot, but the breeze made things feel better.

after casually walking around up here and enjoying the afternoon and taking a bunch of photos, i headed back to grab a shower and meet haley and her crew again for their cultural dinner.  the restaurant was awash in the east village.  the cuisine was ethiopian.  lindsey (lindsay? lyndsee?) and i did our duty and cleaned off one of the platters at our table.  it was good food.  and a few of us headed over for a load-your-own-pay-by-the-ounce/pound yogurt place.  phileo’s was the name of it.  again, good stuff.  and the evenings were better as they were cooler.

oh, and i had to taxi over to the east village since i had screwed up on the direction entry point again and realized i wasn’t going to  make it on time if i tried to train it.

>> day 3

12 July 2010

new york city – day 1

even though i’ve been to new york almost every year growing up, i’ve never made it down into the city.  realizing this discrepancy, i decided to visit the big apple and see what all the hype was about.  hype indeed.  that place is so much fun!

armed with a little bit of knowledge of the transit system and a hotel room, i flew into the city midweek.  before i could meet up my friend haley for dinner, i had to be schooled a bit in the transit system and how it worked.  (this wouldn’t be my last lesson either.)  but i finally made it to my spot on the upper west side, the belnord hotel, which when i visit NYC again i’ll book a room.

i walked around until i found sarabeth’s.  i was almost an hour late and very hungry.  sarabeth’s did not disappoint.  and it was good to catch up with haley.

another note about my room:  after staying there for a week, i felt like a new york city resident.  i believe my garage alone is bigger than the room (including closet) and bathroom combined.  that is the standard size from what i keep hearing.

oh, and my next trip would be taken in the spring or fall.  never again in the summer.  despite being in the north, temperatures were what i left behind in knoxtropolis…plus some humidity.

>> day 2