Tag Archives: Rockefeller Center

Manhattan Memories

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Manhattan Memories

Oh, my beautiful New York!  Everything is heightened at the holidays.  Enhanced lighting, multilingual conversations, cathedral bells, and the slightest flurry of snow added to our enchanting journey.  We stayed at a newly renovated boutique hotel called The Archer on 38th Street in the Garment District, hence the sculpture of an evening dress by the entryway.

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Each evening, in addition to discovering a delectable treat on our desk, we had a view of the Empire State Building.  Our in-room coffee service consisted of a Nespresso machine (think George Clooney and Danny Devito) plus Harney & Sons tea.  On a past visit to NYC, my friend led us to the Harney & Sons Tea Shop which was devine!

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The highlight of our first evening in the city was having dinner at Max Brenner’s–the very best dessert destination featuring chocolate–lots and lots of chocolate! They offer chocolate pizza, chocolate waffles…you get the idea.  After dinner I chose the Chocolate Hazelnut Milkshake served in the “fantasy cup” inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

img_7087The atmosphere was festive and beautifully decorated.

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The following day we were superbly lucky to have booked the Law & Order Walking Tour of Lower Manhattan through our friend, Ike, with NYC Adventure Tours.  Ike is a retired, real, NYPD detective!  He led us to multiple sites of crime scenes, movie and TV locations, and endless historical stories.  Billed as “The hangouts, the haunts, and the hideaways of NYC’s most notorious criminals.”  Here is just a sample.

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Seen in movies and TV shows, Central Booking (or “The Tombs”) is where felons are held for processing and pre-trial detention. “The Tombs” are connected by the Bridge of Sighs, four stories up.  When a prisoner is transferred, the two escorts meet in the middle of the bridge, replacing the handcuffs one at a time to avoid any escapes.

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Scene of a famous mob shooting, Murder at the Feast of San Gennaro.  Arthur Felig (aka Weegee) was the first newspaper crime scene photographer.

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Oldest gun store in NYC and the only place to buy a legal hand gun.

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Ferrara’s Pastry Shop, established 1892, was our snack stop on the tour.  Everyone grabbed a cannoli and a hot chocolate to warm up as we continued the tour.

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New York State Supreme Court.  You’ve seen this in countless episodes of Law and Order, plus the movie Twelve Angry Men, and a scene from the Godfather where Barzini is walking out and gets gunned down by Al Neri, who is dressed as a cop.

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Recognize this?  It’s a filming location for Sex and the City.  Still a good restaurant/bar today. 🙂  There were so many stops on this wonderful 2-1/2 hour tour, with a nice surprise at the end, but I won’t spoil it for you in case you get lucky enough to catch this great sightseeing experience.  We had to say good-bye to Ike to head for our next agenda item–One World Observatory.

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The Old and The New

The Old and The New

Be sure to pre-order your tickets online, like we did, or you’ll be faced with an enormous line of tourists.  Once inside, you’ll ride in The Sky Pod elevators (among the fastest in the world) that will zoom you to the 102nd floor while watching a super speedy movie of the history of New York’s architecture on the elevator walls and ceiling!  Whew!  So, at the top…

gpzy3803         The Old and The New

After One World Observatory, we did a little shopping at One World Plaza, spending most of our time sampling perfume in the Joe Malone boutique.ccct0324

Continuing on to our evening tour, we pit-stopped at Starbuck’s where the night sky offered up the most beautiful, gentle snow flurries!  Kenny, our guide, led us on the NYC East Village Food Tour.  We were treated to hot dogs, pizza, falafel, dumplings, papaya juice, egg cream and more.  Between savory stops, we learned the history of this unique neighborhood and the culture that influenced the awesome food.  Here is The Papaya King where we sampled quintessential New York hot dogs.

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Our tour for seeing the holiday lights and store windows was cancelled due to security and traffic issues, so we planned our own holiday windows route including Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Tiffany’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Cartier.  Take a look…

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And the last window was interactive.  You could place your hand on the Naughty-or-Nice meter. 🙂

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Well, I guess you could consider the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to be the height of holiday decorating, and we left the best for last.  This year’s Norwegian Spruce from Oneonta, NY, is 94 feet tall and 56 feet wide, adorned with approximately 50,000 LED lights.  You think it was hard getting that star on your tree?  Try a Swarovski star, nine-and-a-half feet in diameter and weighing 550 pounds!bmgd8782

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When I reserved our table at Rockefeller Cafe for New Year’s Eve dinner, I never dreamed we would actually sit at a round table by the window that was eye level with the flow of skaters.  We looked out upon the magnificent tree above the bronze sculpture of Prometheus.  Skaters would literally skate fast and grab the rail directly in front of us!  It was fun to watch couples and families, some seemingly pro skaters and some first time skaters, all having a fun New Year’s Eve.  Oh! And a few tables over, a groom-to-be proposed to his girlfriend and the whole restaurant clapped as she very happily said, “Yes!”

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After dinner we made an unplanned stop to the Top of the Rock.  As we scanned the city, we could actually see the crystal ball in Times Square, poised to drop at midnight.  Amateur photographers with tripods were all setting up to capture the big moment.

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We strolled back to The Archer (stopping to buy champagne) and watched the ball drop on TV as we toasted, listening to the crowds roar through our open windows.  What a great year–and good wishes ahead for 2017!

On New Year’s Day, we started the New Year right with brunch at Sarabeth’s.  Fabulous brunch menu and charming decor.

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Then it was on to MoMA!  We were fortunate to catch some traveling exhibits, including Francis Picabia:  Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction.

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Marc Chagall:

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Frida Kahlo

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Florine Stettheimer

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And…Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.”

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Time for another event and yet another check of the Uber app. 🙂  Yea, Uber!

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Speaking of art, NYC graffiti artists have exhibited their work as well, which we noted on the Law and Order Walking Tour, often through chain link fences.

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Cecil

Cecil

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One of my all-time favorite places that we visited in New York was Bryant Park.  The sun was low in the sky, casting beautiful scenes of light and shadow, while shoppers and skaters enjoyed a relaxing Sunday afternoon.  I couldn’t stop taking pictures!  Grayson was determined to find a hot dog from a real NYC hot dog stand.  Success!img_7407

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Ice Skating Rink

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Shops Like This 🙂

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The New York Public Library  is  Adjacent to the Park

The Empire State Building Peeks Through

The Empire State Building Peeks Through the Skyline

That evening, after dinner, we rode uptown to Radio City Music Hall for the Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular.  Every year is different and this year my favorite part was wearing the 3D glasses. 🙂

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The Stunning Chandelier Christmas Tree

The Stunning Chandelier Christmas Tree

Monday was our last day in the Big Apple, but we managed to have lunch together before we went parted ways to separate airports.  We ate the best pizza ever at John’s Pizzeria in Times Square, called the Cathedral of Pizza.  It is housed in a 19th-century church and has retained the original architecture.  The stained glass dome ceiling remains, and the brick ovens adorn the edges like altars.

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My trip wouldn’t have been complete without a teensy bit of fabric shopping.  After all, we were in the Garment District!  M & J Trimming was just around the corner where I found perfect hot pink fringe, and then it was off to Mood.

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Mood Fabrics – Third Floor

First of all, I had barely started shopping when I heard a bark, bark, bark!  There was Swatch, standing at the top of the stairs, just barking at the air. 🙂  Poor Swatch, too many people invading his space.

A Calmer Swatch

A Calmer Swatch

So here’s what I found.  Beautiful 3-D yellow floral trim which you will see on a bag in my next post.  Also, some multicolor pink/red silky fringe.  You know I love velvet, so I couldn’t pass up deep pink crushed velvet. I spotted a bolt of geometric red fashion wool which I can use next season.  Then, in the back, where they keep the dress forms, what do I see but that very same fabric made into a jacket!  Could it be from Project Runway?!  Does that mean my taste qualifies me to compete??  Nope, I told ya before–I’m Too S-l-o-o-o-w!

Cute Jacket. Project Runway?

So my final “taste” of New York, as we’re waiting on the Uber, is the last of many Gong Cha teas I consumed.  Gong Cha–with the tapioca pearls!  Yum!!

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I miss you, Gong Cha!  See ya next time!

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MANHATTAN HOLIDAY

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MANHATTAN HOLIDAY

If I had won the lottery, I would have purchased a penthouse apartment in New York City, but alas, it seems I’ll only be visiting. 🙂  So between Christmas and New Years, Rick and I traveled to NYC with Jennifer, Madison and Grayson.  We usually stay at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, but since we didn’t want to get involved in the ball drop hoopla, we chose the Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South.  We will definitely be staying there on future trips.

 

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Park Lane Dining Room overlooking Central Park

Park Lane Dining Room overlooking Central Park

Our first evening included the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.  Spectacular is a great description!  Not only was the show fabulous beyond our expectations, but we serendipitously met a few Rockettes at the side door afterward who graciously posed for pictures with Grayson.

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Speaking of Serendipity, after the show we were craving the Frozen Hot Chocolate offered in giant sizes at the popular restaurant.  Since the wait was seriously long, we put our name on the list and ventured out to Dylan’s Candy Bar, where Ralph Lauren’s daughter, Dylan, has established the most luscious two story candy shop right in the heart of the Upper East Side.

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Laden with candy bags, we checked our wait list at Serendipity to find we still had time to ride the Roosevelt Tram (a few blocks away) over the East River and back.

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The view from the tram is amazing!

Finally, our table was ready at Serendipity and we indulged in the Frozen Hot Chocolates!

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Serendipity!

Frozen Hot Chocolates

Frozen Hot Chocolates

Since the following day was Jennifer’s birthday, she and I enjoyed a morning of shopping.  LaDuree was our first stop where we chose a variety of macaroons to share with everyone later.

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Nearby we visited the Ralph Lauren Flagship store.

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And more fashion at Tiffany…

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Of course their tree would be adorned with little blue boxes!

While we shopped, Grayson and Grandpa climbed the rocks in Central Park.

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We all met up again in the afternoon for the Holiday Lights & Movie Sites tour.  We met our guide in the lobby of the The Shops at Columbus Circle.

Lobby of the Shops at Columbus Circle.

Lobby of the The Shops at Columbus Circle.

After a quick run to Starbucks, we boarded a very plush comfortable bus that had two screens where the guide played movie clips for the movie sights.  After the clips, we passed by the sights and the guide would provide interesting tidbits about the filming.  Some of the scenes were connected to the holidays, like Home Alone, Elf, and Miracle on 34th Street.  Others, just to name a few, were An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle as we passed the Empire State Building, and Ghostbusters as we passed the New York Public Library.  For the Holiday Lights part of the tour, the bus stopped at least four times, allowing us to depart and see the fabulous window displays at the Department Stores up close and personal. This year Bloomingdale’s theme was Holidays through the Senses.  As you viewed the windows, the scent of peppermint and cinnamon filled the air (scent),  Christmas carols were playing (hearing), greenery edged the frames you could feel (touch), peppermint was available to taste, and of course, the sight of the displays was pure eye candy!

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On the other side of Bloomie’s, there were Star Wars themed displays.

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Now Barneys had a fascinating window featuring an ice carver sculpting penguins and polar bears!  The poor guy carving was wearing an insulated suit as the temperature was four degrees Fahrenheit.  The sculptors worked six hour shifts for forty-five days straight!

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Lord & Taylor featured “A Few of Our Favorite Things.”  Here is a Sweet Shop display:

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Of course, no Holiday Lights tour would be complete without the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and Angels.  Seventy-eight feet tall and weighing in at ten tons, this year’s beauty comes from Gardiner, New York.  The tree had been in the Asendorf family for four generations but was beginning to outgrow the property, taking over the whole yard.  So the family submitted it online, Rockefeller Center’s head gardener showed up, and voilà, the tree was chosen!

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The tour concluded near the Empire State Building which was dressed in appropriate holiday colors.

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You know, one of my favorite things about New York City is the way I’m constantly surprised, in a good way.  (Not in the way that we accidentally ended up in a “special” graffiti-ridden part of Queens by subway.)  But after our tour, we entered the subway to return to our hotel and were met with an awesome five piece jazz band!

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That evening we strolled along Central Park West on our way to Jen’s birthday dinner at Tavern on the Green.

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The following day, we  toured again, and this time it was the Nolita/NoHo Food & Culture Tour.  What a culinary extravaganza!  Our guide led us to at least seven or eight establishments where we were served just enough to make us look forward to the next stop.  Everything from appetizers to dessert and then some (wine.)  Anny (yes, Anny with a “y”) such a personable and knowledgeable guide, imparted history of the neighborhoods along the way.  If you’re in Manhattan, I highly recommend this three hour walking tour.

Tacombi, one of my favorites on the tour.

Tacombi, one of my favorites on the tour.

Anny had emphasized how special and transitory the graffiti art is in New York.  She recommended capturing by photo, since it’s often here today, gone tomorrow.

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After touring, we stopped at Rizzoli, a well-known Manhattan bookstore, to browse…

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After Rizzoli, we headed back uptown and spotted preparations for the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square.  Throughout our stay in NYC, we felt totally safe and secure.  The police were very, very visible, everywhere, everyday.

Just a few of New York's finest!

Just a few of New York’s finest!

Since we weren’t planning on attending the festivities in Times Square, we toasted champagne in our room at midnight as we watched the ball drop on TV, then rushed out the front door of the hotel to watch the magnificent midnight fireworks display over Central Park.  Wish I had a picture of that!  What was I thinking?  Hmm, champagne…

The following morning we started the New Year off right by subwaying downtown to catch the Statue Cruises boat to the Statue of Liberty!  She’s so beautiful!  Such an awesome, inspiring sight!

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Here is what it looks like inside, from the pedestal upward…

Structure inside the Statue of Liberty.

Structure inside the Statue of Liberty.

Throughout the museum, there were body parts casts to give a sense of her massive size that you could use as photo ops.

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Then it was on to fascinating Ellis Island.

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The Great Hall

The Great Hall

After watching the short movie about the history of Ellis Island, we were invited to join a tour led by a park ranger (Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are a National Park.)  This man missed his calling–should have been on Broadway.  He brought the immigration experience to life by dramatically asking  questions of each person in our group as though each one of us were immigrants trying to make it through the difficult inspection process.  We learned so much!  Each immigrant was subjected to a rapid fire series of twenty-nine questions by the inspectors.  And that buttonhook that was used to flip the eyelid to check for disease–it was not cleaned from person to person!  If a family member was rejected because of disease, who would return home with them?  Our experience with the park ranger was seriously thought provoking and interesting.  Never enough time at Ellis Island!

But as we departed, the skyline beckoned us back to the mainland.

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The next item on our agenda was to visit the massive 9/11 Museum.  On a previous trip, we saw the fountains, memorial wall, and the small starter museum.  This time we were able to enter the new museum and all its many sobering exhibits.  Here is a picture to give an idea of the size of the museum.

A beam from the World Trade Center.

A beam from the World Trade Center.

The museum is, of course, a sad experience.  Although it is not a place of solitude, it is a place of respect.  Visitors speaking in hushed tones are met with display after display of personal stories, both visually and auditorily, as recordings are played of loved ones’ calls from the Towers, and 911 calls.  Screens replay the news reports of the surrounding days.  As I write this, I heave a heavy sigh, not being able to impart the gravity of this collection of tragic memories.  The hopeful elements concern the survivors and their stories.  Now that we have seen the Memorial, and the Museum, our next visit to New York should include the new One World Observatory.  The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere gives a Top of the World type experience with 360 degree views.  The elevators reach the 102nd floor in less than 60 seconds and the building offers many dining rooms and cafes.

We ended the evening with a scrumptious dinner at the ever-pleasing Balthazar restaurant.  It has been described as a “blended atmosphere of NYC, Paris, and a local diner.”  After our meal, we stopped next door to gather some of the luscious pastries at the Balthazar Bakery for dessert later. 🙂

The following day, we didn’t waste time, as it was the last day of our trip.  Of course, our final hours consisted of a little more shopping.  Our favorite was the MacKenzie-Childs store on 57th Street, within walking distance from our hotel.  Trust me, this store is a real life walk through her catalog!  Oh, the vignettes throughout the store!  Here are just a few:

Linens

Linens

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A Place for Gathering

A Place for Gathering

What?  More shopping?  Just a quick dash into the Shops at the Plaza, and meeting Grandpa for lunch in the Plaza Food Court below.

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After good-bye hugs, Jennifer and the girls were off to the airport since they were departing a few hours before us.  As for me, I said, “Grandpa, grab your Kindle.  We have one more stop to make, and it’s a short subway ride away.”

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Oh, yeah!  You didn’t think I’d miss it, did you?  As the elevator operator swung the lever on that ancient elevator door and allowed us to step into fabric Mecca, I suggested Grandpa sit up front in the “husband waiting” section, while I frantically explored all four floors and the new Mood Home next door.

A sampling pic: just one row, and there are many where that came from!

A sampling pic:  just one row of the many, many rows on every floor.

I offer a “Thank you, Mood!” and a wave good-bye!  Hauling my bulging Mood Fabric bag onto the subway, then onto the plane, I bid a fond farewell to my favorite city in the world. 🙂

 

 

 

Thanksgiving in NYC

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Jennifer, Madison and Grayson accompanied Grandpa and I on an incredible Thanksgiving Week in the BIG APPLE!  Although Jen had been before, it was awesome seeing wondrous sites through Madison and Gracie’s eyes.Even though we arrived in the evening, we still had time to

IMG_4859Visit BLOOMINGDALE’S

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And ride the ROOSEVELT TRAM with an incredible view, and visit DYLAN’S CANDY BAR  before having a 9:30 p.m. dinner at

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SERENDIPITY which was magnificently decked out for the Holidays!  (Wish I had a pic of the their famed fabulous frozen hot chocolate!  We ordered four!)

So next it was back to home base in TIMES SQUARE where it looked like daylight, of course, and shopping ensued.  Did you realize that the TOYS R US store in Times Square has a huge Ferris Wheel inside the store?

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Apparently, we were still living on Central Time (and more than a little NYC adrenaline) so we opted to taxi over to the

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EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

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Last elevator to the top is at 1:15 a.m. 🙂

Finally, ready for rest, we headed for our rooms that someone is going to LOVE on New Year’s Eve, because we faced the crystal ball that will be dropping at midnight.  Rick and I witnessed this magnificent spectacle in Times Square at the Millennium!  So exciting!

The View from Room 2636 at the Marriott Marquis

The View from Room 2636 at the Marriott Marquis

The following day we had the daylight city view from the TOP OF THE ROCK in ROCKEFELLER CENTER.  After visiting AMERICAN GIRL, Gracie watched scaffolding being placed for The Tree decorating.  And then Jen and I (like so many others) took our turn at posing with New York City’s Finest!

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Then it was off to the AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY…

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The famous Origami Christmas Tree

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Posing with Theodore, just like Night at the Museum!

Later in the afternoon, we hopped over to F.A.O SCHWARZ and spied some awesome window decorations on FIFTH AVENUE.

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Here’s an example of the intricacies from BERGDORF GOODMAN.  Just amazing!

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Sometimes a drizzle creates a dreamy effect, as in this example of contemporary meets classic: The Apple Store with THE PLAZA HOTEL in the background.


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That evening we attended the musical, ANNIE, which was utterly charming, even for adults.  The scenery and costumes were magical, the dialogue was witty, and the dog all but stole the show! 🙂  Afterward we hurried over to Grand Central Terminal for a late dinner in the balcony of CIPRIANI DOLCI overlooking the terminal.  What a view!

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On Wednesday morning it was still drizzling and cold so we experienced the STATUE OF LIBERTY from the STATEN ISLAND FERRY. 🙂

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By evening the rain had stopped and we were invited to a Blowing Up the Balloons cocktail party on the Upper West Side.  The THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE floats were anchored all around the block like elephants on parade.  Here are a few you’ll recognize.

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On Thursday, after the parade, we had our Thanksgiving Dinner atop the MARRIOTT MARQUIS  at a restaurant that revolves, hence its name, the VIEW.  The never-ending buffet was simply scrumptious.  I started with dessert and ended with dessert!

After dinner we visited the CENTRAL PARK ZOO.  It was delightful but mighty chilly.  We wimpy Texans entered the tropical bird zone, then saw other animals, then tropical bird zone, then other animals, for our off-and-on-again heating system! Beautiful but Brrrr…

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For an evening of fun, we boarded THE RIDE, a sightseeing bus that interacts with entertainers on the street.  It’s like Gray Line Tours meets Saturday Night Live. 🙂

So did I ever shop for fabric you ask?  Why, yes.  Friday was our last day, so after encouraging the others to sleep in, I headed to MOOD FABRICS!  Project Runway!!!  Times Square isn’t far from the GARMENT DISTRICT so I taxied over and fell in love!  After reminding myself that I didn’t have to choose my fabric in 30 minutes or less (ala Project Runway show) I let my heart browse and selected the most delectable pin dot velvet.  You’ll see it in future purses!  Some hand-painted buttons, heavily pleated bright orange polyester for flowers, and I just had time to snap a pic before heading back.  You know how they always show the stairway when the contestants walk in the door?    Here it is…right under the Mood sign…

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The clerk said filming is in the summer, their slower season.  An elevator attendant takes you up to the third floor and then you enter MOOD!  So classy!  I was so pumped, I walked back to the hotel.

We almost didn’t take time to visit the METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART but I’m so thankful we did.  We all enjoyed it, from the Egyptian Exhibit, to suits of armor, to Washington Crossing the Delaware!

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Our next stop was the 911 MEMORIAL.  Very, very touching and beautiful.  Dress warmly!

The newly finished building.

The newly finished building.

The Memorial Wall.

The Memorial Wall.

We couldn’t leave New York without a visit to LITTLE ITALY.  We had a lovely dinner at CAFE NAPOLI, then a few doors down, visited The Cannoli King of New York City at CAFE PALERMO!  Um, um, good!!  Cannoli and Hot Chocolate completes the evening!

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Have you hugged a cannoli today?