Monday, October 10, 2011

Journey East. Second Stop: New York City.

"Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quiestest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey."
~Pat Conroy

New York City Skyline from Brooklyn

***Please excuse our regularly scheduled Italia programming for a glimpse back in time...
May in New York City.***

So first off, remember how in May I gave myself a graduation trip to the East Coast? The first stop was five days with KDJ in Washington, D.C. Then, I trained it up to NYC to see my sister.

I've been to New York City several times before, but the last time I was there, just two years ago, I was sicker than I've ever been in my life. Remember that? I even got sicker later. So suffice it to say, I felt awful and didn't do very much "touristy" while I was there that time.

The R.

So this time, I had just a few things on my list of must dos, and thanks to Marina (I love my sister!), I think we covered them all:
1. See Wicked on Broadway
2. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
3. Eat pizza at Grimaldi's
4. Walk a lot

First off, can I say that Marina is the greatest? She and Emily put me up for nearly a full week and kept me entertained with games and food and more games. Thank you! Marina also made sure I always knew where I was going so I wouldn't get lost. Just take a look at the many sets of detailed directions she gave me.

I never got lost once. My sissy is a good mommy. :)

Marina took me to Grimaldi's, situated just under the Brooklyn Bridge. How fun!

Grimaldi's Pizzeria under the Brooklyn Bridge

If you're unfamiliar with Grimaldi's, it's a famous pizzeria with a few locations in NYC. We waited in line for less than five or ten minutes, which, I'm told, is a record. Upon being called in from the line outside, we were seated next to a man in his 50s, leisurely reading the newspaper, waiting for his lunch.

Even Frank decided to join us.
Too bad he didn't really sing for us.
Can you see the man? Can you spot me?
(Yes I wear a pinky ring.)

He struck me as a regular, a local I'm sure. Funny, in a pizzeria that is likely frequented by hundreds of tourists each day, just hoping for a chance to make it inside to taste a bit of heaven that is a Grimaldi's pizza, here is a guy who's just in to grab a pizza and read the paper, like it's his usual Thursday lunch.

Grimaldi's in action.
Seconds after Marina snapped this shot, the man on the left got mad at her
and shooed her away saying something akin to "No pictures for you." (Think: "no soup for you.")

I have to say, before I actually sunk my teeth into that first slice of cheesy goodness, I was prepared and willing to submit "Grimaldi's isn't as good as it's cracked up to be" because you know when something is such a hot spot with tourists, it usually is just about the hype. But I have to say that I can now understand how Grimaldi's got its reputation. It was quite tasty.

Something funny? So Grimaldi's only takes cash. We planned to get cash at an ATM and there happened to be one situated right in front of the restaurant. Handy dandy. Until of course we realized that the ATM fees were at least doubled at this one. Why? Because they could... and because they all know we're going to hit YES to accept the fees because we want to eat pizza. Smart cookies, those bankers.

We're walking...
After lunch, we did a little walking around underneath the Brooklyn Bridge looking over into Manhattan. Walked around, we did, with an ice cream cone taking pictures of the Statue of Liberty from afar, observing the skyline sans the WTC buildings, and trying to figure out why all the helicopters were out and about.

Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Skyline
 After looking at the time and assessing the humid hot weather, we decided not to walk across the BB that day. That turned out to be a very wise choice, as you'll notice in a bit.

Something was going on with all the helicopter action going on.

Manhattan Bridge, just beyond the Brooklyn Bridge
Continuing on through downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights, we meandered along and I just stopped to take pictures all along the way. Things that are everyday sights for my sister were new and exciting to me.

It was a beautiful day for a walk with my beautiful sister. That afternoon, she had made me an appointment to get a graduation massage. :) We ended the night with dinner at Balucchi's which, despite the Italian sound of its name, is an Indian restaurant. Yum!

The next day, I ventured off on my own into Manhattan, thanks to Marina's directions, to see the New York City LDS Temple. What an amazing building the LDS Temple is. Seeing the need for a temple in New York, and being delayed by permits and such at a previously designated temple site outside of the city up north a bit, then LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley announced that they would modify an existing meetinghouse on the corner where Columbus Avenue meets Broadway and West 65th Street. The building now houses the temple on the upper floors, with some space on the first floor, a meeting house on the third floor, and church offices and a distribution center on the second.

Being inside the temple portion of the building, it is somewhat hard to believe that just outside is the loud hustle and bustle of New York City. You'd never know it. In order to preserve the peace and quiet, to which Temple attendees have become accustomed, construction workers built a building within a building, basically soundproofing it entirely. It's incredible to sit inside the beautiful rooms of the temple, and experience transcendent peace, only to realize that you are smack in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world.

You may not know that when LDS Temples are built around the world (as of today, there are 134 operating, 12 under construction, and 14 that have been announced), designers pull in aspects of the region in which the temple resides. Many temples look quite similar, but all have individual details that are special to that area. The decor on the inside of the Manhattan Temple is clean, classic, yet modern, not frilly, just stately. Just my style. The regional design aspect indicative of the city in which it resides? Door handles shaped like the Statue of Liberty's torch are all throughout the temple. How great is that!

Image found here
That evening, Emily and Marina made dinner at home: delicious pork chops and green salad. We walked to Culture for a frozen yogurt dessert before we settled in that night to play hours of Clue. So much fun! I especially liked comparing documentation strategies.

Mrs. Peacock with the revolver in the conservatory.
Can anyone prove me wrong?

The next day, Saturday, brought two of my most anticipated activities of the trip: Wicked! and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.

First of all, Wicked was just what I'd hoped it would be. The sets were amazing. The singing was oh so Broadway. And the story was heart-wrenching. I loved it.

I sat on the first or second row of the loge... my favorite spot in most theaters.

It was just fantastic. I had to refrain from singing along. But you better believe the music was stuck in my brain for awhile.

After the show, Marina and Emily met me outside the theater and we walked around downtown and then made our way to the NYC entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge via Luke's Lobster.

Luke's signature lobster roll ("chunks of lobster meat, a dab of mayo and a dash of secret spices on a perfectly toasted and buttered bun" according to their website) is truly to die for.

So incredibly delicious. I'm seriously salivating as I type this. I've never had such good lobster and so much of it all in one delectable bite. Bite after bite after bite. Oh gosh. Luke's lobster rolls are reason enough to take another trip to NYC.

Whew. I've got to move on or else I'll start drooling.

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is a beautiful memory for me. The wind perfectly dominated the humid heat, making for a very pleasant walk. And the bridge itself is just exquisite.

Can you tell that I loved the Brooklyn Bridge? Built in 1883, it's just over a mile long. We had such a fun time together walking for miles through downtown and then across the bridge back to Brooklyn. Our feet were happy to arrive home and once again, we spent the evening playing Scattergories and Clue.

On Sunday, I went to Church in Manhattan, in one of the singles wards. It was Memorial Day weekend, so there were a lot of people gone for the weekend, but we had a really wonderful Relief Society lesson which I was glad to have heard.

Marina had given me perfect directions, but as it turns out the subway stop at which I was to get off was closed that day for some reason, as were several others before and after. So I did a lot of walking both before and after church. On my way to the subway after church, I took advantage of the walk and found a Pinkberry frozen yogurt place. Yum.

That afternoon, Emily and Marina installed their air conditioner (hallelujah!) and I don't recall what we did that night, but I'm sure it included obligatory visits from Mrs. Peacock, Professor Green, Miss Scarlet, and the rest of the gang.

On Monday, we treated ourselves to pedicures just up the street in Brooklyn. I love all the brownstones in Brooklyn and I love knowing that my feet can get me just about anywhere. :) Thank you, Marina, for a most delightful trip and to you and Emily for being such a great hostesses.


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