Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Latest in Tips For New York City

For all of you who have been reading this blog the last three years, you probably know that I love New York City.  I don't live far away, and I get a lot of chances to take the train down there for some time off.  One of my favorite places to wander is the financial district.  I love the old buildings, the old streets, the tall, close together buildings, and the waterfront.  I can't say it enough.  On the weekends, it's a great place to be.

Club Quarters is my favorite hotel and the only place that I stay when I go to Manhattan.  Let me explain.  It's a fabulous hotel with great rooms and great suites.  They have wonderful amenities, like convenient computers to use, great lounges, great service, water bottles that you can fill to take out with you on every floor, and they will even hold your bag for you after you check out while you run around the city some more.  It's a great place, and it's reasonably priced on the weekends.  It's a block from the subway with a Dwayne Reade around the corner and a bistro on the corner.

Okay, so on with my tips.  A grand old Tiffany's building is right around the corner from my favorite hotel.  I've always wanted to go in and see it, because the building is old and I had this fantasy that the inside would be old and gorgeous.  Well, let me tell you, that is not the case.  While the inside is perfectly lovely, it's very modern.  The only things that are left over from a bygone era are some moldings along the ceiling.  Was that a let down?  A little.  So, unless you really want to go shopping at Tiffany's, don't bother.

We did visit the 911 Memorial Park.  The pools are astounding.  I think that they made the perfect statement with them and they are beautiful.  The building is iconic and I can't stop looking at it, because it is so amazing.  The museum, which is now open, is a little bit frustrating.  It's too crowded to get in.  It really is.  I have a friend that did go in and she said that it felt unfinished too.  So, my tip is to wait until things are a little less harried with the museum.  There's still a lot of construction right there too.  Unless this is the only time in your life that you can get to New York, wait for the museum visit.  I don't think they're as ready as they thought they were.

Huge tip here.  O'Hara's Irish Bar.  This place has been around for 30 years.  It's seen it all, and it's a regular bar where real people hang out.  We stopped in there to grab a beer and use the facilities and found something special.  Pretty much every fire fighter, police officer, and EMT in the country and some from other parts of the world have been to this bar.  It sits right across the street from the 911 Memorial and has been there since before 911.  This place was there through the whole thing, helping the emergency workers in any way that they could, and the folks that have passed through have all dropped off patches from their local departments as a thank you.  The people who run this bar have a lot of stories to tell, and they really have a way of educating the public on just what happened at ground zero.  It was a moving experience to visit this place.  It was also a lot of fun.  We ended up meeting some people who were rooting for St. Louis in the Hockey playoffs, so we stuck around and watched the game and helped to cheer them on.

I love the waterfront, and we took a little walk on the south shore this time.  I do have to say that there are some big changes going on over by the South Street Seaport.  We found a wonderful new park there that was full of people doing their morning Tai Chi.  That was wonderful.  They do still have a couple of tall ships that they are working on.  You still can catch all of the cruises, water taxis and helicopters that you used to be able to.  But, the building that we are all used to seeing from the Brooklyn Bridge is closed.  The street across from there is really being worked on and looks pretty good.  A lot of the businesses that were in the now closed building are across the street along the cobblestones.  Things are looking good and when it's all done it will be great, but be aware that there is a lot of work going on around there.  And it's a pedestrian area for the most part, so you won't be able to just drive by.

We took the subway up to 42nd Street and walked over to the Hudson River, finding some cool stuff along the way.  We stopped in to see Holy Cross Church which is gorgeous.  I love beautiful churches, so that was fun for me.  We stopped at Kaufmann's Army Navy Surplus, which is always great, and there aren't as many of these around as there used to be.  We stopped and had some Gyros at the 42nd Street Diner, which is adorable and has really great Gyros.  I liked the owners too.  You can also go bowling over there and they have some great parks.  It's also a hop skip from the Hudson River in that neighborhood.

I finally went to the Intrepid.  Nothing gets me jazzed like a lot of planes and the biggest boat I've ever seen.  I love old military stuff and this place is great.  They do have a space shuttle now, if anyone's not already seen one.  I didn't bother to stop in and see it, because it was extra, and once you've seen one, you've seen them all.  The Intrepid does have a Harrier Aircraft though.  That was cool.  I love those.  They also had fighter jets, helicopters, spy planes and all kinds of stuff.  It's a great time, reasonably priced.  They do also have a submarine.  There were men there who served on the ship telling stories, which is always one of my favorite parts of visiting a military museum.  It's a great time for the whole family.  On board the ship they even have an interactive section and there are some simulator rides and such for entertainment.  They are doing some work on the place, so there is an alternate entrance at the moment, but it's pretty convenient.  You will have to go through security, so don't bring anything stupid.

It's spring in Chinatown, so Columbus Park was a must.  The pavilion was full of people.  The soccer fields were full.  The older folks were playing Mah Jong.  The regulars were playing music and the trees were in bloom.  It was a great day in Chinatown.  I did some shopping amongst the crowds and found a lovely new little place to have lunch in Hing Huang Restaurant.  There's always great food in Chinatown.  We even found a great Thai grocery and got some stuff to cook at home with.  I always have the same advice for this neighborhood.  Shop carefully.  It's not all a great deal.  And, don't eat along Canal Street.  The restaurants there are busy and crowded with tourists on the weekends.  Hit a side street to eat.

We found a lot of interesting places and saw a lot of things along the way this time.  We had beautiful weather, which is amazing given the winter that we've all just lived through around here.  The subway system is celebrating 110 years, with only a few closures for repair.  It only took up one giant board per station, but the good news is that they take care of them.  You who come in from Connecticut for sure will be looking at some changes for a while as they are starting to work on those train systems too.  There will be changes in services and stops, so check ahead.

The last thing that I have to tell you about is that I finally got to try Ethiopian food.  I've been on this kick for about four years, and it's never panned out until this weekend.  We went over to the East Village along 6th Street, which is a great place to find really good small little restaurants with all kinds of fare, and we tried out a little place called Awash.  There are three Awash Restaurants in New York, so trust me they are very good at what they do.  I loved the food, which is served up on a big tray and shared by all at the table.  There are no utensils.  You eat with a sour dough bread called Injera.  Now, the only problem that I had was that the bread made everything taste a little sour.  It's good, but really different.  So, should you try Ethiopian food?  Sure.  It's just different, and be aware.

Also, if you love great art, the Bowery on your way to these restaurants has something for you.  It's the latest Rob English creation.  Baby Hulk is really something, and you can't miss it.  I'm not sure how big it is, but is sure is impressive.  It's worth it to make the trip over that way just to see the painting.

So, there you have it.  My latest thoughts on the greatest city on Earth.  Next time I go to town I will have more tips.  Hope you get a chance to visit New York City.  I love it there.

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