Tuesday, November 5, 2019

What Can I Say? It's New York!

Well, suffice it to say, we had an amazing time in New York City.

I planned our travel so that we wouldn't have to be leaving for the airport at five o'clock in the morning, so we didn't feel rushed, at all. We had a nice leisurely drive to Jacksonville Int'l and grabbed a bite before boarding our flight.

Ruthie, rested and ready...
 
We arrived Thursday afternoon and, after a grueling shuttle ride from JFK to our hotel, settled into our room at the Hotel Mela on 44th Street. It's between 6th and 7th Avenues and, right in Times Square. The room was small, but it wasn't like we'd be spending much time there. I'm not certain what the "per night" rate is, as I booked the trip through Travelocity, but checking their website it looks like $279 a night for a Thursday through Monday stay. Given the absolutely perfect location of the hotel, it's well worth it in my wildly humble opinion. Pretty much the only negative thing I can say about Hotel Mela is that it's got the smallest elevators in the western hemisphere.

But I would not hesitate to stay here again.


Our home away from home...

We decided to wander around Times Square and, since we hadn't eaten since Thursday morning at the airport in Jacksonville, we decided to stop into Ray's Pizza on 7th Avenue. I remember going to Ray's as a kid. It was amazing pizza, and I was sure to sing their praises as we walked through the door.

I gotta' be honest, I was a little disappointed. It was fine, but it wasn't nearly like I remembered. Now, it's been said that pizza is a lot like sex. Even when it's bad it's pretty good. But this just wasn't the same as it used to be. The sauce was bland and had no real character to speak of. Like I said, it was fine, but "fine" isn't what we were hoping for.


A slice of Sicilian at Ray's on 7th...

After our pizza excursion, we decided it was cocktail time. Now, a couple of years ago, I'd had lunch at the Marriott Marquis overlooking Times Square. It was a great view, and I thought Ruthie would dig it.

She did:

Time Square, as seen from the Broadway Lounge in the Marriott Marquis...

As I'll often do, I opted for my standard "go to", a Grey Goose Martini, dirty, straight up with olives. Just about anywhere else in the civilized world this would cost between $14 and $16. But here in Times Square it's $22. That's okay, it's all part of the experience.
 

This was a REALLY good Martini...

My Martini overlooking Broadway...

Ruthie's normally not one to wander too far afield from her Bud Light comfort zone but, hey, when in Rome, am I right? She opted for the appropriately named "Broadway Breeze", which was a delectable concoction of Malibu Run, Goslings Rum, DiSaronno Amaretto, fresh pineapple juice and fresh orange juice. 


The grin says it all...

As much as I'm not one to go for really sweet drinks, the Broadway Breeze was pretty damn good, as were some others we found along the way. They were the kind of drinks which, when you're drinking them, taste like fruit punch. 'Nuff said, I think.

And we could hardly know it at the time, but this trip would be, in part, a study in cocktails around New York City. For the most part, I stayed with my Martinis, but Ruthie got a bit adventurous, as you'll see in later entries,

After the Marriott Marquis, we decided to slowly head back towards our hotel, while stopping along the way to check the sites and any variety of street performer. There's nothing quite like walking through Times Square at night. Even on a random Thursday night, as this one was, the streets are packed with people:


Times Square, 6:43pm, Thursday, October 19, 2019...

We found our way back to 44th Street and started making our way back to our hotel. Just down the street from our hotel was what would end up being our favorite New York City haunt, O'Donoghue's.  

O'Donoghue's is staffed by folks straight out of Dublin, and it's a lot of fun, and they even had live music a couple of the nights we were there.

Once again, I opted for my Grey Goose Martini and, once again, Ruthie started digging into the menu. What she discovered was one of the most dangerous drinks we had the whole time we were in New York, the Mango Fusion:


The studious looking Ruthie and some Mango Fusions (one of which was mine...)


The Mango Fusion is Absolut Mango Vodka, Triple Sec, mango juice and a splash of sour mix.The result is a cocktail which redefines the phrase "it'll sneak up on ya'!" It's almost too good,

From O'Donoghue's, we stopped just before reaching the hotel at a bar called The Long Room. An Irish-inspired pub, it takes its name from The Library Of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland (you can read about my visit there right here).

I opted away from my usual Martini and, instead, decided to go with whatever Ruthie figured I needed to try. In this case, it was the Raspberry Lemontini. With Stoli, Chombard and lemonade it was pretty good, but I'm not sure that, for $14, I would order it again. That said, though, is certainly did make for a nice subject for the Fuji X100F:


The Raspberry Lemontini at The Long Room...

Before we knew it, the hour had gotten late. We'd been watching the Giants get crushed by the Patriots and lost track of the time. Given that we wanted an early start in the morning, we found our way back to the hotel and decided to call it a night.


As an aside...

Did I happen to mention that the only camera I brought on this was the Fuji X100F? I have to say, I was a little nervous. With rare exceptions, I've always traveled with a DSLR. But I wanted to travel light (well, lighter than normal), so I picked up the Fuji. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it a solid 8. All in all, I like this camera a lot and wouldn't hesitate to use it as my "go to" camera on a trip...

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