An October 2001 trip
to New York by Linda Kaye
Quote: I told myself we were answering the "call" for tourists to come to the New York City, but the truth is I just "wanted" to be there. We saw the sites, enjoyed the food, interacted with the people and left the Big Apple the better for it.
We met with the IgoUgo staff and had the opportunity to put faces with the names. It was really nice to meet the folks who manage this site, including Megan, Tony, Brad and Jim’s dog, the unofficial mascot .
We viewed the city from atop the Empire State Building at night and saw the glittering lights. We viewed the city from a boat on the Hudson River, sites that brought tears to my eyes. We ate in great restaurants, toured a World War II aircraft carrier and did a lot of walking. We visited Rockefeller Center and Madison Square Garden.
And, by the time I left, I definitely was in "A New York State of Mind".
Quick Tips: THINGS I REGRET NOT DOING:
Riding in a New York Taxi because I love excitement.
Taking a ride on the "Beast", a high-speed boat offering 30 minute tours of the Harbor. Mad Dog and Wild Thing are the comic captains on this hair-raising trip filled with spectacular view and exciting music. Cost Adult .00, Child .00 (Children must be at least 40" tall to ride)
Riding in a house-drawn carriage through Central Park.
Eating a hot dog and a pretzel purchased from a street vendor.
Built in 1902, this 78 room family-owned hotel was a perfect place to stay while visiting the City. We booked the Mayfair through IgoUgo "Travel on Us" program. The management knew that I would be writing about the hotel for all of you to read, so I am sure we received a little "extra" service.
This hotel sits right in the middle of the theater district on 49th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. Immediately next door was the Eugene O''Neill Theatre where The Full Monty was playing; across the street at the Ambassador was Hedda Gabler.
Immediately adjacent to the lobby was a small bar with seating for about 12. Across from the Bar was the Le Garrick Restaurant, open on this particular day for dinner only.
Wanting to put their best foot forward, Mr. Ed Brown, head of marketing, requested we be put in room 306 - their new prototype for the remodeling, trying to give the rooms a new, modern-hip look. The room was very small; the walls were covered with a fanciful "pink monkey" wallpaper and had deep blue carpeting. The queen-sized bed was covered by dark pink spread to match the window shade. The bathroom had been remodeled and boasted a large, two-head shower where the tub used to be.
After we got settled in, we realized that the air-conditioning unit was not working and notified the front desk. A member of the management staff responded and, after determining that there was a problem, immediately moved us to another room. This room (# 305) was absolutely beautiful, green marble walls in the bathroom, lots of mirrors, a small table with two chairs and a larger chair over in the corner. The armoire which housed the TV was mahonogy to match the other wood trim in the room. The walls were covered with a distinguished small striped paper that added to the elegance. Every small space was effectively used including an area in the bathroom that would be used as "vanity counter". I was amazed at how noisy the street was in the evening hours, but also how quiet it was until about 8:00 a.m. One very small elevator served the 7 floors of the Mayfair, just barely enough room for two people and luggage. Except for checking in and out, we used the stairs (great exercise- you know). The walls in the lobby, bar and stairs were lines with magnificent black and white photographs of a bygone era of Hollywood - Clark Gable, Al Jolson, Fred Astaire, Helen Hayes, Humphrey Bogart just to name a few.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 8, 2001
Mayfair New York Hotel
242 WEST 49TH STREET
New York, New York 10019
Hotel | "The Travel Inn Hotel"
The Travel Inn, part of the Empire Hotel Group, is located in Midtown Manhattan on 42nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues; a short walk to Broadway and Times Square, the Javits Center, the USS Intrepid, and the Circle Line Boat Tours.
If you have ever tried to park a car in the Big Apple you will definitely appreciate the hotel’s parking garage. It is multi-leveled free parking for their guests. Normally you could expect to pay between $15 and $25 per day in a public lot.
The hotel is well posted with signs, making it easy to find. Be sure to check-in before you park your car and get a card to place on the windshield. The watchful parking attendants make sure only guests park here.
When you check-in, pay attention to the directions to your room. There are two sets of elevators, each servicing a section of the hotel. Depending on your location, you may need to take one elevator to the third floor - walk past the pool to another set of elevators. This second elevator is accessible from the garage parking, and once you get the hang of it, it makes it easy to get to and from your car.
Our room was a double; a narrow room that we actually had to walk sideways between the bed and the armoire hiding the television. The bathroom was small also, but hey! This is New York City. The TV worked well, the bed was very comfortable, and there was a large window that could be opened - something important for those of us who suffer from "AC/Heating" allergies. There are a total of 160 rooms, including an Executive Suite and larger Deluxe Rooms with two queen beds and much more space than the double.
A large swimming pool and patio occupies the center of the hotel on the third floor. Unfortunately, all the furniture had been stored away for the winter, so it looked pretty bare; I can imagine the popularity of this area on a hot summer day. Next to the pool is a small exercise room and vending machines.
Across the parking entrance from the lobby is the River West Café, owned by the Travel Inn. It is open 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. The fare is typical New York - bagels and lox, toasted bagels spread thick with cream cheese, along with the traditional eggs, bacon, and French toast.
Within a half block of the Hotel is the Kraft Coffee Shop/Restaurant, open late for an "after the theater" coffee and dessert.
As far as security, there is a police substation directly across the street and guess what - the night we stayed at the hotel, we did not even hear a siren.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 6, 2002
515 WEST 42ND STREET
New York, New York 10036
Hotel | "Hilton Newark Gateway"
When I began my search for accommodations for the long weekend visit to New York City where we were to attend the IgoUgo Guide Get-Together, I was looking for convenience as opposed to ambiance. I didn't want to rent a car or have to use taxis.
I chose the Hilton Gateway in Newark, New Jersey, for several reasons:
Arriving at the airport, I called the hotel from their courtesy phone and within 30 minutes the shuttle arrived. A short six mile drive delivered us to the front entrance of the Hilton Gateway.
The Concierge was at the entrance and directed us up a long escalator to the Lobby. Check-in was easy, then up to our room on the eighth floor with a great view of the surrounding area. Our room was quite spacious, comfy king-size bed, with extra pillows and blankets in the closet, plenty of clothes hangers and drawer space. There was a hair dryer, coffee maker with supplies, two telephones and high speed Internet access (additional charge).
From the Lobby, we walked through a covered walkway directly into the New Jersey Penn Station. A $5 round trip ticket took us to Penn Station in New York City and back again. Trains run approximately every 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the time of day, and is an easy and comfortable 13-minute trip into the city.
You can also reach the train station from the front entrance of the Hotel- only 100 steps to the entrance of the train station. Trains are clean and punctual. Schedules are available at the hotel front desk.
The Hilton Gateway has a swimming pool on the roof (tenth floor), open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, a fitness room, and a fully equipped Business Center.
At 10:15pm on Saturday evening, we had just returned from a day of sightseeing and festivals, when we heard some popping noise just outside of window. Opening the curtains on the wall-to-wall window, we were treated to a magnificent fireworks display which lasted almost 15 minutes, ending in a finale that lit up the entire night sky. We asked around but no one seemed to know what the fireworks were for.
The only problem we had with the hotel was some confusion getting a shuttle for our return trip to the airport. The shuttle runs on the hour and half hour, and following instructions, I called the Bell Captain at 4:45am to let him know we wanted the 5am shuttle, but we were told there was no driver. This was quickly remedied and our shuttle left on time and within eight minutes, we were at the airport.
What a wonderful weekend in NYC.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 22, 2003
Hilton Newark Penn Station Gateway Center
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Restaurant | "La Garrick Restaurant Francais"
The pre-theater dinners consist of an appetizer, entree, and dessert for $29.95 per person. There were six appetizers to choose from, including herb salad, fresh fruit, snails in garlic butter and soup; eight entrees including roast chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed veggies, grilled Black Angus steak kabobs with French fries, mussels in wine cream sauce, sea bass and pork chops. Creme caramel, chocolate mouse, and sorbets finished off the meal. The restaurant offers a full range of wines and beer.
The menu boasts that the chef, Mario Molliere, was the head chef for royal family of Monaco. Although that really didn’t impress me, the real test was in the food in front of me. And, it was beautifully presented and delicious.
The décor is distinctively elegant but not stuffy. After dinner we were off to the Shubert Theatre for the production of "Chicago".
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 8, 2001
La Garrick Restaurant
242 West 49th Street
New York, New York
Attraction | "Semi-Circle Cruise, Circle Line"
We arrived at the Ticket Office by 8:00, only to find out that it did not open until 9:30, with the first tour at 11:00. Oh, what to do? Breakfast sounding good. We walked several blocks and found the Market Diner at 572 11th Avenue, a 1950 décor café complete with seats at the counter and booths along the walls. Hubby had the traditional breakfast, egg, bacon and toast, and I had a toasted bagel with cream cheese, very New York.
We chose the 2-hour Semi-Circle Harbor Cruise. As we left the dock, we had a great view of the U.S.S. Intrepid. Proceeding down the Hudson River, we passed the Empire State Building, the Jacob Javits Convention Center, and got a quick glimpse of Hoboken, New Jersey, Frank Sinatra’s hometown.
As we approached the area where once stood the World Trade Center, the smell of burning debris was heavy in the air. Everyone on the boat became very silent as we passed, watching the smoke rise from the rubble, seeing the shards of the facade of one of the Towers protruding from an adjacent building. We passed Battery Park where there were several barges waiting to haul away debris. We saw the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, devoid of any tourist- Lady Liberty has been closed to the public since September 11th.
Then, sailing north up the East River we got a good look a Wall Street, and a peak at the Old Trinity Church, passed under the Brooklyn Bridge, then the Manhattan Bridge and saw the United Nations Building in the foreground before turning around and retracing our route.
Even on a mild day, you will need a light jacket as the boat moves pretty fast and it does get a little chilly. There is plenty of seating both inside and outside, but the very best spot is at the bow, which was opened after the boat is underway. The narration on our cruise was excellent, presented by a very knowledgeable guide who pass on not only the history of the sites, but also little pieces of very interesting information. The boats offer a full snack bar.
Pier 83 West 42nd Street
New York, New York 10023
Attraction | "Broadway Play - Chicago"
They also offer half price tickets for the matinees that go on sale before noon. Don't be too concerned if you arrive and there is a long line. It moves very quickly; we made it through the line within 30 minutes. There were street musicians in the area entertaining those in line and helping the time pass.
There were also several theatres offering two-for-one tickets at the box office, but I believe that might have been a temporary situation in an attempt to attract more people to come to the shows in this time of reduced tourism to the City.
The show we saw was Chicago at the Shubert Theatre, 225 W. 44th. A great musical - funny with a surprise at the end - no, I won't give it away. There was no elaborate scenery or costumes, but the music, singing and dancing were surpurb. The show opened in 1996 and in 2 1/2 hours tells the story of Roxie Hart, a want-to-be vaudeville star who gains notoriety when she murders her boyfriend. Chicago won the 1997 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival.
Our half-priced tickets at $45.00 each gave us pretty good seats, 10th row, far left.
Chicago (The Play)
Shubert Theatre / 225 W. 44th Street
New York, New York 10036
Attraction | "The Empire State Building"
Also visible was the smoke rising from the site of the World Trade Center. Although you could not see the damage there - it was evident where the buildings once stood. Visitors gathered on the one side, most stood in silence, some talked about the fact that they never got to see or visit the Towers.
The 86th Floor Observation has returned to its normal schedule, opening daily 9:30 a.m. to midnight. It is fully accessible to the physically and visually challenged. The Gift Shop on the 86th floor is well stocked with memorabilia. Be sure to take a moment before you leave and have someone take your picture in front of the beautiful gold rendition of the building on the ground floor.
Empire State Building
350 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street
New York 10118
Attraction | "U.S.S. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum"
Also part of the Museum is the guided missile submarine Growler and Vietnam era destroyer, Edison, but the 900 foot aircraft Intrepid dominates the landscape of Manhattan’s picturesque west side.
As you enter, you can pick up a "guide wand", which looks like a big telephone receiver. As you walk through the Intrepid, there are 2-digit numbers on certain displays and you simply punch in those numbers and you can listen to information on that display. The nice part about this system, is that you don’t have to go in any particular order. These audio tours are offered in several languages.
There are interactive computerized exhibits aboard and you can experience America’s defense technology at "Defending our Future" exhibit. You can explore the boundaries of space with "Mission Control" or take a Virtual Reality "Cockpit Challenge".
Entry to the carrier takes you directly into the hanger deck that contains many displays including several actual aircraft. This gives you a real sense of how massive this seafarer really is. After viewing and taking in all the history, we moved upward to the flight deck and found it to be fully loaded with several aircraft that appeared to be ready to do their job. From there, we climbed steep stairs to the bridge and could easily imagine being the Captain directing the flight operations.
The U.S.S. Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
West 46th Street and 12th Avenue on Pier 86
New York, New York 10036
212 245 2533
Attraction | "San Gennaro Festival"
Exiting the subway on Canal Street, we walked east through China Town, which blended into Little Italy almost without notice. Approaching Mulberry Street, we saw people carrying large stuffed toys and colorful drink glasses. We knew we were close to the San Gennaro Festival.
The festival boasts that is the biggest, best know, oldest, liveliest, and longest running street party in the country. The 2003 Festival was the 76th consecutive celebration dedicated to the patron saint of Naples.
It is centered in the Little Italy section of New York City, on Mulberry Street between Canal and Houston Streets in lower Manhattan. It lasts for eleven days every September. It is all things Italian!
Who was San Gennaro?
Most of what is known about San Gennaro is folklore, but a few facts are documented. He was the Bishop of Benevento, Italy, and was beheaded in 305 AD, a martyr because of his loyalty to Christ. His body was preserved and remains to this day in Naples, Italy.
What's at the festival?
To the sounds of well-know Italian songs such as That Amore, we moved as a part of a larger mass, flowing down the street, shoulder to shoulder. On both sides of the now narrow street are food and drink booths and carnival games. The wonderful aroma of grilled sausage, onions, and peppers fill the air.
There is seafood--shrimp, fried clams, and calamari--piled high in paper containers, the perfect appetizer to occupy your mouth while moving toward the next food booth. There is garlic bread stuffed with thinly sliced beef and covered with grilled onions and peppers. And the sausage! Long coiled rings, sizzling on the grill, waiting to be made into a sandwich.
Of course, there was spaghetti and meatballs, a little hard to manage while walking around, but with practice and experience, even this can be accomplished.
Thirsty? You're in the right place: beer, pina coladas, lemonade, sodas, water, and juices are at every booth. There is no shortage of desserts--hand-dipped chocolate strawberries, Italian pastries, Zepole (sugary fried dough balls), gelati, cannolis, and Italian ices.
Restaurants along Mulberry Street moved tables and chairs onto the sidewalk, covered with colorful canopies and invited festival goers in for food and drink. And, most of the tables were occupied.
I especially enjoyed watching the children (and adults acting like children) playing the carnival games and I was delighted to see so many wining stuffed animals, the obvious choice for prizes.
There are t-shirts for sale (Life's Too Short NOT to be Italian). There is a "Big-Chair" photo booth, temporary tattoos, dunking booths, rides, and shows inside carnival tents. There was a canoli eating contest- gosh, I am sorry I missed that, and a parade.
But, by far the best part of the San Gennaro Festival is the people. Everyone having a good time, enjoying their heritage. BRAVO NEW YORK!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 22, 2003
Mulberry Street from Canal to Bleecker
New York, New York 10013
San Antonio, Texas