Day Two: Dinner and a Show

After our afternoon outing we returned to the hotel to re-group before our evening plans. We change our close and left again for uptown.

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We had made reservations at a restaurant uptown close to the theatre. K Rico is a upscale Latin fusion steakhouse. We were surprised to find the place empty, and I felt a little ridiculous for reserving and table and rushing over there so quickly. We both got glasses of wine then decided to look at their pre fix theatre menu.

Many of the restaurants in the theatre district provide a menu that is only available for either before or after theatre shows that provides minimal options. What this does is guarantee your food will come out faster so you will not be late for a show. It also means that you are getting a package deal on three courses at a decent discount.

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I got filet minion with pureed cauliflower, Luke got the skirt steak in chimichuri sauce. My steak was perfectly cooked and with a sprig of rosemary under it was very fragrant.  Then came dessert, I ordered Tres Leches and Luke got the chocolate and coffee flan. This was the highlight, although we both would have liked more berries with our sweet treats they were both amazing.

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We then walked a few block over to our theatre where we were surprised to see a long line outside. Apparently because these theatre are smaller, everyone is let in at the same time first come first serve even though we all had set seats.

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Luke and my seats were in the mezzanine and we were concerned about our view, I was shocked to realize the theatre was smaller and built so that you really couldn’t get a bad seat. We could clearly see the stage and all characters on it, not squinting necessary.

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The musical “Something Rotten” itself was perfect. This was both of our first times seeing a broadway musical in it first run with original cast and you could tell. Every dance number, song, line, was done with the same amount of energy and focus as the next. Looking at the playbill most leads and some extras had been in other broadway productions, if not they had been on tours, all had experience.

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It was a hilarious comedy with a unique story line and characters played preformed well  enough to be nominated for and receive several Tony’s for their performances. A perfect option for Luke and I.

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As we left that evening we traveled through time square to get to the Subway. Because of the time of night it was crowded as everyone was streaming out of their theaters at the same time. It was bright, noisy, and claustrophobic. After only blocks on the main street Luke said that was plenty of time square for him. We found the subway station and headed to our hotel.

 

 

Day two: Greenwich Village, Chelsea Market, and the High-line

The next day, we decided on a later start and took the subway over to Greenwich Village. It was a sunny cool spring day with a little wind, unlike the rainy day before. We walked over to Washington Square Park to see the Washington Arch the park view was amazing. We sat there for awhile just taking it in and people watching.

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Then we walked through Greenwich village, a neighborhood full of small artisanal stores, markets, restaurants, churches, gardens, and parks.

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After an enjoyable mid-morning walk we found our way to Chelsea Market. As an avid food network and travel channel watcher, this was a major destination. Even though it was a Tuesday afternoon, the place was packed with locals getting lunch.

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We first walked to Lucy’s Whey a small artisans cheese shop where we ended up buying two blue cheese, wedges including one made of goat milk, and one creamy goat milk wedge with black truffles in it.

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After exploring, we ended up getting in the very long line for Los Tacos No 1. The place everyone says to go for tacos. I got one pork carnitas and one carne asada taco both with everything on them and shared an Horchata with Luke. With minimal seating, many people were sitting on steps or leaning against a wall to eat. We were luck to find a small standing table at one corner of the market to enjoyed our street tacos.

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I know everyone swears they are the best, for me they were the best I’ve had in New York state, but I would say the were on par with most of what I’ve had in SoCal.

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To finish are afternoon snack-age we then walked a few blocks over to Artichoke’s Pizza where you can get a slice for 7 bucks. Although that may seem steep, these pieces of pizza were big enough to share, we order one slice of their classic artichoke alfredo and spinach pizza, they heated it up for us and sliced it in two; it was wonderful.

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We took our second lunch  up a set a stairs and onto the the High-line. The High-line was once a old rail line that has been changed into an outdoor walking park that covers most of Greenwich Village paralleling the water.

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In-spite of the crowd, we still found a semi- quiet spot to rest and eat. Then to work off our double lunch, we walked a good portion of the Highline, which provides a great view of the city.  It was a clear day and we could see blocks away: the cherry trees just beginning to blossom against the brick apartments and iron fire-scapes of the neighborhood.

 

It was a beautiful afternoon.

Day 1: NYU, LES, and Blue Man Group

Sorry for the mass delay in NYC trip details, we had a very busy week.

After Little Italy we traveled to the LES, or Lower East Side. This is an area that everyone says is “up and coming”.

When we got there we realized it was a little more “coming” than “up”. It reminded me of  neighborhoods around the garment district in L.A. One street has fancy boutiques and specialty sweet, the next is bordered up with graffitied pawn shops.

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We walked to our first destination: The Pickle Guys. A small hall way of a store, you stand in line immediately on your left are giant 3 foot tall tubs of foods brining in spices; everything from pineapples, to olives, onions, beets, carrots etc. We wanted a tasting sample so we got two spicy sour pickles and a small container of garlic stuffed green olives and kalimata olives. They were wonderfully crunchy and full or spicy brine.

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Then we traveled over to the tenement museum but were too late for of their many tours. Instead we were watched a free 30 minute video about the neighborhood. In which we learned that this was the primary neighborhood for immigrants to Manhattan. It was amazing to hear the waves of ethic groups who transformed this neighborhood over the years and their struggles to establish themselves, work, and live in poor and crowded conditions.

We then sought out our dinner place: Ivan ramen which we had been told would be good. We both order ramen bowls with slight differences in broth flavorings: one with soy, the other sea salt. When food arrived we found it basic and plain. We our used to vibrant aromatic broths with plenty of vegetables in addition to noodles and egg. We walked away disappointed realizing that our Rochester ramen place Furoshiki was much better.

We then traveled North to NYU, an area full of Japanese Yakitori shops and Asian fusion restaurants. Immediately regretted not heading there for dinner, we stopped at Barcade, yes that is a bar that is also an 0ld-school arcade. There we enjoyed hard cider and stout beer while playing pinball, PacMan, Tetris, bust-a-move, and more.

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We left just in time to walk over to the Astor Theatre where the Blue Man group was preforming. The show was good, not my cup of tea with un-known audience participation, but Luke loved it and since he has wanted to see them for years and this was his birthday present, it was worth it.

After the show we found a bubble tea place for dessert, then headed back to the subway and our hotel room for the night.

NYC Day 1: Chinatown and Little Italy

After our re-group at the hotel we hit the subway and went to Chinatown. I’ve been to several large Chinatowns in including LA, Seattle, and Vancouver and some have been more touristy than others. And yes, some streets and shops here in NYC were geared to the tourist with jade trinkets and Chinese New Years leftovers, but there are also many signs that this is still a thriving Chinese neighborhood.

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We passed several fresh Asian fruit markets filled with passion fruit, durian, mangos, and kiwis; fish markets with squid and octopus; teas shops with loose leaf tea; traditional eastern medicine herb shops; oriental bake shops; pekin duck hanging in the windows of restaurants and much more.

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After taking in the neighborhood we headed to our planned lunch spot: Xi’an famous foods. A long narrow eating area, you are immediately put in line to order from a menu on the opposite wall where dishes are listed by name or number. Luke ordered the tingly beef noodle and I got the spicy lamb noodle.

As we waited we read the many newspaper clippings and signed photos from travel channel and food network stars who have advertised to the world about this Asian fusion noodle shop. The kitchen is next door and food is brought in through a metal slot in the wall between rooms.

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When our food came it smelled amazing. The lamb was so tender, the sauce amazingly flavorful and spicy, and the noodles wide and thick. We shared a fragrant jasmine tea to quench the noise-dripping heat of the sauce. It was really good.

Walking around a little more we got one more snack: fried dumplings. There are several famous dumpling places in Chinatown. This place is a true hole in the wall with only a counter with one women frying up dumplings. The menu is simply fried dumplings, pre-made dumplings to take home, and drinks. That is it.

For one dollar you get three fried pork dumplings on a small paper plate. There are not seats, only a small bar with soy sauce, siracha, and plastic forks. The steaming hot dumplings were so full of flavor they needed no extra sauce.

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After all the eating we crossed into Little Italy. A much different vibe than Chinatown, as most Italians have move to the Brooklyn or New Jersey, it is no longer a thriving neighborhood. Several large white tableclothed restaurants take up the empty first floors of this neighborhoods. As we passed the owners were in front advertising deals for their mostly empty restaurants, trying to hold on to the tradition through tourist money. We passed gelato stands, old catholic churches, and Italian bakeries again, based on tourist clientele.

Are only stop was a large Christmas shop where we bought two ornaments for our tree to remember our trip by. We were grateful we were not limited to “I heart NYC” stores with only cheesy souvenirs.

Up next: The Lower East Side, NYU, and Blue Man Group

 

NYC Day 1: Financial District

Monday of our NYC vacation we decided first to explore the area near our hotel: the financial district. Since the work week had just begun we walked the oldest part of town with business men and women in suits on their way to or from with coffee in hand. The street carts and food trucks were already busy with those who wanted a quick bite on their way to the office.

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Our hotel was only a few blocks from many iconic locations such as Trinity Church, the stock exchange, the charging bull, the federal hall (Where President Washington was inaugurated), and the famous restaurant Delmonico’s. Although there were a some touring groups on these narrow streets very few cars came through let alone tour buses.

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As we wandered in the light rain we headed down the brick streets to Battery Park, the park at the tip of Manhattan Island, where the ferries and tour boats leave for the Statue of Liberty. Luke was excited to see the statue in spite of the dense fog. For me, this was my second time seeing her and I knew the view would be better another day.

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We took in the skyline and noted a bronze burnt globe. In reading the plaque we realized that it once stood in front of the twin towers and had been damaged in the attack. Since then other modern globes from various artists have joined this globe in battery park as a memorial and symbol of resilience.

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Continuing on, we changed direction northwest and passed parks and towering business buildings on our way to the 9/11 memorial site. It was a sobering experience though the place was loud and crowded.  Large stone walls surround the base of where each building stood; engraved in each are the names of those who died. Looking down you see water pouring into emptiness, going so far you cannot see the bottom. It is an effective reminder of the loss and emptiness that came from this tragedy.

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There was plenty of security and the line into the museum was of disneyland proportions. We did not feel compelled to go in. But understood how many families with children who were too young to remember would want to.

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We instead found it more interesting to walk the streets surrounding the memorial. Even after 15 years, the damage to nearby buildings is obvious. Some have chosen not to rebuild, with only a one or two floor building left like stump of a previous limb. Others are under mass construction like the greek orthodox church across the street from the memorial.

After this tour, we went back to our hotel to re-group and prepare for our next walking tour: Chinatown and Little Italy, more of this to come. . .

NYC here we come!

I know it’s been over a week since we’ve got back from our first NYC trip, but it’s taken this long just to  adjust to our routine again. So thank you everyone for patiently waiting to here about our city adventure.

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Saturday before our trip we packed, printed tickets, looked at our driving route, and any last minute planning. That night we took Kira to a local kennel. Once she got settled in we went out to eat and got rest for our long day of travel ahead.

On Easter we got up early, packed the car and started our 5 hour journey to Poughkeepsie NY.  I tried to grade during the familiar portions of the route but had to stop once we got to the Catskill mountains; a beautiful area where we saw many holiday hikers out at the trail heads.

We took a toll bridge over the Hudson River drove to the Poughkeepsie train station. Once there we asked about long term parking at the station, paid for our car, and had lunch. Our commuter train to Penn Station came right on time. We grabbed our bags and showed our tickets, which were scanned using an iPhone.

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It has been a long time since I’ve traveled Amtrak, definitely way before iPhones were used to scan tickets. For Luke this was a new experience.

Although it was only an hour and a half commuter train, we needed no entertainment, staring out the window was perfect. On one side of the train we followed the Hudson river into the city passing West Point along the way. On the other side we passed commuter suburbs of the Big Apple.

On the train we planned out our next leg of the journey, and the one I was most stressed about: getting to our hotel. Fortunately, I found a subway app that Luke downloaded onto his phone similar to google maps or gps, it helped us decide which subway line we needed.

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We got to Penn Station and in the main terminal asked around for where to get metro cards. We got unlimited metro card use for our stay then hauled our luggage across the tunnels to our subway line. It was a little tricky carrying our bags through the subway terminals and keeping our bags between our legs while holding on to poles in the subway train, but we managed.

Fortunately we didn’t have to walk very far once we got off the subway to find our hotel. We checked in and took the evaluator to our 14th floor room. Although it was “club” size room it worked just fine.

We settled in then went out to eat to a place called “Stout”, which has as you can guess has many stout and porter beers on tap and in bottles, as well as some decent gluten free options. There while everyone watched the Syracuse basketball game we planned our next day of adventures.

More of our adventures to come . . .