Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New York Trip Part 3: Saturday in the Park

In case you missed the beginning:

New York Trip Part 1: Using Miles and Points
New York Trip Part 2: Friday Night Lights

Saturday, September 6, 2014

We woke up early (as usual) and went to the 5th floor restaurant to eat breakfast. The restaurant had a lot of empty tables.

The buffet had most of the things you see at normal hotel breakfast buffets...eggs, bacon, potatoes, fruit, cereal, bread, etc.
 Was it worth $30+ per person? Not in my opinion, but those are NY prices so I guess it's normal.

After breakfast, we took the subway to Central Park. The subway entrance was literally just outside of our hotel door. We were a little confused, though, because there was no subway map inside the station. And we couldn't tell if the subway was going north or south. But we took a chance and hopped on...and luckily we were on the right one. Central Park was just 2 stops away. Not too many people on the subway on a Saturday morning.

We walked up the subway stairs and there we were...Central Park!

We walked to a nearby cafe to meet Vitoly from Peter Pan tours. We had pre-purchased a 1-hour pedi-cab tour through Groupon. Vitoly introduced us to our driver/cyclist, Alexei. Both young men were from Ukraine, and we talked to them a little about the current situation over there.

So Alexei started our tour through Central Park, all the while telling us about the history of the park and the famous landmarks. We did get out at several spots for photos.

Here is the famous boat house:

We watched this "bubble man" for a few minutes:

The fountain from "Friends":

It really is a pretty park. I can imagine how gorgeous it is when the leaves start to turn colors.

Before we knew it, our hour with Alexei was over. We paid him extra to take us up a few blocks to the American Museum of Natural History. (Also known as the museum from the movie Night at the Museum with Ben Stiller)

The architecture of this museum is gorgeous.

Front entrance

Inside lobby
We first visited the Rose Center for Earth and Space. We saw a planetarium show and another movie about space.

We grabbed a quick bite in the museum's food court downstairs, and then we headed back to more exhibits. The dinosaur and fossil exhibit was the most extensive I've ever seen.

The more we looked at the map, the more we realized we were missing. We spent 4 hours in the museum but didn't get to see nearly all of it.

But it was time to head back to our hotel to get ready for our special anniversary dinner and Broadway play. We caught a ride with Uber (which I'll cover in another post).

We wanted to eat somewhere special for one night, but I was overwhelmed with the number of restaurants in Manhattan. We got a lot of great recommendations from friends, but in the end we decided on Patsy's.

We chose the restaurant because it has good reviews, it was close to our hotel and theater, we love Italian food, and the restaurant did not have a fancy dress code. (We were dressed up for the theater, but some of the restaurants we looked into had stricter requirements). We walked to the restaurant since it was only about 1/2 mile away from our hotel.

Patsy's has 2 levels with a elegant decorations. We saw the owners at the host stand and their son was cooking in the kitchen. The head waiter came around to everyone's tables several times and insisted that we try the lasagna.

We had a great fresh appetizer:
Fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers
 I had gnocchi with meat sauce:
 And Brian had the lasagna. He said it was the best he's ever had.
The head waiter came around with a dessert cart and sliced some cake for could we say no to this??
Chocolate mousse cake
We had some time to look in the shops of Times Square before heading to our play at the Shoenfeld Theater. The theater wasn't much to look at on the outside, but the inside was gorgeous. It was built in 1917 and was re-named in the '80s. I didn't take any photos inside, but this video shows the intricate architecture.

The play we saw was called It's Only a Play.  It actually doesn't have its official opening until October, so we saw it in preview mode. It stars several big-name actors like Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, Megan Mullally and Rupert Grint.

I wish I could tell you that we loved it, but we didn't. I know it was in preview mode, so maybe it will change before its grand opening...and I hope it does. The first act was 90 minutes and it felt too long. The theater was hot and cramped. Both of us had leg cramps by the end of the first act, and I saw several people ask to stand at the back during the second act. I know old buildings don't have great air conditioning systems. But the bottom line was the play was just not our taste. It had its funny moments, and we both thought Rupert Grint was the best. I'll be interested to see what the reviews say next month. Maybe we are the only ones who didn't care for it.

We really packed in a lot of sights on this day!

Up next--
New York Trip Part 4: Water Under the Bridge

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