New York City
April 16-19th, 2004
New York City, also known as The Big Apple, can be a daunting place to visit but everyone should experience the thrill of such a sprawling metropolis at least once in their life. We had put it off for far too long, so in April of 2004 we decided to head for the city that never sleeps. It would be a whirlwind weekend of touring all the great attractions, and to make things easier Karabeener would be our local guide. Beener is currently attending Hofstra University, so she is an expert at getting around the city.
We arranged for a hotel in Manhattan, The Comfort Inn on 35th Street, for a reasonable rate ( $120/night ) , and based all of our sight seeing from that location. From there we were only blocks away from the Empire State Building and several other city highlights. The room was small, but very clean and comfortable. We stayed in room 301 which had a double bed and sleeper sofa, and the smallest little bathroom sink you will ever see…but it worked just fine. We decided to fly into New Jersey and take a shuttle bus into the city, this worked out great as the Jersey airport is less busy than JFK or LaGuardia. Beener took the LIRR ( Long Island Rail Road ) into the city and met us at the hotel on a Friday afternoon. Now it was time for some serious sight seeing. First on our list of attractions was Times Square, so off we went.
Times Square was just as impressive as I pictured it to be! Neon billboards, people, and yellow cabs were everywhere you looked…it was amazing! We walked along the city streets and took in the sights and sounds. That was enough to work up a good appetite so we headed for Little Italy. Karabeener, our official cab hailer, flagged down a taxi and we were on our way to a great selection of cafes and Trattoria. We feasted on pasta and bread until we could eat no more, and then it was off to Beener’s favorite bakery, Ferrara’s, for desert ( there is always room for desert ). We ordered a New York style cheesecake that was to die for! Absolutely the best cheesecake I have ever tasted, we even took one home with us before we left! Satiated and feeling quite content we returned to the hotel to freshen up. We then decided to try and tour the Empire State Building for some great night views of the city, but the line was around the block! We decided it was best to save that for another day.
Saturday morning the sky was as blue as it could be and we were so thankful for such a beautiful day, mainly because we were heading for the Statue of Liberty, and we knew that blue sky would be a perfect background in photographs. We caught a cab outside our hotel and headed for Battery Park. Our cab driver was totally cool and she was nice enough to be a tour guide as well, pointing out some interesting sights and offering advice on where to go and what to see. Very nice!
The ferry to Liberty Island was a great place to get some photos of the NYC skyline from the water, and as we got closer to Liberty the statue became more and more impressive. Once on Liberty Island her full grandeur is realized. Standing 305 feet tall she is a sight to behold and one can only imagine what it must have been like for immigrants to see her for the first time. Her crown has seven points representing the seven continents and seven seas, and her tablet is engraved in Roman numerals with our date of independence; July 4th, 1776. She is made of copper and has developed a patina over the years, which gives her the green color we all know. We spent several hours photographing Liberty and marveling at her prowess. She is a monument to be proud of!
Once back on Manhattan we walked around Battery Park and then headed for Seaport for some lunch. We ate at Heartland Brewery where we enjoyed excellent hamburgers and fries. Our next undertaking was a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It took some asking to find the entrance to the pedestrian walkway, but once we found it the views were fantastic! We walked all the way across to Brooklyn and down to Bridge Park, which offers great ground views of the structure. On the other side of the bridge we sat on the dock and soaked in the spring sunshine as we waited on a water taxi to take us back to Manhattan.
Later that day we made the somber trip to Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers had once stood tall and proud. The site, mostly cleaned up now from that terrible day of September 11th, 2001, is still heartbreaking enough to bring tears to your eyes. We shall never forget.
That evening we ate at Tsampa, a Tibetan restaurant with excellent cuisine. Beener had to give us instruction on the fine art of eating with chopsticks, which was quite an experience. A comical one to those watching I am sure, but we soon got the hang of it! Our next stop was Veniero’s, an excellent pasticceria, near Greenwich Village. We had strawberry shortcake that was out of this world, and tiramisu which was equally wonderful. On a side note; an interesting thing happened on our way from Tsampa to Veniero’s; as we were walking we came across a movie set. After asking around we found out that the production was for a new movie called “The Interpreter”, directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn. Penn and his wife, Robin Wright Penn, were on the set and Sydney Pollack was running around busily creating an Oscar hopeful. It was amazing to watch the activity and to witness the enormity of such a production. We can’t wait to see the movie on the big screen so we can try and pick out the scene we saw being filmed.
Sunday morning we caught a cab to Central Park. There was a marathon going on at the time and all of these young kids were just running their hearts out! After watching the runners for awhile we moved on to explore the park. The spring flowers were out in full bloom and everything was fresh and colorful. It made for a soothing journey as we walked the paths in search of “Strawberry Fields”, a tribute to John Lennon. The memorial is a mosaic with the word IMAGINE dominating the scene. It evokes many emotions, but most of all it stirs from the recess of your mind the lyrics to an amazing song, “Imagine all the people living life in peace…”-John Lennon.
Next stop was Hofstra University and Jones Beach. We hopped on the Long Island Rail Road and 20 minutes later we were in Hempstead. Beener showed us around campus, which was small but beautifully landscaped, and then it was off to Bertucci’s for lunch. Bertucci’s is famous for brick oven pizzas and for good reason. After lunch we headed to Jones Beach. The Atlantic Ocean was kicking up quite a breeze, making the temp on the beach about twenty degrees cooler than inland where it was around 75. We walked in the sand until we got too cold then it was back to the LIRR station.
Beener dropped us off and we made our way back to NYC. We spent the evening dining in Little Italy, yes again, we can’t stay away! Then we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge at night for some great evening shots of the bridge and the skyline. From Brooklyn we caught a cab back to the Empire State Building for some night shots of the big city. The view was great from the top, but the wait to get there was insane. The powers that be really need to do some upgrading on how they get tourists through the lines. Obviously security is an issue that slows things down, and that is fine, but they need to do something about ventilation. There is just one tiny corridor where they shuffle everyone through the line and there is no air circulation, except for one fan mounted on the wall. It was pretty miserable, and this was in April at 9:00pm. I can’t imagine the middle of the summer at prime time. But anyway, the view was worth the smothering wait.
Our last excursion in NYC was Times Square at night. The lights and billboards are even more eye-popping in the evening. If you visit be sure to check it out when it gets dark, as well as during the day.
On Monday morning we caught our bus back to the Jersey airport for our flight home. It had been a wonderful weekend in a wonderful city. New Yorkers, despite their reputation, were kind, considerate, and friendly. Everyone should visit at least once. All we can say is “WE LOVE NEW YORK!!”
Click here for info on purchasing photos
Copyright 1989-2008, Natural Born Hikers, All rights
Send comments on this web site to firstname.lastname@example.org