Travel Diary
 
October 20, 2002
New York, NY


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We didn't expect that we'd end up venturing into New York City, but we're very glad we did. We parked the house in a town called Newburgh, NY, which is about 50 miles north of the city. It was a short drive to the train station where we caught a train into the city. The ride was an easy hour and fifteen minutes each way.

We got into Grand Central Station at about 10:15 in the morning and hopped in a taxi that went up Madison Avenue, and through Central Park to Pete's cousin Sheafe's apartment building in Morningside Heights, or the upper Upper West Side. We had a nice brunch with Sheafe and his wife, Gina, at a restaurant in their neighborhood that is known for having live opera nights featuring students from the local music schools, and the occasional opera star.

After brunch, we went to see the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, which is also in their neighborhood. It happens that this is the church where they got married. It's also an amazing building that is the largest cathedral in North America.

Here is the front of the cathedral.

Cathedral

This is the Great Rose Window. It is over 40 feet in diameter, and has over 10,000 pieces of stained glass.

Cathedral

The most amazing part about the cathedral is that it is not yet complete. Here's a picture of the stone work over the main doors -- notice the simple square blocks of stone above the door. These simple blocks of stone are still due to be replaced by carved stone figures. Sheafe told us that the figures to the left side of the door just below where the arch begins to take shape have been added fairly recently.

Cathedral

We parted company with Sheafe and Gina and hopped on the subway to head to points downtown. Our first stop was Lincoln Center. We didn't make time to see a performance, but we did see crowds waiting for a matinee at one of the smaller theaters, and we checked out the schedules for what was playing.

Lincoln Center

From there we walked to Columbus Circle and across the south end of Central Park. We stopped by the Plaza to consider having tea, but it was too early -- they were still serving brunch. We decided that our $75 per person would best be spent elsewhere.

The Plaza Hotel

Rather than tea we decided to have a slice of New York pizza.

New York pizza

We stopped by to see the lobby of Trump Tower, and we strolled down 5th Avenue past the fancy shops, and the street vendors with their Oakley sunglasses, Rolex watches, and Gucci purses. From there, we headed to the Avenue of the Americas which, to our surprise, was closed to vehicles and had a street fair with food vendors and more shopping. We thought it was a fine way to see the outside of Radio City Music Hall.

Street fair in front of Radio City Music Hall

From Radio City we continued our walk to Times Square. It looks pretty much just the way you see it on New Year's eve without the crowds or the confetti. The neon signs seem to be dwarfed by the giant video screens that cover the center building, and parts of the buildings on either side. It's quite a sight to see in person since the pictures on all of the screens are constantly changing.

Times Square

One last subway ride took us to Union Square near 14th Street and New York University. This was another neat neighborhood that had nice shops and cafes. It's also where we decided to have dinner.

On a hunch we stopped for dinner at the Blue Water Grill. We knew it was going to be interesting when they told us they had immediate seating in the jazz dining room in the basement. We got a great table about 15 feet from the piano. The live jazz trio was the perfect accompaniment to our meal. It didn't feel appropriate to take pictures, but it was one of the best meals of the trip. We started with a crispy oyster sushi roll with cucumber and mango. Mary had Maryland-style crab cakes with purple-potato salad. Pete had mahi-mahi with lobster mashed potatoes. We finished the meal with a Valhrona chocolate cake, and creme brulee. It was a perfect meal to end our wonderful day in the city.

The best part of the day was realizing that New York isn't really as big and scary was we had thought. The neighborhoods away from big tourist areas like Times Square felt very comfortable and were not overly crowded. We did a lot with the few hours we had in the city, but most of all, we decided that we should try to go back sometime.

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