May 5-8, 2016
David and I were supposed to go to NYC for my birthday two weeks ago, but we got snowed into Denver with the cancellation of 800 flights 24 hours before the snow even started. Oh well, what was going to be beautiful 75 degree weekend in NYC a few weeks ago turned into a rainy, damp overcast weekend visit for the Derby Weekend.
We faced a few “I nevers” (both good and bad) in the first 12 hours of our trip. First, we grabbed a bite to eat a few tables away from Earth, Wind and Fire at Root Down in the Denver Airport. I’ve never seen them. Then, we boarded Southwest Airlines. Obviously, due to the weather in New York, we were in slight holding pattern and were told we’d have a delayed departure. Well, somehow the count of passengers didn’t match the manifest, so for the next hour, we sat on the ground as the crew came through and checked each passenger’s ID individually. Eventually, we took off without explanation. I’ve never seen this happen.
Upon arrival at the hotel (Broadway at Times Square) at 1 o’clock in the morning, we were told our reservation didn’t start until May 8th (not May 5th). I provided my email confirmation with the 5th and they suggested that was our original reservation. I said, “No, that was our only reservation” as I didn’t reserve a room at the same hotel as planned in April. After a variety of phone calls, they gave us a room lesser than what we reserved. While have had a hotel oversell their rooms, I’ve never had a reservation randomly changed to another night. Right before we were turning in, I received a Chase Fraud alert. Someone at the hotel had tried charging my card four different times for four different amounts worth thousands of dollars…thankfully they were all declined!
Now that the nightmare of travel was behind us, we started the morning headed to the One World Observatory. The last time I visited New York, the Observatory wasn’t yet open, so this time I really wanted go. Of course, with the spitting rain and low clouds, the visibility was “zero” according to the ticket office. I asked David if he really wanted to go up the fastest elevators in the world since we wouldn’t see anything for the $32 admission. He was game, so up we went. At every check point before arriving at the elevator, we were greeted with “You know the visibility is zero?” Yes, we knew.
While we couldn’t see far and sometimes not at all, there were several pros. First, we got the elevator to ourselves. I don’t think going to the top of any tower, we’ve gotten this luxury. And of course, the elevator played the change in NYC’s skyline over time as the elevator rose, so we had an unobstructed view! Next, the observation deck was far from crowded. Sometimes all we saw was cloud while we held up an iPad that was showing us what we were missing. Then the clouds would blow out and we’d catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty or Coney Island or New Jersey across the river. While I’d like to go back when it is sunny, we enjoyed decent views.
From One World Observatory, we stopped by the 9/11 Memorial which is magnificent and then headed to the half-price TKTS booth at the South Seaport. In less than 30 minutes we had 8th row center orchestra seats to Kinky Boots for Friday night as well as Center Orchestra seats to A Curious Incident of a Dog at Night-time for the Saturday matinee. For a slight inconvenience, this is the way to get great theater seats for a bargain (and the Seaport location is far less crowded than the Times Square Location).
Next, we stopped for an early seafood lunch near the pier. It was great. From here, we followed the East River down to Battery Park. We strolled through the gardens, checked out the memorials and statues, and passed by the Castle Clinton National Monument before we stopped to check out an America’s Cup Event. Catamarans sailed around the harbor as other boats idled nearby.
It was already a quarter after 2, and we hadn’t even boarded the Staten Island Ferry for a cruise past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We raced back to the ferry terminal and jumped on board for the free ride. It was a nice way to cruise around the harbor on a budget! We didn’t have time to wander around Staten Island at all (maybe next time), so we ran across the terminal to the return ferry at admired the NYC skyline as we arrived in Manhattan.
We hopped the Subway back to our hotel, who finally gave us the room reserved in time for us to shower and head to a 6pm dinner at 44 & X. This restaurant, located in the theater district, was excellent. David loved his lamb and I loved my fish! And it was conveniently close to Kinky Boots. I had already seen the movie Kinky Boots, so I had high expectations for the musical. I really liked it. I think I really enjoy the extravagant costumes and dancing in musicals. I thought the vocals could be slightly better for New York, but one of the leads from Canada was quite entertaining. Overall, it was a nice New York evening.
Four positives about our hotel that otherwise I wouldn’t write home about are: 1. The price was right for the location, 2. The location was fantastic for the theater, 3. breakfast was free (just a continental) but it saves finding a bagel on the street, 4. free internet in the room which I think every cheap hotel offers, but none of the nice ones which I find humorous.
Anyway, after our bagel and cream cheese, we walked up Sixth Avenue to Central Park. We found the Citi Bikes right at the entrance on 59th. David has used the B Cycles in San Antonio, so he knew how it worked. We checked out bikes for 24 hours for $10 each, and then we rode around the park. We just had to find stations along the way to check the bikes in every 30 minutes and check them back out to avoid additional charges. What we found out later, there are not any stations on the north end of the park so we ended up keeping the bikes out for an extra 30 minutes for $4 more each.
The lakes and flora in the park were lovely on the damp spring day. The next we decided we’d rent a boat and paddle around. I’m not sure of the price for just renting a bike for the morning, but if that was a reasonable option, I think I would choose that in the future as we could have ridden from place to place that we wanted to see rather than station to station at park entrances. Regardless, we went farther north in the park than I normally get and then came back middle to stroll from the west side to the east side along wending paths past groups of birders and eventually the zoo.
At the end, we picked up some street food and tried going to the Oak Room for a drink, but forgot that it is no longer open to the public…bummer. After a quick stroll to Rockefeller Center, we turned to our hotel to get ready for the evening in store: a matinee, a bar to watch the Derby, dinner at Gotham Bar & Grill, and jazz music at Mezzrow.
A Curious Incident of a Dog at Night-time has to be one of the best plays I have seen in my life-time. It may have helped that I knew nothing about the story line and thus had no expectations. All I knew is that it won the Tony Award for the best play last year. Rightfully so in my opinion. It was quite amazing how creatively this book written through the first person of an autistic boy’s perspective was turned into a production on Broadway. It was extremely well done, and I wouldn’t want to spoil any of the surprises. Sometimes I wish I were that creative!
We chose a matinee instead of an evening performance so we wouldn’t be limited to eating an early dinner in Midtown. As such, we hopped a subway and headed south. We found a random place to watch the Derby around the corner from Gotham Bar & Grill where we had dinner reservations at 7. David’s childhood friend also named David and his girlfriend Carlysle met us for one heck of a dining experience couple with celebrity sightings! Sarah Jessica Parker, Martin Short, and Matthew Broderick dined a few tables away.
I thought it would be fun to go to a Jazz Club in NYC, so I picked Mezzrow as it was only a ten minute walk from the restaurant. Their website advertised three shows…$25 for reserved seats in advance or $20 at the door. We just showed up and asked if we could come in. The host seemed rather put off that we hadn’t reserved seats for the 9:30 show. Anyway, we paid the “cover” and stood at the bar until seats opened up. The performers suggested the listening room was by the stage in the front, and those who wanted to talk could stand in the back where we were. Evidently, we were only allowed to whisper as the host “shished us” countless times. Oh well! We had a nice time with David’s friends and his brother Rob who came in from D.C. and met us at the club. The bed called our names in wee hours the morning.
For Mother’s Day, we found a diner in Chelsea and then checked out the High Line. The High Line is a raised railway that was recently converted to a walking path in a Rails to Trails project. The walkway extends from Gansevoort St. to 34th St. The walkway is lined with flowers, aspen, a variety of art projects and some of the tracks. It offers lovely views of the river and passes by countless restaurants and a market. It was rather quiet on Sunday morning. Quite a peaceful way to enjoy the City.
Our final stop in NYC before heading home was Bryant Park. The sun finally came out so we enjoyed lunch by the lawn while soaking in some rays. I don’t know how I never knew this park was here. It was quite nice! It’s funny how many park oriented things we did in a city of sky scrapers, but I suppose I like the outdoors, nature as well as the fast pace of big cities…so it worked. ETB