Packed up Saturday night after dinner. Tina kindly offered to take my jeweller's saw, the pieces of glass and my books home in her checked luggage so I was able to continue my trip with just carry-on. Went for an early breakfast then spent some time with Tina, Erika and Lucille before heading to the airport for the flight to New York City.
Arrived at JFK at 4 p.m. but due to a misunderstanding with the shuttle company and traffic, didn't meet Leanne at our hotel until about 7:30. I only have a 'pay as you go' cell phone which is useless in the States so couldn't even let Leanne know that all was well.
Leanne had arrived a couple days earlier plus she's a big 'planner' so she had already seen one Broadway show (Book of Mormon) and done a fair bit of exploring. We stayed at the Salisbury Hotel, across from Carnegie Hall and just a couple blocks from Central Park. 85 years old but immaculate and wonderful staff.
Dropped off my luggage and went out to see Times Square and grab something to eat.
Monday, April 22 Headed out at 10 a.m. to Central Park, Strawberry Fields and the Dakota. Then back through Central Park to Museum Mile. The Metropolitan Museum is closed on Mondays so couldn't go there. The Guggenheim was open but we hadn't looked into what was on display there so we went farther down to the Jewish Museum. The Six Things exhibit was very interesting and thought-provoking. Other than that, we were quite disappointed in the first rooms we visited as the displays and information about them were quite a distance apart. But the exhibits we saw later were much easier to view and incredibly interesting.
When we left there, we had an incredibly interesting conversation about children's literature. Leanne is very knowledgeable in that area and I learned a lot from her.
We had to stop in at FAO Schwarz and check it out. They do have a dollhouse miniature section but after Chicago it seemed pretty mundane.
Then on to St. Patrick's Cathedral. It's currently undergoing a huge restoration so you can't see the totality of its beauty and majesty but it's a very moving place to visit.
Next stop was the Amsterdam Theater where we got tickets to see "Chicago" that night. (Good price and excellent seats!)
After seven solid hours of walking, we finally stopped and had some dinner. Then we went to the M&M store for awhile then back to the theatre.
The lead, Roxie Hart, was played that night by Paige Davis, whom you may remember as the hostess of early episodes of the design show, Trading Spaces. She was great in the role and it was nice to see her fulfilling her dream of performing on Broadway.
It was my first Broadway show and couldn't have been a better experience.
Tuesday, April 23 A couple months ago, I got us tickets to a taping of the ABC cooking/talk show "The Chew". I'm not much of a cook myself but Leanne is an excellent cook and baker. And the Food Channel is one of her favourites so she was thrilled to have a chance to see Chefs Symon and Batali in person. The show is taped at the studio at 30W 67th Street so not a bad walk from the hotel. We HAD to be there by 10:45 a.m. but actually arrived shortly before 10 - and we weren't first in line. It was chilly but not raining! Waited outside until 11 then moved in to the green room where we supplied with bottled water and granola bars.
About 11:45, we moved into the studio and were put through our "audience" paces. I had really hoped that Leanne would get a seat at the tasting table but that didn't happen.
Olympic figure skater, Brian Boitano, was the guest chef and each audience member got a copy of his cookbook "What Would Brian Boitano Make?". Some good recipes!
The show is taped in real time so it started at noon and taping ended at 1 p.m. We were kept about 15 minutes longer to do more clapping so each section of the audience could be filmed separately.
It was an interesting experience but you see the show better on TV than from the studio audience.
It will be aired tomorrow, May 9.
Went back to the hotel then took a cab to Macy's. Had some lunch there then looked around. Built in 1902, Macy's Herald Square was the first building in the world to have the modern day escalator. The wooden escalators are still in use today! Leanne has been, I think she said, on the longest and most vertical escalators but this one was a weird experience for her.
Leanne found a sweater that she liked but we were running a bit short on time as we had theatre tickets for 7 p.m. so cut our shopping short.
On our way back to Broadway, we stopped at a Skechers shoe store and found some great walking shoes on sale "buy one pair, get second pair 50% off". We waited for about 10 minutes while they looked for our sizes but the music was just so loud we had to leave before we were served. This volume was an issue in almost all the stores we visited on Times Square.
Went to dinner then to see "Jersey Boys". The Four Seasons were one of my favourite musical groups during my high school days so I really LOVED the music. Their story was told wonderfully throughout the show from the viewpoint of each of the group members. GREAT show!!!
Wednesday, April 24 Up early and headed straight to the Grey Line Tours shop where we got 2-day passes then headed out on our first tour of the day!
We headed out on the hop on: hop off Downtown Tour which includes Greenwich Village, Times Square, Empire State Building, Flatiron building, Union Square, Soho, Chinatown, Little Italy, Lower East Side, East Village, and Rockefeller Center. It was really interesting to realize how very much more you could see from the top of the two decker bus PLUS being ON the street as opposed to being on the sidewalk.
Hopped off the bus to pay our respects at the 9/11 Memorial. Once you begin the journey at the information centre, it's a LONG time until you get there. (And a friend mentioned today that the Boston Marathon bombings might have influenced our experience.) Once you make it through security, it's very beautiful. SO sad to read the names of those who were killed. BUT there is hope in the tree that survived. It was in full bloom while we were there and such a harbinger of peace and hope.
After leaving the Memorial, we went to St. Paul's Chapel which served as a place of rest and refuge for recovery workers at the WTC site. I don't have words to describe our feelings...especially as we personally know one of the rescue workers, Andy Kwok of the Salvation Army.
(For those of you who were on Small Stuff Digest at the time of 9/11, I saved all the digests from that time and have them in a duotang binder. Terrible slice of life. Along similar lines, Leanne has a friend who has often run the Boston Marathon. There was much concern among her friends until they confirmed that she had not been there this year. Just yesterday I found out that a group of students and teachers from the school where I used to work had been in Boston during the bombing.)
Let's pause a moment to remember all the souls lost to terrorism.
Got back on the tour, saw and heard a lot of NYC history.
Got back near our hotel then went back out on the Night Tour. We left about 5 p.m. so didn't see all the night lights but went across the Manhattan Bridge to the Brooklyn...and back again.
Thursday, April 25
Oh, my goodness! This is our last full day in NYC and we haven't begun to see everything we had hoped to see. But we got off to an early bus tour start with the Uptown Loop: Central Park West, Lincoln Center, Dakota Apartments, American Museum of Natural History, Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Grant's Tomb, Apollo Theater, Harlem Market, The Museum Mile, Fifth Avenue.
Got back to our hotel area and went to the Carnegie Deli for lunch. OOH MY... Now be prepared because they only take cash... We decided to go with the shared platter...Think it was about $26... half buns with 2 each of chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad, shrimp salad....OMG...there was at LEAST one cup of each filling on each half bun...................The leftovers filled two takeout packages. The coconut cream pie (my weakness) was at least 5" tall! Now that was more mousse than custard filling so was a bit lighter to eat than I had expected. (We did take the leftovers back to the hotel before we headed out for the rest of the day!) Leanne said if we had discovered this at the beginning of the trip, we would have had lunch there and taken the rest back to the hotel for dinner each day..
Aside from the incredible food...and incredible portions!..this is one of the places that has autographed pictures of celebrities all over the walls. As we waited for our food, we discovered that one of the pictures just behind me was of Rob Christie..an Edmonton radio personality!!
We took the bus tour back to Macy's where they had a HUGE plus size department. Leanne did some major shopping there. (If you go to the basement of Macy's to the Visitor center, you can get a coupon for 25% off your purchases if you're out of country and 10% if you're out of state!)
We got a bit misdirected when we left Macy's and were looking for the Duck Tape store we had seen the day before but we finally found it - INCREDIBLE selection and prices at least half of here - and visited a bead store along the way. The bead store was great but a bit overwhelming so I didn't buy anything.
Getting back to the hotel got a bit problematic as the NFL draft was taking place and we had to fight our way through those crowds.
But we made it through, stopped at Toys R Us where they had a sale (!?!) on Lego. Leanne texted Sean to see what she should buy for Jonah and Holly....no reply.... But I found my Nanoblocks NOT 1:12 but really small...and love them!
Left there and went back to the hotel. Just settled in when Sean returned Leanne's text...So BLESS HER HEART, she went back to the store and picked up the Legos that Jonah and Holly would like.
Friday, April 26
A VERY early day! Leanne and I took different flights out but both from JFK so got on the shuttle at 5:30.
One of the first times in my life, I picked up a bottle of Scotch at Duty Free. Received it, of course, as I boarded my flight to Toronto so put it in my carry-on.
Got to Toronto...deplaned and since I had a couple hours, went outside for a cigarette!! Then went back through security where, OF COURSE, I can't take the Scotch through on carry-on! Security was very understanding about the whole thing.... but I had to go out, repack, check one bag (Love WestJet - no problem - very understanding) then go through security again. PITA!
Flight left on time but was 1/2 hour late arriving in Edmonton then had to wait for my checked bag but DBIL Grahame was very patient...
Got home to find the outdoor key access to the condo had been changed (not unexpectedly) but found a friend who would let me in so HOME AT LAST!!!
Called my Mom, Leanne, Sean and my sisters to let them know I was home and all was well!
Thank you to all who have followed me through this journey. It was truly a trip of a lifetime. And DD Leanne is the absolute best trip companion I ever could have had.
I'm sorry I didn't have many pictures to show you. I get caught up in the moment and forget about getting the camera out. But I did try to include as many internet links as I could which would give you much more information and much better pictures than I could ever have taken.
It's been a long odyssey...and each of these posts has taken about 5 hours to write..so I hope you've enjoyed the trip.