Our first stop was the top of the Empire State Building. We got tickets online and walked over early. Lines were shorter early in the day, but I still picked up the fastpass line skipping tickets. When time is short on vacation, it is worth the extra cost. Security was quick, but the tickets saved us about an hour in the various elevator lines. The top was crowded, and hot, but the view was amazing. The sun was so hot and bright it was actually hard to get good photographs. We took the best shots we could, but were hiding from the heat pretty quickly.
New York is really beautiful, and not just because you can’t see the trash bags from the air. I have always loved architecture, and an old city ends up collecting buildings of every style. My personal affection to the Empire State is the anachronistic leftover of the docking tower. The top of the building had the ability and design to allow for Zeppelin docking. Seriously. You could roll up in your Zeppelin, drop line to the tower, and walk down to the street in your tux with martini in hand. Get me my Zeppelin. It’s the one that says Bad Motherfucker on it. Bummer about that Hydrogen Adolph.
We paid extra to go up to that observation level. You don’t see that much more up there, but it was worth it to just say we were there.
We then picked up one of the bus tour packages. When you look at the price across one day, or a combo, if you end up using two things, you break even. So we started with a day on the tour, which looped us around the south end of Manhattan. It was actually a great tour, and we hopped off in Little Italy for lunch. After a bit of walking, we picked a place with nice place with as few bullet holes on the outside, and a free dessert!
They had an outdoor garden, but it was too hot to head outside. We had a nice Pinot Grigio, and some simple but fantastic Italian dishes. Meatballs, a little homemade pasta, chicken, It was great. We were entertained by the New Jersey family at the adjoining table. There were about 10 of them, and the Father was regaling the restaurant with is stories of why he can’t visit Mexico anymore, while a daughter –type was making sure that the waiter knew that they weren’t serving enough pasta, and that they were serving everything in the wrong order. Awesome.
Dessert was little fried donut things with an Italian name of some sort, and I also ordered a Cannoli (hold the gun). Love the damn Cannoli. You really can’t go wrong with Italian in Little Italy.
We walked around some shopping on our way back to the bus stop, and took the rest of the tour around the town. It ended up being a really useful and cool tour. We saw the Battery Park Tunnel vent used as the Men In Black headquarters, had the waterfront pointed out (and we had a tour cruise as part of our package). We saw the UN, Bellevue Hospital, Alphabet City, and a bit uptown, we saw the Waldorf = Astoria (yes, you use an equals).
I should note that the Waldorf is the home of my favorite semi-secret railroad stop. (The hotel has a rail line used by almost every President to visit New York. It lets the President basically slip past all traffic and just pop out of the hotel. Pretty Cool)
We kept on past Rockefeller Center, and ended our tour back at Times Square. Not a bad day. We had plans to hit the Today show early in the morning, so we got dinner at a goofy but fun “Jekyll and Hyde club” It was a very silly horror themed restaurant, but the staff appeared to be out of work Broadway actors, so they were working their asses off. Goofy, scary jokes. A little food, and strong drinks.
Always a good end to the day.