For a long time we had intended to go to New York to visit Celeste, and this was finally the year. We got a later start than we intended, but after a red-eye flight, we took it easy for our first day in the City.
Neither of us does well on red-eye flights, but we decided to go ahead and risk getting little sleep to get to NYC. However, our 10:30pm flight got pushed back over due to a problem with the original airplane, requiring them to get a replacement plane. Fortunately, we found out about most of the delay before we left the house, so time sitting in the airport wasn't as bad as it could have been.
It was odd to arrive at the airport so late. Many vendors had already closed, but fortunately Dilettante was open, so we got a couple hot chocolates to help kill some time.
Boarding time came, but that's when the incoming flight arrived and passengers started streaming out. We were in the last group to board, but had no trouble finding space for our bags, and settled into the full flight. I was tired enough that I don't remember much about taking off. As it ends up, we slept on and off, but probably got a few hours' rest.
We were somewhat hungry after landing, so we got a few breakfast items, found a table, and ate. We had mapped out directions to get to where we were staying, but double-checked to make sure there weren't any problems. Taking the three different trains involved a bit of figuring out the fare machines (one had buttons that only worked sometimes, so we punted and switched to another one), but things went pretty smoothly.
During the first part of our trip, we're staying with a friend of Melody's sister Celeste who has a spare bed in the loft of her apartment. Because of our delays, the friends were going to be out of the apartment when we showed up, but we picked up the key from the doorman, found the apartment, and started settling in. The friend, Marion, and her partner Lester showed up after too long and we chatted for a few minutes to get acquainted.
After we finished getting settled in, we headed out to play tired tourists. First stop was the Empire State Building, so we hopped on the subway and then walked over. The security line was pretty long outside (it looked like at least 45 minutes), so we decided to try again another day. Before starting our trip, we had purchased a multi-site pass, where you choose the things you want to do and then get discounts on the admissions. Since the Empire State Building was one of the things on our pass, we know we'll do it another day.
Knowing it would only be a couple hours before we would try to meet up with Celeste, we decided to do a 5th Avenue walking tour, which started at Rockefeller Center.
It's hard to miss the iconic bronze statue of Prometheus looming over the sunken skating rink or the tall building behind it (we popped into the lobby to take a peek at the murals). There were Easter lilies in the garden arcade leading towards Fifth Ave.
We took a detour to take a look at Radio City Music Hall, but there were a bunch of people in line for a show, so we didn't look at the lobby there.
Back to to the tour, we went into Saks Fifth Avenue. There were lots of areas set off for various labels (we were closest to the fragrance section), and they seemed pretty used to tourists going in to gawk.
St. Patrick's Cathedral was next, and it's a very imposing, gothic building. It's huge inside, and there were a lot of people milling around. It's definitely on the same scale as some of the huge churches we saw in Europe.
The next store we saw was Armani/Fifth Avenue, and I was fascinated by the staircase. It's white, curving, and irregular, nicknamed “Guggenheim Two.” It looked surprisingly different from various angles, and was fun to go up and down.
There was quite a bit of police presence at the next block, since that's where the Trump Tower is. At the end of the block is Tiffany & Co., so we went in there to look at the Tiffany Yellow Diamond, which is over 285 carats.
A few blocks north was Bergdorf Goodman. We took a look, even though we don't know much about the store. We didn't, however, take a look at the men's store across the street.
The next block is the home of Apple's Fifth Avenue store, but the glass cube is under construction, so the whole plaza was fenced off, and in place of the cube was scaffolding.
The last stop on the walking tour (since FAO Schwartz is no longer in business) was the Plaza Hotel. We went inside and took a look at the Palm Court with its stained glass ceiling.
Meeting up with Celeste
The timing worked out well that we were able to meet Celeste at the Plaza. We then went across the street to wander a bit through Central Park, eventually settling on a bench near the carousel to chat. She was eager to hear about our trip and what we had done during the day.
It was getting on to dinnertime, so we took the subway back to near where we were staying and went to a place that makes wood-fired pizza. Then a couple blocks away to get dessert at a bakery. We finally went to a grocery store to get breakfast items, and on the way out, said goodnight to Celeste as she went onto the subway to home. We got back to Marion's apartment and it didn't take us very long to fall asleep.