Saturday, July 11, 2009

A New York Minute (part three)

Thursday, July 2, 2009
A view of Meredith Vieira on a monitor outside Studio 1A in Rockefeller Plaza; she was waiting to go on air.
  • It was an early morning again. Our goal was to get to Rockefeller Plaza and get on the Today Show. Despite our attempts, we were unsuccessful in getting on TV. Our chances weren’t very good; Matt was in California covering Michael Jackson’s death, Al was on vacation, and Meredith didn’t come outside much since the show was split between California (MJ’s Neverland Ranch) and Studio 1A. In other words, it wasn’t the peppy morning show it normally is.

  • After The Today Show, we crossed the street to go to the NBC Experience Store. We purchased 20-bucks-a-pop tickets to do the NBC Studio Tour. Unfortunately, no photos were permitted on the tour, but we saw several studios. The MSNBC News and NBC Nightly News studios were right next to each other. We got to see the “tricks” they do with Nightly News, including the big screen where they show a fake newsroom; it’s a looping video that shows the same people walking around in the background performing the same tasks. We also saw the Jimmy Fallon Show studio, which is very small. Again, plenty of tricks there to seem like the studio is much larger than what it is. We next sat in the Saturday Night Live studio; it was much smaller than you would imagine, too. They completed the tour with a visit to a fake news set and green wall for people to see the “tricks” of TV. Boring — unless you’ve never seen a news set before.

Rachel eating food from a vendor — not the one she wanted, though.
  • After the hour and a half tour it was time for lunch. Rachel was wanting to eat at a specific meal cart on the corner of a street nearby NBC studios (it received a prestigious Vendy award), so we looked for it. Unfortunately, we didn’t find it, so she tried a place at the same intersection. Not too shabby.
  • The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) was our next venture. Previously, we had tried to find it, but I figured out that we were only a street off. Rachel and I both weren’t initially impressed with MoMA. Some of the exhibits on the lower floors looked like stuff that took little time to slop together. As we went up to the sixth, seventh, and eighth floors, we finally were getting into some real art — paintings, sculptures, and photography. Photography was permitted — without the flash, as I was told by security personnel after snapping a few with my flash.
The famous Magnolia Bakery.
  • After MoMA, we enjoyed some edible art from Magnolia Bakery, an establishment made popular by Sex and the City. Rachel had to try the cheesecake, but I went for a generous slice of extra chocolately gooey buttercream cake. ¡Qué rico!
  • We went back to the hotel to plan our evening. We decided to check out Greenwich Village, home to Sarah Jessica Parker, and try a place called Burrito Loco. It was sprinkling when we left our hotel. When we got off the subway at Greenwich Village, it was pouring. Fortunately, we brought our umbrella. Since we didn’t know exactly where Burrito Loco was, we, like everyone else, waited under an awning on the corner of a street. The rain was still coming down, but we decided to head left off the corner because we knew the restaurant was nearby — at least according to the directions we had. Funny enough, it was just a few buildings down from where we had been standing. The food was excellent, especially their homemade salsa.
  • When we left, things were drying up outside a little bit; we decided to head back north toward Central Park and our hotel. It was getting dark, but the park was fairly well lit with plenty of people around, so it wasn’t unsafe to scout around. We were tired, so we didn’t stay too long, though.

Friday, July 3, 2009
A waterway in Central Park.

A beautiful archway in Central Park.

  • We awoke casually due to our previous early morning. After we got around, we went back to Central Park to check it out a little bit more. Since most people were off from work for the Fourth, plenty of New Yorkers were out enjoying the park. There were lots of musicians performing all throughout the park, too.

  • We went back to the Belnord to make a few plans for the rest of the day. Rachel found some thrift shops back south in Chelsea.
  • On our way south, Rachel still wanted to find her Vendy-award-winning meal cart. At last, success. We found the Kwik Meal cart where Rachel enjoyed lamb, rice, and yogurt. I have to admit, it was quite tasty.
Kwik Meal Cart, an award-winning vendor in NYC.

  • After we were full, we headed on toward the thrift stores. These thrift stores were unlike any I had ever seen; they offered true name brand clothes that I would definitely buy. Since we only had carry-ons, I opted not to buy clothes to try to shove into my already full suitcase. Rachel did, however, get a few bargains, including a few garments and a Nat King Cole record in great condition. The two best ones we went to were Angel Street Thrift Shop and Housing Works, both on 17th Street in Chelsea.
Grand Central Station.

  • We caught a subway to Grand Central Station — something you have to see when you go to NYC. With plenty of people heading out of town for the holidays, plenty of people were catching trains out of the station. The station offers plenty of restaurants and shopping. Rachel found a very nice scarf from a vendor at Grand Central. She also had to try another piece of cheesecake from an impressive bakery in the station.
Fox 2 St. Louis anchor/reporter April Simpson lookalike (in Rachel's opinion).

  • Next, we went back to Times Square to look around. We visited the M&M Store and a few other fun touristy places. Rachel found an April Simpson (Fox 2 news anchor from St. Louis) look alike; I don’t see too much resemblance myself.
  • We decided to head southward again to Greenwich Village again to see if we could find some cheap Chinese food. We had gotten on some subways to which we weren’t accustomed. We ended up getting off at a station and looking around. We happened upon an independent movie theatre called Film Forum near 7th and Houston Street. We got a ticket to see Food, Inc. We both believe that every person in the United States should watch this movie. It affects every person since we all eat food here. If it comes to your city, WATCH IT!

Saturday, July 4, 2009
  • Our last day in the Big Apple wasn’t all that adventurous, but we made the most of the time we had left. For breakfast, we walked a couple blocks from our hotel to Café On Broadway, where we enjoyed relatively inexpensive breakfast sandwiches and coffee.
In front of Cafe On Broadway where we ate breakfast on our final morning in New York City.
  • Since checkout was noon sharp at the Belnord Hotel, we decided a quick trip to Times Square before we had to leave was in order. We found a few items to bring back for family and friends.
  • After we got back to our hotel, it was time to check out. After we kissed room 306 goodbye at the Belnord, we headed off with our carry-on luggage and everything else. We decided to walk toward Central Park to kill a few minutes since our flight wasn’t until 4 p.m. We had wheeled our luggage around so much to and fro that my rubber wheels were wearing off. Rachel’s eventually broke off, too, before we boarded our returning flight.

  • To get back to LaGuardia, we took the subway back north to 125th street. It was a busy afternoon, but not as many people were hanging around the Apollo as they had when we arrived. There were plenty of people selling various merchandise on the street. After stopping off for a quick Starbucks treat, we found our M60 bus and took it to LGA. We were glad we had left early for our flight because along the way, our bus stalled out. The driver said he’d get us on the next bus, but as we waited for it to arrive ours started and successfully transported us to the airport. We didn’t want to miss our chance to get off the bus, so got off at the first terminal our bus stopped at LGA. Mistake. We walked a good 20 minutes to get to the Northwest terminal.
  • After we put our shoes back on and gathered our things after we went through security, we had some time to kill. We decided to split a meal at Chili’s, Too in the airport terminal.
  • We boarded our flight at about 4 p.m. We arrived in Detroit to catch our connecting flight to Kansas City. Surprisingly, Detroit had a really nice airport. Our plane from Detroit to Kansas City was the smallest plane we were on our entire trip. The engine was louder and the flight was bumpier, but we honestly can’t complain about any of our flights since they were all on time and relatively smooth (minus Rachel’s flight friend you read about in part one of this post).
  • We arrived in Kansas City after 7 p.m. and saw our Four Points by Sheraton van waiting outside. We hopped on with several airline crew members who were catching a ride back to the hotel. Upon arrival, our car was just how we left it and we were ready to go home. The car ride home was a spectacle; we had a better fireworks show than most people do sitting on a blanket at a city celebration.
  • After a stop for some fuel — for our car and our bodies (Wendy’s) — we made the US 71/Highway 7/Highway 13 journey back to Springfield and were home a little after midnight.