Monday, May 26, 2008

New York, New York

My youngest sister, who never graduated from high school but did graduate with honors from Augusta College, treated my daughter to a graduation trip to New York City, and invited me to come along. A word of warning, this is a long entry, but you’ll know what we did and have links to lots of pictures along the way.

From the minute we left our jet at LaGuardia, we saw the I Love NY logo everywhere— on shopping bags, coffee cups, and tee shirts. The taxi ride resembled the last time I was in a bumper car ride, but the driver didn’t actually hit anything. The Hilton at 1335 Avenue of the Americas is upscale and in a great location; theatres, Times Square, and many restaurants were within walking distance. Don’t do NYC without good shoes and some stamina for walking, however. We took one of those “pedicabs,” a rickshaw with a bicycle front, to dinner at an Italian restaurant recommended by the hotel concierge. The ride was hilarious, with my six foot one sister perched on my lap, as the seat is for two and not three. The driver said he was already off duty, so he took us for a tip; we walked back to the Hilton. After picking up a coat, we walked to Rockefeller Center and bought tickets to see “The Top of the Rock” which is the observation platform. This is really incredible, and the view of all of those lights reminded my daughter of Christmas. It is interesting to see the Empire State Building all lit up, surrounded by a city of lights. It is hard to describe but very much worth seeing.

On our first full day we had trouble getting daughter up; then we wandered the streets, seeing Pershing Square and walking by Grand Central Station and when we needed to sit and rest, having lunch at Johns’ Pizzeria. That food was good, but not up to the rest of the trip. After all that walking and eating, we ended up doing the wax museum in the afternoon instead of the morning; this attraction is great for teens; however, since may of the figures are modern entertainment celebrities rather than the historical ones I expected. We got a lot of pictures and enjoyed the attraction quite a lot. That evening, we had tickets to one of the hot plays on Broadway, Wicked. As daughter said during our walk back to our hotel, once you have seen it, you’ll never view the Wizard of Oz the same way. The play was stylish, funny, and reflective of the pinnacle of theatre in America. The lights and set design were particularly well done, although I could not fault any aspect of the production.

Day two, we still had trouble getting teen-aged daughter awake, so we were barely able to get to the Circle Line Cruise dock on time, and that with the help of a taxi driver that sister flagged down near Times Square. The boat left promptly at eleven, about five minutes after we boarded, and we had a scenic tour of the area near Ground Zero, plus a ride by the Statue of Liberty. Picture perfect weather helped us enjoy the entire trip, but it was especially helpful on the seventy-five minute boat ride.

Another taxi driver provided transport from the dock to a row of restaurants across from the Majestic Theatre, where we had a fantastic lunch at Sardis, with caricatures of famous entertainment figures surrounding us. After jaywalking across the street, we were in the Majestic Theatre, which is not misnamed, for the longest running Broadway show, Phantom of the Opera. Although I have been a fan of Webbers’ music for a long time, this was my first opportunity to see a live version of one of his musicals, and it was not a disappointment. The orchestra was superb and the actors were not wearing microphones, which was remarkable in such a large theatre.

We wandered amongst the wares on the streets as we strolled back to the Hilton and had dinner from the street vendor across from the hotel; I stayed in after dinner while sister and daughter rambled around the street vendors and had dessert at Lindy’s, which claims to have the best cheesecake in NYC. I really could not hold another bite of food and was glad for a chance to rest and chat with hubby in private. During the trip, daughter bought two handbags, sunglasses, an iPod case, and souvenir tee shirts from the street vendors. Sister bought a handbag, sunglasses, and a scarf. Our last day, which was only a partial day due to an afternoon flight, was spent at Central Park, after a subway ride to 72nd Street. We rode another train back to 50th, and daughter made her final purchases from the street vendors.

One more taxi ride got us to LaGuardia with lots of extra time, and the Air Tran jet not only was on time, it was half an hour early, so we had to wait a couple of minutes for another plane to leave the gate so we could disembark. As we came home, we stopped at a Cracker Barrel, since we needed some fried chicken and sweet tea to help us know that we were really back in Georgia.

My sister, who graciously paid our way to NYC, did a great job in planning our trip, getting tickets to shows we really wanted to see, and guiding us around the city. Certainly, she deserves kudos for wanting to treat daughter to a trip she’ll always remember, and I was most fortunate to be along for the ride.

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