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New York City 2006- Michele's Review

Author: AeroGal619
Date of Trip: September 2006

We had an awesome trip to New York City- there aren't any crazy stories to tell, so this is more of a review than a blog. If you're not planning on going to NYC anytime soon, this may be kinda boring. :-)

A couple of quick tips: 1. Make sure you carry cash with you. You never know when you're going to need to hail a cab or pay a cover charge. A LOT of restaurants in NYC won't do separate checks- dining with friends becomes a math lesson 2. If you're going to be in the city for more than 2 days, just get a 1 week Metro Pass. You do miss a bit being on the subway, but it saves you a lot of money. 3. Don't book a hotel too far from Midtown, unless money is really an issue. If you stay too far away from everything you want to see, you're going to end up spending a lot of time traveling on the Subway. And if you're new to the New York transit system, you'll probably get lost a little. 4. Pay attention when booking a hotel- there are plenty of places that have SHARED bathrooms. If it doesn't bother you, go for it.

After a successful and uneventful flight on AirTran from Akron-Canton, we arrived at LaGuardia around 6. I like flying into LaGuardia (LGA) because it's typically closer to where we stay in NYC. You can also check out service to John F Kennedy Intntl Airport (JFK) or Newark, NJ (EWR). If you're traveling by yourself, consider the cost of your cab ride from the airport to hotel. Some airports have shuttles- plenty of options!

We accidentally planned our vacation the same time as 'Fashion Week' in New York, so we had an extremely difficult time finding a hotel. We didn't want to spend too much, but we also wanted a good location. We considered some alternative options: a hostel, couch-surfing, shared bathroom hotels… We ended up searching www.craigslist.com for someone offering temporary housing. We found a woman who lived in a one-bedroom on 44th St between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. She was going to be out of town for a week, so she had a friend meet us with the key and to collect our cash. We paid $900 for 6 nights, which only cost us $300 each. Very affordable! Plus, it was nice to have a kitchen, laundry and all the space a hotel would not have been able to provide.

Our first stop….. Muldoons 692 Third Ave (Tudor City, between 43rd and 44th) Since we arrived in the city kinda late, we decided to get a bite to eat and just lay low. We stopped into this Irish bar in our neighborhood (we stayed in an apartment on 44th st between 2nd and 3rd). We walked in and it was quite crowded. Much to my delight, we realized it was karaoke night! Yay! I ordered a burger and fries and it was awesome- hot, juicy, flavorful and a good size, too. The french fries were perfect, as well. I had a beer with dinner, and my bill with tip was around $15.00. I also sang a little karaoke- because I felt so comfortable here! The waitress was super friendly and had an adorable Irish accent. The 'regulars' were a lot of fun- they sang and danced with me. (But how can you resist dancing to 'Faith' George Michael?) The atmosphere was nothing special, kinda dark and typical, but at least clean and friendly. Highly recommend!

Kellari Taverna 19 W 44th St (Theater District, between 5th and 6th) www.kellari.us We walked a little after dinner and ended up in Times Square. It was Meghan's first time in NYC, so we had to take her there. On the way back we stopped into this wine bar/ restaurant. As we stepped in the door, a large Greek man sitting at the bar welcomed us in. We must have looked out of place, he said 'Come on in, have a drink!'. This place was gorgeous- beautiful colors, dramatic draperies and fabrics, warm lighting, minimal but modern decor. The service was a little slow, but friendly. The wine list was interesting- a lot of wines I didn't recognize. I don't even remember what I ordered, but my glass was only $8. Not too bad. I'm not sure if I would go back, the menu wasn't easy to understand or recognize.

Tavern on the Green Central Park West at 67th Street www.tavernonthegreen.com This is the kind of place you need reservations for- we made ours for lunch. It was a beautiful restaurant, we sat in the Crystal room. Several chandeliers hung from the ceiling, and I'm sure if it was sunny out, the light would have caught the crystals beautifully. Lunch was rather expensive, about $50 for each of us. I ordered a special three course meal that included Red and Yellow Tomato Napoleon (red and yellow tomatoes stacked with ricotta salata cheese, balsamic vinaigrette, and a pesto crouton), Roast Chicken Provencale (garlic-mashed potatoes, tomato olive caper sauce, sautéed spinach) and Chocolate Mousse Cake (berry compote and whipped cream). They also bring around a bread basket and little butter rounds. Delicious bread- light, fresh, and chewy. I have read a lot of reviews from people that say Tavern isn't worth the 'hype' but I was happy to pay $50 (including tip) for this meal. It was awesome, down to every side dish, crouton, and iced tea. I am trying feverishly to recreate my meal, especially the Mousse Cake. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I indulged every bit of this creamy confection. I not only recommend, but I insist you visit Tavern on the Green on your next visit!

Piola Pizza 48 E 12th St (West Village, between University and Broadway) We were trying to meet up with Barrett in Tribeca, so we got off the subway near Washington Square Park and found Piola. Chipotle-looking kind of place, with high industrial ceilings, simple tables, and chrome fixtures. The pizza was yummy- I ordered mine with artichokes, of course. I also enjoyed a cold bottle of Peroni Italian birra (that's beer to you non-sophisticates- just kidding). Dinner was only $11, not bad. I would say this is a great choice if you want something inexpensive, easy and you're in the neighborhood.

The Other Room 143 Perry St (West Village, between Washington and Greenwich St) Still trying to meet up with Barrett, we find this bar in the Village. Not my cup of tea. It was very dark, crowded, and kinda boring. I think you had to be an Arts major at NYU to enter. We stuck out like sore thumbs. The plus? There was a dog there. He was cute.

The Bubble Lounge 228 West Broadway (Tribeca, near Hudson St) www.bubblelounge.com We finally meet up with Barrett! It was good to see him, and I met his girlfriend Allison. He seems very happy, which in turn makes me happy. The Bubble Lounge was a cool place. Comfy, retro couches and armchairs; mirrors and lighting make the décor open up. A great place to hang out and chat with friends, but the music pumping keeps your adrenaline up. I paid $7 for a Stoli Razz and 7Up which is pretty standard in NYC. Check it out

Petite Abelle 134 West Broadway (Tribeca) www.petiteabeille.com This little Belgian bar was exactly what we needed to end our night. Heather had a peach beer that cost her $14, but she seemed quite happy with it. The deejay was the hit of the party though- he spun some great tunes and could really keep people dancing, but he also showed off his skills on the horn! He pulled out a trumpet a few times and wailed with the song. He was phenomenal, this was a very enjoyable place.

Europa www.europatogo.com You can find a Europa on every third block in Manhattan. The food will remind you of Panera- sandwiches, soup, fruit, fun bottled beverages. It's cafeteria style, so you don't have to wait on anyone to serve you. My seafood bisque soup was surprisingly appetizing! Lunch cost me $8.00- I won't complain!

Rocky's 45 Spring St (Little Italy, between Mulberry and Mott) Meghan's Aunt and Uncle came in to the city to visit, and they suggested Italian. Heather remembered a place she had been so we trudged through rain and wind to get down to Little Italy. (The rain was miserable- the whole day had been very, well, wet! I felt like I could wring out my skin). We find Rocky's and step in the door to about 7 tables. Very small place, but not crowded at all so we sit right away. I ordered an artichoke salad and chicken parmesan with vegetables. It was a wonderful meal- we were all so stuffed. Very authentic sauces, the vegetables were 'a scapece' and prepared perfectly, and the bread was a welcomed accompaniment. I highly recommend Rocky's!!

Ferrara 195 Grand St (Little Italy, between Mulberry and Mott) www.ferraracafe.com After dinner, we strolled through Little Italy. There was a street festival commencing- The Feast of San Gennaro, as the rain had finally let up! Dave & Linda led us to a 'pasticceria' for dessert. Again, with the sweet tooth… but I must say this was the best cheesecake I had ever had. It was a perfect buttery, crumb crust; the consistency of the cheese was lush and velvety, and the strawberries were full and fresh. Heather had a trio of mini desserts and it was very presentable- she also seemed happy with the taste. Here's a little tidbit of info- Ferrara's is America's First Espresso Bar, as it opened in 1892! They had a wide selection of take home items- canoli, biscotti, chocolate covered things, truffles, and more. If you're already having dinner at Rocky's there's no reason why you shouldn't stop at Ferrara!

Ono at Hotel Gansevoort 18 9th Ave (Meatpacking District, btwn 13th St and Little W 12th) www.hotelgansevoort.com The meatpacking district is 'where it's at' right now. (I got two turn-tables and a microphone…. anyone, anyone?) We got all fancied up and headed down there. We weren't sure where to go, but there was a line outside this one place, so we figured it must be good! We did wait a while, but eventually, we get through the door and are escorted to an elevator, going up to PH (that would be Penthouse, kids). We step off the elevator to a very posh, very crowded club. There are a lot of reserved areas, so we go towards the bar and order a drink. Drinks were expensive there- I paid $14 for a Vodka tonic. There was a rooftop patio we wanted to check out. It was cold and damp up there, but the view was awesome. The sky had cleared a little and we could see a ways up the Hudson. I wasn't super impressed with this venue, HOWEVER if it was warmer and not Friday night it may have made a huge difference.

Prime Burger 5 E 51st St (btwn Madison and 5th) I did a lot of research before we left and this place kept popping up on my searches for 'Best Burger in New York'. I know why. It was a diner-style place, nothing fancy about it. Paper signs hung on the wall, a window to pick up your food. I ordered simple- Cheeseburger, fries, and Peach Snapple. The burgers came out quickly- they were hot and juicy on a toasty warm bun. The taste was very good- but honestly not the best burger I have ever had. What I liked about this burger is that it was the perfect size, so I didn't feel full, and it was reasonably priced. My entire meal cost me $9.00. It's in a popular part of town, so stop in after a day of shopping on 5th Avenue

Harbor Lights Cruise Pier 83 Alright, so we got a little touristy. I am a sucker for these kind of things, so on the ferry we went. We paid $23 for our guided tour, and it was worth every penny. We departed from pier 83 and cruised down the Hudson at twilight. Our guide, David Parker who lives in Queens and was not at work on 9/11 or The Blackout, was super annoying. I say this through clenched teeth and balled up fists. The context of his tour was not bad- we learned a lot of fun little facts, and he was great about pointing out things for us, but his own comedic antecdotes were making me queasy. We sailed up the East River, about as far north as the Queensboro Bridge, and back down. This time, we went around the Statue of Liberty and she was a sight to see in the night lights of the city. It was beautiful- everyone kind of hushed as we passed Lady Liberty. Circle Line offers several cruises- I would recommend taking any of them except the dinner cruise. You'll miss too much while you're eating.

After the cruise let out, we (along with hundreds of other people) went out to the street to find a cab. It was hard to catch one, so there were a lot of private drivers trying to get a fare. I would normally STRONGLY caution you against taking a 'black cab' or a towncar, but we were anxious to get on with our night. So, this guy named Richard found us and we decided to get in. Let me just say one word- creepy. He was driving really slow and talking to us, asking us weird questions. He kept looking at us in the rearview mirror and turning around and gawking at us. I felt like I needed a shower when he dropped us off.

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