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July, 1999

"He admired New York City. He idolized it out of all proportion."
- (Woody Allen's Manhattan)

New York is my all-time favorite city in the world to visit. There are so many things to see and do, 24 hours a day. Since Julie's sister Elaine was travelling with us, I made a comprehensive itinerary so that she would be able to see all the major sights in the city. Julie and I had visited in 1995 and saw most of the major sights, but we still wanted to see and do more. As a bonus, with Elaine travelling with us, Julie and I finally have someone else who can take pictures of us while on vacation.


Reflection Of Us In Front Of The United Nations

It all started with our ride to the airport. Julie's dad was willing to give us a ride to the airport at 5:00 a.m. All we had to do was call him up 30 minutes before we were ready. Of course, someone left the phone off the hook, so when we tried calling, all we got was a busy signal. Fortunately, Elaine's husband Terry was able to drive us to the airport on time.

We arrived in Toronto to catch our connecting flight to New York City. Of course, our flight was cancelled. While Julie and Elaine were in line to re-book a flight for the next morning, I was on the phone to complain. However, the Canadian Airlines representative I was speaking to said that she would be able to book us on an Air Canada flight that night. The only catch was that it departed in half an hour. I quickly told her to book it, hung up, then ran over to Julie and Elaine. I said something unintelligible like "Igotaflightbookedbutitleavesin30minutes...". We grabbed our luggage and ran; ran like the wind. Not only did we have to run to catch the flight, but the flight left in a different terminal. We sprinted to the exit, where a cabbie quickly extorted us out of $10 to get us to the next terminal. Unfortunately, all the running was futile, as the plane closed its doors just as we arrived at the Air Canada ticket counter. We despondently boarded a shuttle back to the first terminal, sweat dripping down our faces. Everyone else on the shuttle was staring at us like we were aliens. Fortunately, we were able to leave for New York the next morning.

Top Of The World! (Trade Center)

As we approached La Guardia airport in Queens, our plane gently flew over Manhattan, revealing its architectural splendor. We floated over the skyscrapers that dotted Manhattan, and I noticed Gretzky's "99" painted on top of Madison Square Garden (being from Edmonton, this had special relevance). After we departed the plane, in less than 10 minutes, we were able to immediately pick up our bags and were then whisked away in a taxi. In New York, we stayed at the Quality Hotel and Suites on 46th Street, a couple of blocks south of Rockefeller Center and two blocks away from Times Square. Although the room was a bit small (nothing more than a couple of beds, a dresser, and a desk), it was fairly cheap considering the location. Continental breakfast was included, although the "One Apple Per Person - No Exceptions" rule was a bit strict. And the hotel could use more than one elevator. Also, the ice machine was kaput for our entire stay.

The highlights of the trip include:
The disappointments of the trip include:

Julie and Elaine saw "Beauty and the Beast" on Broadway


We visited Chinatown four times in six days. Not necessarily for the food or the culture, but mainly for the shopping on Canal Street. Tag Heuer watches for $8! Mont Blanc pens for $4! Oakley's for $5! "The Phantom Menace" on video for $5! Pokemon paraphenalia for $3! Hmmmmm..... I wonder if they're authentic? We did have a few meals of varying degrees of quality, but they were the cheapest meals in the city. One major change I noticed in Chinatown was that, compared to when we visited in 1995, Chinatown has expanded. Chinatown is getting exponentially bigger, while Little Italy is becoming smaller and smaller.

The Brooklyn Bridge, as seen from the South Street Seaport


Of all the fancy hotels in Manhattan (and there are a LOT of them), the one that first comes to mind is the Plaza Hotel. It was the setting of all those movies, such as Plaza Suite, Crocodile Dundee, and Home Alone 2. Situated perfectly on the corner of Central Park South and luxurious 5th Avenue, the Plaza is a modern-day legend.

Elaine had the idea to have high tea at the Plaza. For $29.95, you get a pot of tea (free refills on hot water - what a country!), two 1-inch pastries, two mini-scones, and two small finger sandwiches. Since the cost of this tea was our food budget for two days, we had to stretch it out as long as possible. I was tempted to take some of the untouched pastries at the next table, where a couple had just finished up and left (that's how hungry I was). Despite the cost, this was one of the highlights of the trip. I imagined that everyone else sitting in the Palm Court was rich and famous. Hey, maybe the other people thought that of us! Regardless of our self-dillusionary fame, we managed to stretch out our tea time to almost two hours.


Tea At The Plaza Hotel


The Museum of Modern Art was the one major New York museum that Julie and I didn't get a chance to visit last time we were here. And I am glad we did. Some of the famous paintings we saw included:


Standing In Front Of The Apollo Theater In Harlem

Elaine was on TV! (on The Today Show)


Although our initial destination was Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, I thought it would be a good idea to get off the bus a few blocks early, in Chelsea. We did the obligatory shopping at the Gap (like there's a difference between the Gap in New York and the one in Edmonton), Banana Republic, and J. Crew. I am reluctant to admit it, but one of the main sights that Julie and I wanted to see in New York was an Old Navy store (there are no Old Navy stores in Canada). Lo and behold, after we finished shopping at Bed, Bath & Beyond, across the street was our shopping nirvana. We spent what seemed like hours in Old Navy, giddy as school kids. And to cap off a perfect morning, I found a Gray's Papaya a couple of blocks away. Two "gourmet" hot dogs and a papaya drink for under 2 bucks. This was right after Julie had some great chocolate bread at a French bakery, and Elaine bought a pickle the size of a football at a gourmet deli. A perfect morning indeed.

In fact, Elaine had an even better morning. Both the Doobie Brothers and Chicago were playing an outdoor concert in front of the Today Show set that morning. Elaine thought that both bands were the "grooviest bands in the 70's, man". Peace. Anyways, Elaine woke up at 4:00 a.m. to get a good spot in front of the Chicago stage. At the end of their set, she even got the drummer's used drum sticks.


Dinner At The Carnegie Deli (Note The Size Of My Sandwich)

Overall, it was a great trip. We had so much fun. Julie and I managed to see a lot of sights that we didn't have time to see in 1995, such as: We would love to go back to New York for a third time, sometime in the future. It'll be a blast...

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