I've been watching the Today Show since Katie and Bryant were doing their thing. I had a secret little crush on the cute guy at the news desk, who had a full head of hair and a lovely personality. Little did I know . . .
The goal of this morning was to get ourselves to Rockefeller Center and get some screen time on the Today Show. We actually set an alarm, which is against the vacation rules, but we wanted to get there in plenty of time.
Apparently, plenty of time to the hoards around the outdoor fencing is way earlier than the honeymooners knew about. On this chilly morning, we arrived at 7:30 a.m.and all the good spots were gone, and to add insult to injury, Matt, Ann and Al were all "away" or "had the day off." Whatever. We should have called ahead to let them know we were coming.
This proves we were there. And little else.
Two good things happened: We had our photo taken by a Today Show staffer and then could purchase said photo at the gift shop, which turned out to be one of the best pictures we've taken together in a while. Yay! And secondly, because it was cold and our hopes were dashed, we popped into the little bakery right there - http://www.bouchonbakery.com/rockefellercenter.
Delightful little Frenchy place, with delicious coffee, fresh orange juice, and pastries that could make you cry. We shared the bacon, leek and Gruyere quiche and a chocolate almond croissant. We chose wisely. The quiche had that perfect and elusive flaky tender crust, and the filling was moist and terribly flavorful. I've made quiche and that combination is no easy task. The croissant was delicious, as well, but I am usually way more about the savory. It's a tiny little place that does a bustling business of NBC tourists. The coffee was heavenly. I loved coffee in New York.
And I NEVER went to Starbucks. Sorry.
Thankfully, it warmed up nicely and by the time we arrived by subway to the New York Public Library (main branch, near Bryant Park), it was a perfect fall morning. We had to take pictures of the lions outside the building, so our kids would have a frame of reference. Ghostbusters!
I was in a state of complete and utter rapture upon entering. You put me in a place with architecture, history, art and BOOKS, and you can collect me sometime next month. It really is a beautiful building, seeming more like a museum than a library. Hallowed ground indeed.
We found no ectoplasmic residue, yet we did not visit the old librarian and the card catalogs in the basement.
My sentiments exactly, though modern English works well for most of us:
"A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life."
We made quick trip around the block to the beautiful Bryant Park area. The park covers a full city block, with a large green space, fountains, trees and a few food and drink areas. It happens to be the location of the famous fashion show held every early spring, showcasing the upcoming fall collections. I felt important knowing I tread on the same ground as supermodels, celebrities, designers and fashionistas.
We were famished and wanted street food. Nearly every single corner in New York City has a cart selling something or other - pretzels, hot dogs, nuts, falafel, sausage, and a million other things. We popped over to the nearest vendor and Eric got an Italian sausage with peppers, onions and grainy brown mustard. I had a falafel sandwich in a pita with "white sauce" and "hot sauce" plus tomato, lettuce and onions. Add in a diet Pepsi for me and the bill came to $12.
A few chairs in Bryant Park became our picnic spot, and we ate and slobbered and basked in the sun. The people watching was great - jugglers, sunbathers, suits, moms with toddlers, painters, and every other type of person you could imagine. The food was delicious.
Every girl needs at least one item of animal print in her wardrobe.
We rounded out our afternoon with a visit to St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue. It's an incredibly ornate and overwhelming church, rich in history and art. Staying on Fifth Avenue, we wandered in and out of several shops, buying a few treats at the affordable places (H&M, Sephora) and simply gazing and admiring at the not so affordable places (Saks Fifth Avenue).
Grand Central Station is not to be missed in Midtown Manhattan. The site of many famous movie scenes, plus the hub of much activity and transportation throughout New York and beyond, it's a place everyone should see one time. I love the ceiling painted with the Zodiac, the old clock in the center, the huge American flag, and the constant flux of people heading here and there and everywhere in between.
There's Eric, in the middle of it all, with the clock behind him. Isn't that a great sweater?
Next stop, the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel. It was just about 5 o'clock, which meant we needed a bit of rest and refreshment.
I think we should go in.
In we went, and we toured the lobby, enjoying the decor and general splendor. Peacock Alley is the name of the lobby bar, and we arrived just in time to get a table near the piano where we had an excellent view of the fabulous people coming and going.
I will not even tell you what we paid for two cocktails (one each, thank you), but we decided in the end the experience made it worth our while.
That's a scotch for Eric, and a fancy champagne cocktail for me,
infused with strawberry and peppercorn.
It sounds pretentious, but it was spicy and yummy.
Those are wasabi peas, mixed nuts, and tart, briny olives.
After a short subway ride back to the hotel, we collapsed into bed for a nap. Such a delicious feeling to know we could eat, sleep, and do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, at any time of day, without the needs and demands of children. Sure, we missed them in theory, but we lived in the moment and enjoyed the blissful adult time together.
It was time for a slice. Of New York pizza. Now, you could talk to 100 New Yorkers, and they would have 100 different places to recommend to visit for the perfect slice of pizza. The big, triangular pieces with thin crust and minimal toppings, that you fold in half and eat with reckless abandon.
Our hotel sat above a place called Mike Due Pizza. We're pretty sure that "Due" means "two" in Italian and Mike had another pizza place in town somewhere, but probalby not named Uno. We didn't really care, because for 10 bucks we got two slices of pizza (one sausage and ricotta, one spinach, mushroom, olive and ricotta), and two sodas. It does NOT have to expensive to eat in New York!
We declared it to be a "neighborhood" night, so after pizza at Mikes, we visited Fitzgerald's Pub, also directly under our hotel. This was a Yankees place, and it was game night, so that's what that was all about. At least the owners were really Irish! Fun guys, father and son it seemed. Then we headed across the street to The Hairy Monk. Uh huh. This was a Red Sox place, meaning every article of decor in the joint screamed either Boston or the Sox, and that was the game on the television. I'd hate to be on the street when the two teams played each other. Who knows, maybe they don't, baseball is funny like that.
Time for bed, and the close of another great day in the greatest city in the world.
Tomorrow is our last day, and Uptown Day, and what turned out to be the tastiest, busiest, most active, and at the end, most surprising day of all.