Thursday, July 08, 2004

Big Apple Adventures

I have returned to the Midwest from my New York City July 4th Vacation Spectacular! With the help of my tour guide, Amy Becker, I was able to experience a tailor-made trip. Amy created a NYC itinerary that was designed just for me in mind. Some people may find it important to see every famous landmark ever erected in NYC in this short four-day trip, but we saw important sites and some less visited sites too!
Things that I Did/Saw/Experienced in New York City That I Could Not Do/See/Experience in Iowa...

I arrived in New York City and took my first cab ride to Midtown Manhattan. Milner, my Russian cab driver, was very nice. I dropped my suitcase off at Amy's office and began my journey around Times Square. It was surreal because so many of the sites were familiar to me, yet I had never been to New York before. I say Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, ABC Studios, and TRL Studios. After Amy finished work, I took my first subway ride back to her place in Brooklyn. She lives in a great neighborhood with a lot of character. We walked over to a restaurant called Alma. It was a rooftop restaurant with a great view of lower Manhattan. We drank Mojitos and had great conversation.
We started the day by visiting a local bakery in Brooklyn called Mazzola. Amy enjoyed a chocolate croissant and I had a danish. Sitting outside, I enjoyed the Italian man in bright green pants whose job it was to deliver "Zingers" to anyone who passed by. For example, my zinger was, "Whoa. Is that danish for breakfast and lunch?!" I also observed a hearse drive up to the bakery with a tall, skinny Italian man with an oversized coat and a scary looking Italian in the passenger seat wearing a fedora. There was a coffin in the back, but they also needed some bake goods. It felt right since I was in Brooklyn.
After, I enjoyed the Amy Becker walking tour of NYC. We started in lower Manhattan where we saw the site of the World Trade Center. Wall Street and the Stock Exchange were guarded with police officers in full gear and machine guns. At Battery Park, I saw the Statue of Liberty and several men trying to sell purses and watches.
We visited Chinatown where there were lots of opportunities for me to buy knock-off designer handbags, but instead, I purchased some Asian looking handbags...again, I couldn't find that in Ankeny. I was proud of my bargaining skills. I saved $6!
We walked through Little Italy, SoHo, and the Village. We stopped at the Prada store, but it was so artsy-fartsy, I couldn't stand it. It had no sign that said Prada. One is just supposed to know that it is there.
We enjoyed a spicy Polish sausage in Central Park, but not before we stopped at the Plaza to use their bathroom. Bathrooms are scarce in have to be aware of your needs at all times. During our lunch on the grass at Central Park, we sat near a man who was being read the Bible by his lady friend as he enjoyed some weed. He later got up to wow us with his flute skills. I don't think he actually knew how to play the flute.
We walked to the Museum of Television and Radio where a person can watch almost any television program every made. Amy and I enjoyed a Days of Our Lives episode where Steve married Kayla on his boat. For all of you fans out there, it was the one where Kayla miraculously got her voice back during her vows. The fashion and hairstyles made us laugh till we cried.
Back in Midtown, we met Wes for a snack at McDonald's before we went to our show. I had my first celebrity spotting! Wes alerted me to Jane Seymour of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman fame getting cash from the cash machine. She looked very classy in her white suit and very beautiful. We enjoyed Hairspray the musical.
We stopped for a couple bottles of wine and sat on Wes's rooftop enjoying the view until about 5 AM. Amy and I took a cab over the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun began to rise. We needed some sleep after such a busy day.
We woke up late because of the late night before. We had a brunch and took off for Coney Island. We enjoyed The Cyclone, The Breakdance, and The Wonder Wheel. Amy liked the Cyclone, but I was a fan of the Breakdance because it was half Scrambler and half Tilt-a-Wurl. We almost barfed. It was great. After the rides, we sat on the beach for a couple hours where we enjoyed the people watching. We saw a man with an albino boa constrictor, a topless woman, two weed smoking gentlemen, and one little girl who wanted to hang out with anyone but her mom. Not only did we ride the Breakdance, I was also able to enjoy some boardwalk performers who amazed us with their breakdancing styles.
We walked down to Brighton Beach where we ate Russian food. Amy ate borscht, blintzes, caviar, and lamb kabobs. I ate the blintzes and some of my pork kabobs. The waiter also hit on Amy. We enjoyed the boardwalk musicians with their accordions and organs.
After dinner, we met Wes and his friend at Spectrum in Brooklyn. This is the bar where Saturday Night Fever was filmed. We stayed up late dancing and having a great time.
Happy 4th of July! Lunch at Junior's was excellent. Amy made another wise choice that suited me very well. Junior's is famous for its cheesecake, but we had other treats. I enjoyed a pineapple float, mac and cheese, and brisket sandwiches. We traveled to the South Side Seaport where a street fair was being held. Great shopping and food. I bought an Indian style pillowcase that will probably be used for something else. I also used the bathroom at Fraunce's Tavern where George Washington said good-bye to his troops back in the day.
Later, we walked to the Promenade, which is in Brooklyn across from lower Manhattan to view the fireworks. It was crowded and at one point, an angry Latina told me to hold back the people that were coming into our area. I had a feeling that I was not going to be able to control this New York crowd. While I was waiting for the fireworks, a nice man gave me some literature for Jews for Jesus.
The fireworks were synchronized with the Statue of Liberty. I could see the fireworks from lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. It was a surreal experience. It felt like I should have been watching it on television, but I was really there.
Box karaoke followed the fireworks. Wes, Amy, and I met their friend Daniel and his friends at Sing Sing where we had our very own karaoke room. Here are a few of the selections of the evening...
-"You Don't Bring Me Flowers"-Amy & Myself
-"It's All Coming Back to Me Know"-Wes
-"Summertime"-Amy and Wes
-"Proud Mary"-Myself
-"Release Me"-Myself
-"We've Only Just Begun"-Wes
Box karaoke is something that I could become addicted to. So fun.
I said good-bye to Wes and we went back to Brooklyn where we stayed up very late talking.
This was my last day in NYC. Amy and I ate at Savoia where we had wonderful pizza with an oil sauce, cheese, sausage, and red peppers. We were walking to get a treat at Sweet Melissa's when we were caught in a downpour. I purchased my second umbrella in New York at that moment. We made it to Sweet Melissa's to enjoy a cafe au lait and some decadent Chocolate Mousse with a fantastic hazelnut crust. Then, it was time to say good-bye and thank you to Amy. I made it back to Iowa where I have told many people about my NYC adventures. They all say, "Oh, you did so much." I feel the same way. It is because of Amy Becker's thoughtful planning that I had such a wonderful trip. Thanks, Amy.


Amy said...

I had a fantastic time on Sara's visit - possibly the most fun I've ever had with a visitor in NYC. Possibly the most fun I've ever had in NYC period. Perhaps Sara and Tim should think about moving to this great city. You know, Tim: with cable, you can watch the Vikings from anywhere (well, I think that's true anyway - I can't afford cable because I live in NYC). I would do it all again, with the possible exception of The Breakdancer, from which I'm still reeling.

Oh, and Sara has left out MY favorite karaoke moment: her moving duet with Wes of that all time classic, Up Where We Belong.

Amanda said...

What a great trip!

I knew you would have a great time! Everyone needs a tour guide as wonderful, knowledgable, and fun as Amy Becker!