Saturday, January 15, 2011

Friday Sight Seeing {NYC Trip Day 8- Part 1; 12/31/10}

New Years Eve morning, we got up and inquired about a hotel room. Patty has previously had a hotel room for the night of New Year's Eve down in Times Square. She if familiar with this VERY European hotel called the Novotel. It is actually the most European hotel in NYC. But it's right on Broadway with a balcony in the lobby and an excellent view of the ball dropping, a much better way to experience Times Square at New Years than down on the streets. I actually did Times Square on New Years when I lived up here and got to ring in 2005 under fireworks and confetti, pretty amazing. But I was now excited for Kyle to experience that as well. The reason we didn't have a room booked in advance was because in order to get NYE night, you'd have to reserve 4 nights, and Patty has many times called the morning of and booked the hotel with no problem. Well we called that morning and they were booked up. Patty wasn't going to be able to stay in the hotel as she was working both New Year's Eve and NY day, Katie and YaYa had a lot of friends (about 15 or so) over to celebrate the new year in the apartment, but my other cousin Celine had 2 friends in town and she really wanted to get a hotel room as well. So we called a bit, then communicated with Celine that we wanted to go finish up our bus tour that morning and we'd be in touch about the rooms.

We took the tram over into the city.
d8 waiting for the morning tram
d8 tram ride

Here's a view of Patty's apartment from the tram
d8 RI apartment

And views of the city from the tram
d8 tram city view
d8 tram chrysler view

After the tram ride, we hopped a train down to Battery Park to pick up where we had left of (mentally left off) the bus tour the day before.
d8 lexington ave train stop

We got off the train near Trinity Church.
d8 trinity church

Remember the movie National Treasurer?
d8 trinity church on wall street

so of course we stepped inside to take a look
d8 inside trinity church

Battery park was only a couple of blocks away and it was nice to walk and see all this we couldn't see from the bus the day before. Here is looking down wall street and at the New York Stock Exchange
d8 looking down wall street

Here is the bull with a TON of people around it!
d8 NYSE bull

We also stop for a morning snack
d8 hot dog stand

Here is battery park, before getting on a tour bus, we wanted to walk down to the water to catch a view of the Statue of Liberty. There was a FOREVER long line for the ferry to go OUT to lady liberty, luckily we weren't wanting to do that today.
d8 battery park
d8 liberty from park 1 d8 liberty from park 2 d8 liberty from park 3 w seagull

We saw many of our tour buses come and go, but we were wanting an open top at this point. The weather was a little nicer than the day before, and you can just see much better sitting on top with an open view. So we made our way back toward the bus stop, still soaking in our surroundings.
d8 battery park city view
d8 liberty from park 4
On the side of that last photo you can see part of the East Coast Memorial inscribed pylon wall.

We finally see an opened topped bus pull up and we run through the crowd to catch it before it takes off. This tour guide is a black guy and seems to be pretty interesting with lots of random black history. As we leave Battery Park, we cross in front of the Staten Island Ferry port
d8 tour staten island ferry port

Our guide points out this tavern called Fraunces Tavern. It was first called 'Queen's Head' and was a revolutionary war meeting place. It claims to be the oldest building in Manhattan and there is a museum there now as well as tavern and restaurant.
d8 tour fraunces tavern

We were actually going pretty fast and it was hard to keep up with what the tour guide was talking about. He did talk about how all the offices in this area were being taken over as residential units. "If we start sleeping where we work, and working where we sleep, are we really going to get any work done"
d8 tour finiacial district

We had been in touch with Celine who at this point was still calling the Novotel about any cancellations that had popped up. Since there was the two of us, and her and two friends we were hoping the five of us could just share a 4 person room. We knew that we'd need wrist bands for each person as this was the clearance for security on the streets and the only way to be able to leave the hotel during the NYE events. The next stop was the South Street Seaport, and we decided to get off the bus and walk around the seaport for a bit.
d8 south st seaport

We walked around Pier 17 and got some nice views of the Brooklyn Bridge. This is my favorite bridge and it was a little disappointing that it was covered up in places for renovation it looked like.
d8 brooklyn bridge from seaport

We knew from the night before's bus tour that we weren't going to get a very good view of the bridge from the bus, so I was soaking in the chance to get some pictures while we were on foot.
d8 brooklyn bridge 2 d8 brooklyn bridge 1

After we walked the loop around Pier 17/Seaport. We went back to the bus stop area to wait for a bus. Again we wanted an open top. Two or three buses came, all with closed tops, but it was getting to a point we were tired of waiting. So we both said, okay next bus we're getting on no matter what cuz we've been waiting for quite a while. And of course what is the next bus to pull up.... a covered bus. Oh well we'd deal with it.
d8 tour covered bus

The view actually wasn't as bad as we thought it would be. Again we were in that area where we were sitting down below and the night before tour guide had said the bottom deck has a better view cuz all the upper deck could see was the side of FDR Drive. He was right that's about all we could see at that point.
d8 tour FDR view

About 3 minutes after getting on this covered bus, we go under one of the bridges and hear a 'tap,thud, tap' overhead on the plastic cover above us.... turns out it was a PERFECT thing we were on the covered bus, cuz if not we would have been covered with melted snow drippings :-)

We turned off of South Street and over to Allen Street through China town and Little Italy.
d8 tour china town

Our tour guide was a lady (not the same lady from yesterday, thank goodness). She was good, nothing really special about her. Speaking of our tour guide, here is a picture of her as she was point out Coyote Ugly, as we went through the East Village.
d8 tour coyote ugly

She talked about how these various areas, housed a lot of immigrants and it used to be predominately new immigrant communities. It was hard to soak in everything she was saying as we had the hotel on our mind and I was texting back and forth with Celine throughout parts of these areas.

We passed by the UN on 1st Ave, which is where we got off the bus last night. Notice the drops on the top of this picture... that is the snow droppings melting down that would have otherwise been on us, lol.
d8 tour UN

And actually during this part, I was talking back and forth with Celine (hard when your on a bus with a tour guide blaring in your ear, lol). She had contacted the hotel and found they had a cancellation. But the cancellation was only for a king size room that they were only allowing 2 people to have. So she wanted to let us know in case we wanted to call in and reserve it. I told her we did, but we were on a tour bus (and really couldn't hear much on the phone) so we got off at the next stop which was at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel. We made the call and got our hotel room booked for the night!! Sweet! We were set! It was about 12 or 1 at this point. But it was actually great timing, because as we waited for the next tour bus to hop back onto.... a bus with an open top pulled up! YIPEE!!!! This day was seeming to go along perfectly!
d8 tour open top bus

This tour guy was a white man with crazy hair, and was very energetic! As we were pulling away from the Waldorf=Astoria he told us about where that famous Marilyn Monroe picture was taken, and how they waited and waited for a subway to blow the steam up, but ended up using a fan instead, and that there was a man underneath her during that photo, probably looking straight up. This isn't the EXACT corner, but I took a picture anyway. The real corner was on the other side of the building that we didn't drive by.
d8 tour waldorf monroe site

I just looked up Marilyn Monroe and teh Waldorf on google and came across these invoice. Hmmm pretty cool.

He also told us about the history of the Waldorf=Astoria and that the greatest hotel in the city was the Waldorf. Then his son-in-law opened up the Astoria on the same block, to compete with him as the greatest hotel in the city. When the Empire State Building was built at the site of both hotels, they combined to become one hotel and moved to where they are now.

We continued on 49th with a look down Park Ave at the Met Life building which sits in front of Grand Central Terminal.
d8 tour park ave view

Next passing Rockefeller Center, and a view of where we were standing on Christmas Evening watching the bubble light show on Saks 5th Ave.
d8 tour rockefeller

We even got a better view of the Christmas Tree and could SEE the ice rink this time, unlike the crowded experience we previously had :-P
d8 tour rockefeller tree

A view of Studio 1A where my favorite morning show: the Today show is filmed "Hello Matt & Meredith!"
d8 tour studio 1A NBC news
You can also see our tour guide sitting there at the bottom of the image, nice hair :-P

There was a funny bell ringer, singing and dancing. Quite entertaining to watch.
d8 tour bell ringer

Next we turned up 6th, went by Radio City Music Hall and saw some cool Christmas decorations
d8 tour 6th ave
d8 tour christmas lights
d8 tour christmas balls
d8 tour radio city music hall

I'm not sure what this building is called, it's on 57th between 6th Ave and 5th Ave... I just like it cuz it's so slanty, I remember it from my walking adventures years ago.
d8 tour slanty collage

We passed lots of buildings and learned lots of random facts
d8 tour clock building

We ended up going north on Madison and coming around to the corner of central park where the Plaza Hotel sits,
d8 tour plaza

and cruising along Central Park South. We got some nice views of Central Park.
d8 tour central park
d8 tour central park horses

Then our tour guide told us (the 2 couples left on the bus) about The Ritz-Carlton.
d8 tour central park south

He prefaced the story talking about central park and the lawns, and how in the summer you can find woman laid out in their bikinis all over because it's the city's backyard... then he went on to tell us about how the Ritz-Carlton supplies all their hotel guests with telescopes for their rooms....
d8 tour ritz telescope d8 tour ritz telescope 2
for 'bird-watching'. And sure enough almost EVERY window we could see had a telescope sitting in it.

We turned the corner down 7th Ave and passed this beautiful building, he pointed out the exterior, but I don't really remember, I just remember thinking it was a pretty building.
-d8 tour petrossian

Then we arrived back where we started at Times Square.
d8 tour kyle times square

We walked through Times Square for a moment, they were getting ready to close it down at 3, in preparation for the evening's party. We saw all the police officers spreading out to their stations.

We even got a glimpse of the crazies already standing, huddled together near the tip of times square. You can see the dog they have for sniffing bombs.
d8 NYE times square

After this we walked and got a bite to eat, headed toward the Tram and back to Patty's apartment to get our bag and head back in to our hotel.... which I will blog about in another post.

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