So we landed yesterday, and because it was a bit of a bumpy descent, my first visit at JFK airport was the Ladies' Room for a bit of upkotz and a splash of water on my face.
Took a taxi into the City to our Hotel, The New Yorker, right in Midtown, on 8th and 34th. Our room is on the 32nd floor and looks out at the Empire State Building.
SP was craving pizza, so we grabbed some good cheap (and according to the sign, Halal) slices from a local corner window vendor and headed to the Empire State Building, where we stood in line for roughly an hour behind an annoying PDA-addicted teenage couple before we emerged onto the observation platform. SP was, as usual, a font of information, and pointed out parts of the city and their history, where the names come from (I finally know why TriBeCa is called this; ditto Wall Street), and individual landmarks. I'd been to the ESB only once before, during my first trip to NYC when I was 6, 39 years ago; at that time the ESB was the tallest building in the world. Even today, it is an incredibly majestic edifice.
We grabbed some snacks and headed back to our room; I passed out on the bed at about 7pm and woke up at 6:30 the next morning to discover I'd slept in my contact lens. We all got ready, found a place to have a bagel and beverages AN's first bagel!), and headed on our Uptown Exploration. First through Times Square, then to Central Park to wander in the shade and take in some green. AN took loads of photos, and SP and I missed no opportunity to put everything into the context of Sex and The City: "This is where Miranda jogged when she trained for the marathon and met the tuchus lingus guy, and where Charlotte used to jog also. This is where Miranda saw her ex-boyfriend with the woman he left her for. One of those apartments is where Carrie hung out with Power Lad, and threw chicken over the railing. That's Prada, where Carrie got Berger the "Never say 'Fabulous' Fabulous Shirt."
AN was very patient.
Next we tried to find the Papaya King to discover it's now Gray's Papaya ("This used to be Papaya King; it's where the limo driver took Carrie after her book-release party.") Same signs; same food; I got the Pina Colada, and it was as tasty as I remembered. Then the subway (complete with instant Mariachi band around 96th) to The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine which, like every structure everywhere I visit, was under restoration (My first trip to London? Big Ben clock tower covered in Scaffolding. Venice? Murano glassworks closed for remodeling. If you want to see something, don't bring me along.)
We went to the Western Market, a wondrous place on Broadway and Cathedral Drive full of every kind of delicious food, deli and fresh, that you can imagine, at insanely cheap prices. We shopped hungry, so we ended up with a ridiculous amount of food that we brought back to Central Park for a fantastic picnic: Danish Blue cheese, cheese and artichoke spread, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, digestives, potato salad, bread, tomatoes, and a half-gallon of Snapple. Oh and some BBQ chicken for AN!
After our feast, we took a nap on the grass, then headed south along 5th Avenue, looking at all the wares of the vendors. SP and I were tantalized in by a discount book vendor, where I got Thomas Hardy's A Pair of Blue Eyes ("...is celebrated Its central scene which shocked and stimulated Victorian readers.") Woo.
We passed the Plaza hotel ("this is were Big and The Stick Insect With No Soul had their engagement party.") I decided right then that I was going to come back the next day for High Tea at The Plaza. It seemed right, somehow.
Next were the designer shops so AN could take pictures of these. We stepped into Tiffany's ("Let's get married." " Alrighty.") I strolled around in my dumpy tank top and shorts and pretended to belong there, although seriously, I don't care for diamonds; I was more excited by the button shops along 7th Ave. I chatted with a couple of clerks and then went to the second floor (Tiffany's has a manned elevator) and used the bathroom. My stall was the size of my entire apartment.
SP an AN had to use the bathroom also, but decided to use the facilities at Trump Tower next door (more manly), so we headed there.
Trump Tower is like a bachelor pad decorated circa 1975: lots of stone and chrome. Gaudy, and not in a good way. We went up a couple of floors on the escalator and then realized the restrooms were at ground level. Going down, we were behind a father and two sons, one of whom was about 12, and fat. Let me ask this: why is it that fat boys, instead of being insecure and self-conscious and trying hard to please people to win their affection, are usually instead the most obnoxious little pricks on the planet?
On the first escalator down, Fat Boy decided to treat the escalator like gymnastic bars, and hoisted his legs up on either rail, leaning back almost into my chest. His father tried weakly to get him to behave, but it was clear that this kid was not generally under control. We rounded the corner to the next escalator, and the kid jumped on, clearly planning to try his next act.
"Watch out; there are people behind you," his more well-mannered younger brother called out.
"I know," fatty called back.
I leaned in. "You can do whatever you want, but you fall on me, I'll kick your ass."
Wordlessly, he rode the rest of the way standing quietly. Funny that.
The Trump bathroom was not as impressive.
On the way back to our hotel we stopped at St Patrick's (scaffolded) and the library (ditto). Next was a souvenir shop where AN got some postcards and gifts for family, and SP got a T-shirt for their apartment-sitter. Looking at snow globes and mugs and key chains (which came in all kinds of names including Guadalupe and Lourdes, but not Joy), I marveled at what I was beginning to think of as "Where Chinese Crap Comes To Die."
We walked back to our hotel, the leftover blue cheese getting runnier and stinkier with each block; we'd been taking turns carrying the bag, calling it "my turn to be smelly."Back in our room, SP and I have been munching on it while AN fights to keep from throwing up. I looked up tea at The Plaza. I could have a selection of sandwiches (most of which were not vegetarian), assorted scones and sweets, and a pot of tea for the modest price of $100.00. People, I do not have the shoes for a $100.00 tea. So tomorrow I will be heading to Greenwich Village with The Boys.
The Empire State Building is now lit up in red, white, and blue, which means AN is diving for the camera.