Thursday, September 14, 2017

Three Days in New York - Day Two...

Hi there! So nice to have you check back for day two of our
get-away to New York to celebrate the completion of our
master bathroom remodel. By the way, after being so proud
of ourselves for traveling so light that we didn't have to check any
bags, the TSA turned me around at security, insisting that I had
to check my Wicked snow globe. Not due to size; but because...
It's considered a liquid! I am sure you can imagine all the eye-rolling I
did with the TSA agent. But I did not argue. And, therefore, didn't get
myself arrested. Instead, we did the only thing we could; we stuffed my
snowglobe into the bag filled with dirty laundry and then went back to
the American Airlines counter to check the bag. Which means my $75
Wicked snow globe is now a $100 snow globe! Nevertheless, the fact
that it made it home intact is reason enough not to be upset about the
extra expense. And, the fact that it was packed in our stinky laundry
seems like suitable pay-back for the TSA agent that rifled through it!
I collect snow globes wherever I find them during our travels so
now I know not to try to carry them onto the plane anymore!So about day two in New York! It was our plan all along to take the subway
to Yankees Stadium for the game so I arranged for us to take audio tour of
Grand Central Station. I tried to get us into a "behind the scenes" tour of
GCS that takes you to areas restricted to the public use, such as the hidden
tennis courts, but since those tours sell out months in advance, we had to
settle for the audio tour. Which was actually great! Especially since if you
really want to see the hidden tennis courts at GCS, you can just Google it!
The first thing we did when we arrived at Grand Central Station was to
find a place to have breakfast. New York bagels have been on our list...
So what could be more authentic New York than bagels
at Grand Central Station? Let me tell you, they're everything!
We ate our bagels camped out on the grand staircase made from pink
marble from a quarry in Tennessee. The railing are cream-colored Brescia
marble from Italy's northern Brescia region. As we ate, we people-watched...
As hundreds of people stopped for information at the circular information
kiosk under the famous Grand Central Terminal clock! As we sat and then
stood staring at it, we noticed people coming and going from the stations
inside the kiosk; however, we never saw anyone come out of any doors on
the kiosk. Turns out, there are no doors. Instead, there is a central spiral
staircase leading to a central information station below. That's why you
never see anyone ever go into or come out of the kiosk. The clock is truly
a masterpiece. It has four convex faces, each made of the highest quality
precious opal. While the small point on top of the clock may appear purely
decorative, it's actually a compass, correlated with the true north direction
100% accurately. When we agreed to separate to find the restrooms, we both
said, meet me back here under the clock at the same time. It was very sweet!
Through our audio tour, we learned Grand Central is grand by design as well as a
triumph of engineering and ingenuity. Grand Central didn't just do things better,
it did things differently. It pioneered new approaches to organizing and utilizing
space. For instance... What look like arched windows on these walls are actually
catwalk passageways. They provide illumination, transportation and ventilation...
Making them the perfect marriage of form and function. And, I think they are
beautiful and pretty cool too! A couple of other fun facts: Not all passengers
through this terminal were people. A lot of mail was processed and transported
to places all over the country too and today, much of the city's mail is still being
processed here. Another fact, which surprised us is this... In 1938, the 20th
Century Limited sped from New York to Chicago in sixteen hours. Today, an
express trip from New York to Chicago takes nineteen hours, three hours longer!
It's incredible to think that the same family and money that built our
beloved Biltmore House at home also built Grand Central Station!
But it's true and there are plenty of places to notice the similarities in
architecture and finishes between the two... Take these tiles on the ceiling
here in the Whispering Gallery at GCS for instance... They are identical
to those used in the swimming pool room at Biltmore! If you want to know
why this is called the Whispering Gallery, you can visit this page to find out!
Perhaps the most well know treasure within Grand Central Station is its
celestial ceiling. Even before GCS opened in 1913, New Yorkers were teased
with descriptions of the mural painted on its vaulted ceiling. The New York
Times told of its, "effect of illimitable space" and how lucky it was that there
weren't any chairs on the concourse or some passengers may have become so
mesmerized, they might miss their trains while daydreaming into the stars!
After the terminal opened, one astute commuter noticed that the painting
of the constellations is actually backwards. When asked how this could
have happened, the answer given was that it is from God's viewpoint...
However you view Grand Central Station, I think it's just beautiful!
Especially from outside!
Can't you just imagine arriving to Grand Central Terminal in the 1900's... A
time when a red carpet was rolled out every afternoon to greet travelers
boarding the magnificent 20th Century Limited to Chicago? A time when
travel wasn't just about getting somewhere, but an event! Here at Grand
Terminal, Red Caps inside carried your luggage; dining cars aboard the
trains served sumptuous meals; and the long-distance trains departing
from Grand Central's upper level took passengers across the country in
comfort and style. Nothing like travel today... Packed into tiny airplane
seats, tossed a bag of pretzels and charged out the wazoo for the privilege!
Looking around New York these days, you're barely able to find a view
that doesn't include a crane or some modern monstrosity, like this crane
facing the front of Grand Central Terminal and the God-awful Met Life
building that now towers over her. While I'm all for modern luxury, I
pray they don't build the European style and grace out of New York!
Look, I love Apple's new Cupertino mother-ship complex built by Norman
Foster, but here in the Big Apple, I say less Foster and more of the kind
of modernism the great architect, Willian Van Alen brought to New York...
When he delivered New York his masterpiece of Art Deco design, the
Chrysler building! Of all the skyscrapers in New York, this one,
with its tiered crown, clad in brilliant stainless steel is my favorite!
On Tuesday, September 19th, as we celebrate the Captain's seventy-fifth
birthday, the Chrysler building will be celebrating its 89th birthday! We
could have spent the whole day exploring and learned more about GCS;
but here in what was once known as the Kissing Room is where our tour
ended. Grand Central Station (or Terminal or Depot, all are correct) can
be a very romantic place... So it's not at all surprising there was once a
designated "kissing room" where people could meet up with loved ones
and passengers could travel up to the luxurious Biltmore Hotel, which JD
Salinger included in his Catcher in the Rye. Following the closure of the
Biltmore Hotel and reduction of some train lines, the Biltmore Room as
it is known, is no longer a meeting spot. Today there's just a newsstand,
flower stall and a shoeshine kiosk. All that being said, there are currently
plans in motion to renovate the area to restore it to its former romantic glory!
We could have explored Grand Central Station all day! There are so many
shops (including an Apple store!) and restaurants and other cool and
interesting spots to see. If we ever have the chance, we will come back for
the Secrets of Grand Central Station tour... One of the most fascinating
things is FDR's secret train. Known as Roosevelt's Station, the abandoned
railway line and armored train car used to transport the President to New
York and directly into the garage of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, now lie
wasting away underneath the terminal. The train used to stop directly
under the Waldorf near Grand Central, where the President, already in
his car, would be driven onto a lift that would take him directly inside to
the garage of the prestigious hotel. It's just one of the many secrets of GCS!
After we returned our headsets, we purchased tickets
for the train that would take us to Yankees Stadium!
Because Mr. Wonderful, the man that stepped in to build the
bathroom of my dreams, (that would fit into the space we have) had
tickets to see his beloved Yankees play the Boston Red Socks!
He sat through Wicked for me... So I was going to sit through baseball for him!
But before we could go inside, he had to have a t-shirt and cap. Let
let me tell you... There's no love for Boston here at Yankees Stadium!
Athough I'm more of a football fan, (Go Cowboys!) this was a thrill for me too!
As we walked up to the stadium, I found a dollar coin on the ground!
Which I immediately put towards the visor I needed when the sun came
out. I love having a Yankees visor from Yankees Stadium but this girl works
for the President of Champion sportswear at Hanes... Do you know how many
cool Champion tennis visors I have at home and could have brought with me?!
Of course, you can't go to New York or Yankees Stadium and not have hot dogs!
Especially Nathan's hot dogs! A little tip... Unless you're super-hungry, order
two hot dogs and only one order of fries. Because the portions are huge!
Plain with lots of American yellow mustard... Just the way I like it!
I originally wanted to arrange for a guided tour of Yankees Stadium;
however, after reading so many reviews recommending that you just
arrive early to explore the ballpark on your own, that's what we did!
We walked off our hot dogs and fries by exploring Yankees Stadium!
For weeks before our trip, the forecast was calling for rain on this Saturday...
Fortunately, that didn't happen!
It was all blue skies and sunshine!
A perfect day for baseball!
Speaking of perfect...
How about these seats!
The atmosphere was terrific!
Always lots going on to keep the crowd engaged...
Oh! And, the Yankees won, which was especially fun!
We made the most of this experience...
And, decided that we'd do it again...
In a New York minute!
I did make one mistake though...
I ordered the $8 bag of (stale) popcorn instead of choosing cotton candy!
Fortunately though, I was able to find a few friends to share it with!
After the game, we... along with 46,000
other people, made our way back to the train!
The entire afternoon was a home run!
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at Trinity Church...
To check in with Mr. Hamilton, whose grave site has become
quite the tourist attraction since Hamilton came to Broadway!
It was such an incredibly beautiful evening in New York. If you
follow me on Instagram, you can see video of this amazing church
and hear its bells chiming five o'clock. Which meant we had to get a
move on; because we had tickets for a sunset view in that tower there!
When we arrived back to our hotel we learned that instead of fixing the
air conditioner and broken television, we were moved to a new room!
While we appreciated the new water view, we didn't care for being stuck next
to the ice machine or the fact that this room didn't have a refrigerator!
Nevertheless, we didn't come to New York to stay in our room!
I have to tell you... This thing foreigners have with the Bull on Wall
Street amuses me. Italian artist Arturo De Modica first conceived of
the Charging Bull as a way to celebrate the can-do spirit of America
and especially New York, where people from all over the world come
regardless of their circumstances and, through determination and hard
work, overcome every obstacle to become successful. De Modica believed
this symbol of virility and courage was the perfect antidote to the Wall
Street crash of 1986. He worked on the now world-famous bull for more
than two years in his studio located in the Soho district of Manhattan...
Weighing over three and a half tons and being almost eighteen feet long,
the bronze sculpture was cast in separate pieces, welded together and then
finished by hand. Of course, Arturo always knew only one place would do
for his gift of encouragement to New York and the world... Wall Street!
Arturo thought he had how he would deliver his surprise gift to New York
all figured out... The night before the operation, he went to the front of the
Stock Exchange to time traffic and passes made by the NYPD. Arturo had it
timed out to know that he had only four and a half minutes to pull off the
big delivery. However, in the early morning hours of December 15, 1989,
Arturo and his friends discovered that the city of New York had put up
a Christmas tree in the very spot they planned to place the sculpture!
So Arturo did what any good Santa leaving a gift would
do... He placed the Charging Bull under the tree!
Unfortunately, the Exchange wasn't amused and had the bull removed!
But thanks to the New York Parks Commission and then Mayor Ed
Koch, a permanent location near the exchange was found where the
bull stands today; to be snuggled and petted by people from all over
the world... Especially those who are quick to say they're not at all
fond of President Trump, Wall Street and what they call problems
of American Greed, Arrogance and Self promotion. Say, Cheese!
Next on our agenda was the World Trade Center memorials and
observatory tour at One World Trade Center. Our visit to Reunion
Tower in Dallas reminded me of how much I hate long elevator
rides and heights; so I paid extra for Priority access, which allows
you to skip the line. And, I'm very glad I did because the line was
around the building. If I had time to think about it, I probably would
have chickened out. Anyway, although the rain that was forcast for
earlier was about to find us, it was a nice evening for a stroll, so we
skipped taking the train and walked to One World Trade Center...
There truly are no words for how desperately sad these memorials are...
So I'm not even going to try to describe them. We all know.
We have all felt.
The sadness...
The anger...
The disgust...
The bottomless grief...
And, the hatred for the evil that would do this to their fellow man...
But as it began to rain, it was clear this is also a place to look forward
and up. Up to this beautiful 1776-foot tall symbol of American Liberty!
As we made our way around the corner to One World Trade...
Sirens rushed past and toward the tower
just as we imagined they did that fateful day...
As we entered the tower, they were coming out of One World Trade...
The way we know too few did on that fateful day...
They didn't say why they were there and we didn't ask...
All I can say is that it took a while to summon back my courage to go up...
But for all those lost that can't...
We did...
We stepped up and took in the views...
Of this incredible landscape and surrounding cities...
From all angles...
And, from all sides... It's just spectacular!
As afraid as I was about taking that 47 second elevator ride to the top...
I didn't even feel it!
So I recommend taking the tour!
Because only from the tallest building in the western hemisphere and
the sixth tallest building in the world, will you ever see New York this way!
Day two of our trip ended back at the hotel around midnight with a pretty
crappy room service dinner. But that's okay, because Sunday we planned...
A date with Russ and Daughters for breakfast!

I hope you enjoyed day two of our three days in New York and that
you'll check back for the final hours of our trip... To be posted soon!

4 comments:

  1. Oh I am so glad you had beautiful weather for the game. And I had no clue that the GCS had tours or even audio tours... thanks for the tour!! Sorry to hear your snowglobe had to be checked-- Put bubble wrap in your suitcase now for the next one that will be coming home. Looking forward to day 3. Andrea

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    1. Thank you, Andrea! It always thrills me to know you're reading along! xoxo

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  2. What a view! My one and only trip to NYC was a blur and we didn't get to do a whole lot due to lines, so I've enjoyed all these pictures and history.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post and, I do hope you get back to New York to do and see more of what that amazing city has to offer! xo

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