Day 4: End of the trip

So finally, the end of our NYC trip.

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On our last day we got up early, picked up coffee, and walked to battery park at the end of Manhattan Island. Here instead of taking the many-tourist boats to Ellis Island, we caught the FREE commuter ferry to Staten Island.

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This provided us with a up-close view of Lady Liberty without the cost and lines to tour her.

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We were able to take the less than 20 minute ferry one way turn around, and get back on the other way.

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On the ride back we had not only another close-up of the statue of liberty but also a panorama of the downtown skyline. It was well worth the hour boat ride.

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We then hurried back to our hotel and packed up our bags. With suitcases in hand, we checked out of the hotel and hit the subway.

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With only an hour or two before our train ride to Poughkeepsie, we were able to visit grand central station, and get street views of Madison Square Garden, the Empire State building, and Chrysler building.

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This was our attempt to make up for the shortened bus tour the day before. It was a lot of exercise and a little chaotic, but worth the extra time before heading out of the city.

We got to Penn Station just in time to get some Jamba Juice to cool us off from the uptown run around, then get in line for our train.

The trip back was relaxing and easy.

We thoroughly enjoyed our busy New York City adventure.

Next: to catch you up since then.

Day 3: Dinner and a Show round 2

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After our semi-down town tour we decided to go back to chelsea market for dinner. We had a few bites of lobster roll and shared some clam chowder but found both not to be enough food for actual dinner. So Luke walked over to a traditional Italian deli for a sandwich and I got a lamb pie.

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sign next to the Lincoln Preforming Arts Center showing current ballets, plays, and musical being preformed

Once we were full we took the subway back to the hotel, got changed then headed back up to Lincoln Preforming Arts Center.

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We were lucky that the subway terminal was very close to the arts center. Both of us were in awe of the setting, the well lit center was beautiful at night. As we walked to the Vivian Beaumont theatre we turned our heads to see we were right next to Juliard!

The theater itself was also amazing, a square theatre we once again found our seats much closer than we thought to the stage. The orchestra pit was directly below us.

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But the best surprise was that once the musical started the stage  expanded towards us covering the orchestra pit. We were so close to the actors and stage it was incredible. The way the musical had been set up some actors left on your normal stage right and left but many exited to doors under the stage near the orchestra pit.

The musical numbers were well done and acting was amazing considering the person playing the king was Ken Watanabe, know for Memoirs of Geisha and The Last Samurai. And the women playing Anna Kelli O’hara won a Tony for actress in a musical  for 2015.

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But I was most impressed with Ruthie Ann Miles who played the lead wife of the King Lady Thiang, her songs were deeply emotional and authentic.

It was much more of a drama than for Luke’s liking and we both could have done without the ballet number depicting the Saigon twist on Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but it was all very well done.

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After a wonderful early birthday treat we got out of the theatre at almost 11pm! We were shocked at how late the musical went. We walked a few blocks then decided on a late night snack: Gray’s Papaya hot dogs. We both had one hot dog with mustard and onions and I got pineapple soda.

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pictures is from earlier in the day when we drove by on the bus tour

We then walked across the street to the oldest subway terminal in NYC to get a ride back to our hotel. It was a wonderful end to our last evening in the city.

 

Day 3: Downtown Tour and a Surprise

Sorry again, it is taking so long to re-cap a trip we took more than a month ago, but life after spring break got very busy.

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On day three we started off by walking down to south street seaport. Here there are  restaurants and tourist spots along the water. But we went to check out the discounted ticket spot. A small store front TKTS shows you what broadway shows have discounts for same day tickets. Several of the more expensive multi-tony award winning musicals we wanted to see were on the board.

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We asked about prices  and were quoted the best seats for the best prices. Luke decided then to surprise me and bought us tickets for The King and I as a early birthday present.

The seats were front and center 7 rows back from the orchestra, and we got them 40% off, which means we paid what it would have cost for one of us to get that seat regularly.

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After, we went back to our hotel to strategize our downtown tour.  We bought a group-on online that gave us a discount for a hop-on-hop off uptown, downtown, and a night double decker bus tour for one day.

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It was a little cold and windy on the top of the bus but it was best for viewing. We drove north up the upper east side following part of Central Park. Along the way we saw the Lincoln preforming arts center, where we would be going later that evening for our musical.

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We came up around the top of the park and into Harlem, passing the Apollo theatre and several other landmarks. Then turning South we headed back towards the park and museum row.

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We decided to get off at the New York City Museum, which was free with our bus tickets. Coming inside to warm up we enjoyed a few floors of touring exhibits everything from portraits of early settlers, to a display documenting the protests and social changes in the city through time. The most interesting aspect of the museum was  a 30 minute video which narrated the history of the city from its time as a dutch colony to post 9-11.

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Then we planed to head to the Rockefeller center. But the bus took more than 45 minutes to get to us. Once we got on museum row we trudge through rush hour traffic.

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We were told that the buses would start their last tour at 5pm. What we were not aware of was that the buses would return no matter where they were on the tour at 5pm. So by the time we got done with museum row, we were headed back to times square. This gave us no chance to explore central park or see the Rockefeller center.

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By that time we realized it was getting late and we needed to get dinner, go back to the hotel, change and head back up for our evening musical.

More on our evening to come.

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