"Empire State of Mind"

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Flag of United States  , New York
Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I arrived in New York early Thursday morning. After my miserably cold, 4 hour flight, I was ready to hit the town.  My hero, Adam, picked me up from the airport with my drink of choice (Coca-Cola) waiting for me in the cup holder and off we went for the Big City. Our first and most important item of business was to get some food.  Trying to navigate the unfamiliar streets of New York City proved to be a tricky task as we circled the same block several times in order to locate our destination(one-way streets are a b!+$#), a parking garage in which cars were packed and stacked like sardines by men who thought they were race car drivers. They reminded me a lot of the two valet men in Ferris Buellers Day off who take the Ferrari for a little joy ride. Our little blue buggy was no Ferrari, but you get the picture.

We followed the trustee GPS and after a short walk we arrived at Le Pain Quotidien. It is here that I ate possibly the most heavenly waffle I have ever tasted. I was a skeptic at first. I thought my hero had talked it up a bit too much and by the looks of the place I thought I was in for some bougie, tastless, breakfast, but was not disappointed when I took my first bite. From there we decided to take a stroll through Central Park. I had not realized how big it was! I often misjudge the size of cities and pretty much everything. Much like when I got lost in Pompeii because I did not realize the enormity of the city or thought penguins were as tall as humans for most of my life. We made our way through a small section of the Shakespeare Garden and stopped at Turtle Pond where we pondered what turtles think about all day long. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. 

Once we meandered our way out of the park we took a quick tour around Julliard and some of the neighboring areas and architecture of Manhattan. One building in particular caught me by surprise. LDS temples are usually located in open areas and are surrounded by a small garden or at least and area to sit and meditate.  When I saw the tiny Manhattan temple in the center of such madness and chaos I was taken back.

Next, we headed down south by way of subway to visit the Statue of Liberty. We boarded a ferry and sailed the very sunny, New York Harbor.  I had forgotten my sunglasses and spent most of the day blinded by the sun. Sadly, we were not able to go inside of the statue due to repairs and maintenance occuring but it was still a great site to see. From there the ferry took us to Ellis Island where we read about the history of immigration to New York. Back on the main land we walked around Financial District and took a few pictures with the bull. It is here that I noticed a plethora of men with overly slicked hair and  pin stripped, knock-off, Barney’s suits. It was a cliché I thought only existed in movies. After a little window shopping in Soho and some tasty gelato we decided to cut our day short and head back to Conneticut where we would be staying for the night. Along the way, in a tucked away park we found an overlooked segment of the Berlin Wall. This little hidden gem was a great find. We called the parking garage a few hours prior and asked if we could pick up our car earlier than planned. After some fussing and complaining from the not so pleasant valet boys, they agreed to have our car ready by 5.

We made it to the garage on time but our car was not ready. We were given the stink eye and sneered at some more and told that we would have to wait another 20 minutes for them to dig our car out. Sitting on the curb I anxiously watched as these clowns shuffled dozens of cars around like puzzle pieces. One wrong turn could badly damage ones precious Mercedes or BMW.  Finally they surrendered our vehicle to us and we were on our way. An hour drive to Greenwich, CT, was made short by my cat nap in the car. We pulled up to a gorgeous, shingle style home. It was beautiful and I am extremely grateful to the family who invited us to stay. A great first day came to an even greater end with some delicious pizza, Haribo Gummy Bears, a life size cut out of Tom Selleck, and Despicable Me. There is a reason he is called my hero.

Day two in the big city started off with a train ride from White Plains, New York to Grand Central Station.  Towards the end of our commute I began to panic. Our train had slowed to a creep inside this pitch dark tunnel that got my wild imagination running. All those horror movies I had seen of creatures and radioactive lizards that lived in underground tunnels had never felt practical until now. I was anxious to get up stairs and once I did all my irrational thoughts subsided at the sight of Grand Central Terminal. My attention was immediately caught by the astronomical ceiling in the main concourse. A grand site indeed.
Again, our first order of business in the city was food! We hunted down a Wafels and Dinges cart. My hero had once again raised my expectations of this street delicacy and I was ready to be amazed. One WMD was all it took to put me into a sugar comma. A Wafel of Massive Delicousness consists of one large wafel, butter, spekuloos spread, spekuloos ice cream, whipped cream, walnuts, and strawberries. I could be missing an ingredient or two. It was fantastic! Incredible! After devouring our breakfast we felt that we needed to work off the calories. 
So we decided to take a 2 hour boat tour haha! Not much of a workout. We rushed down the stairs to the subway just in time to catch the correct train. We were so proud of ourselves for having made it in the nick of time until we realized that our subway was delayed and going
nowhere real fast. Back up to the streets we ran and attempted to wave down a cab. No such luck so we speed walked down the street towards the harbor. On my list of sites to see was Times Square. In our rush to the harbor we happened to walk right through the square and those few minutes were enough to satisfy me. It was very chaotic, flashy, and sadly, a bit dirty. I had no interest to return later.

Only a few minutes from our tour and we were able to capture a taxi. I have been to a few countries and experienced different types of drivers and thought I had seen the worst of it. That is until we pulled away from the curb in our New York City taxi. My Wafels and Dinges were making a comeback as I sat in the back seat swerving between cars and pedestrians.  Within a matter of minutes we made it to our destination, claimed our tickets, and boarded our boat.  The two hour tour covered half of the island. We were given wonderful views of the Statue once again, the Brooklyn Bridge, and several other attractions and sites.

Our next destination was the 9/11 Memorial. After a quick street hot dog we caught the subway back up north. A few blocks walk brought us to a heavily secured fence. The entrance to the memorial was very guarded and it took a few checkpoints to get through. Once we made it in there were two beautiful falls that had been created in the very spot where the two World Trade Centers had fallen. I was very impressed with the memorial and encourage anyone who has the chance to check it out.

 Our energy was running low so we decided to take a walk along the river then search for a restaurant to have dinner. We watched the sun set some over the harbor and relaxed for a while. We then attempted to catch a cab that would take us to Bar Pitti. Again, we had no such luck catching a cab and had to walk a good 30 minutes or more to our destination.  The food was well worth the trek and gave us enough energy to make it to our final stop at Rockefeller.  
The Top of the Rock was perhaps my favorite location in the city and with such great company. A few flights and elevator rides to the top gave you an amazing few of the colorful city. It gives you a view of most of the popular destinations. The most entertaining was the view of Times Square. It glowed as if it had been hit with radioactive ooze. It looked like Las Vegas all packed into one little block. On the escalator ride down my skirt got caught and I thought for a moment that I might get sucked in! I am glad to say I survived. It wouldn’t be an Angela adventure if I didn’t have a brush with death. Death by escalator included. My only other mishap was a close call with a bus while crossing the street. We circled around Rockefeller and headed back towards Grand Central to catch our last train back to Greenwich. 

Saturday was going to be a long day. We needed to make the 5 hr drive up state to Seneca Falls where we would be staying for our last night. I tried my hardest to stay awake and entertain the driver but my efforts were futile. The scenery was beautiful. Summer had officially ended and you could see little glimpses of orange and red start to appear on the tips of trees.

 After a brief stop in Seneca Falls, we made another drive to Niagra Falls. Not wanting to go through the hassle of border patrol we decided to stay on the American side. We waited in line for the opportunity to do the Wind Caves and while waiting we commented on the goofy footwear that we saw a few tourists wearing. Once to the end of the line we realized we would also be required to wear the goofy sandals.  After yet another line to take the elevator that would lead us to the falls, we grabbed our fashionable ponchos and footwear and headed for the falls.

Many of the poor reviews for the American side of the falls consisted of the lack of a good view, but I was not disappointed. The falls were beautiful and the Wind Caves gave you a great path that allowed you to get close enough to the rush and roar. Needless to say I returned from the falls soaked. Those bright yellow ponchos only do so much when you are pushed into the down pour of the falls by your trusted hero.  

On the drive back we stopped in Buffalo for some dinner at Duffs and ate none other than wings. I was harassed and chastised for eating a few wings with a fork. They were hot and I stand by my method of eating wings. We returned to Seneca Falls and ended the late night with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Very appropriate for a visit to New York.

My last day in New York started with a delicious homemade breakfast then a short drive to Palmyra. There we walked the trails of the Sacred Grove and captured a few pictures of the temple. With only a few hours left we decided to visit one of the Finger Lakes in Canadaigua, then head towards the airport.

My trip to New York was amazing and cut way too short. I will definitely return someday! 
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