Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Finding a Place

After Meredith made a visit and after SEVERAL e-mails back and forth with our hostess, Nicole....we are booked at this apartment in Brooklyn. (She was terrific, the website a little challenging for this old lady to manage!)  Looks a bit roomier than the one we had on the Upper West Side.... It is quite near a subway line so for our adventures that take us into Manhattan and the other boroughs it should still be fine.  We are looking forward to our visit!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Planning Our Return

After spending as much time as we did in Brooklyn on our last visit we have been searching for a spot in Brooklyn for our next adventure.   My cousin's son is getting married in NYC in September so our goal is to be in NYC in time for the wedding and then stay on for a few weeks.   John and I have both been compiling a list of places and events we would like to do on this visit.  My former student, Meredith has been very helpful.   She lives in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn and since we did visit there once on our last trip to NYC we are seriously considering her neighborhood.    Another connection from Great Bridge, Jon, lives in another section of Brooklyn so he too has added to our knowledge of the different neighborhoods.  I will start adding to the blog as our plans come together.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Only in New York Moments.....

I had read in a travel guide some suggestions for "Great New York City Experiences".  After our stay, I feel  that I might offer a few different ones.....

Abby Just Before Sunset
  • Experience the city through the eyes of a 4 year old..... The sunset over New Jersey from the 70th Street Pier on the West Side was beautiful.... but, it was made even better by watching our granddaughter Abby just relax and run around the pier area....

  • Watch wedding photos being taken under the Brooklyn Bridge while listening to Chamber Music being played on a Barge on the East River.....The Bargemusic Concert was amazing by itself... but then to be able to see out the window to this scene.... just made it even more spectacular....

  • Participate in a mass and listen to professional quality singers (cantors) in an exquisite church....

Playground in Chinatown - Part of Big Onion Walking Tour of Lower East Side

Roller Skating Flag Waver in Columbus Day Parade
  • Take a walking tour or attend a parade to learn about a different culture.....I have commented on other posts about our favorite... Big Onion Walking Tours.... great locations and well-informed guides.....
  • Attend an event that typically only New Yorkers might... not just the tourists.... 92nd Street Y provided us with this experience.  There are venues all over the city that have guest lecturers, chefs or musicians.  I also attended a very small dixieland concert at the library at  Lincoln Center that fit the bill for this category... there were Moms with strollers,  retired folks and homeless people all enjoying the music.
  • Attend a sporting event at a big arena..... we watched a Yankee game and the experience of arriving and leaving on a subway FULL of fans was amazing. .... One fan, helped on by significant quantities of beer, was leading cheers in the subway on the way back to the apartment. I also enjoyed the Barbra Streisand Concert at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn.... not a sporting event, technically, but climbing to the "nosebleed" seats and commiserating with the others who were doing the same does qualify as an aerobic activity in a huge sports venue!

  • Spend time in one of the many parks (Central, Washington Square, Union Square) on the weekend. They are beautiful during the week, but they come alive with performance artists on Saturdays and Sundays.  The pianist in Washington Square Park, the balloon guy and the harpist in Central Park were definitely my  favorites.....
  • Interact with "real" New Yorkers.... you will find them friendly and full of information they are happy to share..... I mentioned a few of these folks in an earlier post, but also worthy of mention are:
    • The Doorman of our apartment building who went with me to the basement laundry room to teach me how to operate the machinery...
    • The young lady who volunteered to take our photo in the subway....
    • The chef at the Polish restaurant in Greenpoint with whom I talked while waiting to use the restroom.... so thrilled we enjoyed his meal....
    • The bus driver driving me crosstown early on the Sunday we left in advance of Hurricane Sandy's arrival who was very happy to give me tips on the shortest route back across town....
    • The security guard at the Asia Society Museum who was so honest about his opinions of the VERY modern art on display.... his quote was "think of Tim Burton creations, but not quite as good...."
    • The tram operator on the Roosevelt Island subway connection who chatted with us during the ride....  interesting stories about the people who had been trapped on it, FDR relatives who have visited the new monument, and crazy folks trying to move the contents of their apartments by using the tram....

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Delicious OTHER Food in NYC

While we did enjoy our meals in the various parts of the city we visited, some other restaurants were certainly noteworthy.
  • Sarabeth's - 423 Amsterdam - Upper West Side - We had a terrific dinner there one night while Beth was visiting.  She had enjoyed it frequently when she lived in NYC and it is famous for its brunch.  We were quite delighted with our meals and took some of the generous servings home for a later meal.... a nice bonus!
  • Daisy Mae's BBQ - 623 11th Avenue - West Side - Probably would never have thought to go to a BBQ restaurant while we were in NYC but it was the perfect stop after our Jon Stewart Show taping... the food was delicious and extremely reasonable.....
  • Woodland - 242 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn - We enjoyed our meal (eaten at the bar due to the expected crowd for the Streisand Concert) at this lovely restaurant.   The atmosphere was decidedly "hipper" than any place we had eaten..... interesting, for sure.... the specials that we had were really delicious.....

  • Friedman's Lunch - in Chelsea Market.... great deli lunch.... we saw some traditional items being ordered by others, but the beer and sandwiches on rye were just what we needed after our High Line walk....
  • Nathan's Hot Dogs - Coney Island..... so many different toppings to try on the hot dogs...  We started our month in NYC in Coney Island..... hope Hurricane Sandy hasn't taken too big a toll on this iconic Boardwalk area......  

Special Food Treats in NYC

  • Bakeries.... Probably any really large city has baked treats to enjoy.... our 2 favorites were:
    • Ferrara's  - 195 Grand near Mott Street in Little Italy.. amazing cannoli.....
    • The Hungarian Bakery - Near St. John the Divine on Amsterdam.... fabulous strudel and cookies wrapped in a little white box with string to take home. ....

    Hungarian Bakery
    Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

  • Ice Cream and Gelato ..... delicious at several different places we tried....
    • Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory - Just under the Brooklyn Bridge
    • Chinatown Ice Cream  Factory - Part of our walking tour in the Lower East Side

  • Madison Square Eats.... We stumbled on this after escaping a traffic jammed taxi... what a great surprise! ...

Ethnic Foods in the City

Anyone who knows John and me KNOWS that we did not hold ourselves back from enjoying lots of delicious meals while we were in NYC.  So, I will try to write a few posts to highlight our favorites.

    Outside Pappardella
  • Italian .... How could we NOT look for some yummy Italian food while we were there?
    • Pomodoro - 229 Columbus - Upper West Side - We both ate specials and they were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. 
    • Pappardella - 316 Columbus - Upper West Side - Ate here with Barb and Muff when they came to visit.... also quite delicious.  If Barb pronounces it good Italian.... you know it is excellent!
    • Ignatzio's - Under the Brooklyn Bridge - By the time we got ready for lunch on the day we tried this place we just couldn't bear the wait at the famous and right around the corner Grimaldi's.... Not a problem!  It was delicious too.  And, no wait for a table.
    • Pizza ..... I had very carefully researched the "BEST" places to have pizza only to find out that the difference between New York pizza and what we see in Chesapeake is so huge that it doesn't matter WHERE we got our pizza.... it was all outstanding.  We ordered it one night, we brought it home one night and I had a slice in midtown at a tiny stand .... all way better than anything we get here at home.
  • Indian.... Only regret is not eating Indian food frequently enough while we were there.
    • Jackson Diner - 37 74th Street - Jackson Heights, Queens.... a buffet of Indian foods.  Perfect way to try some foods that we had not ordered before.  Very reasonably priced and absolutely delicious.

    One of the Buffet Stations at the Jackson Diner

  • Dominican - Tipico - 4172 Broadway in Washington Heights..... We relied on the ONE English speaking waitress to help us order and were not disappointed.  It had a counter and a lovely dining area and the roast pork, beans and rice and other side dishes were all very flavorful.
  • Chinese - China Fun - 246 Columbus - Upper West Side.... Comments about pizza apply here... the difference between MOST of the Chinese food at home and ANY Chinese food in NYC is amazing.  We ordered food from here when Beth and Abby were with us, then John and I ate there for lunch and then we went back a 3rd time with our visitors from Virginia and New Jersey.  Excellent!
  • Polish - Krolewski Jadlo - Greenpoint, Brooklyn .... John had a traditional sausage sampler and was thrilled with the side dishes also.  I had a chicken special that was superb also.  While we were there a food tour from New Jersey was also eating there.... so it has a well-deserved great reputation.

  • Soul Food - Sylvia's - 328 Lenox Avenue... Harlem.... We enjoyed our walking tour of the area near this restaurant and were equally pleased with our meal.  It was our DUTY, we felt, to have fried chicken and all the appropriate side dishes... and they were excellent.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Breakfast on the Upper West Side

This information is by NO MEANS an extensive guide to breakfast out on the Upper West Side because we ate in most mornings.  We did, however, enjoy a few spots that were close by.....
  • Pier 72 - West End Avenue - Really a locals place... a few times we were there the owner was greeting children who arrived as if they were his grandchildren..... that's the kind of place to have breakfast!   Everything we had was generous and delicious.  I had one of my breakfast favorites (pancakes or corned beef hash) anytime we were there.  John loved the eggs just about any way they fixed them. 
  • Upstairs at the Fairway Market - 73rd and Broadway...... This spot was recommended by the owner of the apartment and it was a good suggestion.  It is above the actual grocery store so the dining area looks out on the Beacon Theater...... the prices were higher than our local spot (above) but the food was exceptionally good.
  • Fairway Market
  • Utopia - near the Subway entrance at 72nd and Broadway.....  A little bit more like a diner... definitely a good breakfast.
  • Aroma - 161 72nd Street ..... Great coffee and (as pointed out to us by Celeste) a nice outdoor dining area on the second floor that is a wonderful little quiet spot.
Because the bagels are so good in NYC (the claim is that because the water itself in NYC is good... so are the bagels) almost any spot you go serves bagels with traditional cream cheese, butter, or lox.  With so many options of finding bagels or other breakfast items (and NOT wanting to gain weight on vacation) we did eat breakfast at the apartment most mornings.

Leaving the City

Difficult decision..... continue seeing the sites of NYC and battle the hurricane or head for home.... an easier decision based on a few factors....
  • Our car was parked in an outdoor lot adjacent to the East River
  • Our apartment was only going to be ours through Oct. 31 at 11
  • We were missing family, Virginia, our home and friends
  • We capped our visit with a mini reunion of good friends  from junior high school days in Elizabeth, New Jersey... Terrific venue and a wonderful way to conclude our visit
  • We had an amazing 28 days in NYC

It was made more difficult by the fact that college friends, Grace and Carol were due to arrive on Sunday for a visit.  Their plan was to arrive by train and to stay through dinner until an evening train would return them to New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  We had been planning our day since before we arrived in New York at the beginning of the month.  But, calling off the visit and packing up turned out to be wise as anyone who has seen the TV for the last 2 days will know.
I have 2 photos... not mine.... so I don't know if they will show up on the post or not...

We had an easy drive home and beat the storm to Virginia. We were able to get a quick visit in with Beth and her family in Richmond before returning to Chesapeake.    We had no damage either there or to our shared home on the Outer Banks.  We felt quite a connection to all the storm stories, having just spent time in so many of the locations that are being shown.  From all the Facebook posts and texts with friends, former students, and relatives in the area most have fared pretty well.  Damage is severe to the locations on the Jersey Shore where we also have friends and relatives.  We await further information, as do so many others, and hope for the best possible recovery for the huge area impacted. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Travel Aids......

We couldn't have made it without the following:

  • Good overview maps... just to see the layout of the city and the boroughs.
  • Good walking shoes.... get over it... you WILL look like a tourist, but they are essential.
  • A smart phone..... great apps available... our most used were Hop Stop (transportation routing around the city), Fodor's NYC Guide, Garmin GPS, Museum A Go Go, and the one we WISH we had found earlier on Central Park!  (Has a feature to let you know where YOU are and where the nearest bathrooms are..... also historical background on each statue and venue in the park...
  • Podcasts..... we used them for entertainment, tours, background information..... BEST by far was the Bowery Boys who had a backlog of historical information on so many of the places we went. But also helpful were Insider Travel Guides, I Walked Audio Tours, The City Concealed,  Made in New York and the New York Historical Society.... all of them were free on Itunes.
  • An open mind about subway and bus transportation.... forays into the world of taxis was not enjoyable.
  • Friendly helpful people.... from the doorman in the building, the tram operator at Roosevelt Island, the guard at the Frick, the chef in the Polish restaurant  to the waiters and waitresses.... New Yorkers can be extremely helpful.... Exception: anyone whose job was security (United Nations Building, 9-11 Memorial Site etc.)
  • Friends and relatives who made the stay easier and much more enjoyable... Celeste and Joseph.... many thanks!

Ellis Island

John visited Ellis Island during our visit and as always, really loved it.  Because it was a school day part of his visit was spent obvserving the various groups and their enjoyment (or lack thereof) of this museum.  Whenever we go we bypass the Statue of Liberty stop on the ferry and just go straight to Ellis Island.  It was not the most beautiful day to take a photo of the scenery.... but anyone who visits NYC should put this near the top of their list.....

View from Inside Back to Lower Manhatten

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Riverside Park.... last visit.....

Our final morning visit to Riverside Park..... not sunny, but so comfortable.  The park seems to have extra runners preparing for the upcoming New York City Marathon.  We walked beyond the structure in the background of the photo and through the sculpture garden.   NYC really does well in its public spaces.... a great combination of wildlife and the arts....

This sculpture below really caught our eye....

New York Central Railroad - 69th Street Bridge

Friday, October 26, 2012

Roosevelt Island

Our last stop on our day's outings.... What a treat!  It is accessible by subway or tram.... we took the tram to get there and the subway to leave.  The tram gives great views of midtown where we had just seen the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal..... we were just lucky to land next to the tram operator who was full of helpful hints and bits of information.  We had a great time talking to him during the passage across.  He had tales of people trying to move furniture in the tram as well as a very recent guest.... one of Roosevelt's grandchildren! 

Quite a history of this island...used to be called "Welfare Island"..... the above photo is the shell of the former small pox hospital.....the newly opened park to honor FDR is at the southern tip of the island so the views are amazing..... the walk along the East River is really pleasant and yet another podcast from the Bowery Boys filled us in on some historical background to the island.

This was taken along the walkway to the park.  You can see the United Nations Headquarters in this photo.