Friday, June 01, 2007
Taking advantage of a 3 day weekend, we boarded a red eye on a Friday night and landed at Newark airport at 5:10 a.m. Saturday morning.
(Before going any further, here's a great time-saving tip when you do a whirlwind trip like this one-DO NOT CHECK IN ANY BAGS, do carry-on only and you can just walk out to your transportation of choice instead of hanging around the baggage terminal)
We rented a car (came out to be $10 more than Supershuttle due to the toll roads)and were in our Manhattan hotel room by 6 a.m.. Since it was a holiday, the city and roads were very light so we made excellent time. We stayed at a boutique hotel called the Flatotel. It was in a perfect location for us to walk to many of the city's top sights. First on our agenda was to grab a bit of a nap, shower and grab a cab to Union Square Park to meet a dear friend of mine from High School. He was friends with some models (husband and wife team)who bought the very trendy "The Coffee Shop" restaurant, so we met there for some brunch. In the same area as the eatery and the park the famous "Green St. farmer's market" was up and running. We were all foodies, so this was a terrific stroll after a very good breakfast. My friend and his companion left us for their day trip, pointing us in the direction of the famous Chelsea Market.
It was a mere 15 block walk, so off my daughter and I went, passing parts of 5th-7th avenues on the way. We also found Balducci's Market and went inside. What a wonderful upscale place to shop. We met a real Monk named Renita who was giving out tasting of Mayorga coffee that in roasted in small batches at the Mayorga Mission. 75% of the beans are certified by the Rainforest Alliance. All I can say is it was delicious and Starbuck's could take a lesson.
Chelsea Market wasn't as big as we had imagined from Food Network, mainly because we were in such a buzz to see as much of Manhattan as we could, we didn't realize that we were in but one small area of the complex! While there we learned that there was a tour that did the "tasting of New York". But alas, 48 hours only allows for so much!
We had to walk back to Union Square Park to catch the subway (an experience in itself) to 42nd St.. Once there we took in Time Square, Rockefeller Center, Broadway, many sights in and around the streets, including what turned out to be the cheesiest excuse for an afternoon improvisational show ever. But that was okay, as by now we were getting pretty tired. After our brief rest, my daughter wanted to take the NBC tour and do Top of the Rock. The tour was sold out, but we had the fantastic experience of Top of the Rock.
What can be said about Top of the Rock? It should be named an 8th wonder of the world! You literally are shot up 67 floors (top of the car is glass, so you see the ascent)and exit at the first of 3 observation decks. Each one has a 360 degree view of Manhattan. It was absolutely breath-taking. When my husband asked if it was as beautiful as Waimea Canyon in Kauai, I told him this was so far above (pun intended) that there were simply no words to describe the views.
After this day we were starving and exhausted. Thankfully we found a casual local chain called the Heartland Brewery. It had been a hot and humid day, we stuck to some nice light salads, that were very tasty and lots of ice water. On the way back we stopped at a 24/7 bakery and picked out a treat to have with coffee in our room. We collapsed by 10.
Our wake-up call got us up and out the door by 8. We went to a nearby deli that our waitress from dinner suggested. Of course we had bagels. We found the ubiquitous Starbucks for coffee, as the deli didn't have a single open seat, and ate our breakfast there. Then it was off to meet our van for a 6 hour city tour. A street fair was going on, so we did some browsing.
The 6 hour tour was perfect for two still tired women. It was a small group of about 16 and our tour guide, Tom, was knowledgeable and a real hoot. We were taken to so many places and told so many things, we couldn't even digest half the sites and information. The highlights were Strawberry Fields (the John Lennon memorial) in Central Park, Pier 17, the Staten Island Ferry (which gave us views of Ellis and Governor's Islands, The Statue of Liberty and Manhattan) Wall St, many other buildings and neighborhoods and then Ground Zero. Ground Zero and the surrounding area brought most of us to tears. Touching the area seemed to make everyone feel the sadness, as well as the hope.
As our 48 hours was coming to an end, we girls shopped a bit. Sarah at H & M, me at Ann Taylor's. Next came our special dinner, since theatre tickets weren't in the cards. We were fortunate enough to be right across the street from celebrity chef Bobby Flay's Bar Americain.
An upscale place with dark paneled walls, a '40's feel to it. Beautiful restaurant, terrific service and wonderful food. There's a reason why he's successful.
We headed back to our hotel and prepared for our early morning departure. We were tired, happy and re-connected. This was thanks to my daughter's wish for a girls' weekend and Manattan.