Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hoosier girls in NYC

Last night we went to the scheduled banquet, it was a very nice meal of salmon, chicken, salad, and a chocolate mousse dessert. We listened to one of the entertainer of the evening's songs, then took off for "the light fantastic," and did we ever find it.Our party consisted of my friends Sarah and Joyce from work, me, and a writer from Chicago who I met yesterday, Michelle.We took the service from the hotel to the Empire State Building (we left around 9:15). A really fun ride over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan--you're seeing so many things that you've seen a million times on TV it's not funny! It's like -- look! look! look!The driver dropped us off right in front of the building, and we followed the signs to the observation deck entrance. What a great time of day to go--very light crowds. there are queues galore set up, so you can tell they are used to handling thousands of people. We walked right by all the roped-off areas.
Even the lower levels of the building are amazing--lots of art deco architecture and decoration. It's $18 to go to the 82nd floor deck--it's the one you see on TV all the time. There's also a 102nd floor deck but it's another $15 to go there!
We got our tickets and wound arounds to the elevators to go up. There's A LOT of elevators--not like Perry's Monument!
The elevator goes REALLY fast, and you get off on the 80th floor. then another elevator takes you up the observation floor. Of course it discharges you right into the gift shop!
But the walls of the shop are all windows, so you get an immediate view of the city and wow what a view it is. Lights as far as you can see. A sign had the conditions listed--calm winds, visibility 25 miles. But it wasn't quite right. While the winds were calm on one side of the building, when you walked around the corner, watch out! They were fierce and cold.
The deck is very wide, with fencing and guard rails very high up, and they curve in. You can rent an audio tour, which one of us did, and filled the others in on what buildings were what. You also get a pretty good map.
I took some pictures which I hope turn out good, it's kind of tricky to take them in the dark.
So much going on in the city at night, even from so high up--strings of vehicles moving on all the streets and expressways, lights glowing, blinking, planes in the distance taking off, the dark ribbons of river all around, barges and boats moving on them, and the glow of Time Square. It was fun to see the financial district, the Flatiron Buidling, United Nations, St, Patricks, all the landmarks you've seen on TV so often.
We stayed up for probably 45 minutes or more--I bought a couple pencils but not much else, everything is pretty expensive. When I'd get cold out in the wind, I'd go into the gift shops (there are two, one on two sides of the building) and warm up!
After awhile we took the elevators down, and then took off down BROADWAY to see Times Square at night.
What an exciting place, even at 11 at night. The billboards and signs, jumbotrons all over, all so bright and clear and animated, it made the place seems like broad daylight. The streets as busy as midday, and the sidewalks crowded with people. Shops still open. We saw the big New Year's ball! And the signs for all the theaters, for shows like Beauty and the Beast and Shamalot. How weird to see it in person, after all the years of watching on TV!
We caught a cab (and had a real NYC cab ride complete with speeding down any street with few cars and wheeling around corners) and got back to the hotel about midnight.
After a morning session today, Sarah and I took off. She wanted to find a neighborhood to the north of here she'd heard was cool, but instead we ended up walking across the Manhattan Bridge. It must be a mile and a half long. Part of it takes you over the neighborhoods then all of a sudden you're over the river. And there's the Brooklyn Bridge and all kinds of boats and barges on the river and the Statue of Liberty in the distance. She says HI to everyone! The bridge was full of other walkers, joggers and bike riders--oh and dog-walkers too! I took some pix and just marveled at the view. When you get to the Manhattan side, you're in Chinatown! Full of real Chinese people, and all the signs are in Chinese, and it smells like a Chinese restaurant. We went in a drug store and bought bottles of water and had to head right back for a luncheon, which just finished!
This afternoon I am going to go with everyone to St. Patricks Cathedral, which is very famous, and Cardinal Egan of the archdiocese of NYC is going to say Mass, and it's in Manhattan, so it should be okay.
Then our OSV group is going to dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant that is supposed to be pretty good!
Stay tuned!

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