Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New York: World Trade Center, Greenwich Village & SoHo

We've decided to play this entire trip by ear because we make plans to visit someplace and then don't end up there. Like yesterday, we decided to head to Greenwich Village, which we finally ended up in, but we started out riding the subway all the way down to the World Trade Center site. The site itself is hard to see because the fencing is completely covered by a mesh-type material with future plans of the site on it. However, the view of One World Trade Center and the building progress is rather spectacular. Not only is it humbling to see, but it definitely sends a message to the world that America is determined to rebuild.

We also passed an empty lot with a fence that was covered in decorated tiles and are dedicated to all those not only affected by 9/11 but who want to make a statement about the will of America to persevere.

We eventually ended up in Greenwich Village at Washington Square Park where the squirrels are extremely aggressive and probably rabid. One gentleman, who let me take his picture, was feeding the squirrels peanuts and they were going nuts (I crack myself up). At one point he was actually bitten by a squirrel who apparently mistook his finger for a peanut. Yep, squirrels are all cute and whatnot until they get rabies and start going for body parts.

We walked up to SoHo and past the film crew that is currently shooting MIB 3. No sign of Will Smith, but he's probably keeping a low profile after all the residents started hating on him for parking his 57' trailer on their street. Apparently his ego is as big as his trailer. Celebrities, sheesh. We oundd a great little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that served up an awesome margherita pizza and we ate the whole thing. All that walking makes a gal hungry.

I did get to see a cousin of mine who I haven't seen since I was a little girl. She happens to be in town on business and treated mom and I to dinner, where I had the best cannoli ever. What a great time we had catching up and hopefully we won't wait another 35 years to do so.

Today, it's off to Brooklyn with a friend of my folk's. I'm in search of the best knish in town. I hope they serve that thing with gravy, but if not, I'm okay with that too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New York: A Rainy Day 2

Because of the rain, we decided to forgo Ellis Island (I'm hoping for a clear enough day so I can get some great pictures of Lady Liberty from the ferry) and instead head up to Central Park and take in some Museums.

We hit the subway, got our MetroCard and headed up to the American Museum of Natural History. Besides walking, which is the best way to see things in this city, if you're going to travel anywhere the subway if the way to go if you want to get somewhere quickly. There are a lot of interesting people on the subway and I'm pretty sure I saw John Lennon. Many of the people were wearing tennis shoes. My mom commented on this and I reminded her that we both got new shoes out of my insistence that no one wears their Nike's around this city.

The American Museum of Natural History is huge, covering four blocks and holding over 30 million specimens and artifacts. According to the folks in line behind us it's nothing compared to the one in Chicago. This one had plenty for us to see and we didn't even get through the entire museum. There are dinosaurs, forests, ocean life, gems, planets, African history and animals, a planetarium, IMAX theatre and much, much more.

Next stop was Rockefeller Center, which is smack dab in the middle of THE shopping district (also where NBC Studios is located but I was more interested in finding the FoxNews studios) and close to Radio City Music Hall. We did go into Saks Fifth Avenue where we were approached by a gal who insisted she spray us with some new 'grassy' perfume that 'everyone is wearing'. Celebrities must stink. The one store I wanted to go in, Michael Kors, is by appointment only. Apparently my personal assistant forgot to call. She's fired.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral is awesome and my indoor pictures can't do it justice. It's okay to use a flash inside but I felt uncomfortable with that. Primarily because people were there praying, and lighting candles and I didn't feel right interrupting their private moment with God by shooting off my flash to get that perfect picture of the Cathedral. The stained glass is incredible as well is the architecture so if you do ever visit Rockefeller Center, go across the street to the Cathedral. Totally worth it.

We did go to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art and I have come to realize that I do not appreciate much of it. Either some of those artists were crazy, on drugs, or both. We did see Cezanne, Monet, Picasso, van Gogh and few other Impressionists. I did like the photography display, especially the black and whites that depict life in such a simple way. If I could figure out how to make millions off of painting crooked squares on canvas I totally would. Or, by creating stuff like this fur covered spoon and cup... When I saw this, all I could think about was all that fur in my mouth. Ack. (See, I'm such a realist with very little room in my brain for the abstract.)

Today, it's pouring rain so we've decided to head down to SoHo and Greenwich Village and see what we can find. I hear the shopping is excellent.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New York: Day 1

Our first day in New York City was a rainy one and when we arrived at where the Empire State Building is located, we looked up, then looked at each other and said, "Is that it?" Mainly because the fog had rolled in, obstructing our view from the 45th story on up. Luckily, but the time we meandered (well, walked quickly, because no one meanders in the city) past it for the second time we caught a glimpse of the entire building.

We are staying down in Chelsea, around 19th Street. Our trek today led us all the way up to 36th and Broadway. Or Madison. And I think it was 36th East and we're at 19th West. Anyhoo, it was raining when we left the apartment today so we thought something indoors would be good. Like shopping. So we headed up to 7th Avenue which is the shopping district. Let me just say that shopping in New York is slightly different than shopping in Bend. I mean Bend has all of the stores that NYC has...Banana Republic, Gap, American Eagle, Macy's and even Rite Aid. But the SIZE of the stores in New York - holy cow. I walked into Macy's and I've never seen so many clothes, and perfumes and make-up counters in my life. They just went on and on for three stories. I even went into the Louis Vuitton section just so I could say I shopped Louis Vuitton(not that I could afford anything).

There are approximately 82 billion people in New York City and by the time we came out of Macy's, at least half of those people were cruising the sidewalks. One thing I noticed is a lot of people here smoke. Maybe we're just health freaks in the west and if I take into consideration that my town has 80,000 people versus the billions that live in New York then per capita, it's probably about the same ratio. Did I mention how many people are in New York?

People in New York walk fast. I guess everyone needs to get there yesterday. So as mom and I pounded the pavement I told her to just keep moving and don't suddenly stop - because you'll be trampled to death. One thing I noticed is that when the crosswalk flashes the little orange hand, meaning do not cross, it's more of a suggestion. Even when the cars are coming, if the mob of people crossing the street is big enough, then the car will stop so just stay with the crowd and keep walking. It must suck to drive in the city.

We did go to the Pierpont Morgan Library Museum today and all I can say is wow. (Disclaimer: If you click on the link, a painting of a naked woman may be what comes up on the website. It is not porn. I don't know why artists liked to paint naked people way back when or why the museum chose to make that a highlight on their website.) Pierpont Morgan (father of JP Morgan) is the one who started the Morgan financial institution. He was a collector of rare books, paintings, writings, diaries, etc. I saw one of the original Gutenberg Bibles, letters from John Quincy Adams and George Washington, music manuscripts from Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and even the Star Spangled Banner. I viewed the diaries of John Steinbeck, Nathanial Hawthorne, Charlotte Bronte, Henry David Thoreau and many others. While we have the wild west and Oregon trail history out where I live, there is nothing like reading an original letter commissioned by our very first president, George Washington. The picture is of the ceiling in the library's rotunda.

There are a lot of mom and pop places and I'll admit, I really enjoyed taking in all of the sites. I even cracked up when I saw a sign that read "You's Excellent Cleaners" because how New York is that. (Come to find out it was Yau's, not You's, but I prefer my version.)

Tomorrow, if the rain isn't pouring as it's supposed to we'll be heading out to Ellis Island, the Jewish Heritage Museum and Ground Zero. I'm guessing it will be a most humbling day.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Running Amok in New York

In approximately 4.2 days(who's counting) I will be flying out to New York City with my mom where we will spend nine whole days celebrating my 40th birthday. It's a gift from my parents and if that doesn't qualify them for mom and dad of the year I don't know what does. Even without the trip they are the most awesome parents ever and if you try to debate me on that I'll leg drop you faster than the 'oof' can escape your lips. Just kidding. Okay, maybe not.

My first concern about running amok in Manhattan for over a week was my wardrobe. And shoes. Mainly because we will be doing a heck of a lot of walking as I plan to eat my way from SoHo to the Upper West Side and on over into Brooklyn. From what I've read, (and I believe everything I read) New Yorkers don't wear tennis shoes (how gauche) while out and about so I took my mother shopping for new shoes, because we will not look like hicks from the sticks while we are there. We now have some fabulous footwear and won't have to endure any pointing and laughing. I also used this trip as an excuse to invest in some new clothes and while dithering over what to pack realized that a small part of me is either concerned what complete strangers who will never see me again will think of me, or I'm just vain. Probably the latter.

I found a great little studio for us to stay in (because hotels are way too expensive) and we will be parking ourselves in Chelsea. Come to find out, Chelsea is known as the gay and garment district. I told mom, "Well, we won't have to worry about men hitting on us and there will be plenty of awesome shopping."

Probably the one thing I look forward to the most (besides the food) is going to Ellis Island. I have been in deep discussions with my dad about this and the thought of walking the same path that my dad's parents walked over 90 years ago as they departed the ship and stepped onto Ellis Island is a pretty big deal. He had their names engraved on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor and I already know where I will find the Szabo's and Kozma's.

Mom and I will also walk the Brooklyn Bridge, take in a Broadway show (Billy Elliot), shop, visit Central Park, see the Met, try to get my mom in the same photo frame as the Naked Cowboy, visit Ground Zero and spend a day sightseeing with a friend of my folks who lives in Queens - and promises to take us out for the best knish ever. What's a knish? Seriously, I had to google it but after seeing what it is, I wish there was a Jewish bakery here. Oh yeah, and my cousin, who I haven't seen since I was a little girl will be in NYC at the same time so we'll meet up with her.

Hopefully I'll be sharing my trip as it happens, but I'm a really lame blogger anymore and my brother said tweeting is gay. Which kind of cracked me up given where we're staying. Of course I'll be riding the Twitter like the subway. You're welcome.