New York Skyline

    Five days in New York is hectic, action packed, not enough time and just a heck of a lot of fun! Recently, we decided to visit New York. I hadn’t been to New York in a while so I was a bit apprehensive and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I just remember crowds and getting directions like… “oh it’s on 53rd between 5th and 6th. Huh? What? I don’t think that’s possible.

    It doesn’t take too long after arriving and you soon realize that, in fact “53rd between 5th and 6th” isn’t only possible but that New York is laid out in a rather simple grid system and rather easy to navigate. Just remember this. Streets run east/west and Avenues run north/south with a few exceptions, probably the biggest being Broadway. Keep that in mind and you can get most places.

    Since it had been quite a while since I last visited I preplanned a few things that I thought would make navigating easier and also help anyone in our party if they found themselves turned around or worse, lost.

    I first, located a hotel in midtown very close to Grand Central Station or Terminal. Interesting tidbit on the name. If you are using “Grand Central” as a subway stop it is proper to refer to it as Grand Central Station. However, if you are arriving or departing by train then Grand Central Terminal is the correct name because the rail line actually terminates at that location. Anyway, I thought it would be a good landmark to base around since, literally everyone knows where Grand Central is. Lost? Worst case hail a cab and ask to go to Grand Central and you can find yourself back at the hotel.

    Secondly, since New York is broken up into many different “neighborhoods” … Upper Westside, Upper Eastside, Midtown, Downtown, Financial District, etc. I wanted the first thing we did to not only be enjoyable but also acclimate us to the area. So I started our trip with a bus tour to give us the lay of the land. I picked “On Location Tours” (www.onlocationtours.com) and selected the “NYC TV and Movie tour”.

    Our tour, loading of the bus, started around Broadway and 51st. Across the street from Ellen’s Stardust Diner. We didn’t go but looks like a fun place where “Stardusters” or actors serve and entertain you during your meal… maybe next time. Anyway, our tour pretty much hit the entire city taking us from Times Squares through midtown, down to Lower Manhattan and back which was nice and accomplished what I wanted; getting familiar with areas streets and the like.

    As well, we all enjoyed the tour and you do see quite a few movie and television sites. However, you soon learn that pretty much all of New York has been used at some point in a movie or television show but getting some highlights was nice. Our tour director, Andy, was an actor that had been in several local productions and a few television shows as well. He was a huge fan of “Ghost Busters” so his tour had a slant toward that movie but he also pointed out many other filming locations for recognizable shows and movies, such as, Law and Order, Seinfeld, When Harry Met Sally and several others.

    The tours are reasonably priced and for us at least served a twofold purpose – A fun activity and familiarity with the city.

    One thing, I guarantee will happen, if you visit New York. You will not have enough time to do everything you want to do. I honestly think you could live there and you couldn’t get it all done. So don’t try. Have some sort of preplanned schedule or itinerary otherwise I think you will just be overwhelmed and frustrated.

    So in our planning we decided that we wanted to do “touristy” things like Times Square, Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, etc. We also wanted to do some shopping and of course enjoy some wonderful food. Here are some highlights:

    Our Touristy Stuff

    If you decide, like we did that you want to see some of the “touristy” icons of New York you really need to consider the City Pass (www.citypass.com). This booklet or pass allows you to pre-purchase tickets to some of the most sought after sites of major cities, such as, New York. Generally, the pass provides a substantial savings over the price of admission and the attraction and it some cases it can provide expedited entrance for an additional fee. Our New York Pass allowed us to visit 6 of 9 top attractions in New York. We used our passes for the following:

    Top of the Rock Deck

    First up was Rockefeller Center. Plan a little extra time if this is on your schedule because you will want to just wonder around the building and admire the art deco design and artwork. This is also home to several shops and restaurants and of course the iconic ice skating rink (in season). Your CityPass will get you admission to the Top of the Rock Deck which provides you with a panoramic view of New York City from the 70th floor. The Top of the Rock Experience also includes an informative video of the design and construction of this magnificent building. The entrance to the deck is on 50th between 5th and 6th.

    Empire State Building

    The Empire State Building is located at 29th and 5th and is probably the most recognizable building in the city. Its own website says in its directions section. “How do you find the Empire State Building?” “Go to New York and look up”. The Empire State Building has two viewing areas and the deck on the 86th floor is the highest outside viewing deck in New York City. There is also a viewing area on the 102nd floor and is only accessible by a manually operated elevator. Be sure to check it out. One suggestion if you are going to go to both the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock. Visit one in the daytime and one in the evening so that you can experience both night and day views of this great city.

    Statue of Liberty

    Liberty Island could take a whole day if you have the time. We boarded the ferry at Battery Park and the ferry ride was about 10 minutes to the island. Once there you are free to explore on your own. The National Parks Service has a few free apps you can download to your smart phone that will give you information about the island and the Statue of Liberty but also think about just spending some time on the island. Ferries run approximately ever 30 minutes and run late into the afternoon or early evening so you could easily take lunch and make a day of it. The Statue of Liberty is easily recognizable all over the world as we she her used in commercials and the movies but I must admit being in her presence was awe inspiring. This truly is a great monument of freedom.

    There are several different tours allowed now. You can visit the Pedestal and also the Crown. These tours are an additional charge and you can learn more about them at the National Parks website.

    9-11 Memorial & Museum

    The 9-11 Memorial and Museum is a must but be prepared because it is an emotional journey. We all remember that horribly tragic day and the 9-11 Memorial and Museum takes you right back and walks you straight through it again, but with a well-intentioned purpose “we will never forget” the heroes and innocent brothers and sisters that were lost on that fateful day.

    The exhibits, films, displays, video and audio recordings do a really amazing job of demonstrating just how intense and defeating that day must have been for those fighting it and those caught in it.

    Equally as impressive and certainly more solemn was the memorials for those that had lost their lives. Outside the waterfalls are a beautiful sight but what impacted me the most was the space setup inside the museum that honor those lost. These large rooms are lined floor to ceiling with pictures of victims. This really, for me, captured the loss our country suffered that day. The interior of each room is lined by simple pews facing a screen which displays on a revolving and continuing basis videos compiled by family members that lost a love one in the tragedy. It was a poignant and touching tribute.

    Plan to spend some time here. It will make you appreciate the rest of your trip that much more.

    Shopping!

    Style Room: A NYC Shopping Tour Experience

    NYC Designer Shopping ExperienceA Style Room shopping tour is a 5 hour, private VIP shopping experience in NYC into exclusive fashion designers’ showrooms and studios. Longer or shorter customized tours can always be arranged. On this private behind-the-scenes tour, you will be personally escorted behind locked doors only open to clothing and accessories store buyers, store owners, magazine editors and stylists, not consumers. Showrooms and studios are where boutique, store owners and buyers come to see designers’ new collections months before they are produced for stores.

    They are where magazine editors browse when they’re looking for clothing and accessories to feature on models for their upcoming stories. They are where fashion stylists come to pull items for their celebrity clients and photo shoots.

    You will meet designers along your tour and see new collections being brought to life for next season. It will make everything you buy that much more special. The majority of the designers on our tours sell to Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Intermix and high-end boutiques across the country and globe. On a private Style Room NYC shopping tour you will be brought into up to 5 different designer’s showrooms and studios (not stores). You can purchase brand new current season clothing, handbags, jewelry and accessories (stock, not samples) directly off the racks and shelves at up to 65% off retail.

    The highlight of this tour is getting to work with Karen Parker O’Brien. She has been a NYC fashion professional for over 20 years. From launching two jewelry companies in high school, to managing and buying for a couture retail store on Madison Avenue, to owning her own wholesale multi-line fashion rep showroom, she lives and breathes fashion. Karen loves bringing people into her “inner fashion circle” so they can share the excitement of this amazing industry, and learn a bit about the business side along their tour. She has a great eye for style and loves sharing her vision and expertise so people can find exactly what they’re looking for, and maybe think outside the box a little bit. For more information and to book a tour visit her website Style Room or contact Style Room NYC Shopping Tour Experiences at: karen@styleroom.com

    FOOD!

    The food in New York is truly phenomenal. I once heard someone say that cities with good food have at least one restaurant for every type of dish you might want. Well, New York probably has a neighborhood for any type of dish you might want! Truly. Want Chinese, no problem, Russian, no problem, Korean, no problem… well you get the point. There are so many different pockets of nationalities and cultures that experiencing their food is easy and recommended. Then of course, you can’t miss, the many chefs and all their culinary creations. The sky truly is the limit for food in New York! Everything we had was delightful from hamburgers at the original Shake Shack to an amazing Black/White cookie from the deli counter at the market in Grand Central Station, I happened to be using the subway. All the food is spectacular but two stood out and I want to give you a flavor for them.

    Mozzarello & Vino

    Mozzarella & VinoMozzarello & Vino is located at 33 West 54th. That’s 54th between 6th and 5th. This little gem was perfect. First walking up to it. It is on a lovely street that looks to be mixed with residences, shops and professional offices. Its door is a couple of steps down from street level and when you enter you are immediately greeted by a wonderfully friendly staff. It was fun to imagine being a “New Yorker” and just stopping in after work for dinner. The place was that welcoming.

    It was low lit, white table clothes and soft music. It was very busy but a hushed quite. Just the place to discuss whatever was on your mind over a nice glass of wine and one of the Chef’s favorite Affettati & Formaggi plates. If you didn’t know that Affettati & Formaggi is basically cheese and salami make sure you ask. The staff was very approachable and truly loved their food and menu. Don’t be shy, engage them for suggestions. It is apparent that they love what they do and they are good at it.

    Also, go ahead and have dessert. We had a tiramisu. It was decadent. And you don’t have to feel guilty, because you get to stroll home with a nice walk down 5th avenue. I could get use to this.

    Delmonico’s

    DelmonicosYou may have heard of Delmonico’s. It is located in the heart of the Financial District at 56th and Beaver Street and just around the corner from the New York Stock Exchange. You can regularly see stock traders in the bar, exchanging war stories or celebrating a good trading day.

    Delmonico’s was the first fine dining restaurant in the country an opened in 1837. Delmonico’s is also the first restaurant to use table clothes. In 1862, Charles Ranhofer was named Chef de Cuisine inventing many original dishes during his time at Delmonico’s stoves.  He is most noted for his innovative creations, such as, Eggs Benedict, Baked Alaska, Lobster Newburg and Chicken A la Keene. These dishes remain on the Delmonico’s menu today.

    Chef Alessandro Fellippini began developing the Delmonico’s steak in his early years at the restaurant and it is still the only original served in the country. Everyone in my party had the Delmonico’s steak. Try it! You will not be disappointed.

    It is a fact that Delmonico’s wine list is impressive and can be intimidating. They have bottles that cost several thousand dollars but not to worry if that is not in your budget they have more moderate priced selections as well.

    Put Delmonico’s on the list for your next visit. The place, the food, the wine and history make this a very enjoyable experience.

      

    Well there you have it. Five action packed days later and we got it done. We were exhausted, in a good way, and already planning our next visit.

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