Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sleeping in Times Square

One week ago today, Mom and I boarded a plane very early in the morning for New York City.  Both of us were Big Apple virgins, off to find out if the city was anything like the images in our minds.  We had four days to cram in as much as we could before our return home on Sunday.

Our flights from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Chicago to LaGuardia airport in Queens were uneventful, with security being more solemn and thorough than when I'd last flown, but lines weren't long and everyone was cooperative.

We began the trek via shuttle to our hotel in Times Square around 11:30 and before we'd even left the airport, my apprehension about getting around sans taxis was growing.  Not because we didn't think we could figure it out, but because the people we asked were so hard to understand.  No New York or Jersey accents - I've no problem with those - it was the English-is-not-my-native-language accents that were giving me fits.

I could do nothing but apologize for asking people to repeat themselves and in most cases, they were happy to oblige.  In others, they were clearly irritated with me.  As we would soon find out, New York City embodies the idea of the United States being a melting pot, and while I have absolutely no problem with that, I just wish I could better understand English spoken with strong accents.

We got on the shuttle, which made a transfer at Grand Central Station.  Instead of continuing on to the hotel right away,  we decided to walk around for a little bit.

The station is beautiful, and as I was taking photos of the Beaux Arts Main Concourse Terminal Room, with its Sky Ceiling, I remembered the flash mob that took place there a couple of years ago.

"Meet me at the clock."
After about an hour of looking around the shops there, we got on the second shuttle van and arrived at The Crowne Plaza in Times Square around 1:00 p.m.  We were met at the door by the doorman, who insisted on taking our luggage and checking it (there went the first two dollars), since we were early for our room. We wanted to check first to see if the room was ready by chance, but he told us none of the rooms were ready yet.

We went to the front desk to check in, and guess what? Our room WAS ready and they'd bring up our bags in about five minutes.  We were on the 30th floor, with a panoramic view of Times Square and glimpses of the Hudson River.

 Room with a view

Just as we finished checking out our beautiful room, there was a knock on the door, and for two more dollars, we got our bags back.  *insert eye roll here*

After getting things settled in, we went back out on the street (47th and Broadway) and walked through Times Square, drinking in the sights and sounds of this iconic landmark (and loving every second of it!), on our way to 42nd Street.

One of the things I wanted to do in New York was to see the original Winnie-the-Pooh toys at the New York Public Library.  I'm a collector of Classic Pooh books and memorabilia and once had a website called "The Literary World of Winnie-the-Pooh," where I shared some of my collection, which includes the Pooh books in over 25 foreign translations.

The original Pooh toys, played with by Christopher Robin Milne, son of author A.A. Milne, are housed in a case in the children's department at the Schwarzman Building.  Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, and Kanga are surrounded by two walls with E.H. Shepard's illustrations, including the map of the Hundred Acre Wood.  While we were taking photos, two young girls from England walked in to see them, which wasn't surprising, since the toys and the stories originated there in 1926.

Also in the children's department is a beautiful mural that borders all four walls for about 18 inches down from the ceiling, depicting landmarks from New York City.

The library is adjacent to Bryant Park and with a beautiful day on tap, we admired the allees made by the London Plane (Platanus × hispanica)  trees...

...and watched the skaters on The Pond.

By this time, it was starting to get dark, much earlier than it does here in northwest Ohio.  New York City is on the eastern side of Eastern Standard Time zone, while we are on the western side of it.  This makes for a difference in the time of sunset of about 45 minutes.  Since we were meeting someone for dinner, we headed back to the hotel to get ready.

A little after six, we were met by Chris, a.k.a. Flatbush Gardener, in our hotel lobby. Mom and I had met him last May, when we attended Spring Fling Chicago 2009.  He lives in Brooklyn and graciously offered to join us for dinner, so we popped into Olive Garden, which was just outside our hotel. That was to be one of only three 'real' meals we ate while in the city, because we were just too busy to take the time to have a proper eat.

After a delicious dinner, Chris walked us to the subway station on 50th Street, where he gave us a quick course in Subway 101.  Neither Mom nor I were all that familiar with taking the subway.  MrBrownThumb had helped us in Chicago for the ride on the El to Garfield Park Conservatory, but that was many months ago, so the refresher course was helpful.

We all walked around Times Square a bit, took a few pictures, then said goodbye as Chris left to go back home in Brooklyn.  Mom and I walked down to the Walgreen's at 42nd Street to buy some snacks for the room, including my morning coffee - pop.

Since we had to get up rather early the next morning for the taping of The Martha Stewart Show - the reason we were in NYC in the first place - we decided to call it a night.  

How about that?  We survived our first day in The Big Apple.


Anonymous said...

I really have to laugh that you ate at OLIVE GARDEN while in NYC. Too funny! I take for granted how close I am to NYC and DC, so it's always fun to see someone's first experience with either city.

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Kylee girl that was fantastic ! All of your pictures were wonderful .. and hey .. I was rather used to our French Canadian accents, even though they drove me crazy .. but we have the same problem with "English-not-my-first-language-lady !!" here too especially on the phone .. but what can you do and I say sorry all the time as well even though it isn't my fault ..
Hey I know you MUST know that the whole concept of Winnie the Pooh comes from a Canadian .. right ??
Great pictures and story girl !!
Joy : )

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a great start on your adventure.

Rose said...

Thank you for this great tour of the sights of NYC on your first day, Kylee--what a thrill this must have been! You and your Mom were very brave to check out all these sights on your own--I would have felt like a country girl in the Big Apple, and not just because of everyone holding out their hand:) So nice, too, that Chris met up with you and helped with the subway "refresher."

I'm really looking forward to reading about the rest of your adventure. Do tell us all about the Martha show--would you believe that I set my DVR to record it, or so I thought, and when I got home that night, it hadn't recorded?! I was so disappointed!

JGH said...

Enjoyed these photos! I'm a New Yorker but so rarely visit these sites. Thanks for sharing the Winne the Pooh animals - I think I had the "Tigger" one when I was a kid! (or something similar)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Kylee - what a great tour. It brought back happy memories of my trip there with my best friend 2 years ago and our 'soloing' of the sights!!
I love Winnie-the-Pooh as, being English, I was brought up on him :)

FilipBlog said...

Very nice station, I aslo wrote an article today about a central station but in Antwerp.

Kind regards,

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

It was fun to go along on your tour! I missed Martha that day, hope it was lots of fun.

Kara said...

How exciting!
I actually have a friend who just moved from Mich to NYC, and she's working at the O.G. in Times Square!

Unknown said...

This was fabulously interesting, but you know what I found especially curious? How much earlier the sun goes down in New York than for you, even in the same time zone. I think it's only about ten minutes difference from one end of our zone to another. Amazing thing, geography.

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