Sunday, June 28, 2009

New York City - Part 1

Before I start with the travelogue, here is a link to the voluminous photos from the trip. The photos are, by and large, miserable. But they tell the story.

We got to Newark airport a little earlier than scheduled on Friday, June 19, but by the time we took an AirLink shuttle to the hotel, we had lost all the time we had gained. That turned out to be not so bad, though.

After all passengers were boarded (there were 11 of us in the van), we exited the airport and headed, initially, in one direction. The passengers were a motley lot, some from Sweden, some from Germany, some from Mexico, and the rest various stripes of U.S. citizens, I gather.

The shuttle took several detours because the Holland or Lincoln tunnel (don't recall which) was horribly crowded. We went the back way through downtown Jersey City, which I thought looked like a very interesting place...a place to return to and learn more about, one day. That's what made the lost time worth losing. We saw some odd back streets that called to day...

But with the good things came bad things, namely a problem with my left foot. It had started bothering the hell out of me almost immediately upon arrival and just got worse. We planned to do a fair amount of walking around once we got here, but it hurt too much. We went around the block and then down the street a bit the evening we arrived, but it just hurt like hell and I did not want to walk on it. So, we opted for a dinner very close by, Lindy's Deli, an obscenely overpriced place where I had a hot pastrami sandwich on rye with a pickle and some slaw, along with a light beer, and my wife had meatloaf with whipped potatoes and a side of cooked veggies (broccoli and carrots) that were horrific. It cost us $40 + for this not-so-good dinner.

After a night of snoring too much and keeping my wife awake, we awoke about 9 am and then slowly go ready to go out. My foot was better but still hurt. We took a bus south and got off in the Tribeca area, where we stumbled across a little restaurant (Edward's) with some mixed alfresco dining. My wife had chilaquiles with a watermelon gazpaucho starter. The gazpaucho was exceptionally good! I had a burger with bleau cheese; my burger was a bit dry but certainly edible. We selected from the specials menu; neither chilaquiles nor watermelon gazpacho were on the regular menu.

Then, we headed south, back on foot, to the site of the Wolrd Trade Center, now aflutter with cranes building a new structure. Lots of people wandering by. On the way, we went into a place called The Path, with I gather is a train station which used to serve the WTC and now is back in operation. Then, more walking and we stopped by the Trinity Church, which survived the blast. The Trinity Root, an upside down and now painted version of a tree trunk that was torn from a tree near the church is on display. The cemetary at the Trinity Church intrigued me; I took several photos, trying and failing to express my artistic capabilities.

More wondering by foot south, to Battery Park, near to where the boats and ferries leave for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. After wandering there (and beforehand wandering through some very neat street markets where farmers and fisherman were selling their products), we jumped a bus and headed north, finally getting off about 65th street. We went to a pharmacy where we bought a nitelite, a coke, some pretzels, etc. and then walked down to Broadway where we caught a bus back to our hotel.

That evening, we walked to a "Mexican" restaurant for dinner. I would classify the place as nouveau Mexican. Very, very good, but not typical Mexican fare. For the record, here are details:

Hell's Kitchen
679 Ninth Ave, NY
Phone: 212-877-1588

My wife started with a drink, a wajito (watermelon mojito). I was less adventurous, having a basic margarita on the rocks. Here wajito was very good, I had to admit.

For dinner my wife started with scallop tostaditas for an appetizer, which was scallop ceviche on a guajillo tostada with avocado and radish salsa. For her main course, she had seven-chile pork chop mixiote, drunken beans, and sweet potato flauta. I had ceviche tuna, crusted with ancho chiles and served with yucca cake, for an appetizer, followed by an absolutely fabulous grilled pork loin.

The next day, we took a subway down to the Meat Packing District, where we went wandering off, in search of a newly-completed first-phased of a park that was built on a raised train platform. The park, called the High-Line, is absolutely beautiful. The High Line is located on Manhattan's West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street, between 10th & 11th Avenues. Section 1 of the High Line, which is what we walked and is the only part presently open to the public, runs from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street.

After wandering down the High Line, we wandered through part of the Meat Packing District and then made a brief stop for a drink at a little German restaurant called Loreley on Rivington St. I had a 1/2 litre of a dark German beer (Koestritzer) and my wife had a apple spritzer drink (Apfelschorle). Then, more walking, whereupon we found ourselves in Little Italy. On Sunday in Little Italy, the main north-south street is closed to traffic except for a few cross-streets and people are crowded in the streets and at the dozens of restaurants that line the street. I saw a cold bar where a guy was hawking fresh clams; I could not help myself...I had to have some. So, we stopped and I ordered a dozen steamed cherrystone clams. The counterman picked out twelve enormous specimens from a cold ice bath, took them away into the kitchen and returned with them in about twenty minutes. He brought me a bowl of melted butter to use as dipping sauce. They were good, but unexpectedly chewy. By the time I had the clams, I was absolutely stuffed.

From there, we continued south to China town and to a little park that was filled to overflowing with all sorts of Chinese and, perhaps, other people of recent Asian heritage. The park was full of Chinese music, including a woman singing with backup musicians playing all sorts of string and wind instruments that looked utterly unfamiliar to me. The people in the park represented five or six generations, I think. Also in the park was an odd couple who were surrounded by a small crowd of Asians: a guy who was dressed in what I believe was an American Coast Guard uniform and a young American student playing Chinese instruments. The student also sung, in Chinese. The people in this park were milling about, talking to almost everyone they encountered and generally behaving as if they were very much an integral part of this community...this appeared to me to be their social outing for the week.

From there, we walked east and finally took a bus north on 3rd Avenue. As we were waiting for the bus, we got a call from my wife's sister (actually, her sister's boyfriend called), saying they had just arrived. It was about 2:30 pm and I thought they were to have arrived at 4:00 pm, but I had been mistaken. Anyway, we took the bus north to 31st street, then walked the very long blocks to 7th Avenue, where our hotel was located.

We met up with them, talked them into buying Metro Passes to allow them to ride the buses and subway for the two days they would be in NYC, and then the four of us took a subway to Central Park. As we left the subway station, near Columbus Circle, it started to rain. We went into a huge mall (The Shops at Columbus Circle, inside the the Warner Center) for a bit, then when the rain stopped, we walked briefly in Central Park, but the rain started up again. We grabbed a bus and took it to 45th Street. From there, we walked up to the Marriott overlooking Times Square and went inside to have drinks and look out on Times Square (the bar is on the 8th floor and has a spectacular view of the lights of Times Square).

From there, we walked to 9th Avenue and had dinner at a Thai restaurant...Yum Yum Bangkok, a place my wife and I had eaten in during our last trip to New York. It's a very tasty little place. After dinner, because it was pouring rain, we took a taxi back to our hotel. My sister-in-law's boyfriend decided to pay for the cab (I was happy to accommodate him), so we all jumped out and ran inside to get out of the rain. But when I got inside, my wife and her sister asked where he was. He was nowhere to be seen. He has a degenerative eye disease and cannot see well, especially at night, so I assumed he must have headed in the wrong direction. I ran out to find him and, sure enough, he had headed to the side door of the hotel where they had entered before. it was locked by that time, though, so he could not get in. He was standing there smoking, waiting for someone to find him. The came up to our room and we lent them our umbrellas so they could walk the few blocks up the street to their hotel.

The next day, we all got up late and so started the day very late. We took the E train south to 4th Street and walked to Washington Park at New York University, in The Village. We wandered around the park and the area in general and then stopped in the get my glasses fixed (nose piece was loose)...then my sister in law had her sunglasses fixed. I bought a hot dog and boyfriend bought a pretzel...we did more walking.

We walked to Bleecker street and found that the Peculier Pub (where I wanted to stop for a drink) was closed, as were many places like it. We finally ate at Caffe Dante (I had a mortadella sandwich; my had an eggplant & zuccini sandwich). This was after we roamed all over looking for a place that boyfriend swore was across the street from a famous guitar store, which we never found. And he was not into eating anything that attracted us, like tapas, etc.

At any rate, we all wandered around more...through the Vilage, Trebeca, Little Italy, and China town. We started heading back up Canal street to West Broadway, then got on the subway and headed back to Penn Station, where we got off and I bought another hotdog...but I intended to order a hot Italian sausage.

Then, a brief stop at the drugstore to get shaving cream and another coke, then back to the hotel.

My blogger friend called after my wife and I got to the hotel and and she would meet us after awhile at our hotel.

Blogger friend came over late Monday afternoon and we went over to Harrington's Bar & Grille across 7th Avenue from the hotel. It's a modern, upscale, overpriced little place. My wife, blogger friend, and I all had a glass of merlot....I had two. Sister and boyfriend joined us for awhile, whereupon we all bared our souls about what we did, did not do, etc. Lots of conversation about bloggery, etc.

Then, we decided it was time to eat. We wandered over to 9th street and then north to about 38th before my feet exclaimed loudly that they could no longer tolerate walking. We stopped in a little Pakistani cafeteria style joint where they served food on china plates but gave us plastic utensils. I had a lamb dish and a chicken dish and also bought an aloo tikki; my wife had a lamb dish and butter chicken; Blogger friend had various dal and other veggies. No telling what sister and boyfriend had, but he did have a rather odd meatball dish. We all shared the aloo tikki.

After dinner, we wandered toward our hotel in the slight, then heavier, then slight rain. We stopped in at a little store and I bought some wine and my wife bought a candy bar. At around 34th street, Blogger friend decided to head over to sixth to get a taxi back to her hotel somewhere on 76th or thereabouts. I gave her one of the umbrellas to take with her.

Boyfriend called about 9:15 and then they finally showed up after 10 with their bags, which they left in our room. The idea was to allow them to check out and then they could come back to our room to get their bags and zip over to Penn Station...they could take our key and leave it in the room.

We walked over to the subway at Penn Station and got on a subway toward the Roosevelt Island tram...after changing trains once, we emerged from underground and walked to the tram station, only to find that it was running only on the hour between 10 am and 2 pm Tuesday and Wednesday. We had just missed a tram, so would have had to have waited for another and by then it would have been dicey for boyfriend & sister to have gotten back to catch their train. So, we trudged off to Central Park and wandered around a bit, viewing a merry-go-round, a gift shop in the old dairy, and otherwise seeing a few sights. Then we walked across to the west side and headed over to Broadway, where we walked north until we found the West Side Restaurant, where we ate lunch....I a ham and cheese club and my wife a gyros on pita bread with a Greek salad. Sister in law had a goat cheese wrap, which I was thinking of ordering; it was delicious, as was my wife's gyro. Mine was pretty decent.

After lunch, we went into a fabulous grocery store at 75th at Broadway...incredible place! It had the most extensive collection of cheese, olives, meats, seafood, etc. that I've seen outside Central Market and Whole Foods Market, but it is a small place, not a chain (as far as I know).

Shortly thereafter, sister in law and boyfriend left, heading back to the hotel to get their things and head over to the train station.

My wife and I got a bus to 95th street, where she was looking for Murder, Ink. a bookstore that unfortunately was no longer there. So, we got another bus and headed south to about 60th, then a bus west to near the Roosevelt Island tram. We walked to the tram and were able to get on board and take it to the island. Beautiful views! I took a bunch of pictures. Then back across on the tram, then a walk to the subway station at around 4:00 pm. We got on the very crowded subway and took it one or two stops, changed to another line and rode it to Times Square. We got off at Times Square (42nd and 7th/Broadway) and walked back to our hotel at 31st and 7th.

Shortly after we walked in the door, Blogger friend called...we agreed she would come over to our hotel in an hour or two. After she arrived, we headed out to dinner on 9th street again. This time, at an Italian restaurant called L'Allegria. I had linguine alle vongole with red clam sauce; my wife had eggplant parmegiano; Blogger friend had ravioli. My wife had a great glass of wine...of course I didn't write down what it was.

More later. Enough for now.


Kathy Rogers said...

I am going to be saying "Apfelschorle" for the rest of the evening.

Springer Kneeblood said...

Just as I think you should, KathyR! It fairly rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

Me, You, or Ellie said...

I'm so sorry to have missed you and Blogger Friend. But I do have a job you know, even if it is at a bar!

Sounds like a great time, even without me, Blogger Friend #2.


YourFireAnt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Springer Kneeblood said...

Well, Ellie, we'll just have to make it another time. If I had known where the tavern was, I would have zipped up to Connecticut and had a cold one! Our NYC trip would have been even better with you, though, I'm tellin' ya!

YourFireAnt said...

Hey! I wanted some Apfelschorle !

Springer Kneeblood said...

F-Ant, All you need to do is ask! Next time I have some in hand, I'll call to invite you over to have some!