New York City – Pre-cruise
Written by: Kuki
Before I begin to banter about New York City, a small, perhaps helpful fact; taxi fare to Manhattan from Newwark Airport is a preset $62, plus tolls, plus tip…. that’s per taxi, not person, and the trip took us about 40 minutes.
When a hick like me hits New York City it’s hard not to get a crick in my neck and trip on curbs, looking up at all the skyscrapers… an obvious hint that I’m not a local.
This is our 3rd trip to New York City; each for a short visit prior to a cruise. We staying at the newly totally renovated Crowne Plaza Time Square. For a short stay visit this is one of the perfect spots on 47st., a half block off Broadway, so you’re in the center of the action. At the moment hotel rates in NYC have dropped considerably. Manhattan hotels are often as outrageously expensive as hotels in Europe, but for the time being pretty much all are hundreds of dollars less per night, than their “normal” rates.
Our first night’s plans got rained out, as the heavy rain in the area delayed our airplane’s arrival time, and after checking in, dropping our bags, and setting out to wander, and find a nice spot for a late dinner, the pouring rain drove us into the first spot we stumbled into… the local hot spot known as TGIF.
No doubt we didn’t have to get all the way to NYC to dine at TGIF, but I mention it only because the service was fantastic; friendly, efficient, friendly, and fast; just what I’m expecting to find on our cruise. After dinner, it was right back to the hotel and to bed.
The newly renovated hotel room is quite lovely, but if you think you’ve found the location of the toilet paper roll to be odd in cruise ship bathrooms, wait…you’ll have no problem at all if your torso can swivel freely above your hips.
For our first full day in NYC we’d arranged to meet CruiseMates original co-creator, Anne Campbell for brunch. Anne made reservations at what is apparently one of NYC’s most popular breakfast stops, Norma’s, in the Le Parker Meridian Hotel. Mrs. Kuki and I left our hotel early to have a bit of a stroll on route to meet Anne. We happened to choose to stroll down 7 Avenue, where we found the entire avenue from 47 st. up to 56 st. closed to traffic, and lined on both sides with vendors selling all variety of goods, from fresh made smoothies, kebabs, pitas, etc. to souvenir items, to clothing as well as home- made craft items. As difficult as traffic in NYC is I was surprised to see a major avenue closed to traffic for such an extensive distance.
If we weren’t meeting Anne we could have surely had enough variety in foods in the street market to have a terrific brunch. But, once we met Anne at Norma’s and dug into our breakfasts any thoughts of the great food at the street market disappeared. This Sunday the restaurant was packed (as Anne says it always is), and even with reservations people are forced to wait for a table. It’s a rather smallish space, and a bit on the noisy side, and all they serve is breakfast items. Even for lunch, they serve breakfast, and then they close at 3 P.M. At their prices, since they appear to be full the entire time, it’s understandable that they can reach their profit quota by 3 P.M.
It’s expensive, but a delightful experience, made even more delightful getting to catch up with Anne. We sat and visited so long after our meals that the manager came by and offered to buy us coffee in the lobby bar if we’d give up our table. At least that was better than having two large muscle bulging bodyguard types come and grab our arms to escort us out.
We said our good-byes to Anne and wandered up 5th Ave. so Mrs. Kuki could look in the windows at all the shops whose inventory had price tags made of more material than the clothing they were hanging on; necessary to hold all digits in the prices.
The plan was to walk all the way downtown for Mrs. Kuki to check out Macy’s 150th anniversary sale. We made it back as far as our hotel, before we stopped for a nap.
Full from lunch, hunger pangs didn’t rise up again until well into the evening, but I knew we had to make it to dinner at the one place we visit every time we’re in NYC; Carnegie Deli. At Carnegie Deli the portions are so humongous, and the prices so reasonable, two of us got so much food we couldn’t get it all in our stomachs, and had enough left for a doggy bag so big that we could easily both have lunch the next day… and all for under $40! That certainly shows that though you easily can, you don’t have to spend $100 on dinner in NYC.
The plan for day two was to get over to Macy’s Department Store for Mrs. Kuki to shop, while I hang around on the street corner outside holding her bags, like I do in St. Thomas, and we stuck to the plan.
Hoofed it down as far as Macys, shopped, and then headed back uptown walking along the Avenues of America, where Mrs. Kuki happened to find a couple of other shops she liked. From the crowds we saw in the stores today one would never know there’s an economic crisis happening. If these shops would have been selling real estate and had a SALE sign hanging in the window they’d be able to end the housing crisis right here!
Along the way we stumbled upon the Brooklyn Diner… though I knew we hadn’t made it to Brooklyn yet. I ordered something called a 15 bite beef hot dog. They lied! It was about a 40 or 50 bite hot dog that came on a brioche bun, with a berry saurkerkraut mix, and my favorite, onion strings (not onion rings, but paper thin sliced breaded and fried onions (YUMMY!). OK, so it was an $18 hot dog, but it was exceptional, and if you’re a hot dog afficianado, take a spin by the Brooklyn Diner next time you’re in the vicinity of Time Square.
While I love walking in New York City, for some reason as I get older, it gets tougher. And after the 122 bite hot dog a rest back at the hotel was in order, particularly because I knew more eating was in store for the evening. I’d made a reservation at my favorite restaurant in New York, Becco, on 46 St., just a few blocks off Broadway. Becco is Italian food at it’s finest, but not at its most expensive. If you’re going to be in Manhattan, it’s a don’t miss! But be sure to make a reservation. Even on a Monday night in October, when most of the Broadway shows are dark, it was packed with pasta lovers. After dinner we required a long stroll to walk off some of the calories.
This trip we didn’t visit many of the sites, as we did on previous visits. But you should be aware there are several companies offering hop on/hop off buses, serving different routes, out of Manhattan. For first time visitors I think it’s an excellent way to see the sites. It appears this trip we just shopped and ate our way through Manhattan… but we had a ball doing it!
Tomorrow morning, we head to the pier (only 5 or 6 blocks away) to board the NCL Jewel. I’ll be blogging daily live (if I am) from the ship. Please feel free to ask any questions or add comments, and I’ll do my very best to respond.
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Posted: October 27th, 2008 under Kuki.