Day 5 in NYC: Mon, 7/1 – Transition from conference to vacation

Downtown New York City from the edge of LIberty State Park

And I really do feel like that: my vacation starts NOW. Everything about the conference felt like work to me, although not in a bad way at all. That’s kind of the point, right? It’s definitely a “you get out of it what you put into it” situation and I put in a lot. With extraordinary returns. Much processing still going on. It was great to have an unstructured day to use to transition my head out of that space and into vacation mode.

I woke up about 7am, thrilled that I had nowhere to be at any certain time, except checkout by Noon. I got the blog up about 10am, which was kindofa miracle given the quantity and scope of content, but was pretty happy with it.

I was ready for food and on a whim looked at the room service menu but the prices were Outrageous. ($28 for a continental breakfast) I’d seen a place on 7th Ave when I first got here that I’d been meaning to check out and now was the perfect time.

Entrance to Europa cafe
The Europa Cafe is at the corner of 43rd St and 7th Ave
The dining area of Europa Cafe, with the workers behind a refrigerated food case
This was a great find. Pretty healthy options for any meal and reasonable prices.

Note to Elizabeth: be sure to tell your husband about this one 🙂

Coffee, omelette, potatoes, toast
Those potatoes weren’t great, but the omelette was decent. It was supposed to be “build your own” but when he said “ham and cheese?” I took the hint and went with it. That toast had an Amazing amount of butter on it. (And yes, that’s a good thing…)

I got back to my room about 11am. Just enough time to finish packing and checkout. I couldn’t check into my Airbnb in Jersey City until 3pm, so what to do until then? I checked my bags at the bellhop and decided to wander Midtown outside of the Times Square area.

My first time to New York was in 2011 when I came with Jon Scott (who I know many of you know; if nothing else from prior Puerto Vallarta blogs). It was his first trip, too. I wasn’t blogging then so hadn’t had a chance to capture that experience, which was magical in many ways. For reasons I can’t explain, New York City has always felt like home to me. From that first evening we sat down for dinner somewhere in Midtown (we were staying at 1st Ave in the low 50’s somewhere) and mapped out what we were going to do when (can you believe I had no plan??), everything felt so natural. I took to the subways like a duck to water even though I’d never ridden anything like them outside of BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) which isn’t nearly as rich. Maybe it’s just from paying attention to books, movies, TV, etc., where stories are so often set here and I just pay attention.

Whatever it is, walking through this section of Midtown brought it all back because much of this area I haven’t been in since 2011.

The sidewalk of 49th Street at 6th Ave was lined with street food. I’d promised myself that I would eat more street food on this trip and, despite having eaten just 2 hours prior, I was oddly hungry again. And I love hot dogs.

A hot dog with mustard, catchup, relish
I shouldn’t have been this hungry already just 2 hours after breakfast, but boy was this good. Making up for the day before I guess!
A hot dog stand
This is the guy I got the hot dog from
An outside seating area under many treets outside a huge office building
Lots of people enjoying their lunch out in great weather
A sunken food court of sorts
This was looking over from the shady area above. This is at 6th Ave and 49th St.
Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall, 6th Ave and 50th St

I was intentionally headed to Rockefeller Center because I knew I’d never seen that before.

A 21 foot high sculpture of a girl's face with her hands - just hands, no arms - over her eyes, with Rockefeller Center behind it
“I can’t look anymore.” Seems fitting for the times, doesn’t it? This is new, placed here in April of 2019. It’s actually bronze, painted white.
Sunken courtyard in front of Rockefeller Center
Sunken courtyard in front of Rockefeller Center
This is a closeup of the entrance to Rockefeller Center. Over the door is a sculpture of Greek god maybe, with this inscription: Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times.
A closeup of the entrance: Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times.
Outside of St. Patrick's
St. Patrick’s on 5th Ave and 50th St

If you’ve followed any of my Europe blogs, you know it’s nearly impossible for me to walk by a church without going in. Why should this country be any different? And, outside of perhaps Washington National Cathedral, this is arguably one of the most famous churches in the US. Services have been held here for folks like Robert Kennedy, Ed Sullivan, Andy Warhol, Joe DiMaggio, and William F Buckley.

The center aisle with the altar in the background
Mass was in session so you couldn’t get any closer.
First row of stained glass windows behind the arches sectioning off the left side
Beautiful stained glass windows, classic arches
High row of stained glass windows
High row of stained glass windows

Up until about 3 years ago, I’d worn a watch since I was 10 years old or so. In the age of smart phones, some people gave me a hard time for that. When the battery went dead coming home from my 2016 trip to Europe, I decided to go without for awhile. I adjusted pretty quickly, but fairly recently decided I just like wearing watches. I went in search of that watch to finally replace the battery and it’s nowhere to be found. I thought: I know, I’ll buy one in New York!

Entrance to Cartier
Entrance to Cartier

Why not? I told the guy I was in the market for a new watch and wanted to see how far out of my price range these were. He played along.

This building was initially built in the late 1800’s as a residence. Cartier from Paris bought it around 1910.

Inside the Cartier mansion - opulent atmosphere, rich art
Inside the Cartier mansion

So just how far outside of my price range was it? For me, spending $100 on a watch would be a lot. The first one I tried on was two toned, elegant, simple. And only $9000 over my price range! I pointed to a gold one that was of a tone I hadn’t quite seen before and said “that’s unique and pretty.” He says “it’s European gold; you have good taste”. Well, of course I do. That one was only $32,900 over my price range.

I didn’t buy anything. Shocking, I know.

Entrance to Bergdorf Goodman
Entrance to Bergdorf Goodman

Any “All About Eve” fans out there? I was so excited to see this the first time in 2011 because I’d never understood the reference until then. Lloyd: “You have Margo mixed up with a five-and-ten-cent store!” Margo: “Make it Bergdorf Goodman.”

The outside of the Plaza from across 5th Ave
The Plaza, 5th Ave at 58th St

I remember coming across this in 2011 and stopping dead in my tracks and staring. I said to Jon: It’s The Plaza. Jon: What plaza? Me: THE Plaza.

I don’t know how I knew then what it was – a world famous hotel built in 1907 – but I did, just like so many other things in New York. The Beatles stayed here in 1964. Donald Trump married Marla Maples here in 1993. And has been used in many movies including Barefoot in the Park, Funny Girl, Arthur (probably where I knew it from), Scent of a Woman, and most recently The Post.

Fountain in front of The Plaza
Fountain in front of The Plaza

The Plaza is essentially across the street from Central Park.

A sculpture of half a head, lying at an angle, about 12 fitt high, maybe as wide at the base
At the entrance to Central Park. If this was here the last time I was here in 2014 I don’t remember it.
A wide sidewalk with lots of big trees all around, people filling park benches lined on either side
It was this exact moment that I realized this was just what I needed

Central Park was the perfect antidote for 4 days spent largely in a hotel and grungy Times Square.

A huge rock protuding from a grassy knoll with people sitting on it
A lovely place to people watch from
Central Park - long lane with big statues flanking either side
It really was a beautiful day and lots of people were out
A baseball diamond with skyscrapers beind it
That would be a fun place to play baseball.
Entrance to Tavern on the Green, with a protruding awning
Entrance to Tavern on the Green

When I was planning this trip I had an intention to have lunch at Tavern on the Green, a famous landmark restaurant used in movies, etc. I’d never even seen it on prior trips. While it used to be considered “the place” to dine, the reviews were mixed-to-don’t-waste-your-money. It has apparently fallen into the “passed it’s prime” category. While I wasn’t hungry, I thought I’d see about coffee and dessert. There was no seating outside of reservations, and the bar wasn’t fully operating because they’d just had a health inspection and were still putting things back together. Hmmm. Oh well. They had restrooms available to the public to the left of this so it wasn’t a complete waste. No need to come back.

I’d made my way all across the park to the west side. I took a left and made my way down 8th Ave back to the hotel, getting there about 2:20pm. Got my bags and went over to the Port Authority bus terminal at 41st and 8th Ave, where I bought a ticket to go to Jersey City.

The New Jersey bus terminal
The New Jersey bus terminal

This is my first time in Jersey. The bus ride was about 30 minutes, and some of the town at least looked quaint and interesting. The little neighborhood I’m in is pretty cute.

A more modern residence beside older
My place is beneath those stairs of the gray one in the middle
A row of cute Victorians
The houses across the street
Sitting area with the bed behind it
The view as you walk in. Cozy and comfortable. My only complaint is there’s no indirect lighting. Everything is bright and overhead, which of course has its place. But give me a soft lamp for most days.
Looking back from the backdoor, kitchen area on the right, dining table in foreground, living area on the left
View from the backdoor
A backyard, although that grass is fake
A backyard, although that grass is fake

I unpacked and made my way out again a little before 4pm. I decided I’d check out Liberty State Park, since I will need to get there in the morning. Google had it as a 52 minute walk. Fine. And it took at least that long. But was one of the weirdest walks ever. I decided early on I wouldn’t do it again and would be Lyfting it back in the morning when I go to the Statue of Liberty. And I’ll just leave it at that.

Long tree lined sidewalk, part 1
This was one long sidewalk. This is what I’d already walked…

These were taken about midway into Liberty State Park. It took forever it seemed to get to the end.

Long tree lined sidewalk, part 2
…and what was ahead of me.
Downtown New York City from the edge of LIberty State Park
Downtown New York City from the edge of Liberty State Park

But the payoffs were rich views of New York City.

Midtown NYC from Liberty State Park
Midtown NYC from Liberty State Park

There was also a 9/11 Memorial.

Engraved on the steel wall of of 9/11 memorial: Empty Sky: New Jersey, September 11th Memorial. Let this memorial reflect the legacies of those whose lives were lost, that their unfulfilled dreams and hopes may result in a better future for society. Their unique qualities and characteristics enriches our lives immeasurably, and through this memorial their stories shall live on.
Empty Sky: New Jersey, September 11th Memorial. Let this memorial reflect the legacies of those whose lives were lost, that their unfulfilled dreams and hopes may result in a better future for society. Their unique qualities and characteristics enriches our lives immeasurably, and through this memorial their stories shall live on.
The center of the 9/11 memorial
The center of the 9/11 memorial
The 9/11 Memorial from an angle. Two polished steel walls creating an alley; the names of those who died engraved at eye height all along the length, probably 100 feet long; walls about 3 feet thick, maybe 25 feet high, 15 feet a part
You can see the names etched at eye level.

By this time it’s after 6pm. I’m beyond hungry and thirsty and no way was I walking back. I found a place on Yelp where I wanted to eat dinner that was close to where I’m staying and called for a Lyft.

Outside of the restaurant, El Gordo, Peruvian cuiseine
Yes, that says Peruvian Cuisine.

This was on Central Ave, maybe 6 blocks from my unit.

One side of Central Ave
One side of Central Ave…
...and the other side of Central Ave
…and the other side of Central Ave
A little white dish with 2 sections; a green sauce in one, roasted corn in the other
This is roasted corn, believe it or not. Think Corn Nuts, but different. I don’t know what the green sauce was supposed to be for, I didn’t even try it until the end. It had a nice kick to it, would have been great with the chicken had I remembered it was there!
1/2 a chicken, steamed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, yellow zucchini) and an onion salad; with a juice drink in the background
1/2 a chicken, steamed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, yellow zucchini) and an onion salad; with a juice drink in the background

Honestly, that onion salad was the best thing I’d eaten all day for sure, maybe in several. Very simple: red onion, diced tomatoes, a little bit of cilantro and a ton of lime juice. I’m going to have to remember to do that at home. The chicken skin was wonderfully crisp in many places with great spices but not too hot. The vegetables were a boring choice but I felt necessary after what seemed like days of nothing but pizza! And they were good.

Sign over a shop: Dahlia's Ice Cream Spot - homemade ice cream, birthday cakes, milk shakes, soda floats, ice pops
This was across the street. It’s required.
Pretty scoops of ice cream, one green, the other cream colored with cherries
I went for pistachio and cherry vanilla in a waffle bowl

I stopped at a grocery store between this and my unit and picked up coffee, water, juice, diet coke. The essentials for an almost 2 week stay, and got back around 8 or 8:30 I guess. I was in bed before 10pm and that was much needed.

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