Happy, sore, tired….all par for the course after a day in NYC

I love NYC.  I fell in love with it the first time I went there with my friend Serenity Knits (you can find her blog in my blog roll).  She used to live there and while we were on the train from our “lovely” homes in NJ she said, “There’s only one rule in NYC.  Don’t talk to anyone.”

I know those of you that know me laughed at that rule! 🙂

I asked her if we could go to FAO Schwartz.  She readily agreed and we headed there.  Unfortunately, they lost the building that “BIG” was filmed in and they have a new one, just across the street, but it has none of the charm that the old building does.  So, I walked out disappointed and Serenity told me that she needed to go into the Apple Store that was right out front.  I told her I would wait for her upstairs, cause I wanted to have a smoke.  She says, “Alright.  Remember, don’t talk to anyone.”  I agree and off she goes.

I’m standing outside of an Apple Store in NYC for the first time, people watching, looking at the amazing architecture and just enjoying myself.  A man walks up in a securiy uniform and says, in a distinctly Russian accent, “Can I bum a smoke?”  “Sure,” I say, “How long have you been in New York?” I ask as I hand him a cigarette.  We strike up a conversation and I’m enjoying myself when this beautiful woman walks up and says, “Can I bum a light?”  I hand her my lighter, discover she’s from London and we all three stand there chatting while I wait for my friend.

To me, this was the consumate New York City experience.  Talking to two people from another country in the middle of the most American of cities.  NYC is truly the melting pot that historians talk about, and here I was living it!  I was hard put not to grin like an idiot!

My friend comes out of the Apple Store and, after spotting her, I tell my new acquaintances that I have to go.  It was nice to meet them, thanks for being so friendly and have a great day!  Serenity comes over and gathers me and as we walk off she scolds me: “What was the one rule I told you about?  I can’t believe you were talking to people!”

I smile just remembering it and I miss my friend….she moved to Florida 😦  But she loves it there and I get to see her ever so often…

Yesterday, I went to NYC with my oldest and best friend.  D and I have known each other since we were 6.  6 years old – I always say that the only people that have known me longer are my family!  We lucked out and her husband got stationed here in October.  So, after years of being thousands of miles away from each other, we now live less than an hour from each other.  When we were getting off the first subway train of the day, I asked her if she ever imagined when we were  that we would be riding a subway together in  NYC, she said, “No.”  Neither did I at that age.  It was amazing to be with her in NYC and we had a great day!

The first thing we did after disembarking at Penn Station was go to the Empire State Building.  For me, this is always the start of a trip to NYC.  I don’t always go up and, in fact, have only been up once.  But I love the lobby. It’s so beautiful!

I talked her into talking a walking tour with me of historical places in NYC.  I have this great book titled “Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City,” by Michelle and James Nevius.  In the back of the book are 14 or so walking tours of the city.  The one I chose took us to Chinatown and Five Points.  We saw where the Collection Pond had been, Foley Square, Five Points intersection, Columbus Park (and how it came into being).  We read about Charles Dickens’s visi to Five Points, the creation of the Church of the Transfiguration, saw the first tenement, and stood on the Bloody Angle in Chinatown.  We didn’t finish the whole tour, but that’s alright.  You don’t have to do the whole thing to enjoy the sights and sounds of NYC.

While we were finding our way (cause I’m a notoriously bad navigator and the maps in the book weren’t very detailed), we found ourselves at the Brooklyn Bridge.  I had sailed under the bridge, but I’d never been on it and it’s such a historical landmark.  So, I talked her into walking up to the first support of the bridge.  It’s beautiful and a marvel of engineering for it’s time.  I loved it!

 I won’t bore you with all the historical details, but it was a great walk for me.  The view of the skyline of NYC from the bridge was terrific, especially seeing the new Freedom Tower from Ground Zero going up.  I loved seeing the city from the middle of the water and to see where the bedrock is that allowed the huge skyscrapers to be built to the left and how the ground wouldn’t support the skyscrapers to the right (no bedrock).  I loved this walk and I hope to someday walk the whole thing.  Maybe this summer! 🙂

From here we walked to Chinatown and Little Italy.  We toured through Chinatown, which was cool.  I like San Francisco’s Chinatown better, but this was super interesting.  It was smaller than I expected, but the history is so rich there.  We went into the oldest store in Chinatown where, according to my little guidebook, there was an amazing tin ceiling. Unfortunately, the new owner PAINTED over it.  Seriously?  Too sad.

We headed over to Little Italy and we had lunch at Sal’s.  Now, one of the things that we were doing in NYC was D’s nephew’s Flat Stanley project.  We took pics of Flat Stanley on the Brooklyn Bridge, in the lobby of the ESB, and then with Sal.  We took a pic with Sal with the help of a  nice New Yorker passing by:

Flat Stanley was much bigger than I expected.  You can see he’s almost life sized (he is, if you’re a second grader).  I wanted to decapitate Flat Stanley and just take his head, but that idea was nixed.  (I also wanted to take him to a stripper and get a pose with her, but that was nixed, too.  No fun!)  The lady in the store in Little Italy said that we should take his legs and tape them to a fire hydrant in Little Italy and say that he had a “sit down” with the Mob and that it didn’t go too well for him.  I liked that idea, too, but no go.  So, we tucked Flat Stanley back in the back pack and made our way back to Foley Park.

The tulips were blooming in Foley Park:

We fully enjoyed sitting on the park benches for a bit and just enjoying the sun before we moved on to where we were going next.  Come to find out, we weren’t going too far and we caught the subway in Foley Park and headed to Grand Central Station.

Now, in all of my previous trips to NYC, I had never been to Grand Central Station.  And, actually, it’s not Grand Central STATION – it’s Grand Central TERMINAL.  The Station was torn down long ago and the terminal was built by a Vanderbilt to replace the station.

I talked D into going into the Main Concourse, where she patiently stood and listened to me read about the history of the Terminal (told you she was a great friend!).  It was built by a Vanderbilt to outdo the builder of the old Penn Station (which was torn down in the 60’s).  Gotta love when those rich guys compete with each other.  Makes for some stunning architecture.  The ceiling is painted with the constellations of the night sky:

 The constellations in the ceiling have actual lights in them that light up.  However, the constellations are backwards because the painter was using a celestial globe.  So that translated badly for him! 🙂  This isn’t the best picture, but it’s all I had the energy for!

From here, we boarded a subway to Times Square.  Now, usually, I’ll wait till night to go to Times Square, because it is just so amazing in the dark.  However, neither D nor I were willing to wait for the sun to go down before we headed to Penn to catch the train home.  So we headed over there with the idea of taking a picture of Flat Stanley in Times Square.  Little did we know we would hit the jackpot while there:

Elmo with Flat Stanley in Times Square.  I know that her nephew will get a huge kick out of that!

From there we walked to Penn Station and caught the train home.  D drove home and I went inside and washed my face, brushed my teeth and climbed into bed.  It was an exhausting day, but it was great.  I can’t wait to go back in June with my friend.  And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be going back sooner than that!

This was just the way to end my Spring Break.  My kids come home tomorrow.  Today is recovery day for me and I’m looking forward to not doing much.  In fact, I’m happy to sit right here in my comfy chair and do no more than stare at a wall!

And if these pictures inspire you to go to NYC someday, I’ll be glad.  It’s an amazing place that everyone should see at least once in their life!

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