Before heading for home we had one last item on the itinerary – the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall! The coach left the hotel at 10 o’clock for the short ride over – only needed the bus in order to have all our luggage aboard, as it’s only about 5 blocks to the hall. The show was good and the hall is absolutely amazing – was particularly intrigued by how they could project video uniformly over the entire ceiling as part of the show…
From the theater it was on to the airport – we had to bypass the lunch plans due to the heavy traffic in the city. Mom and most of the tour group had a 4:30 flight, but Jerry and I along with the remainder of the group had a 6:10 flight. Made it home around 10 in the evening after taking a cab to Jerry’s to pick up my car.
All in all, I had a wonderful time. All of the entertainment was great and the sight-seeing tour was nice despite the less than perfect weather. Will need to return sometime to see the completed 9/11 memorial and perhaps take in some museums. Not that there were any issues with it, but I’m still not sure how I feel about traveling with such a large group, aside from the fact that everything is planned by somebody else;-)
Sunday morning was another free part of the itinerary. After breakfast I decided I would take a walk up into Central Park. The south end of the park is about ten blocks from our hotel. I headed up that direction, stopping in Columbus Circle before entering the park where they were just opening up the Christmas market. Despite yesterday’s snowfall, there were still a few people walking or running through the park. There are so many little hidden areas of the park that you could easily spend days exploring them all. It was just nice to get away from the crowds so I took my time and enjoyed it. I made my way up and around the north side of the Jacqueline Onassis reservoir before heading back southwards along 5th Avenue. This was nearly a fifty block walk and despite the temperature hovering around 30 degrees I had dressed warm enough that it was very pleasant.
I decided I had enough time to head over to Grand Central Terminal before meeting everyone else back at the hotel. When I reached the south end of the park at 57th street along 5th, the transition was like night and day. It was now a little after 11 am and sidewalks were filled with people – very jarring after the calm in the park. I popped into Grand Central for a couple of photos and then headed back towards the hotel.
We grabbed a pizza at another little Italian place down the street from the hotel. A classic New York style pizza-pie – fantastic! Not the place the bus driver told us about yesterday but that’s was OK.
After lunch it was on to see a matinée showing of the musical Once. I really enjoyed this one too! It’s a little different from most – the cast was actually on stage playing while the crowd arrives. They even have a bar on stage, which is one of the set locations, where you can get beverages before and during intermission. Then as everyone is seated, the show simply starts – you’re not quite sure if it’s the show or more prelude but I think it works well.
From the theater it was back to the hotel to catch the coach down to the World Yacht Cruise. This was a dinner cruise that took us from Pier 81 on the west side of Manhattan down around the tip of the island, back up the East River under the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. Then back down the river across the harbor pas Ellis Island and around the Statue of Liberty before heading back to shore. The food was great as were the views. Only bad thing was that the pictures didn’t turn out great – it’s very hard to get night shots from a moving platform. That being said, here are a few:
The weather forecast for Saturday called for up to six inches of snow. As we were having breakfast we noticed a few flakes starting to fall. By the time we boarded the bus and set out at 8:30 it was starting to come down fairly heavy. The tour guide we had for the day said she hadn’t seen a snowfall like this in several years. We were in for a treat!
The bus ride started by heading north, Uptown, from the hotel. This took us past Columbus Circle and the along the west side of Central Park. We passed through the park near its north end and then headed south along 5th Avenue, passing the Metropolitan Museum and of course all of the famous shopping locales. We stopped for a few photo ops and strolled through the Chelsea Market.
We stopped to grab lunch at a deli and then headed down to Battery Park where we would board the ferry that would take us past the Statue of Liberty and then on to the partially re-opened Ellis Island. Ellis Island has recently opened after completion of most repairs from Hurricane Sandy. There is still some work to do, so not everything is accessible. It will supposedly be closing again in January for some time to complete this work.
After the return ferry ride it was on to the 9/11 Memorial. By this time the weather had become quite heavy so it was only a quick walk around the memorial pools before heading back to the bus. I though that the museum was also open, but that does not seem to be the case so I will have to return someday to visit when it is completed. It is an incredibly powerful sight not diminished due to the weather.
A few people ended up getting turned around, so after everyone else was back on the bus we headed around the block to round them up. That was the end of the scheduled itinerary for the day so we had the evening free.
Back at the hotel by about 5:30, mom, Jerry and I decided we try to get tickets to a show. I managed to get tickets to Jersey Boys. We had dinner at a nice little Italian place right next to the hotel (after looking at a couple of other options first). Ended up being a great choice as the food was excellent!
Jersey Boys was fantastic! Great way to spend the evening. Again after a long day it was back to the hotel to crash.
For my 40th birthday mom wanted to take me to New York. She found a trip for December and convinced Jerry and Liz & John to join us. So on Friday the 13th – that’s not a bad omen;-) we headed to NYC! Mom left from Fargo, she met Jerry and I at MSP and we flew into LaGuardia where we met Liz & John – and the other 45 people on the tour.
We were met by a motor coach and headed into the city. We made a short stop at Rockefeller Center to snap some pictures of the giant Christmas Tree (45k lights!) and the skating rink (it’s surprisingly small).
From there we headed for the Hotel Edison where we spent the weekend. It’s just a half block off of Times Square so we were in the center of all the action. After dropping off our bags, we had a little time before the dinner plans at the Novotel but decided to head over early and have a drink. We had a nice dinner and from there headed over to the Broadway Theater for a performance of Cinderella. The show was amazing!
Had been a long day so was glad to make it back to the hotel and crash.