Tuesday, November 5, 2019

New York - Ice Skating and Giant Pianos...

Now, Ruthie had a list of seven things she wanted to do in New York:

  • Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
  • Cruise around Liberty Island
  • Ride the subway
  • See the "Naked Cowboy"
  • Walk barefoot in Central Park
  • Play the "walking piano" from the Tom Hank's movie "Big"
  • Go ice skating at Rockefeller Center

As we woke up Saturday morning, we'd already knocked two of the items off the list, the cruise and the 9/11 Memorial. Before lunch on this day, we'd check off two more.

We visited the ice rink the day it opened. We expected it to be jam packed with people, so we woke up early and started the walk up to 49th Street and 5th Avenue. When we got there, I was surprised to see almost no one waiting to go skating. I figured, being a Saturday, it would be ridiculously crowded, but my fears were unfounded.


The golden statue of Prometheus at Rockefeller Center...

We got our skate rentals and headed out to the ice. Now, I could sit here and lament about how it's been decades since I've worn a pair of ice skates, but that tale of woe would pale in comparison to that of Ruthie who, in her late 40's, has never worn a pair of ice skates.

The ice skating didn't go as I'd planned, primarily because of the skates. I have a wide foot, but all they had were narrow skates and, while I was able to get into them in the locker room, it was physically painful to try to skate in them. I made it once around the ice and bailed. I'd be happy to watch Ruthie fall on her ass as she tried to get around the rink.


Waiting to hit the ice...

I even tried talking her into a Dorothy Hamill haircut. Oddly, she said no...

Much to my surprise, she didn't fall. Not once. Granted, she's probably not starting for the Bruins anytime soon, but for someone who'd never been on skates before she did well, managing to get around the rink numerous times without incident.

And I was so hoping there'd be an incident.

When we got done at the rink, we had breakfast at the Rock Center Cafe. It wasn't cheap by breakfast standards, but how often do you get to have breakfast right next to the ice rink at Rockefeller Center?

Following breakfast, we started to walk towards Macy's on 34th Street. Our friend Patty was coming in from Long Island and would be arriving around 11:00am, and we agreed to meet at Macy's. As we'd got there a bit before Patty did, it was time to check out the "walking piano" from the movie "Big":


Trying to Google the notes for "Heart & Soul" while not entirely succeeding at playing "Heart & Soul"...

This was yet another instance where I expected there to be some huge line of people waiting to try it out, but there wasn't one. There was just us and one little girl of about 5 who showed any interest in it whatsoever.

We made our way back outside and, before long, Patty came walking up to greet us. A visit to New York without seeing Patty is pretty much unheard of, so it's always good to see her.

For the next few hours, we pretty much just meandered around the city. We stopped at some of those iconic places you always have to visit in New York. including St. Patrick's Cathedral:


St. Patrick's Cathedral...

While it looks big from the outside, nothing really prepares you for how big it really is once you get inside. In short, it's probably the largest church you'll ever walk into. The only church larger than this that I've ever visited was St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. St. Patrick's is, indeed, massive, and is worth a visit regardless of your religious persuasion.

From St. Patrick's we made our way over to Grand Central Terminal. Grand Central Terminal, like Penn Station, is a major rail hub in the city, although Grand Central is far more picturesque. It opened in 1913 and has that very cool art deco vibe to it:


Grand Central Station...

Patty in Grand Central Terminal...

The visit to Grand Central was relatively short and, once again, we found ourselves meandering on to whatever struck our fancy next. In this case, our fancy was struck by The Plaza Hotel.

The Plaza Hotel, which opened in 1907, was actually once owned by Donald Trump, who bought it in 1988 from Westin International Hotels for $390 million. He remarked about the deal: 

"I haven't purchased a building, I have purchased a masterpiece – the Mona Lisa. For the first time in my life, I have knowingly made a deal that was not economic – for I can never justify the price I paid, no matter how successful the Plaza becomes."

In 1992, while still owner of the hotel, Trump even made a cameo in the movie "Home Alone 2: Lost In New York":


Kevin McCallister (aka: Macaulay Culkin) and Donald Trump at The Plaza Hotel...

We decided it was time for a cocktail so we ventured into the hotel, across the lobby and into The Palm Court, where we took a seat at the bar.

The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel (photo courtesy of The Plaza Hotel)...

Now, something to keep in mind about New York City is that things are expensive. When you visit someplace like The Plaza, though, things get really expensive. Just for kicks, we looked up the daily rate. And, remember, we're not talking about anything special here, at least by Plaza standards.

Are you sitting down? Howsabout $1,150 a night? Of course, if you want to rent the Grand Penthouse and Royal Suite, that'll set you back a cool $30,000 a night.

So, it came as no real surprise that their drinks would be a bit spendy, too. A vodka Martini, with a "well brand", was $28. If I wanted Grey Goose it would've been $36. Look, I enjoy splurging every once in a while, but that was ridiculous. I ordered a $10 San Adams and left it at that:


Only $240 a case...

Patty graciously picked up the tab for drinks, which had to have been a small fortune. I literally ordered the least expensive item on the bar menu.


Our trifecta of adult beverages at The Palm Court...

We decided we'd have a late lunch/early dinner, and Patty and I had decided we'd go somewhere we'd both been before and loved: Black Tap.

Black Tap has some really good burgers. I opted for a bacon-Swiss job that was really good and, thankfully, was something I could actually hold in my hands. Ruthie decided to go another route and chose the chili-cheeseburger. Suffice it to say, she could not hold this in her hands.


There's a burger in there somewhere...

While Black Tap has some really good food, their claim to fame is their shakes. They're obscenely huge to the point of being comical. The server brings them to the table and all you can do is laugh:


Ruthie's Cookies & Cream Supreme Oreo shake...

This is the Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter Shake I ordered...

A shake at Black Tap, like everything else in new York, is a bit pricey. Their "basic" shakes are $9 a piece, but their "Crazy Shakes", as seen above, are $15. And the best part about it is that you just don't care!

Our next stop would be one I was looking forward to immensely. It wasn't on Ruthie's list, but it was definitely on mine:

Top of The Rock.

The "Top Of The Rock" is the observation deck atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza, better known as "30 Rock". In actuality, Top of The Rock is a 3-tiered observation deck on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors. It's not free; the cost was about $40, but the views are absolutely stunning.


Looking towards lower Manhattan from Top of The Rock. 1 World Trade Center is in the distance...

After spending about an hour at Top of The Rock, we managed to find our way back up to O'Donoghue's on 44th, where we sat for way too long enjoying way too many Mango Fusions. But it was great to hang out and catch up (as if we hadn't been doing that all day already!). After, I think, the fourth Mango Fusion we walked Patty back down to 34th Street so she could catch her train out of Penn Station back to Long Island.

We then meandered our way back through Times Square and, eventually, back to the hotel. It would be a restful night that we were looking forward to, because we weren't setting any alarms for Sunday morning...



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