Well, as I did for the trip to San Francisco years ago, I'm blogging day by day. There are 2 reasons for this. One, I love to share information, and two, this helps ME remember all the tidbits about the trip.
So, let's start with the flight in. I'm sitting next to a guy who was flying to NYC to see family, he looks out the window and points out Rikers Island to me. This is the first NY thing I see...the prison. Oh well. Now at least I know what area they're talking about when they mention it on Law & Order.
Cut to me meeting friends at the airport, and we go stand in line for a taxi to get to Midtown where my hotel is. The taxi driver of the car we were getting into was distracted because another taxi driver was yelling at him. The two of them mouthed off to each other for several moments, as I'm standing there with jaw dropped wondering if there will be a fist fight before our cab ride. My friend points out to me, "Welcome to New York." Apparently that's the way cabbies do it here, so no biggie.
Moments later we're riding though various areas and crossing gorgeous bridges. I know NY is an island, I've certainly heard of the Brooklyn Bridge, but I never knew how many bridges were in NYC. Beautiful architecture on every one. That's one surprise I'm experiencing here...I had no idea how beautiful the ornate architecture was.
I get to the hotel and apparently "the lipstick building" which basically looks like a large reddish purple cake in its shape, is right out my window view. I don't really think much of this until my buddy points out that it was where Bernie Madoff worked. Oh! Lovely. But seriously, the view and the area of Midtown East is wonderful.
Everything is within walking distance - and when people say it's 6 blocks, what the rest of us not living in NYC don't realize is - it's a really short 6 blocks. It would be like walking through my subdivision which is small. So we walk to dinner, which winds up being an incredible steak place called Smith & Willensky (the grill side, so we didn't have to dress up). Great service, great people, and I begin to wonder why New Yorkers have such an abrasive reputation down South because all I'm seeing is some really nice people.
After dinner we walk up Broadway, see the lights. WOW. It's like these New Yorkers have found a way to capture daylight in a bottle. It was 9pm, but the lights are bright on Broadway. There's a large and crowded area (along w/bleachers) for tourists to sit and watch all the bright and neon signs. Then we walk up to Times Square.
Hmmm...Times Square. While this will be where I eventually stay for the conference, I must say this is not my main cup of tea. It's packed with people, everyone walking in one big glob from one corner to the next, and it was hot and humid. The lights were great, I'm glad I saw it, and I'm sure once I'm in the conference hotel, in air conditioning, and LOOKING at the lights out the window, things may seem nicer. But for now, Times Square is my least favorite part.
Moving on to a great area this morning - Greenwich Village. Or more specifically, the West Village. To a fabulous little restaurant that serves amazing omelets and has an eclectic group of people as their clientele and for their staff. This is where I look around and realize the local life and its flavor. So many characters, so many different kinds of people. We walk around for a bit after and then go to Central Park. We get off the city bus at 73rd and Broadway, and there is the most beautiful and ornate building there. I stare up for about 5 minutes.
Want to know something odd? Even the post office is beautiful here. How many cities can you say that about? It has majestic pillars, ornate sculptured designs, and the mission of mail carriers inscribed in big letters across the top.
Central Park is beautiful, though my feet were so tired by that point that we went in, saw the Strawberry Fields area and the John Lennon memorial mosaic, then we went to Bethesda Fountain which I'd seen in Godspell. I have pics, I hope to share them soon. It was beautiful. Oh, and another interesting tidbit - Central Park has tons of Bedrock throughout. Bedrock. I expected Fred Flintstone to pop out at any moment, but no, no old style cars, just lots of pretty gray rocks everywhere.
Then it was lunch in a cool pizza joint in the Village and back to Midtown to rest. And I'm so pumped up that I can't rest. I have to blog. I want to write down and remember all this so I come back with all these rich and vibrant images in my mind :)
Tonight is dinner and a show. Not sure which one, my friends are surprising me. Stay tuned for the next 24 hours...