December 11, 2015

New York City trip; December 6-9, 2015

This was out second trip to the Big Apple. Last year's trip was a birthday present from my wife where we attended the Big Smoke New York and did a little sightseeing. We enjoyed our trip so much that we wanted to go back, this time for more sightseeing. It's not like you can see the city in 2 or 3 days in one trip. So, Sunday morning we flew out of Columbia heading to our layover at Reagan International Airport. But, the weather had other ideas. When we approached Washington the fog was over the runway so we were deserted to Dulles Airport. We were told that we would be there long enough to refuel and then fly back to Reagan Airport. We sat on the runway for what seemed like hours (in reality it was about 45 minutes to an hour). Then the pilot came in to tell everyone that we were to disembark the plane to take a bus back to Reagan. The ride was about 30 minutes by bus but we got a chance to ride by some famous Washington sights like the Pentagon. Once at Reagan Airport we went to the American Airlines counter to get another flight to New York City since our original flight had already left. We were lucky and got a flight that was leaving in only 40 minutes. The flight to NYC was much less exciting. We landed, albeit about 3 1/2 hours later than we had originally planned. We quickly grabbed a cab to our hotel.

We stayed at the Row NYC on 8th Avenue just a block from Times Square. Originally Connie had wanted to hit the ground running but since we were so far behind we decided to take it easy. We could catch the hop on/hop off bus tomorrow. We decided to get something to eat and then walk down to Cigar Inn cigar shop at 1016 2nd Avenue. It's about a 30 minute walk. We were very familiar with the walk as we did it several times last year. As soon as we walked in to door I recognized a very familiar face. I decided that I had to speak to him and introduce myself. So, I walked over and stood before him. He looked up and I said, "Mr. Giuliani, hi, big fan of yours." He was so accommodating. He immediately started a conversation and we talked for several minutes. Of course, I worked politics into the conversation. It's no surprise that we agreed on just about everything. I had heard he dropped by Cigar Inn from time to time so I was not totally surprised that he was there. He told me that he had a locker in every cigar lounge in New York City. You might be interested to know that on the table in front of him were several cigars, 2 of which were the 601 Blue. He told me that he likes fuller bodied cigars. After a few minutes we left him but I sincerely appreciate his time. He took a minute to take a picture with us.

Connie, Rudy Giuliani, me

After a couple hours we walked back to our hotel feeling completely safe on the streets of New York. Perhaps I should point out that there were police everywhere around the city. There were many people walking around the city, as there always are.

Our first full day was bright and sunny. After a workout at the hotel gym we went to get our tickets for the hop on/ hop off buses. Being a former student of architecture I really enjoy looking at the massive structures New York City has. Everything from ornate old style to modern sleek new age looking buildings. Here are some of the sights on our uptown bus loop.

The Ciroc ad on this building looks like a standard billboard ad but it's actually a painting! They change the ad every 2 weeks and it takes the crew of painters 2 days to paint the ad. Quite impressive.

The massive Macy's department store.

It was a chilly morning for us.

We went by the iconic Empire State Building and the Flat Iron Building; both impressive sights.

We made our way into China Town where Connie wanted to make a small purchase from the local street vendors. You know, when in Rome... Well, she was met as she stepped off the bus by one of the local ladies. She and Connie went across the street where the quick purchase took place. Here is Connie just after her purchase.

The streets of China Town.

Our next stop was the Freedom Tower. It is a fantastic looking building with new construction all around it. You really have a somber feel walking around the grounds.

More sights along the way aboard the bus.

The bus rode past the famous Trump World Tower, home of Mr. Donald Trump.

The streets close to Times Square were packed with people. After all, it is Christmas time in the city!

On the agenda today was a trip to Rockefeller Center and a ride to the "Top of the Rock". It's a quick elevator ride to the top. Once there the views are simply spectacular.

Once it was dark we walked around the city again. There were Christmas lights everywhere. Here are some we passed.

On our second full day in the city we boarded the bus again for the downtown tour. 

We wound our way to the tomb of Ulysses S. Grant.

Across the street was the massive church, St. John the Divine. A beautiful structure.

We left the bus behind and walked to find the famous Tom's Restaurant, made famous on the Seinfeld TV show. I did not know it was located right on the Columbia University campus.

Inside Tom's

We sat at the counter, had coffee and a chocolate cheesecake slice, and thought about the Seinfeld characters.

We set out to find our next cigar shop to visit; Papa Juan's Cigar Lounge in Harlem. it was about a mile away. 

Once there we met the owner, Francis.

Papa Juan's is a beautiful lounge with heavy wood accents.

A patron of the shop, Juan. Not the Juan the shop is named for but this Juan was full of helpful information. He even convinced us to ride the subway back to the city.

This is a wood sculpture of THE Juan.

Being true tourists, here we are at the subway waiting for our train.

We got off the subway on 59th Street at Columbus Circle. It was near there that our next cigar shop stop was located; Davidoff of Geneva on 59th Street. Amber met us and showed me to the humidor. 

Davidoff of Geneva was a modern looking cigar shop.

When we left Davidoff of Geneva we walked back to the hotel and passed hundreds of Christmas lights.


Wednesday morning we flew back home but the memories of our trip will last forever. Somehow, I feel like we'll be back again one day.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Looks like a fantastic time. I love NY for about two or three days, then back to reality.