The Jet Blue flight on Friday, May 18, 2012, was quick: two hours and 45 minutes from Sarasota. I had never flown this airline before and their slogan: “YOU above all” was evident in their kindnesses to passengers. Connie had arranged a Super Shuttle pick-up for me from JFK; two hours later she met me in front of the La Quinta Hotel on 32nd
Street in Manhattan where we left my luggage.
We walked around the Great White Way,
realized we were hungry and found a seat at a very busy Virgil’s Barbecue. The pulled chicken sandwich and burger were worth the stop.
We knew we had to see a show while we were here and I had my heart set on “Anything Goes,” the 1934 Cole Porter musical whose songs have been in my head for half a century. We checked at the Sondheim Theatre on 43rd
Street at five minutes to curtain time, snagged $69 tickets and giggled like teenagers all the way to our seats. The production has won three Tony awards; Joe Grey at 80! proved he still has the stuff and Stephanie Block was magnificent as Reno Sweeney. I can only imagine Ethel Merman in this role; she must have been perfection. I promised myself I would watch “De-Lovely,” the Cole Porter story, when I returned home. We topped the night off at the rooftop bar of the La Quinta, sipping lychee and apple martinis in the green glow of the Empire State Building. A great cabbie from Bangladesh brought us home to the Queens La Quinta and a very comfortable, clean and affordable room.
Connie and I do not let any grass grow under our feet when it comes to travel; Saturday found us up at 7:30, breakfast eaten and on the train to Battery Park.
We had 11 AM tickets on the ferry
to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
No one should wait to see these American icons as long as I have, but better late than never! The Lady is 1000 times more fantastic in person than she is in a picture.
As we approached Ellis Island, all I could think about was the wonder our ancestors felt as they viewed it for the first time after a long, hard voyage to a strange land with a strange language. My grandparents and Connie’s parents and grandparents had this experience as immigrants; the gratitude we felt for all their hardship was overwhelming. The display of immigrant memorabilia—clothing, jewelry, tools, books and so much else—was the most interesting to us. After the ferry ride, we walked along the water and past Ground Zero; I was struck by how close the site is to the water, even though I’ve seen dozens of pictures of the Towers.
A subway ride or two and we arrived in Chelsea, a working class, somewhat industrial area with a new feature—the High Line-- where we met Paul Cavalconte, Connie’s cousin, the consummate New Yorker, charming and erudite. The High Line is the site of the former elevated train line, now transformed into a one-mile linear open park with attractive landscaping. At one point there is a water feature where a grate allows a shallow flow-through, just enough for children to splash in. Another half mile is proposed and, judging from the popularity of the finished mile, I’m certain it will be complete.
Paul had made reservations at Cookstop, a great restaurant not far from the High Line. The hearthstone pizza was yummy, the pork bellies a new and delicious taste, the lasagnetti was scrumptious, and the brook trout delectable. Paul very generously paid the check and I promised to send him some honey when I returned home. To end a very busy day, we tromped to the Empire State Building; how could we leave NYC without experiencing the tallest fixture? Well, fyi, if you decide to undergo this ordeal (it turned out to be THREE hours), find out if there is a less busy time! Saturday night was horrendous! Of course, the view at the top was worth the wait. It brought back memories of “An Affair to Remember” and “Sleepless in Seattle” among others. A little respite at Starbucks, a train ride to Queens and a stop at the all-night fruit market for cherries finished the night.
On Sunday, we were off to Central Park, the joyful place.
The juxposition of these 843 acres, a half-mile wide and two and a half miles long, to the myriad of all those skyscrapers, is simply amazing.
What a tribute to the founding fathers and those in control right up to this day, that this beautiful spot has been preserved for the enjoyment of the people of New York.
We couldn’t possibly cover all those acres, but I did take pics of the sailboats for Ethan who loves Stuart Little (who sailed there!).
Next we visited St. Vincent’ Ferrer High School (Connie’s alma mater),
the Armory, the Met (for art), Helmsley’s NY Palace Hotel, St. Patrick's Cathedral,
Toysrus, Tiffany’s, Cartier’s, Rockefeller Plaza and everything in between we could possibly see.
We ended the day in Little Italy at Buona Notte on Mulberry Street, seated in the garden eating insalata alla Caprese and spaghetti and meatballs. I now know what buffalo mozzarella is and love it!
Just because we had to stuff ourselves, we topped off our wonderful meal with desserts at Ferrara’s: sfogliatella, dacquoise, raspberry tartlet and the best Italian lemonade ever.
On Monday we left in the pouring rain, but you can bet it won’t be long before a return trip! Thanks a million, Connie!
Connie and I have been friends for more than 35 years. We've raised five children between us, married husbands, divorced husbands, moved across the country, and become grandmothers. But the cement that has held us together since 1995 is TRAVEL. That was the year we took a UK/Paris trip together which commenced my wanderlust. We met in Springfield, MO, but twenty years ago Connie moved to Washington, D.C. and I moved to Florida; we visit each other’s home when possible, but when Connie suggested a trip to her birthplace, New York City, I was over the top with anticipation! I was way overdue to experience the Big Apple; it promised to be a quick but thorough trip with one of the best guides possible. When Connie e-mailed me my "Margaret in the City" itinerary, I knew this trip would be a winner.