Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Days 3-4

We started with a lazy morning bagels and coffee, then took off from the hotel around 11am. We  finished our time in New York with the final tourist stops.

We hit up Rockefeller center, Eataly, and got some pics of both the Empire State Building and the Grid Iron (one of my favorite architectural structures currently standing).

Upon our walk around Rockefeller center we came across the famous St. Patrick's Cathedral, where we lit a candle and attended a mid-day mass.  It was so incredibly beautiful the construction taking place didn't detract from the experience at all.


 After these final explorations around NYC, we headed to JFK for our flight to Milan.  The flight was the most comfortable flight I've ever been on.  We loved our experience with Emirates.  The plane was massive and the in-flight movie selection was vast.  Airplane food will always be airplane food, but free alcoholic beverages made up for what the food lacked, I highly recommend flying Emirates if you ever get the opportunity.

After a sleepless night on the plane (comfortable as it was). We landed in Milan and we were appalled at how tiny the airport was.  We were tired and after being disappointed by three different miscommunications of our travel agency in the course of 30 minutes.  We finally got our rental car and were on our way to the hotel.

Driving from the airport to the hotel was certainly easier said than done.  First of all, there was no indication on our directions that the road we needed to travel was a toll road, until we were going through the toll booth.  Next, no matter where we stopped along the way we couldn't find an ATM to withdraw Euro.  Finally, The Italian drivers clearly thought signs and lines are merely suggestions.   To say the least, we were on edge until we arrived at our hotel nearly 6 hours later.

WE FINALLY arrived at the Hotel Sovestro, checked in and got ready for dinner, after taking pictures of our view outside our room, of course.  By the time we sat down for dinner, we had been awake for nearly thirty hours.  I had gnocchi with truffle cream sauce and mom almost fell asleep in her lasagna.  We fell asleep full and exhausted.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Day 2

So, when you unfortunately don't have the money or time to make it to a show, and you don't want to spend money on museums or the Empire State Building, what other sight-seeing activity comes to mind?  A movie tour, of course!  And, what better movie tour when you're staying on the upper west side than You've Got Mail.

Yes, we spent our second day in New York walking to all the places used in the film You've Got Mail.  Thanks to BuzzFeed and Jamie Etkin we had very detailed directions on how to get to all the locations we would need to find.

We started the day at the Starbucks where Joe and Kathleen both frequented but never met.  We actually went to this same Starbucks twice, and yes the second time I did order a tall, nonfat, caramel machiatto (Kathleen Kelley's order).

From there we went to Zabar's where Kathleen is embarrassed by her lack of cash in the cash only line.   Thankfully we were there on a weekday morning during the summer, instead of fighting the Thanksgiving rush. Since the movie, Zabar's has expanded into a caterer and deli, so the interior of the shop was significantly smaller than when it was used for the filming.  Despite that, this was a really fun shop, (the entire upstairs was filled home/kitchen goods and the downstairs was a cornucopia of interesting food) I certainly recommend spending some time here if you're ever in NYC. 

paying with my credit card in the credit card machine, zip zip

From Zabar's we walked to Verdi Square where Kathleen and Joe nearly collide before ever meeting.
I did ride the subway in the seat by the door, as she did in the film, but I didn't see a butterfly.

I imagine this is where Kathleen got off the subway during the winter because after we finished our tour we realized her apartment was quite a hike away from Little Shop Around The Corner.

After a few pit-stops we worked our way to the Lincoln Square Theatre where Kathleen and Frank have a conversation about voting and the importance of politics in their relationship, which leads to their inevitable break-up.

This movie theatre is amazing, it has three flights of escalators which in their entirety take a full 2 minutes to travel.  The largest of the three takes exactly 58 seconds from bottom to the top.

We had fun riding them, well at least until we looked down. When I rode them a second time in order to clock how long it would take, mom took the stairs down.
We went from the theatre to get lunch at Gray's Papaya, the hotdog place, that Kathleen and Joe eat at once they become friends.

Finally we started working our way to the fictional destinations. (i.e. Kathleen's apartment, Joe's apartments, and Little Shop Around the Corner)
Little Shop Around the Corner is now a Cleaners.
Joe's Apartment

Kathleen's apartment
it looked like a super cute little apartment, just the place for Kathleen Kelly

We took a break from walking at Cafe Lalo, where Shopgirl and NY152 arrange to meet, and Joe discovers the truth about Kathleen.  I have to say this was our most disappointing stop. The food, and service were terrible!  It seems clear that they are resting on their laurels of being used in this movie, I simply hope that they were worthy of their fame then, because they aren't now.

Terrible as it was, the place was still cute.

We went from Cafe Lalo to the final scene of the film.  The 91st Street Garden.  It was a beautiful little spot in the park near the river (aka Riverside Park).  We walked through the park a bit and enjoyed the view of the city over the river.

It would have been the perfect end to a perfect day, but we had just one more stop to make...

We ate dinner at the Ocean Grill, where we shared a seafood tower and a glass of white wine.  The reason this was our final stop was because it was within a few blocks of our hotel. And, we managed to get all those other stops in before dinner, which was a pretty amazing feat considering we went all the way to the other side of town to the 9/11 memorial.  An experience I will share on this blog in another post.

All in all, this was a super fun way to see the city, next time When Harry Met Sally?  Just kidding. Though this did spark my appetite for more walking movie tours, I guess it's time to discover some in my own city!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 1

So, I'm finally getting around to blogging about my trip.  (Hopefully I can recall all the wonderful details).

First, NYC!

After listening to my carefully selected NYC playlist (yes there was a lot of Frank Sinatra), we arrived at O'hare Airport.  Where we flew standby at the graciously reduced rate due to our wonderful friend John DiPrima...  (thanks John! ps-I still have a bottle of wine for you).

We waited for our first possible departure, on which we unfortunately did not get a seat. But, it was a mere 90 minutes until the next flight which we easily were able to board.

The plane ride was mostly uneventful with the exception of one woman.  This woman was quite a piece of work.  To paint a picture, I kept thinking we were flying to New York until I saw her, she reminded me that our destination was New Jersey because she looked like a "Real House Wife of New Jersey" or a cast member on "Jersey Shore."  She was almost like Snooki meets Joan Cusack in "Working Girl," only with bigger hair.

I've always seen that part in the movies where someone thinks they can get their oversized bag in the overhead bin, but I've never seen it first hand.  This logic was even worse after being kindly informed that there was no more room in the over head compartment for her massive bag (which likely wouldn't have fit anyway, she insisted that it would fit under the seat in front of her.  Well, there she was going on the plane with her massive carry-on and massive purse, and here she came right back out again only moments later when it didn't fit under her seat.

Then she took five minutes to get settled, only to leave and ask if they had any seats in first class, no I can't make this stuff up.  It was a funny thing though, it caused all of us to bond in our mutual hatred of this woman.  I'm sure it's unChristian of me to be speaking of this woman in this way, but I can honestly say the only thing I liked about this woman is that she gave me a Working Girl reference to use in this blog post.

Anyway, enough about her.

We arrived in New Jersey about 12pm EST and got an AirTran van ride to our hotel.  It was most awkward sharing such close quarters with complete strangers and the Lincoln Tunnel was hard for me to breathe my way through.  But, the awesome 80s tunes that the driver had on were a helpful distraction.

We finally arrived at the Hotel Excelsior.  Where I quickly realized I was going to love NYC because there was a farmer's market just across the street.


We spent our first day in New York in the typical tourist way.  We tried a new restaurant, strolled in Central Park, walked to Times Square, and saw the Broadway.  I only wish we could have made it to a show... next time.

Central Park is the most beautiful park I've ever been to, there were so many different kinds of people and so many different activities happening, it was like walking through a dream.  I understand now what made George Seurat so enamored with people spending a summer afternoon in the park.  I feel like if I were a painter I could have easily spent the entire day there just people-watching and painting the sights I saw, as it was I was trying to snap pictures furiously and still take it all in well enough to describe.

Perhaps the strangest thing I saw that day was a man walking his dog.  He was coming around the bend toward the main road that my mother and I were walking along.  His black beautiful poodle was clearly hot from the walk, as was he.  He spotted a drinking fountain, he found the spout handle, as soon as there was a a steady stream of water I expected him to lean over and drink from it, instead what I saw astounded me.   The poodle reached up it's two front paws and pulled itself up for a refreshing drink.  A strange sight, to say the least, but what was even more odd was the gaggle of girls that followed behind waiting for their turn at the bubbler seemed completely unmoved, like this was a perfectly normal event in central park. 

We exited the park at Columbus Circle, and continued our walk down Broadway to Times Square.

Times Square
(a paragraph from my journal entry 8-23)
You can barely stand it.  Noise, exhilaration, and lights! Lights, lights, and more lights!  There is so much going on your mind truly can't process it all.  The beauty of Times Square is that for all the over-stimulations from electronics there are just as many restaurants, theatres, and people.  It is certainly a sight worth seeing.

We ate dinner at the famous Junior's.  The food was over-priced but tasty, the true treat was the New York Cheesecake (which I fruitlessly searched for some cognac to enjoy along with it).  We walked to M&M World and past Radio City Music Hall, and ended our evening back in the hotel room to enjoy our cheesecake.   The perfect end to the nearly perfect NYC day!