New York

New York Times SquareWe made it to Times Square!

New York Times Square 2All I can say is “advertisement on steroids”.

We stayed at the Hyatt, 42nd and 7th with views from our room that are unbeatable.

New York View From our RoomAs night covered the square, the bright lights went on overload. I could take only so much before it was time for me to escape a few streets over to have dinner.  However, my favorite bright lights of Times Square was the Candy Signs, and I managed to stare at them a little longer. That’s so funny since I’m not much of a candy eater.

New York TImes Square bright lights candyAfter dinner, we took a late night tour of midtown Manhattan.  The tour was called Free Tours by Foot, and it was really good.   I’m not the tour-liking type, but I approved of this one.  It started at Grand Central Terminal and ended at Rockefeller Center. The next few pictures were taken during this tour. It was definitely a great tour to begin our visit to New York.

New York Grand Central Street Signs

New York Grand Central sign 1I fell in love with the ceiling in this place: a huge green celestial covered with 2,500 stars.  The ceiling depicts the zodiac as seen from a Mediterranean winter sky.  After I found this out, it’s no wonder I’m in love with this ceiling. The only problem is that the sky depicts the zodiac backwards, but the reason for the mistake is a mystery.   Some claim it was done on purpose because it was meant to be GOD’s view.  Maybe… but I doubt it.

New York Grand Central TerminalNew York Grand Central ceilingThe ceiling isn’t the only mystery of this place. The clock, the hidden bar, the secret room, the largest basement in New York, and the rumored tunnels.  If you’re interested, read more here:

http://www.history.com/news/grand-central-terminal-an-american-icon-turns-100

and here:

http://untappedcities.com/2013/03/13/top-10-secrets-of-grand-central-terminal/

I really wanted to eat breakfast at this restaurant under the bridge at Grand Central Terminal, but we never made it there. It’s location was so unique, and the reviews for breakfast were good.

New York Grand Central Term PershingThe Chrysler building, an Art Deco style skyscraper is one of my favorite designed buildings.  It is so gorgeous both during the day and at night.  It is still considered the tallest BRICK building in the world.

New York Chrysler BuildingHere’s a daytime photo of the Chrysler building.  I love the pencil sharp top.

New York Chrysler daylight

The New York Library, the second largest library in the U.S., behind the library of congress, and it’s the third largest in the world.

New York Public LibraryEveryone needs to take a walk at night.  The streets take on a different luster when the buildings light up.  We couldn’t stop taking pictures of them.

New York Walk beyond ChryslerOn to Bryant Park…I would love to see this in the winter because I heard they make it into an ice skating rink.  There are several around the city, but this place has such a neighborhood feel.

New York Bryant ParkAnother Empire State Building shot. You can see if from everywhere. I think it’s so cool how the colors change each night to celebrate what’s going on in the city.  Tonight it’s orange in honor of the New York Food Bank campaign “Go Orange”.  Tomorrow is September 11th and the colors will be RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

New York Night Empire State Building

This was what it looked like before the sunset…

New York Empire State Building

This building is the Metropolitan Life Insurance building.  It was built in 1909 and made a historic landmark in 1978.  It really stood out on this night.  I love the architecture.

New York Met Life Building at Night

The Flatiron at night is so dramatic.

New York Flat Iron

Took this shot of the Flatiron during the day.  The building was made to fit in the wedge shaped area that intersects 5th Avenue and Broadway.  If the unique architecture doesn’t interest you, maybe the shopping nearby will.  This area has been a popular shopping area since the time ladies were unable to show their ankles in public!

New York Flatiron daylight

Go to the Rainbow Room to watch the sunset and have a very expensive drink just for the experience. Then, head up on the ROCK…

New York Rainbow Room

THE ROCK IS ROCKING and I’m so glad we didn’t listen when they told us it was too cloudy to have any visibility. It was spectacular and we had the top almost to ourselves.

New York Rock

The best view in New York!

New York Rock Just us and Clouds

New York Rock and Me

We ended the night with a really late Italian dinner not far from our hotel. I was worried about it being so close to Times Square.  I was told not to eat on Times Square unless you wanted overpriced, touristy food.  To my surprise, Tony’s di Napoli, an Italian restaurant served us a delicious dinner.  I tell you more about it on my “Eating in New York” page.

The view from our room at night was spectacular!

New York Room at night

Next Day: A cruise on the water is a must-do!  We took a Circle Line Cruise.  Of course the Staten Island Ferry is free.  If you’re on a tight budget, you could go that route, or you could do both.  The Freedom Tower really stands out from this side of the island with all the brick around it.

New York Skyline from water1

Here’s what the Freedom Tower looks like from a different side:

New York Skyline Water 2

This picture was taken on September 11th.  The flag is flying half-staff and the Freedom Tower is in the background.  We sat quietly remembering those who lost their lives on that sad,  never-to-be-forgotten day.

New York water Brooklyn Bridge

And we can’t forget Lady Liberty.

New York Statue of Liberty 1

The 911 Memorial Park: Vesey Street

New York 911 Memorial

Tower 1 Fountain…nothing but the sound of water, whispers, and tears.

New York 911 memorial 2After we returned home to Alabama, I came across this beautiful story of the survivor tree.  It’s a story of a tree that was buried in the burned debris of the 911 attacks.  It had only a tiny branch showing life.  New Yorkers removed the tree from the rubble and brought it back to health.  It was returned to the 911 memorial site in 2010.  I saw this tree, but I didn’t know its significance at the time.  It’s a beautiful symbol.  There is also a children’s poem written about this tree.  If you want to read more of this story, I’ve included the link:  http://www.911memorial.org/survivor-tree   

Here’s the link for children’s poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JU1rf-481QI

New York Freedom Tower from belowFreedom Tower view from the memorial park.

We walked from the 911 memorial park to Little Italy (about a mile) and what a drastic change in mood:  from quiet meditation and remembrance to festive Italian music and food and parades of people.  The 88th Annual Feast of San Gennaro was in full swing.  The festival features live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and food eating competitions.  Each year the festival begins on Thursday, September 11 and continues through Sunday, September 21.

New York Little ItalyThe streets were packed in Little Italy, and the food was irresistibly delicious.

New York  Little ItalyLots of good Italian restaurants in this place.  Closest thing to Italian food we’ve found since leaving Italy.

New York Little Italy RestaurantAnd as we walked down Mulberry Street, I spotted the Empire State Building in the background. Like I said, “you can see it from everywhere”. Time to head uptown. I learned to say uptown and downtown from my New Yorker friends that I met along the way.  Just those two words and knowing how to use the subway system helped us see so much more of New York than we expected we would in our five day visit.

New York Little Italy decorations

Now that we figured out the subway system, it was only a matter of minutes before we were back at our rooftop bar enjoying a late afternoon drink and the views.

New York Rooftop BarI finally saw the Waterford Crystal Times Square Ball as it was climbing its way to the top. The kaleidoscope of colors kept changing making billions of different patterns.  Can you believe the nearly 12, 000 lb ball is capable of creating more than 16 million vibrant colors?

New York Times Square ballLater that night we made it to a Broadway show, This is Our Youth.  I have no pictures to show you because phones and cameras were not allowed.  We made it to our rooms exhausted, but happy.  Oh, what a day!

The next day we found our way to West Village, Greenwich Village, and Chelsea.  I loved the brownstones covered in ivy and the shady streets of Greenwich Village.  A place where there are neighborhood bakeries and small organic eateries.

New York West VillageIn West Village, we found “the little owl”, a cozy spot of lunch or dinner.  Here’s the page to read more about our experience: http://www.eatwritepacklight.com/west-village-favorite-restaurant/

 

We stumbled on to the High Line Park while walking through Chelsea. We didn’t even know this place existed, but glad we found this special little place.  This park was created on a old unused railroad called the West Side Line. It’s a linear, aerial, planted greenway sitting above the streets.  All along this narrow garden are little benches and loungers where people sit to relax, read, or socialize. A shallow stream of water runs across a portion of the walkway.  I took my shoes off, sat on one of the benches, and rested my feet in the cool, slow moving current.

New York High Line Park Chelsea

We had to cut this day a little short because we took a four hour cooking class in Chelsea: Gluten Free Dumplings.  What an experience!  We all sat down to eat what we learned to cook.  Yes, we couldn’t believe it was gluten free!  I can’t wait to share the recipes.

New York Cooking Class

Next day rode the subway to Brooklyn and on to Coney Island.

New York Brooklyn coney island

Coney Island roller coastersJames had to have a hot dog…

New York Coney Island hot dog

First stop on our Pizza Tour, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria under the Brooklyn Bridge.Grimaldi's Pizzeriahttp://www.grimaldis.com/

Pizza Tour Grimaldi'sWe decided to keep it simple and order pizza margherita so we could really compare the sauce and bread.  We wanted to find the pizza most like we’d experienced in Naples, Italy. The pizza was definitely Napoli, Italian style, but it wasn’t quiet as good.  The atmosphere in the restaurant wasn’t the best either.  We were seated upstairs and the surroundings were really outdated and service wasn’t that good.  And to beat it all…they didn’t serve drinks.  We had lemon water with our pizza.  Bummer!  Off to the next stop.

We hopped back on the subway to 14th street and walked to 278 Bleecher street, John’s Pizzeria, our second stop.  We heard so much about this place, but all I’ll say is we were disappointed.  We ordered the same pizza as before, Pizza Margherita, because we wanted to compare apples to apples or should I say “pizza to pizza.” It wasn’t bad, but it was no where near what we were expecting.  At least they did serve beverages so that helped.

Johns pizza

Our third stop was right across the street, and it was the place I’d chosen months ago.  It’s called Keste’.  I’d read about the owner, and I knew we’d find our Napoli Pizza here.  And we did!  This place was so good that we ate the whole pizza and didn’t save room for our next planned stop which was Joe’s.  Keste’  had the taste, the wine,  the service, and the atmosphere.  We’d found what we’d been looking for.  I doubt Joe’s would have topped this place anyway.

 

Keste’ is VOTED #1 on our pizza tour.

Keste' pizzaKeste’s serious oven:

Keste' OvenWe sat at a cute little table near the window.  Two Italian girls sat at the table next to us speaking Italian and making me feel like I was back in Italy.

Keste tableTry this place and you’ll not be disappointed:  Keste’,   271 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, New York   http://www.kestepizzeria.com/home  It’s the closest Napoli Pizza you’ll find on this side of the Atlantic.

The next day’s adventure was against my better judgement.  James rented bikes for us to tour the entire perimeter of Central Park.  Can you tell how excited I am?

Central Park bikeI haven’t been on a bike in years, and this bike only had three working gears!   Enjoy these next few pictures at my expense:

Central Park bike ride 1Central Park Bike Ride 2Central Park Bike Ride 3and here’s how I landed.  Thank God I wasn’t hurt.

Central Park Bike Ride 4But, despite my biking experience, I found Central Park to be just absolutely cool.

Central Park FountainThis place is filled with exercise enthusiasts!  It seemed to have something for everyone.  There were fountains, boats, carriage rides, picnics, yoga, jousting, and so much more.

Loved New York and I hope to visit it again soon.

 

 

 

 

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