NYC Trip

Lots of fun was had by all at our recent weekend getaway trip to New York City.  We left from Ft. Lauderdale Airport on Thursday, October 27th on Jet Blue bound for JFK International Airport.  We arrived after 10 p.m. and took the AirTrain into Midtown Manhattan.  Our hotel was about a block away from where we emerged from the Subway.  It truly doesn’t get more convenient than that!

We checked in to the Manhattan Hotel at Times Square located at 790 7th Avenue.  The location was perfect!  We were steps away from Rockefeller Center, Times Square and Central Park.  The hotel is moderately priced considering its location, but I will warn you the property is tired.  It is clean, but things like the TV remote and the toilets don’t work so well.  (Long story there, but not worth boring you with it.)

Of course the night couldn’t come to a close without walking to Times Square.  No matter how many times I’ve done it, it is still so magical to me. I wanted Austin to feel it, even if it was drizzling.  Our walk and long evening (remember I worked that day) made us hungry for some New York Pizza!  We had a slice at Famiglia near Time Square.

After getting to bed around 2 a.m., we were up by 6 a.m. to head for the Today Show.  Unfortunately, it was raining and hot!  We didn’t expect it to be hot in late September.  It also meant the Today Show crew came out very briefly instead of their usual amount of time.  That being said, Austin did get a ‘Happy Birthday’ from Willie Giest.  Just after that, the skies opened up and the torrential downpours began. …it rained and rained all day long!

Luckily we had a pretty flexible schedule on Friday.  We had reservations for 1:30 p.m. at the 9/11 Memorial and we wanted to get Broadway tickets at TKTS.  Other than that, we were open.  Austin needed to see the Apple Store again.  Apple is a bad habit in this family!  After the Apple Store, we went to FAO Schwartz were we were the ‘first’ to use the new Zoltair machine they just installed (movie BIG).

We walked back to the Times Square area to get our TKTS tickets, when we found out the Broadway location doesn’t open until after 3 p.m.  We are a resourceful bunch and headed to South Street Seaport by Subway since their location opened before noon.  In the rain, we made the line for tickets.  We didn’t know what we’d be able to get tickets for, but since I’ve only seen a couple of shows, chances were good something would be available at a good price.  I’ve seen Wicked, In the Heights and Adams Family.  They have strict rules at TKTS.  No phone calls or texting at the window.  When you get to the front, you better know (and have the authority) to buy what is offered.  There’s no life line!  In the end, we went with Disney’s Newsies.

So how do I know so much about Subway routes?  I love my iPhone.  I will say, I didn’t update the phone to ios6 as I did my iPad 2.  The maps in ios6 does not map the Subway routes and certainly doesn’t have all the landmarks and restaurants in it.

We experienced the 9/11 Memorial.  Once you get passed all of the security, it is a somber experience.  It is both beautiful and incredibly sad.  The reflection pools where the towers once stood have the names of those who perished on September 11, 2001.  People were etching the names onto paper.  It was unusually quiet, eerie almost.

After the 9/11 Memorial, we headed to Chinatown for lunch and dessert in Little Italy before heading back to Midtown to rest prior to getting ready for the show.

The show that evening was fabulous!  After the show at the Nederlander Theatre, we stayed to get our Playbills and other memorabilia signed.  The whole cast came out and one by one signed our stuff.  We were so happy and had such a great time.  Afterwards we headed to Maoz Vegetarian for some falafel.  I’m not a vegetarian, but I can appreciate freshly made food at a reasonable price.

The next day we headed to Harlem to visit The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research unit of The New York Public Library.  It is generally recognized as one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world.  Before the Schomburg Center we had brunch at the Red Rooster in Harlem known for diners like President Obama.  While the cornbread was to die for, I would have rather eaten at a more authentic, less trendy Harlem eatery.  It was expensive and not very traditional.  At the Schomburg Center was a Gordon Parks exhibit and a memorial for Langston Hughes.

After the center, we set out to see one of the places Zora Neale Hurston lived while in Harlem.  Her final resting place is in Fort Pierce, Florida.  I wanted to see where she once lived.  Where she once held her famous ‘rent parties’.  That said, there isn’t a museum.  In fact, had I not stopped at the Schomburg Center first, I wouldn’t have known where to begin.  Someday, I hope visiting Harlem will include ‘Following in Zora Neale Hurston’s Footsteps’ tour.

We walked along 125th Street and enjoyed the multitude of vendors.  We also had an opportunity to enter the Apollo Theatre.  They were doing auditions for a Whitney Houston themed talent event, but they did allow us in to see the lobby and the gift shop.

Why Harlem? I’ve been to the city many times.  In fact, I grew up across the river in Weehawken and Union City.  I can honestly tell you that I don’t recall ever visiting Harlem.  Now I know what I’ve been missing.

After Harlem, we headed back towards Bryant Park where we found a festival in full swing.  Lexington Avenue was closed between 42nd and Columbus Circle.

That evening when I headed to the Landmark in New Jersey via New Jersey Transit for the Union Hill High School Singers Reunion.  Austin stayed with my sister, cousin and friend.  They headed to the Village where they saw the Ghost Busters fire house and they ate at the Ninja-themed restaurant.

That evening returning back from Jersey, I received my last glimpse of Times Square at night (for this trip).  The foolish grin lasted me until I eventually fell asleep.

Our last day in the city was only a couple of hours long, but that didn’t stop us from making the most of it.  I had an opportunity to catch up with friends made during my trip to Spain earlier this summer.  We had brunch at Katz Deli and enjoyed a festival going on in the Lower East Side, before heading to JFK to return home.

Did I just give you every detail of the weekend?  No.  I didn’t.  However, I can tell you it was all on a budget.  With food, souvenirs, Broadway, flights and lodging; we averaged $425 each for the weekend (Thursday through Sunday).  Flights were $200 each round trip and the Broadway tickets were around $82 each.  Have you wanted to visit the city and thought it was too expensive?  Re-think it!

Tell me what you think!