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New York City 2006- Michele's Review

Author: AeroGal619
Date of Trip: September 2006

Gray's Papaya 539 8th Ave (Midtown, at 37th St, by Madison Square Garden) This is my favorite place to eat when I'm in New York. I won't leave the city unless I've had a Gray's Papaya hot dog. Don't let yourself be fooled- there are many imitators of this place (for instance, Papaya King). There are only 3 Gray's Papaya original locations in NYC, make sure you check one out. It's a little hot dog stand, there aren't even tables in there. You can get it plain, with sauerkraut, or chili. They also have really great smoothies. My dinner- which consisted of two hot dogs and a smoothie- cost me $2.75. Can't beat it, folks. Hands down, my absolute favorite food stop.

The Village Underground 130 W 3rd St (Greenwich Village, btwn 6th Ave and MacDougal) I found this dance club online before we left, and it caught my attention because of the type of music they play. Techno/ House music is very common in clubs in NYC, and it's just not my thing. I can't dance to it and I certainly can't sing to it. The Village Underground promised hip hop and some 80's stuff. Bitchin. We walk in to a rather dark, kinda smelly club. Immediately I judge and I want to leave. We order some drinks and start to loosen up. I step on the dance floor and it's like a natural reaction- my body just goes with the music. You may have seen me, and if you have, you know I can't dance. But I love the energy- I love the bass thumping, I love the pulse of the people around you. The deejay here was awesome, and really knew how to mix to keep people moving with the tempo. The setting, once you get past the drab entryway, had Hundreds of miniature, reflective glass domes that cast a warm light on the crowd of hipsters, if you will. Make time for this place, you won't be disappointed.

Manatus 340 Bleecker (Greenwich Village, btwn 10th St and Christopher) www.manatus.net This 24 hour Greek restaurant/ bar/ deli is terrific for breakfast. Slightly expensive, I paid $14 for a perfect 100% fresh-squeezed (squozen) orange juice, eggs, hashed browns, and bacon. It was delicious- served very hot and fast. Great choice if you're in the village- get up early for breakfast and spend the day checking out the quirky shops in the neighborhood.

We had pizza for dinner at a place on 3rd Avenue. I know it was between 43rd and 44th street, but I don't remember the name of the place. It was good, of course I put artichokes on mine, and I got a salad and a Snapple for $7.

We were able to score decent seats for a Broadway show- Mamma Mia! at the Cadillac Winter Garden Theater. ($63 each) This may have been my favorite thing that we did all week. Mamma Mia is quite kitcschy, but irresistibly so- as the kind of story where young lovers live happily ever after, and old lovers get a second chance. It was funny, light, and energetic. And who can't appreciate ABBA on stage? Certainly not I.

Since we're talking about Broadway, I should tell you about getting tickets to a show. I have not had much luck with getting good tickets at the TKTS booth. I also do not recommend buying any tickets in advance, unless there is something you REALLY want to see. We usually pick up a guide that showcases all the shows running and we just go to the theater. Ask for a Sunday matinee, you should be able to get a good price.

We walked across town to the Empire State Building, where we paid $16 to visit the Observatory. I was pleased that we didn't have much of a line, and the night was relatively clear. I had never been up in the observatory, so this was a treat for me. I could have spent hours there, just gazing off into the lights of the city below. My favorite piece of NYC architecture, the Chrysler Building, stood tall and aglow against the sky. It was beautiful… I have a ton of pictures to prove it. Being up that high, there was a touch of fog, so the pictures aren't perfect, but they serve their purpose. This is a must when on your first trip to New York.

O'Neills 729 3rd Ave (Tudor City, btwn 45th and 46th) www.irishpubny.com Irish pub O'Neills served as the perfect laid-back ending to our busy tourist day. Upon walking in, we were greeted with the light tunes of Van Morrison, later the Beatles, Bon Jovi, and Billy Joel. I found myself right at home at O'Neills, with the friendly bartender, easy-going crowd, and warm atmosphere. I enjoyed Stella Artois beer on draft for $7.

The next morning, we attempted (and failed) to get up early once again, to visit the Statue of Liberty. We took the ferry (for $11.50) from Battery Park on this rather warm September day over to Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty stands tall and proud. I love the story of how Lady Liberty came to the New York harbor, and can still be in awe at the beauty of this statue. It really does stand for so much- generosity, independence, pride, freedom…. a must-see.

I was less impressed, however, with Ellis Island. I thought I would be able to view the signatures and records of my family members that passed through here in the early 1900s, but you have to pay and make reservations to do so. It was more like a museum. I may have enjoyed it more had I known what to expect.

Georges and Sons 89 Greenwich St (Financial District, at corner of Rector St) Nothing to write home about, Georges offers a large menu of typical deli-style food. Service was pleasant, but slow, perhaps our Swedish waitress was new. I ordered a reuben sandwich and fries, for $15. I will say the portions won't leave you hungry- the sandwich was so large it was a mess. Tasty and well-prepared, but how badly can you screw up a reuben?

After lunch, we took the time to visit Ground Zero. I haven't been there since 2003, and it has changed so much. They've built a subway station again underneath, and have decorated it with artwork from children whose parents perished in the attacks. It's strange, because some people easily breeze through there on their way to work, but when I was there, it felt like my world had stopped. I couldn't fight back tears as I read the 'Heroes of 9/11' list and browsed the photos and artwork.

Riviera Café 225 w 4th St (Greenwich Village, btwn 4th St and 7th Ave, near Sheridan Square) www.rivieracafe.citysearch.com The setting of this Sports Bar is what caught our attention. The Riviera Café sits at the point of an intersection, and they put a triangle-size space of concrete to good use as an outdoor patio. It was a beautiful night, we chose to dine al fresco. We wanted to eat light, so we each ordered a salad (Four Greens salad with grilled chicken; delicious)- and Meg and I shared quesadillas. The menu was rather savory, they offer plenty of options that kinda make me hungry right now…. The quesadillas were a little 'oniony', but otherwise good.The highlight- Sangrias! See the picture on Shutterfly. We look happy. $23 for dinner. My only complaint- very poor service. The waiter was not only slow, but unfriendly and inattentive. Boo.

The Comedy Cellar 117 MacDougal St (Greenwich Village, btwn 3rd St and Minetta) www.comedycellar.com $10 gets you into this venue. You promise to purchase two additional menu items (food, drink, whatever) during the show. Our particular show, hosted by the ever-funny Ardie Fuqua (www.myspace.ardiefuqua.com), was well worth the admission. We were presented by 6 comedians, each offering a very funny, very different bit. If you like to laugh, check out The Comedy Cellar. If you don't like to laugh, you should at least go there for a cocktail.

Normas at Le Parker Meridien 118 W 57th St (Midtown, btwn 6th and 5th Avenues) www.parkermeridien.com/normas Le Parker Meridian is a sophisticated hotel, offering modern New York ambience and décor and Norma's, the in-house brunch restaurant, mirrors that. Expect to pay, but it's a nice treat. I had eggs, potatoes, sourdough toast with delectable jellies, and a side of sausage. Add a fresh-squeezed orange juice (not as good as Manatus), pay $37 and you've got my Norma's experience. The menu almost glorifies breakfast, with items such as mango-papaya brown butter cinnamon crepes, foie gras brioche French toast, $4 a pot french press coffee, and a shrimp, tomato and egg white frittata. Read the reviews for yourself, don't just take my word for it.

We concluded our trip to my favorite city in my favorite way... Central Park. I enjoy people-watching, I get it from my grandmother, and we did a great deal of that in the park. I took a little snooze on a park bench while Heather poisoned Meghan with limp plumper. We strolled up through 'the mall' and enjoyed the trees while the leaves were just about ready to change color. We sat at Bethesda Terrace and ran into a very cool band, the Blue Vipers of Brooklyn. Check em out at www.myspace.com/thebluevipersofbrooklyn. Featuring tenor sax, bass, and washboard; we were graced with a rendition of 'All of Me' and several other catchy tunes. We climbed some rocks, and thought about taking a buggy ride. It was nice to just relax and soak it all in. And say goodbye, once more, to the Big Apple.

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