Monday, July 06, 2009

A New York Minute (part one)

I will be blogging over the next several days, chronicling our journey to New York City, which started June 28 and ended July 4.

I know, I know — it has lots of details. I realize that I'm writing for the general population, but I am also detailing our trip so we can look back and remember for ourselves. I will be posting more from our voyage over the next several days.

For now, enjoy the first two days of our vacation:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

  • We drove to Kansas City from Springfield and arrived at our hotel in the afternoon so we could relax and prepare for an early-morning start the following day. We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton at the Kansas City airport. It was a nice, clean place that offers free shuttle service to and from the airport and free 14-day parking with your hotel stay; the shuttle runs every 20 minutes.
Our hotel room at the Four Points by Sheraton at the KC airport.
A clean restroom at the Four Points.
Driving through downtown Kansas City.
  • Having never scouted around Kansas City much, I hadn’t visited the north side of Kansas City where the airport is located. We drove around on I-29/Highway 71 south toward downtown. After checking a few areas out, we happened upon Thai Place. Rachel’s Pad Thai was really good. They brought me the wrong food so I just sent it back and canceled my order; I ended up eating half her food since it was so large. There was a nice outdoor shopping mall just south of the airport right along I-29. If we fly out from MCI again, we’ll have to check it out more closely.
  • One other thing to point out is that other hotels near the airport provide the same service (park and ride), so it would be worth checking other hotels to get a cheaper rate. Our room was only $69 a night at the Four Points, but I'm always up for the cheapest rate.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
  • We awoke at 4:45 a.m. to catch the hotel shuttle to the airport which departed at 5:20. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 7 a.m., and we wanted to arrive as early as possible in the event we encountered issues at the airport.
The view of our airplane as we waited to board.
  • We boarded our airplane before 7, which was bound for Minneapolis for our layover. That was our most uncomfortable flight due to one reason: a weirdo, bleached out, punk-haired 15-year-old girl who didn’t know when to shut up. Of course, she sat right next to Rachel. If you get a chance, ask Rachel about her new-found friend. ☺
  • Our flight from Minneapolis to LaGuardia was much better; we sat on the very back seats of the airplane, so we couldn’t lean back. The guy who sat next to us on that flight didn’t talk to us at all, so we were much happier on that flight. We arrived at LGA at 12:30 p.m. EST.
  • My first celebrity encounter happened at LGA right after we got off the airplane. I walked in the restroom and realized the person I was following in was Biff Henderson, one of the stagehands and sidekicks on the David Letterman Show. As I waited for Rachel to use the restroom, he stood and waited for his wife. Since I didn’t want to be one of “those people,” I opted not to speak to him or ask to take a picture. Although one odd traveler wasn’t shy; he came up and put his arm around him and asked for a picture.
  • One thing we had to do before we could leave LGA was find Metro passes so we could ride all the public transportation NYC has to offer. It took a while, but several unsuccessful conversations with the airport’s “help” staff and a complimentary shuttle to the central terminal, we finally found a machine that sold the seven-day Metro passes we needed. Funny enough, they had just gone up the day we arrived. We anticipated them to cost $25 per person, but they had come up to $27.50 per person.
  • Our itinerary had us taking the M60 bus toward the city and getting off to ride the subway to our hotel. As we found out the hard way, the bus drivers don’t announce every upcoming street as they did in the buses we rode in Chicago in March. I knew something was wrong when we made a turn off the street, so Rachel asked and sure enough we didn’t get off at 125th and Malcolm X Blvd. as our instructions indicated. We were able to catch a line going back and got off. I think we would’ve seen the street the first time through, but we were a little distracted because that intersection is right at the Apollo and a ton of crazed Michael Jackson fans were paying their respects.
People outside the Apollo Theater on 125th Street paying their respects to Michael Jackson. I snapped the photo from our bus.
  • We successfully got on the 3 subway line and transferred to the number 1 line that took us to the 86th Street stop; it was at the intersection of 86th and Broadway. We got off and walked a block to our hotel, the Belnord Hotel (209 W. 87th Street); it was a building or two away from Broadway on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Room 306 at the Belnord Hotel in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

The hallways were extremely narrow outside our hotel room.
  • After we settled into our extremely small hotel room, we decided to see things nearby our hotel. We got slices of New York-style pizza from Perfecto Ristorante near the hotel. It was decent, but not the best pizza we had while we visited New York. Next, we decided to walk over to Central Park, which was only three blocks away from our hotel. We walked through the west side of the park and saw the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.
A shot across the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park, which was just three blocks from our hotel.
  • We walked back toward our hotel and then got on the subway and headed on the 1 train south toward Times Square. (The 1 train was our main source of transportation the entire trip; it runs the length of Broadway all the way up north into the Bronx all the way to the southern tip of Manhattan.) Times Square was hustle and bustle with tons of people there on a Sunday evening. We went into the Macy’s and found a nice visitor’s center.
Our first visit to Times Square.

Who is that young man in the advertisement?

ABC News in Times Square.

Times Square's finest pharmacy.

On the 1 train to the Staten Island Ferry.
  • We then rode the 1 train back south toward the Staten Island Ferry. On the subway, we met a nice family from Staten Island that sat across from us; they had the stereotypical New York accent that we didn’t encounter as much as I had anticipated. They asked us to take their picture on the subway and they reciprocated the favor to us.
  • When we got to the station, we found a ton of people crowded in the corner where the ferry departs. We figured we wouldn’t get on due to the number of people, but we all got on easily. It took us about 25 minutes or so to ride the ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island. We didn’t get off and look around much because we wanted to return, eat, and get back to our hotel since we were tired from day one in New York. It took a little longer for us to get back because someone had clogged up the toilet in the women’s restroom; I’m not exactly sure why that delayed our boarding and departure but it did.
Aboard the ferry.
Statue of Liberty from the ferry.
A closer shot.
A common site on our ferry ride.
  • After we got back to Manhattan, we boarded the 1 once again back to the 86th Street Station. When we got off, we walked around to find a place to eat near our hotel. We happened upon Ollie’s, a phenomenal Chinese restaurant that served free tea with your meal. I had the General Tso’s chicken and Rachel got the house fried rice. We also got some steamed shrimp dumplings that I still find myself craving.
Shrimp dumplings at Ollie's. Mmmmm.
Free tea at Ollie's. Mmmmm.
General Tso's Chicken at Ollie's. Mmmmm.
  • After getting back to our hotel, our air conditioner wasn’t working in our room. We tried a few suggestions from the staff, but they finally sent a maintenance person who had to climb up and do some adjusting to the unit, which was up in the ceiling. No problemas after that. Needless to say, we slept well that night.

More to come.


Marukatsu said...

Cool chronicles!
We, my sweetheart wife and me, went there 5 or 6 years ago.
NY,I have good memories.
Have a nice day!

Anonymous said...