A May 2005 trip
to New York by zabelle
Quote: New York City is as diverse as the people who call it home. No matter what your pleasure is, you can find it here. I certainly did.
I wanted to visit some of the smaller, lesser-known museums. It was Memorial Day Weekend, and the crowds promised to be huge. We started on Saturday afternoon with a visit to the New York Historical Society on the Upper West Side. They have a wonderful exhibit on the First Ladies going on until June 5. In addition, they have an extensive permanent collection on the fourth floor. The Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture is a fascinating study of all things collectible. There is an elevator if the stairs intimidate.
Sunday afternoon, we headed to the Upper East Side. The Jewish Museum is hosting two special exhibits, one on Maurice Sendak and one on the prominent salons hosted by Jewish Women for the last 400 years. While these are both interesting, we spent two hours taking an audiotour of their permanent collection of Judaica. If you have ever wanted to extend you knowledge of Judaism, this is the perfect place to do so.
Our second stop on Sunday afternoon was further up town at the Museum of the City of New York. They have several temporary exhibits, including "Glamour New York Style", as well as some permanent exhibits on the New York Fire Department and rooms of furniture donated by the John D. Rockefeller family.
Before deciding which museums you would like to see, visit Museums in NYC
for a very comprehensive list.
I always like to have an Access Guide with me when I visit a city I am not familiar with. Access gives a street-by-street description of what you can expect to find, from hotels to sights, stores to restaurants. Access Guide even had a church listed within a few blocks of our hotel. We got to attend Mass and visit a historically important church at the same time.
One important thing to know is that Madison Avenue is one-way north, and 5th Avenue is one-way south. If you want to go uptown on the east side, you need to catch a bus on Madison Avenue. Our hotel was on 43rd Street at Broadway. We walked to the corner of Bryant Park at 42nd and 6th to catch the orange line uptown to the New York Historical Society. This is where I learned the difference between express and local. Local stops at every stop and probably is the best choice for most tourists.
We arrived in NYC on Metro North, which dropped us at off Grand Central Station. It was an easy four- or five-block walk to our hotel.
If you wanted to be pampered at a price that real people can afford, then this is your hotel. This was a luxury experience, and it included a very extensive continental breakfast
and coffee, cappuccino, espresso, tea, and cookies 24/7. On weekdays, there is also an afternoon wine-and-cheese reception. The selection was generous enough that we didn’t need to eat dinner our first evening.
Our room was beautiful, with a Moroccan theme. We had a queen bed, a small table with two chairs,
and a wall unit that held our TV and a mini bar. In our closet were two terry robes and an iron and ironing board. There was plenty of light, and even the window cornice was lit from behind.
The bathroom was stunning, and the floor and the walls were all tiles. What was stunning was the shine; my bathroom at home isn’t as clean as this bathroom was. It was beautiful, with a rattan rack that held all our amenities and a pedestal sink. I was very impressed.
Now, what didn't impress me: I mentioned we had a queen bed. I had ordered and confirmed a king bed. I was downgraded and not told, even at check-in. This disturbed me, and I called the front desk to find out why. I don’t think I ever got an answer that totally satisfied me, but I did get a bowl of chocolates,
a bottle of champagne with a bowl of grapes, and a certificate for an upgrade to a suite. My situation couldn’t be changed on this visit, but every effort was made to make sure I was happy and was willing to give them another try. That is what makes this hotel so different--the staff really cares. You feel like a guest, not a burden. Everyone we met--Leon, Lenny, and Nick, just to name a few--was concerned that we had the best possible experience, and, I want to add, we did.
Rick’s Café is where you stop to get your cappuccino fix or to use the free DSL. Guests congregate here; they even talk to each other. It is a very friendly place. Breakfast is served here. In addition to bagels and delicious little Danish, there are mini muffins, croissants, yogurt, fresh whole fruit, cut-up melon, juice, and boiled eggs. You will find plenty to tempt your appetite, and all of the finest quality.
Our first stay in NYC was a memorable experience, and I can’t wait to use my upgrade.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 23, 2005
147 West 43rd Street
New York, New York 10036
I wish I had seen the lager and lime before I ordered mine, because hers was a lot better than mine. The blond ale was just too mild for my taste--no flavor at all. The lager and lime, on the other hand, was a great combo. They also offer a shandy here, as well as a Dunkel which has chocolate and caramel notes--sounds intriguing doesn’t it?
I ordered a shrimp cocktail,
followed by a Ploughmans Platter. The shrimp were huge and perfectly chilled, with great texture. I would have liked more horseradish in the cocktail sauce, but that is my personal preference.
The Ploughmans Platter was a combination of buffalo wings, baby-back ribs, beer batter fries, and onion rings topped a soft beer pretzel.
It was huge--way too much for me to eat at one sitting. As they say, dinner for one, appetizer for two. Every individual piece of the platter was good, the wings were large and meaty, the ribs fell off the bone, and the onion rings were divine. It was a very good choice. We took the leftovers back to our room for a late-night snack.
Al had the French onion soup and the 14-oz. char-grilled sirloin steak,
creamed spinach, mashed potatoes,
and frizzled onions. The soup was mild and very cheesy, and the steak was perfectly seasoned and cooked. Cindy got an order of mussels, and they were excellent, steamed in spiced beer. Jeff ordered a grilled chicken sandwich with roasted red peppers, aioli, beefsteak tomato, baby arugula, and fontina cheese. It was another winner.
Our waitress was a lot of fun, and we enjoyed dealing with her. It took us a while to get seated, because the hostess was away from her station, but that was the last time we were neglected. The ambience here is vibrant, as are the colors. This is not traditional brewpub décor; it's much more modern. It is also very loud, with blasting music. It isn’t the place for a romantic dinner, but for really interesting and well-cooked food, it gets my vote.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 23, 2005
Time Square Brewery
210 West 42nd Street
New York, New York 10036
Restaurant | "Heartland Brewery Chop House"
The atmosphere in Heartland Brewery is very typical of that genre. We stopped in for a late lunch on a Saturday afternoon at about 2:30pm. It was very quiet, and we were seated quickly. I have to comment about the service at this point. We had a bus boy who took wonderful care of us. Our waiter took our order, and when it was apparent that we weren’t going to be big drinkers, he totally lost interest in us. The only time we saw him after we ordered was to pick up our check, which he did with great speed. No one even asked us if we wanted dessert, which, by the way, looked delicious.
We had two strikes against us before we even started, both 13-year-old girls. One keeps Kosher, and one is lactose intolerant. The menu here made it difficult to accommodate them. When we asked our waiter if the hot dog was all beef, we were told yes (by the way, this was untrue, because all-beef franks don’t have whey in them, and Felicia was sick later that afternoon). Both girls ended up ordering off the children’s menu.
The regular menu has many of the items that you would expect: brewhouse onion rings, heartland nachos, smothered steak, Chophouse burger, and fried calamari. It also has some really unusual offerings: free-range Bison burgers, teriyaki salmon sandwich, homemade lobster, Maine crab ravioli, and tuna chopstick salad. We tried some from both types; Al and Cindy ordered the Heartland Buffalo burger, Jeff had the regular Chophouse burger, and I ordered the smoked pork loin Reuben sandwich.
The usual side is a starch, but I was allowed to swap it for a very tasty mixed field green salad.
Buffalo is by its nature very lean, so it needs to be eaten on the rare side. Al and Cindy’s came well done in spite of their ordering it medium. I am sure they both would have sent it back if our waiter had ever checked with us.
My sandwich, however, was a winner. It was huge, loaded with juicy and delicious smoked pork loin. It could have used a little more sauerkraut, and I didn’t see any Russian dressing, but the pork was so good that the rest was just window dressing. Jeff’s burger was also juicy and cooked correctly. I had a Cornhusker lager to wash it down. Brewed with sweet corn, it has plenty of flavor and a mild bite. Cindy tried the Harvest Wheat Beer, a golden beer served with a wedge of lemon--quite delicious. Can’t make up your mind? Try their Voyage of Beer, a six-beer sampler.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 23, 2005
Heartland Brewery Times Square
127 W. 43rd Street
New York, New York 10036
This is how the museum describes itself, and frankly, I can’t say it better. What drew me to the museum was an exhibit called Glamour, New York Style. The museum has an extensive collection of garments relating to New Yorkers. Most of the items in this exhibit were from the Museum's own collection. It was all displayed in one room, but what a room it was. From a dress worn at a dance celebrating George Washington’s inauguration to Marion Anderson’s golden Schiaparelli gown, this is a collection designed to dazzle.
Now, as wonderful as this temporary exhibit was, there is so much more to see. On the lower level is an exhibit called Protect about the New York City Fire Department. Follow its history and traditions through four centuries. If you are with children or are a child at heart, New York Toy Story will bring you into the childhood of the children of New York.
On the second floor, you can visit Trade, which you enter by walking what looks and feels like a gangplank. You learn about the Port of New York from its far-distant past to its very active present. If furniture and décor is of interest, the Period Alcoves present some design ideas. They cover over 200 years of homelife in New York City.
What museum on New York City would be complete without an exhibit on Broadway. In Perform, you will be introduced to the performers in the front, as well as the background. Where would the performers be without the costume designers? See the different stages of their art, from concept to the finished product. This was the 13-year-old's favorite exhibit.
My favorite exhibit, however, after the costumes was the Rockefeller Rooms. These rooms, transplanted from the John D. Rockefeller Mansion, are outstanding. You really feel as if you have entered the mansion and are looking through the doors into the rooms. Not in this century, however; this is the opulence of the Victorian era, as they date from 1881.
The gift store has an eclectic mix of items. You can get a two-for-one entrance with a copy of the Museum Magazine. The Fifth Avenue bus going back downtown also stops right out front of the museum. Allow at least two hours for this museum.
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue At 103rd Street
New York, New York 10029
(212) 534 1672
Attraction | "The Jewish Museum"
Set on four floors, this is a truly spectacular museum of Jewish history and heritage. Security is very tight here. Be prepared to go through a metal detector and empty your pockets. If you get a copy of Museum magazine, you can get a two-for-one entrance. Floors 1 and 2 house the temporary exhibits. Floors 3 and 4 house the permanent collection, "Culture and Continuity". Begin by going to the fourth floor. There, you can pick up an audio guide.
One question that will be answered by this museum is "How have the Jews been able to survive for thousands of years?" Trace the development of the three traditions, Mizrahi, Sephardi and Ashkenazi. Learn how the ancient text preserved their commonality while social pressures made for cultural differences. Follow the development of the four themes of Jewish identity, Covenant, Exodus, Law and Land. These are present in tablet form, rather larger than one would expect the Ten Commandments to look.
The exhibits are spread over many rooms; some have displays, some have artifacts, and in some rooms, you feel like you have entered the time period. It was all very interesting and well-presented. The exhibit on Solomon’s Temple fascinated me. It had never occurred to me why there were no artifacts from this temple. What archeological remains that probably exist are located under a Mosque in Jerusalem and therefore no excavation is possible. A shame really but understandable.
As a Christian, what I found particularly interesting was how Jesus was dealt with. There was a center display in one room that had displays on several Internal Conflicts. Jesus was grouped with the Dead Sea Sect and the Pharisees, very eye opening for me.
‘Interpreting a Tradition" is narrated by Leonard Nimoy. He points out items of interest in the cases and talks about the tradition of circumcision. There is a display of a 19th-century silver circumcision set. Another great display is "Hanukkah Among the Nations" from Australia a menorah decorated with emus and kangaroos, filigree from India, and the Imperial Eagle from Austria.
By the time you leave, you will know about the Torah, the Talmud, Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, Shabbat, and burial and marriage customs. There is a modern sculpture of the Holocaust by George Segal. The Holocaust is only allotted one case, but it includes a list of prisoners at Dachau, of 3,000, 11 survived.
You will come away from this museum with a wonderful understanding of Judaism yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Jewish Museum of New York
1109 Fifth Ave at 92nd Street
New York, New York 10128
After visiting any temporary exhibit offered, stop by the information booth, pick up an audioguide, and head for the fourth floor. This is where the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture is located. This is not your average acoustiguide; among the narrators are Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters, and former New York Mayor Dinkins.
The Luce Collection runs the gamut from outstanding colonial furniture to a phenomenal collection of Tiffany lighting. There are four milestones
from the early 1800s that tell you how far to New York City and how far to the town hall. Miles stones also set the postage rate, as rates were charged from one marker to another. These mile markers were also the forerunners of our present day billboards. Businesses would advertise on them. George Washington is well represented in the collection;
you can see a chair made from wood that formerly was his residence on Cherry St. You can also see the wrought-iron railing that he leaned on as he made his first address to the people of New York at Federal Hall after his election. Four of the desks used by Representatives at Federal Hall are also part of the collection.
Some of the collection is beautiful: art glass, milk glass, porcelain and stoneware. Other items are just bizarre, like Gouverneur Morris’ wooden leg. Mr. Morris was the second president of the New York Historical Society.
You will be stunned into silence by their immense silver collection.
There are cases after case of gorgeous items. Step into what looks like a portico and spend the next six minutes finding out about the items on display. You will hear the provenance of the items, how they happened to end up here at the Historical Society.
Allow several hours to do this museum justice. If you are hungry, they offer a history buffet on the lower level, and there is a fine gift store to tempt you.
New York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, New York 10023
+1 212 873 3400
Not our two 14-year-olds, that’s for sure. Cindy and I just went in to humor them. We left our menfolk guarding our luggage on the street. Did I forget to mention that we found the store as we headed back to Grand Central Station for our ride home?
It soon became evident to me that I was going to be doing some serious shopping in this store. I walked from one bright and well-organized display to another. The store is very easy to maneuver. The cases are bright white with red trim, and they are lettered to identify the products. No need to waste time looking for the hair or skin products; it will be very evident where they are located.
The first display you notice as you enter the store is their handmade soaps.
With such luscious scents as pineapple, grapefruit, melon, grape, mint, rosemary, and bergamot, you will be hard-pressed to settle on just one. But for the price, why not splurge and get all the scents that appeal to you?
I am crazy about jasmine, and I hardly ever find as many choices of products with that scent as I found here. I could choose from body wash, body lotion, body scrub (which I had to have), body cream, body butter, and body mist (which I absolutely love).
Even if jasmine isn’t your favorite, you can still load up here on kiwi, mango, rose, papaya, orchid, rose, lavender, or ylang-ylang.
You don’t need to stop at body products; they have a fabulous selection of hair and face products, as well as make up. At less than a dollar and a half, I had to buy a new nail polish for my toes. The men haven’t been neglected either--you will find a whole line of products just for them.
Missha has been in business for over five years, with their first store opening in South Korea in January of 2000. Having broken into the American market with this new store in New York, I predict that they have a very bright future, and with their commitment to providing the highest-quality beauty products at the lowest possible prices, they have a winning combination.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 30, 2005
516 Fifth Ave
New York, New York
Before I begin, I need to say that I have never stayed overnight in NYC. I have come in on day trips, usually with some savvy friends who know their way around. Once, Al and I actually drove into the city to see Jesus Christ Superstar at Madison Square Garden. But we have never been on our own in the Big Apple. I was petrified. I know it’s an irrational fear; I walk around London, Paris, Munich, and many other big cities and I never panic, but in NYC, I was in a panic. So much of a panic that I arranged for friends of ours to come down with us to the city. This eased my mind but added much complication to my plans as far as the get-together were concerned.
Then medical problems complicated the weekend plans, so much so that I wasn’t even sure I would be able to come. In the final analysis, it all worked out. We hopped on Metro North in New Haven and headed into the city on Saturday morning. Originally, we were going to try to get together for dinner on Saturday, but when Saturday evening came, we were exhausted and rested in our hotel.
Sunday morning, we were to be at Red Flame at 10am. Al and I walked to church, and with a quick stop to change clothes, we headed for our rendezvous. We were about 5 minutes late. I had a little advantage, because I had met Idler in Vancouver, so I recognized her right away. That made identifying Jose, Ishtar, and Chukk much easier. As a matter of fact, they didn’t recognize me, and here I thought I look exactly like my picture!
A group of six isn’t the easiest number to seat, so we had plenty of time to get acquainted while we waited for our booth to be ready. It never ceases to amaze me how easily we all fall into conversation. I guess I shouldn’t be so amazed; we all have a love of travel in common, and it makes for a surefire topic of conversation. This was very casual conversation--travels past, present, and future were discussed. Another topic was photography and cameras. I have to admit that when food is present, I often have total amnesia about conversations.
It was a leisurely breakfast, and then we broke up into two groups. Ishtar and Chukk headed off in their cute convertible sports car, and the rest of us walked up to Grand Central Station to head uptown. The plan was for Al and I to hit the Jewish Museum and the Museum of NYC and then be back in Central Park at 3pm. Well, as with all plans, we only had time for the first museum, and then we headed out to walk the 30 blocks down Fifth Avenue. It was when we arrived at the park that I realized I didn’t know exactly where around the pond we were suppose to meet. It took us a while to catch sight of everyone, and I want to thank Idler for wearing a hat, because it was how I identified her from a distance. With the addition of Brian Spencer (Mr. Wonka) and ssullivan, minus Ishtar and Chukk we were back to six.
This was a great chance to find out firsthand what we can expect in the near future from IgoUgo. It was great to meet Brian and get to voice our ideas in person. This was a very positive meeting, and all of us, I think, got a good feeling about what has been and is ongoing. We also are now proud owners of IgoUgo T-shirts.
With the departure of Brian, the final five found a comfortable spot to sit and commisserate. By four o’clock, Idler was looking for her husband and son, and ssullivan and Al and I were heading off to our next stops. Jose and Idler spent more time together, and from what I have heard from them, they had a great time. Al and I dashed over to Madison Ave. and took the bus up to the Museum of NYC. Afterwards, I asked myself why I didn’t just relax and extend the visit. Because I’m me, I guess, I wanted to see the museum, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. I can be very single-minded.