September 7, 2012
A NYC Weekend at Age 83: Will I Manage as Well as I Did Last Year? Part 2
This update completes my recap, begun Wednesday (http://bit.ly/TXagmT) on my Labor Day weekend in New York City with my housemates Nimesh and Bhawana. It was Bhawana's first visit to NYC and my first trip since my car crash last August and the resulting lower back pain that flares up when I walk.
I ended Wednesday's post by saying I'd finish it on Thursday. It was ready to go about midnight on Wednesday, when I hit a mysterious key and everything disappeared. [expletive deleted]
So... we thoroughly enjoyed the the Saturday matinee of the hit musical The Book of Mormon. Nimesh got a signed playbill and photo with one of the stars, and bought a t-shirt souvenir which he immediately donned as we headed to the subway for our next adventure.
The title of the musical's most popular song (the one that made us laugh every time we heard it in the car last summer) is emblazoned on the t-shirt: "Hasa Diga Eebowai." Ugandan natives sing it to explain their philosophy of life to the newly-arrived young Mormon missionaries: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IjBi1eEaAA.
We headed to the High Street subway station at the Brooklyn end of the Brooklyn Bridge. I wanted to show Nimesh and Bhawana one of my favorite things to do in NYC: walk back to Manhattan on the bridge, enjoying the spectacular skyline views and making the short walk to Chinatown. An enterprising plan for a guy with a bad back!
Here I am, exiting the station, wondering about the latest example of my tendency to overdo it:
Fortunately, a cab driver had told us we should go to Grimaldi's Pizzeria (http://www.grimaldis.com/) for the "best pizza in the city." We decided to check it out before crossing the bridge. When we got there just after 5pm, there was already block-long line waiting to get in. Since standing in line is one of my least favorite things to do, we moved on to a riverfront restaurant down the street, where we enjoyed an early supper and a magnificent vista of the city.
Here I am, looking back at the bridge thinking "I'd rather enjoy the view sitting here than see the same thing walking up there."
And the view was terrific:
As a bonus, we found a ferry stop under the bridge that terminated at 34th Street in Manhattan: a much more scenic, fun way back into town than by subway!
Hmmm. I wonder if we could peddle that photo to Frommer's. Here, Nimesh is holding Frommer's New York City day by day -- 25 Smart Ways to See the City.
The ferry gets ready to cross the river to its final stop, just to the left of the UN Building:
Nimesh and Bhawana had heard from some of their DC friends who were also spending the weekend in NYC. They had all agreed to meet up on the High Line, the abandoned West Side rail line smartly renovated as an urban park and walk. I'd never been there, and it was one of the items on my friend Bonnie's list of things to do. Although the gauge on my energy tank was slipping toward empty, I tagged along. Fortunately, there were lots of benches along the walk. Here I am, at the end of the Nepali lineup:
Nearly out of steam, I headed back to the hotel. Along the way, still on the High Line, I decided to pause and meditate for a few minutes, hoping to replenish my energy tank. I positioned myself on a bench, adjusted my hands into my "secret handshake," and closed my eyes. When I opened them again, I found the lighted Empire State Building to the left, and the Chrysler Building on the right. Between them, and framed by two smaller buildings, was the just-risen full moon. Wow! Where was my camera when I really needed it?
Of course, the young'uns kept on going; after all, it was Saturday night in the Big City. Here they are, settling in for dinner around midnight at a Nepali restaurant in the Bronx:
I was back at the hotel, sound asleep.
Understandably, Nimesh and Bhawana were late risers on Sunday, so I had a nice couple of hours with my coffee and the Sunday New York Times. I searched Google for brunch recommendations in Chelsea or Greenwich Village. I found the Green Table in the Chelsea Market, which Bonnie had also recommended. So when my fellow travelers awoke, we headed there. A great choice: the Market was vibrantly alive, and the Green Table food was excellent.
Since it was morning and my energy was high, I decided we should walk from the Chelsea Market to one of my favorite spots: Washington Square. That stroll would give us a chance to check off another of Bonnie's suggestions: a walk along famous Bleecker Street in the Village.
One of my regrets is not having spent a year or two working in NYC and living in the Village or Chelsea. City life is great for the young and care-free, or for the old and wealthy... or reasonably well-to-do. For those in between, that trite adage is probably true: "New York is a great place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there."
When we got to Washington Square, we listened to a good jazz combo. Later, we watched a musician readying his grand piano on the sidewalk in another part of the park. Of course, we took the usual photos, with the arch and fountain as backdrops:
Then we headed for Battery Park and the ferry to the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island. I had never toured either, for the same reason that kept me from making the tour this time: I don't stand in long lines. (I was trying to think of the last time I stood in a long line. It was probably the hour-long line to get into the National Cathedral in Washington to hear the Dali Lama speak. I was with a group of Nepali friends; we phoned in a pizza order and had it delivered to us in the line that stretched down Massachusetts Avenue.)
We hadn't read Frommer's tip that you could eliminate the wait for the Statute of Liberty ferry by buying and printing online tickets. So, Nimesh stood in the long line while I sat on a bench and ate an ice cream bar. But then, there was the long, long security-check line before boarding the ferry:
After standing for about five minutes, I said, "I'm sorry but I'm going to head back to the hotel." Nimesh and Bhawana soldiered on, and got to the Statute of Liberty:
They decided to scratch the Ellis Island tour. When they got back to Battery Park, they walked up to the financial district so Nimesh could deliver a well-placed kick to the Wall Street Bull:
In the evening, they went to Brooklyn to meet with several of Nimesh's relatives. I enjoyed a quiet, recuperative evening back at the hotel.
Labor Day Monday
Before checking out of the hotel and heading for Penn Station, Nimesh and Bhawana made a pilgrimage to the younger generation's Mecca:
The old man was happy to be headed home after this "test drive" to NYC:
And Bhawana survived her introduction to Manhattan's madness:
As I said, I was eager to see how I'd handle this trip, the first since my car crash last August. That accident added lower back pain -- a particular new worry -- to my list of afflictions. I've got a few observations, and some ideas that might make future travels easier for me, but I'll hold them for another day.