Recently, I celebrated a very special birthday in New York City. My husband Leo let me plan a luxury weekend in the city, and boy did I take advantage of it! Although we live in Boston, I really had never spent any extended time in New York – we always wanted to get really far away during our time off, like Napa Valley, Seattle, Vancouver – you get it; the West Coast laid back experience.
So off I went to Borders, and armed myself with a map of NYC and a small Frommer’s Travel Guide on the 20 best things to do in the City. Then I fired up my trusty internet browser and started clicking for hotels, travel arrangements, dinner and entertainment options. Here’s what we ended up doing:
We started off on the Acela train at Boston’s South Station bright and early on a crisp October morning. What an awesome way to travel. Packing judiciously, you can easily wheel your luggage on and store everything above your seat. Seats – may I say what a pleasure these are compared to a cramped plane. Spacious, comfy and leg room galore! I was in heaven with all of the extra personal space. We had a great ride down along the beautiful Connecticut coast, through the quaint towns of New London and Mystic. We landed at Penn Station around 12:30 and were at our hotel and checked in by 1pm.
We stayed at the W Court on the Upper East Side. Great service and ambiance – I loved this location, we were near all the main tourist attractions like the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Plaza, Fifth Ave. It’s just amazing to have it all right there…. we started off having lunch at a little cafe near the hotel, and then hit the bricks to Rockefeller Center.
Meg in front of Prometheus
The crowds are really vibrant and lots of fun! We went to the “Top of the Rock” for fabulous views of the city! It was like a virtual melting pot of languages and countries atop the building. Not being one for heights, I did have to caution myself that this was not the day that the Rock Center would tip over on it’s side, casting me to my death. I eventually loosened my grip of the granite blocks and enjoyed the view! It was so much fun wandering around the Plaza – if you appreciate Art Deco architecture, you are in for a treat. I just love the entrance to the building and it’s magnificent message!
Entrance to Rockefeller Center
We spent the next part of the afternoon checking out the New York City Public Library! Not sure how folks study there, it really gets a multitude of people, but I have to say most tourists were considerate of those trying to accomplish their goals! Of course my favorite fun fact was that the lions out front were in the movie Ghostbusters!
Lions guard the Library entrance
We also strolled through Grand Central Station before heading back to the W for a break and to get ready for our night out. Smartly, we used Open Table the previous week to snag a dinner reservation at a lovely French restaurant called Fleur de Sel. We opted for a fantastic tasting menu, and we sampled a variety of wines and yummy food. Then we were off to Birdland, the reknowned Jazz Club. We had tickets to see Jane Monheit, who is just a fabulous interpreter of old standards. She does the best rendition of Over the Rainbow I have ever heard. It was her closing song of the set, which was icing on the birthday cake. She has several CD’s, so take yourself to Amazon.com and sample some of her music – you’ll be glad you did!
Birdland lineup for October 2008
As we landed back at the hotel, I took one last look outside the window of the greatest city in the world, and thought “how does anybody sleep with so much to look at?”
Chrysler Building at night