Tuesday morning we woke to rain and wind blowing, branches behind the MoHo whipping around but nothing falling on the rig. I took Mattie for her early morning walk, energized by the shifting weather, unconcerned about the rain. We were ready with ponchos and raincoats for whatever the day might bring.
Mattie and I walked along the canal in the light mist. The huge parking lot west of the park hasn’t been used in quite some time. There is grass growing between the cracks of the old pavement and the geese like to hang out there in small groups. The canal between the Liberty Park Marina and Liberty State Park isn’t very wide but is filled with boats of all kinds, including very large yachts.
Our plans for the day were reasonable. The bus would pick us up at 8:30 and after a lovely day of fun stuff, we would return to Mattie and our rig by 7PM. Not a bad schedule. I was amazed at how wonderful I felt after being so worn out the previous night.
We left the park a bit early, which was good since we barely made it to our scheduled entry to the Rockefeller Center at 9:45 AM. On the way, Claudia surprised us with a treat from the Crispy Creme Donut shop that was located not far from the park in New Jersey.
The Rockefeller Center building is huge, and much of it is inaccessible to the public, but we had a scheduled visit to the Top of the Rock “observatory” at 10:30. It seems that the thing to do in the City is to visit the many observatories that have cropped up on the tallest buildings over the years. We enjoyed two, with our visit to the Empire State Building observatory saved for our final day in NYC.
The elevator ride was nearly instantaneous, exiting one floor below the outdoor viewing area on the 68th floor, with another elevator leading to the observatory. With terraces facing east, west, north, and south, the panoramic sights make it an ultimate observation deck in NYC. Soaring 70 floors above Rockefeller Center, it is one of the top things to do in New York City.
Braving the rain for a few blocks to the bus wasn’t a problem. As you can see, our rain gear kept us in good shape. We were ready for our highly anticipated meal at Carmine’s Italian Restaurant.
Carmine’s is a classic Southern Italian restaurant that serves family-style meals. Our tour leaders had reserved enough space to seat all 31 of us at the long tables. The service was stellar and the food was fantastic. The homemade caesar dressing was so delicious I couldn’t resist having seconds. It was the best Caesar salad I can remember tasting.
Then came the antipasto, fresh Italian bread, and finally the main courses. We had a superb chicken marsala, a complex rigatoni dish, and giant tender Italian meatballs, that just melted in your mouth. Such a meal!
Mo and I wanted to enjoy some red wine with our Italian meal, and we knew that would be an extra charge. Our sweet waiter said they didn’t have anything by the glass, but he had small carafes of red that were about a glass and a half. We didn’t find out until it was time to pay for our wine that those little carafes were 30 bucks each. No matter. It was so delicious and the meal was free, and we definitely enjoyed having the wine as a compliment to our dinner.
Dessert was a luscious tiramisu, too chocolatey and rich for words. I could only manage a few bites, but the strong Italian coffee was a perfect finish.
After lunch, the group was scheduled for a backstage tour of Radio City Music Hall. I decided that I just wasn’t up for more walking, talking, and standing, and decided to simply wait in the bus for an hour of delightful rest while the group did the tour. Mo decided that staying with me in the bus was more fun than wandering backstage at Radio City Music Hall. It was a good choice. Funny thing is, I never heard anyone in the group discussing the visit, pro or con, so I really have no idea what we missed.
By the time the group returned and we continued to St Patrick’s Cathedral, Mo and I were somewhat refreshed and ready to climb steps and walk around the interior of the magnificent cathedral. The most amazing thing about St. Patrick’s is the magnificent organ. I would have loved to hear those sounds.
There was much detail about how many pipes, and how many registers are in the two main organs in the cathedral, but it didn’t mean much to me. My only experience with organs was the church organs I played as a kid and the home organ my mom had for us to practice. A few pedals and a couple of registers. The organs of St Patrick consist of more than 9,000 pipes, 206 stops, 150 ranks, and 10 divisions.
I am not Catholic, but I do have a special relationship with St. Anthony, who has helped me find many things over the years since a Catholic friend taught me the prayer to St Anthony to help find lost things. Of course, I had to get a photo of this sweet saint.
Surrounded and somewhat dwarfed by modern skyscrapers, St Patrick’s is a gorgeous cathedral. We saw almost as much magnificent architecture, gothic arches, sculptures, and stained glass as we have seen in many cathedrals throughout the world. I was glad that I had saved my energy for this part of the day and could enjoy it completely.
We ended the day with more meandering through Times Square on our way back to the rig. Dinner was absolutely unnecessary after such a huge lunch and we settled in happy to feel a bit rested and ready for our next big day in the city.
It rained most of the night, and that helped cool the air a bit for us to get a good night’s sleep.
Wednesday the 7th was an especially restful day, with our departure from the park delayed until 3:30 in the afternoon. That gave us some needed time to catch up on business, do some laundry, process photos, and even take a great shower in preparation for the evening festivities to come.
Riding once again to Manhattan, we began the afternoon with the traditional carriage ride through Central Park. Our rides were limited to just 20 minutes, but the drivers were expected to tell us stories of the park with some history, in addition to being a little bit entertaining. Our driver wasn’t the least bit conversational.
This photo is of our carriage mates, Terry, one of the pair of trip leaders, and Meredith, a solo traveler with us.
Only after considerable prodding did he finally tell us that there were about 170 horses used to pull the carriages and about 300 rotating licensed union drivers, many from Ukraine. He told us the stables for all the horses weren’t far from Central Park. They return from the park every night to family-owned stables, located on the west side of Manhattan in a historic neighborhood known as Hell’s Kitchen. Until our trip to New York City, I thought that was just a TV show.
After our short carriage ride, we were turned loose to wander on our own between Central Park and 52nd street where we were to meet for our first big show of the trip. We would see Funny Girl, revived from the original play first on Broadway in the 60s and starring Barbra Streisand. Funny Girl was an old favorite of mine so I was excited to see the musical in person.
We were especially lucky to be seeing only the second performance after Lea Michelle took over the starring role. Lea played Rachel in the TV series Glee, and it was always her dream to play Fanny Brice. Her performance was incredible, and on her opening night, she received six standing ovations and just as many on the night we attended the show. I think part of that excited crowd were many of her cohorts from the series who were cheering her on.
But before the show, we were told to find somewhere to eat dinner on our own. It was a bit daunting, without much to go on as we wandered the streets toward 52nd street. Mo and I were both hoping for some New York Pizza, but what we found seemed a lot more like the delicious wood-fired pizza that we enjoy in our west coast wineries.
We were happy to get an outside table, happy to get a delicious pizza, and happy to not get lost on the streets. We were accompanied at dinner by several nearby tables of people speaking languages we didn’t recognize.
The theater we attended was the gorgeous August Wilson Theater on 52nd Street. As I have said before, a show “On Broadway” isn’t necessarily on Broadway, but is in a theater in NYC that seats more than 500 people. “Off-Broadway” could even be on Broadway, but in a theater that seats less than 500 people. It’s the little things.
The show was more than anything I ever expected, with Lea Michelle doing more than justice to every Streisand song I ever listened to. This show for me was one of the highlights of our NYC trip and I will treasure the memory of it for a long time.