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Posts Tagged ‘manhattan’

Tourist blogging. This is the modern day equivalent of showing people home movies of your oh-so-exciting vacation. Except here, you can just navigate away. It’s not like sitting on Uncle Jack’s couch, stifling yawns and wondering if Aunt Martha’s deviled eggs are going to kill you before the boredom of the Grand Canyon vacation slides does.

in a one horse open sleigh

The last four days have been a whirlwind. Todd’s parents have come and gone and we had a fabulous time together but man, I can’t wait to get back to a normal workday today. They exhausted us. In a good way!

We spend yesterday in New York City doing the tourist thing with them. It’s interesting – I’ve lived here 45 years, just 40 miles from Manhattan and I don’t think of it as anything special. I suppose I take it for granted because it’s right there. When we do go into the city, it’s usually with a purpose to go to a specific place or see a specific thing and we I don’t really look around and take everything in.

There is always that one moment of awe I always have when I walk out of Penn Station and onto the city streets. I stop, look up and smile at the magnificence of the city. And then move on.

It was so much fun to see parts of Manhattan through the eyes of tourists. I decided to let go and play tourist myself, trying to see the city and the sights as if I’d never seen them before. I absorbed every sight and took in every sound and really saw the landmarks and attractions as if they weren’t just something to pass on my way to a destination.

Todd’s parents have a neighbor who used to live in New York. He gave them a list of “must see” spots in the city. They did a tour bus thing on Friday, but the weather didn’t cooperate; it was rainy and foggy all day and the tour was somewhat of a bust. So, armed with a list of things to see and a beautiful, sunny day, we were on a mission to make sure Todd’s mom and dad got to cross everything off their list.

First stop was the Empire State Building. I was there once (I know, what kind of New Yorker has been there once?), about seven years ago and we spent all of ten minutes at the top. Honestly, it isn’t on my list of Things To Do. That whole fear of heights things doesn’t make it a attractive tourist stop for me, and when we arrived there and discovered the waiting time to get into the observatory was 75 minutes, I wasn’t at all thrilled. But, troopers that we are, Todd and I (and his dad, really – I think dad would have bailed if mom wasn’t so insistent on completing the list) waited and stood and waited and stood and eventually we made it to the 86th floor. And I got up my nerve and actually stood by the barriers and looked down. You can’t help it. The view is breathtaking. We had 25 miles of visibility before the haze settled in and it really was spectacular. Truth be told, it wasn’t worth the excruciating wait just to see New York spread out like a map in front of you. But it was worth the wait to make Todd’s mom so happy.

esb 1

Next on the list was a ride on the subway. Apparently, the neighbor told Mom and Dad P. that you can’t have the true New York experience without riding the subway. It’s not like they don’t have subways in California. They’ve ridden the BART plenty. But, it was on the list and had to be done, so we decided to take the 6 train uptown to Grand Central Station, which was also on their list.

33rd street

Well, that was exciting. But, it did save my back some extra pain, which was hurting ever since we decided to walk the last six flights up the Empire State Building to skip some of the line. Let me tell you, Todd’s mom is like a machine when she’s on a mission. The rest of us were lagging behind, sort of limping along and she was running on full steam the entire time.

grand central stationGrand Central Station. I had never been there before. Ever. I remember reading about the renovation a while ago, but it never occurred to me to actually go see the place. I couldn’t imagine what the interest would be. Well. I’m really glad we went. The architecture and design of GCS is truly amazing. Beautiful. Stunning. All those words. If you ever visit New York, I recommend that you stop there and just gawk at the intricate detail and the painted, vaulted ceiling and the absolute grandeur of the place.

From Grand Central we took the subway to Times Square. They had driven through that area on their Friday tour, but didn’t see much of it, so they wanted to walk around a bit. It really is a fascinating place. So many lights, so many signs, everything is flashing and noisy and standing right under the place where they drop the ball on New Year’s Eve, you might feel for a minute that you are standing in the center of the world and every motion and movement in the universe radiates from that very spot. Then you look around and realize there is nothing but chain stores and restaurants and you take a few pictures and move on to the theater district.

times square

We almost skipped this part because we were in a rush to get to Central Park before one of us (not saying which one) dropped out of this tourist race, but Mom P. saw the sign for Spamalot and got all excited at seeing the Shubert Theater, so we walked over. Good thing we did, because we stumbled upon Junior’s, a place my own mother – a frequent NYC visitor – is always raving about. Something about the most amazing cheesecake on the planet. So we took a little rest at the counter at Junior’s for some caffeine and cheesecake.

mmmmm

Yes. Yes, it was the most amazing cheesecake on the planet. I even dreamed about it last night. And I still have a little chunk of it sitting in a plastic container in my fridge and I just figured out what’s for breakfast.

Next up, the last thing on the list. Central Park. The last time I was in Central Park was St. Patrick’s Day, 1980. And I was a bit drunk and not at all interested in actually seeing the place as opposed to just finding a rock to pass out on. So yesterday it was like seeing it for the first time. So huge! So beautiful! Humming with roller skaters and sunbathers and children playing and live music…..the day was absolutely gorgeous; bright sun, warm, spring-like weather. There were people in bathing suits lazing on the rocks, hundreds of people on bicycles, a few people playing improvised jazz and old men playing checkers and a bunch of kids on a carousel. Surrounding the park are old, graceful buildings and modern structures, places with names like Trump and Helmsley, and you look at the people coming out of those buildings and wonder what they do for a living to be able to afford to live there. We saw all this on our horse and carriage ride, just another one of those New York institution type things I had never done before yesterday.

central park reflection

We took a cab back to Penn Station, and I slept most of the way back to Long Island, exhausted but satisfied that I’d finally seen the city I take for granted through the vision of a tourist. However, I didn’t quite fulfill my “vision of a photographer” thing, especially in Central Park. We were moving too fast the whole day to really take the time I like to take when photographing. So Todd and I are going back next Saturday when we’ll spend more time in Central Park and I’ll get some Times Square at night shots.

We had a great couple of days with Mom and Dad P. It was nice to see Todd and his parents together and it was fun observing which traits he gets from which parents (he is a healthy combo of the two of them, but is the spitting image of his father). They met my entire family and everyone loved each other. His parents are really so nice, so sweet and it all went so well that it was just another one of those instances where we look at each other when all is said and done and say “this was just meant to be.”

Anyhow, thanks to Todd’s parents for a wonderful weekend. We’re going to return the favor of a visit and head out to California in January.

Meanwhile, I still have a lot of my own state to see. I realized after yesterday’s touristy visit, that there are a ton of things right here on Long Island that I’ve taken for granted. I’ve got a lot of sight seeing to do.

more pictures here, though i still have a ton to upload.

* you do know where that title is from, right?

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