New York, New York

I’m back from New York. Had a nice two day visit with my sister, but I had forgotten how bad NYC can be during the Holiday season. It seemed like it was just one big line. I took Musubi-chan and Unagi-kun to see the Statue of Liberty. We take the Lexington Line down to Bowling Green and emerge into Battery Park.We see a sign that says “Tickets to Liberty Island Ferry” and a long line forming around this round building. Ok. Its not that long… We get in line and get to the ticket line in about 30 minutes. Upon leaving the window, I ask a Park Service officer where the ferry entrance is, and he says the line is over there and points his finger to a line that seems to continue into the horizon. My jaws kinda dropped. Musubi-chan rolled her eyes. We walk and walk and walk and finally reach the back of the line, but it seems to be moving along so I’m not too discouraged. Unfortunately, I begin to talk to some people and learn that there is a ferry every half hour, so the line moves briskly for a few hundred people and then stops for half an hour… I guess I waited for about three ferries worth of people, an hour and a half. Blah…

But Liberty Island was nice even though we could not enter the statue–9/11 has left its impression on even some of the simpler pleasures tourists might indulge in. Well, as many of you may know, I’m a night owl and I wake up late. I made an effort to wake up as early as I could, and we did get our start before noon, which is a big deal for me… But after the long line and waits and ferry ride back and forth, we arrived back at Batter Park around 5PM. We then head back Uptown and get off at 33rd to see the Empire State Building, where there was–yes, that’s right–a line, down 5th and around the corner of 34th. My sis was nice enough to get me tickets in advance, so I asked if I still had to stand in line: Sorry Charlie, EVERYBODY stands in line. So we stand in this line that seems to be moving steadily. We enter the front door and down the hall to see another line. The sign says “Tickets to the observation platform”. Wait! I have tickets, I tell the usher. He tells me that I don’t have to stand in line, that I should proceed down the hall and go up the escalator. Great! We walk quickly and climb the escalator: Observation platform left, then another left. Alright! There’s the entrance to the Observation elevator… BUT–you knew there was a “but” coming–there’s another line! This is worse than Disneyland. Then after another 45 munutes when we finally get onto the elevator get to the 80th floor, we get off to find… YES! Another line to the elevator that take us up 6 more floors. Ugh! This is so frustrating. But we finally make it to the top and got to see the sparkling lights of Manhattan and the surrounding borroughs. It was an amazing site, and perhaps worth the lines…

Still, the trip was nice. My sis treated us to the Broadway revival of “42nd Street” which had a lot of music and dancing. Actually, I was rather surprised at the number of songs I recognized and liked. “I Only Have Eyes for You” and “We’re in the Money” are true American standards. And I have heard “About a Quarter to Nine” and “Lullaby of Broadway” on a number of occasions. Since it is a revival of an old show/movie the sotry line is rather simple. Girl goes to Broadway, tries for a part as a chorus girl, screws up but gets a chance to become the star, and of course, succeeds. But still, the show is not for the story, but for the singing and dancing, even though at times it seemed hackneyed as it reminded me of old Bsuby Berkeley productions. Then I realized that it was actually Berkeley who choreographed the original “42nd Street” in 1933. Duh! No wonder it reminded me of him. But still it was good to watch. But this is an old fogey talking. For you young ones out there interested in musicals, it may seem fresh and vital.

We also had a few nice meals. We ate at a couple of celebrity restaurants. For you Food channel afficiandos, we ate at Otto, Mario Batali’s Pizzaria and anti-pastas. The interior is designed to look like a train station. They give you ticket with a “destination” on it. When your table is ready, your destination appears on the “arrrival/departure board”. The bar consists of high tables where you must stand to drink and eat. I think this is done to prevent people from getting too comfortable, guaranteeing good turnover. This is, of course, the pessimistic evaluation, for the food itself was pretty good. The octopus was so-so, but the squid was delicious, the roasted beets were heavenly, and the pizza vongole–yes, the clams were in the shell–absolutely blew my mind! I have to figure out how to make this at home. It was incredible! Another place we went to was Les Halles, where Tony Bourdain made his reputation in New York as head chef. It’s a brasserie and so is known for its simple everyday French food, the good stuff, none of that phoofey Parisian haute cuisine. Just well prepared steak, chicken and of course frites (french fries). Unagi-kun had the standard steak and frites. I had an onglet (I’m pretty sure this is flank) steak that was marinated in ginger. Surprisingly scrumptious. Musubi-chan had pork loin cooked medium and was perfect. Sis had steak tartar–that’s raw hamburger with spices and a raw egg. She swears by it, but I think it needs a BBQ grill. In any case, you can see that we are true carnivors. Hope I’m not offending any of you non-meat-eaters…

Anyway, all in all, we had a nice time in New York. Now its time to get back to work…

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