Some places just pull us there. Places that seem to call our name and feel like a home away from home. New York City is one of those places for me. As a native New Yorker (albeit from upstate…waaaay upstate) I feel a special kinship with New York City. Say whatever negative things you may about the city, but I find it hard not to be mesmerized by the diversity of its people, the incredible eclectic possibilities of the food and the never-ending opportunities to explore a city with so much to offer.
I was fortunate to be able to take a 4 day trip there this past weekend with my new girlfriend Jill. And what an amazing and wonderful trip it was. For those that may not know I have dated Jill for a little over 5 months now. She is an incredible woman who has made such a wonderful mark on my life. Amongst the many things we share and have in common – traveling is one of them that is a growing passion. It was great to travel with someone who travels as I do and that made this one of the most enjoyable getaways I have had in a very, very, very long time.
While neither of us are New York City novices we did not set out to just do touristy things but rather each of us did have certain things we wanted to do. I wanted to go to the top of the Empire State Building with someone who was special to me and Jill wanted to see a Broadway play (I did too). Both of us wanted to visit the Museum of Modern Art and the 9/11 Memorial. Not a lot to do – considering we basically had 3 full days to do it all in.
As “luck” would have it though, we arrived to 2 of the hottest days NYC had seen all year – 97º on Friday and 95º on Saturday. If you have ever been to NYC during these heat outbreaks you know that it’s not the heat that’s the issue – but rather the unreal humidity and the radiant heat that is caused by NYC being a concrete jungle. The combination made the heat indexes reach well over 100º. It made it a challenge for us but like the relocated yankee that I am and the relocated northwesterner Jill is – we took our time and enjoyed the relief provided by as many air-conditioned Irish Pub’s that we could find.
We did get to see some great artwork at the MoMA but we have a little travel tip for you – at 4pm every Friday it is free to visit the museum. Which is great if you’re looking to save the $25 for a ticket – but it will be PACKED! We got there 30 minutes before the free admission and opted to not wait in the very long line that was outside in the heat. Once the free admission kicked in though you could hardly move around the museum. A leisurely stroll through the exhibits was not possible by then. Next time we’d go earlier in the day so we could enjoy the art on display more.
The view from atop the Empire State Building was amazing (several pictures below) and I am glad we were able to go. It is such an iconic building and the beauty of the architecture is amazing. If you’re looking for an alternative to the wait and crowds that come with going to the Empire State Building you could consider the “Top of the Rock” aka Rockefeller Center. We discovered this by accident as we made our way to a recommended bakery on 6th Ave at 49th Street (more on that in a minute). During the day there was very little wait and plenty of room to see the views from all sides of the observation deck. The panorama above is taken from the Rock.
We enjoyed the Broadway play Wicked so much Saturday that we decided to see another on Sunday. It’s difficult to get tickets the day of a show but thanks to the concierge Mark at our hotel, Iroquois New York, we were able to get tickets to see Chicago without having to wait in the incredibly long lines at the TKTS ticket booths in Time Square. Another great performance and seeing a show is a must do on our list anytime we get to NYC again.
I believe visiting the 9/11 Memorial should be a pilgrimage all Americans should make. I have been there twice now – once before the memorial opened and then this weekend – and I cannot help but become emotional and reflective when visiting this site. Standing next to the pools where these two great buildings once stood is very moving and heavy on your heart. Seeing the names of all the people we lost not only at that site but during that entire horrific day brings so many memories for me and a tear to my eye. It is a very beautiful park and I cannot wait to return to visit the museum that has yet to open.
Food. Food. And more Food! I have a love affair with food and being in NYC is food nirvana for me. Both Jill and I love to dine out and with the exception of one dinner – every meal we had was fantastic. We had the required street pretzel, a black and white cookie (somehow Jill has escaped having experienced these incredible creations), and countless martini’s with blue cheese stuffed olives. We had two great finds – The Magnolia Bakery on 6th Ave at 49th Street and the Blue Planet Grill at 120 Greenwich St. across from the current entrance to the 9/11 Memorial. The Magnolia Bakery was amazing – highly recommend the Blueberry Fruit Crisp which was truly delicious without being overly sweet. And at the Blue Planet Grill – go for breakfast and get their French Toast – both Jill and I are still salivating over this incredibly delectable delight. Two inch thick bread that was light and fluffy on the inside while still being crunchy on the outside drizzled with a caramel like sauce and finished with a banana-fosterish topping. Yum!! Best French Toast Ever! I could keep typing about all the food we ate over the four days but I think I’m gaining weight just thinking about it.
Below are several pictures that I took that you might enjoy.
What an amazing trip with an incredibly beautiful and wonderful woman who is my girlfriend. Cannot wait for our next trip together.
Jill and Tom’s Trip to New York City 2013
(click on an image to see a larger version.)