New York Day Three

Good Morning, my friends!

Waking up to a warm 72 degrees this morning in Brooklyn, NY. Beautiful blue sky out there and it promises to be another picture perfect day. It’s our last full day in New York and we plan on going out to Coney Island today. I’m going to catch you up on all our fun from yesterday and hopefully will be able to get a post in this evening when we get back sharing with you the pictures and the fun we’re going to have today. 

Yesterday started with finding out that the subway train that we normally take doesn’t run on weekends, so we scrambled first thing to find a bus that would take us to a transfer station that would then get us down to Rockefeller Center. Between the two of us and a grumpy, Polish lady, we managed to get on the right bus and get to the right subway station. Once again we managed to get to where we needed to be with not a minute to spare. The nice thing about that is we didn’t have to stand in line.

We entered Rockefeller Plaza off of 50th St. and we’re immediately ushered to the elevators that would take us to the top. Elevator capacity is only 15 people and once inside you can look through the plexiglass roof and see all the way up to the top of the shaft. The elevator rose quickly and while I didn’t watch the ascent it still gave me that fluttery feeling in my stomach and when I wondered why we feel these things, I read that just like your ears are a barometer and your skin is a thermometer, well, your stomach is an accelerometer. See what you learn while on vacation in New York?

The elevator lets you off on the 67th floor and you exit out onto patios that have plexi-glass partitions guarding the ledges of the building so that no one jumps. You’re able to see the city from all four sides of the building and it’s a panoramic view that is simply amazing. On one side you see Central Park in the middle of all the skyscrapers and you look off into New York Harbor and can see the Hudson and the East River. On the other side is a perfect photo op for the Empire State Building and of course you can see pieces of Times Square and the Broadway section. I would love to spend a few hours on the rooftop with a native New Yorker and have them point out all the different buildings and tell me their names and their histories. The different styles of architecture fascinates me and intrigues me. I live in the 21st century and it’s still a marvel to me how they built these graceful buildings that reach so far into the sky. We made our way up eventually all the way to the 70th floor which is literally the top of the Rock and on this level most of the plexi-glass partitions are absent as there are natural barriers to keep you from leaning over or falling off. To see the views again without any obstruction or barrier was a little bit like flying to have that bird’s eyeview. Seeing the city from that vantage point also allowed me to get more familiar with the lay out of this huge metropolis.

We descended as quickly as we went up and this time I was able to look up and watch us fall from the 70th floor. Pretty cool. Susan and I took a break, found a Starbucks (I’ve only seen maybe 50 of them so far) and got some pastry and an Americano and sat in the garden cafe that looks out onto the famous Rockefeller plaza. It was fun sitting in 30 Rock and imagining all the people that go up the twin escalators every day. 

After a short break we went in search of Broadway as I wanted to see every theater and look at every playbill. It’s just a short walk from Rockefeller Center and within minutes I was standing on Broadway. I had never been to a Broadway show until my friend, Lee began taking me last year to the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis. I’ve fallen in love with everything Broadway starting with my first one, Mary Poppins. To see the “real” Broadway and to stand in front of the famed doors of these historic theatres made me feel so complete. To read the play bills from Wicked and Once and Kinky Boots made it seem so real. Some of the theatres took me back in time with their bright lights and flashing marquees. I’m not sure I found every theatre on Broadway, but I did my best. The only thing that could have made this part of the trip any better, any more special, would be getting to see it with the man that introduced me to the theatre. One day, my friend, I promise I will take YOU to your first New York Broadway show!

We had planned on eating at the Stardust Diner and we did find the restaurant in fairly short order. There’s some renovation under way and it was a little hard to see the name under the scaffolding. We crossed the street and realized as we got to the diner that there was a line of people waiting to be seated for lunch. Not a little line, either, but one that stretched around the corner and half way down the block. I settled for taking some pictures and we reluctantly moved on to other sights and picture opportunities.

We finally took time out for lunch and found an adorable Mexican restaurant that had outside dining right on the sidewalk in front of the building. We were on 48th St. in the heart of the theatre district and I couldn’t help but wonder how many performers and Tony award winning stars had eaten here or passed by here everyday on their way to perform. Tonight is the 68th annual Tony awards live from Radio City Music Hall and to think I’m walking the same sidewalk that these stars have walked made me feel pretty special. Can you tell that I just love this town? You might even say, it’s my kind of town.

Broadway melds right into Times Square and before long I found myself standing in front of the place where the ball drops on New Year’s eve and the funny thing was that it was much smaller than I had imagined. Really, when I think of it, New York is a juxtaposition with everything being both larger and smaller than what I thought it would be. Hard to explain, but when you’re standing there, you’re overwhelmed with the enormity of the huge buildings and the dazzling lights, but at the same time, it’s a city block and while impressive and of course quite famous, it’s not as big as it seems on television. Susan just helped me with the word I was looking for: intimate. It’s an intimate setting blaring with bright neon lights and video billboards, but it’s personal and intimate. Thanks, Sue! 

We reluctantly left the bright lights and descended into the Times Square subway station to catch a train downtown. We popped up in China Town and we were taken back a century or so. Seriously. This is not the China Town of San Francisco which I’ve been to many times since I grew up not far from there. This is New York’s China Town and it’s hard to describe the sights and the sounds and the smells. It’s crowded with both locals and with tourists and the locals have to sort of hate the intrusion into their world that all us out of towners bring. We saw jewelry stores galore, restaurants and markets selling things that were unfamiliar to me. I recognized ducks hanging in windows and some of the veggies sold out of baskets, but there were a lot of Chinese items that I couldn’t even guess as to what they might be. There’s lots of street vendors hawking to the tourists, but you also see old grandmothers in traditional garb being helped to the market by their sons and daughters. The buildings are old and dilapidated with rickety fire escapes running up the sides of the apartment houses. It’s dirty with trash in the streets and grime on the hand rails leading to the shops and eating establishments. Once you get onto the side streets most of the signs are all in Chinese and I got the feeling that we weren’t particularly welcomed or wanted there. It smelled. It smelled of foreign spices and literally decades of sweat and tears. Chinatown seemed to be the hardest place I’ve seen in New York and it’s one place I didn’t dreamily think about living in. 

The highlight of China Town for me was finding a park to use the restroom and seeing two elderly chinese men playing a game of checkers in the park. Classic New York scene and Susan snapped a picture to capture that sweet moment. The bathroom was horribly dirty and very unsanitary and it was a side of New York that I had not seen up until then. 

We walked a few short blocks over and looked at City Hall and the Supreme Court building. Magnificent. Overwhelming. Huge. Grandiose. Old architecture that is monumental in size and adornment. We continued hoofing our way across city blocks and took a small left turn to get onto the Brooklyn Bridge. We then proceeded to cross the Hudson River on foot and of course I had the opportunity to snap another hundred pictures. At this point in the day, I think Susan and I both had the beginnings of blisters and the sun was hot and beating down. We took a few breaks along the way, and though the views were well worth that walk, we were getting pretty weary. I have to say that I love the fact that from now on when I see the Brooklyn Bridge, I will know what it felt like to walk a little over a mile on that historic piece of history and to see Manhattan behind me glistening in all it’s wonder and glory. 

What a wonderful day full of so many sights and sounds. Susan is such an absolute joy with her bubbly personality and the patience of a saint. We have always gotten along and this trip is no exception. We were laughing about it the other night as we realized that in forty years of friendship we have never had such much as one cross word with one another. Not one. Now that’s simply amazing and so unique and special. How blessed am I? You know my heart is full to bursting with gratitude and gratefulness for this trip and for this friendship. If I’m never successful at any other thing in life, I take great satisfaction in knowing that I was one half of one of the best and closest friendships ever and for that I’m eternally thankful.

Okay, peeps of mine, it’s time to get in the shower and get our day started. We have trains to catch and a roller coaster to ride. You know I’m gonna be taking a couple of pictures and checking in with all of you sometime this evening.

Whatever all of you are doing today, I thank you for going on this wonderful journey with me.Image

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