Nimesh, Bhawana, and I spent the Labor Day weekend in New York City. For business and pleasure, I've visited NYC dozens of times over the years, far more often than any other place. So this trip provides a benchmark for me to see what's been happening as age and ailments take their toll.
This was also my first NYC trip since the onset a year ago of the lower back pain, the most disabling of my various ailments. My last NYC adventure was a similar three-day visit in June 2011, a few months before the August car crash that triggered the lower back pain. How would I handle travel now?
I'm writing this recap mostly to sort out my own thoughts. I've thrown in a few photos to perk up the post.
We took Amtrak's 5pm Acela train and arrived in New York before 8pm. I agree with a cab driver who told me years ago, "New York has the best of everything and the worst of everything." I've found that the Times Square area includes the worst of the crowding, pushing, shoving, shouting multitudes. So I prefer staying at hotels near Times Square but closer to Central Park.
One of the many great perks of my BNA job was staying at the Plaza for over ten consecutive years. I was part of an editorial team that went on the road for two weeks every March, giving briefings on developments in labor relations. Each year began with a meeting at the Plaza.
These days, when I'm picking up the tab myself, I look for something less pricey. Still, to avoid that "NYC has the worst of everything" feeling, I'm willing to pay more for a hotel there than I would elsewhere. In recent years, I've booked the Hilton on 6th Avenue, but this time I wanted a smaller, quieter boutique hotel. I've often used Frommer's guidebooks for suggestions, and one of their recommended hotels was the Shoreham on 55th between 5th and 6th. It was a good pick.
This excursion was Bhawana's introduction to the city and its wonderful craziness. So we started off Friday night by walking around the corner from our hotel to the Trump Tower with its five-story waterfall.
Then on to Rockefeller Plaza.
When playing tourist guide in NYC, I prefer the "Top of the Rock" to the Empire State Building. From there, you get a great view of the Empire State Building.
We saved Bhawana's introduction to jammed and glittery Times Square for last.
Before heading back to the hotel, we decided to sit a while in the grandstand overlooking Times Square. It was already after 11pm and -- as we began climbing the grandstand stairs -- I lost my balance and would have fallen if Nimesh hadn't caught me. I realized I hadn't taken the last of the four carbidopa-levodopa pills I take each day to keep my Parkinson's under control. I also discovered I'd neglected to bring my pocket pill container.
I realized I'd need help getting back to the hotel. Without medication, I have a hard time walking without lurching, staggering and possibly falling. Fortunately, Nimesh could steady me as we walked back.
And fortunately we were in New York City, where nothing shocks the natives. No one raised an eyebrow seeing a young Asian man holding hands with a clearly drunk old man!
On Friday, I had emailed my dear friend Bonnie and asked for recommendations on things to do in the city. She had spent several months living there earlier this year, and her suggestions came in handy for the rest of the weekend.
We started with a visit to the Plaza. Bhawana is just as elegant and beautiful as the Plaza lobby.
By the way, Nimesh took all the pictures on our trip, if you hadn't already guessed.
Then we headed for Bonnie's first recommendation: brunch at the Boathouse restaurant on the lake in Central Park. Since this was a special occasion, we hired a horse-drawn carriage to get us there.
No, Nimesh didn't drive the carriage. The 25-minute ride to the Belvedere Terrace was nice. Would I pay $80 (plus tip) to hire a horse-drawn carriage again? No.
The Boathouse brunch was great.
We passed the Conservatory Pond and headed out of the park toward 5th Avenue.
I wanted to walk back to the hotel along Madison Avenue, but by then I was running on empty. So I hailed a cab back to the Shoreham to rest up for the weekend's main event, which was... drum roll, please....
Yep! The Book of Mormon. Just before Nimesh and I took off last August for a three-week drive through the Pacific Northwest, I bought the CD of the show's music. We must have listened to it 50 times on the rental car's CD player, and we were still laughing at many of the lyrics after three weeks. So, I managed to get three tickets for the Saturday matinee.
Often when I look forward to something with this much anticipation, I end up feeling let down. Not this time. The show was terrific. Nimesh even managed to snag an autograph and photo with one of the stars of the show.
Jeez! I didn't think I get so caught up in this travelogue. It's midnight and I'm going to pause here.
to be continued tomorrow....