New York City, Day 1
This time we went to NY, there were some “firsts”. Our regular dog sitter was unavailable, and so was our dog’s sister so we asked a friend in the neighborhood who also had dogs. Mimi had met Sue near her house but never near ours. Sue came over several times and Mimi found her acceptable so the trip went on as planned.
Since our past regular hotel is no longer available and we weren’t all that thrilled with the hotels we’d stayed in, I decided to try Airbnb. I’d never used that before and I was a little overwhelmed by the choices that were available. Unfortunately, I started looking on a Sunday morning when I rang handbells at both services. So, I found the place I wanted and, since it was our first time, scanned in my driver’s license. During church, I got a message that the scan was too blurry. So, between services I scanned again and went back to church. There is a time limit that they hold the place, so I was concerned. After the second service, I found out we were accepted. Hooray!
The place I choose had several amenities but the best was how close it was to Michael’s place. Only .3 mile walk. No subways, no Ubers. Just a short walk.
On Friday, December 11, 2015 we headed out for Union Station in a reasonably timely fashion – only about 15 minutes late! Getting on Route 66, Tom realized he had forgotten his phone. For once, we didn’t go home to get it. Our schedule was very tight and we couldn’t miss this train.
The Amtrak parking lot was nearly full so we parked up on the very top layer, way on the side. But we found a space. They were already boarding when we got downstairs but we were able to find seats together on the train. The trip was normal, which was good. We arrived in NYC on time. Also good. Michael had taken a half day off work, so he met us at Penn Station.
We took the subway and there was a stop right outside our Airbnb – very convenient! We took our things in and met one of the owners, Paul, and their 2 adorable corgis. Paul showed us around and gave us our key for the weekend. The dogs followed us everywhere and I fell in love with them.
Back on the subway to the Lincoln Center for the Big Apple Circus. We’d seen them a couple times here but Michael had never seen them. On the grounds of the Lincoln Center, everything is under the tents where here, much is outside.
We found that Michael had bought tickets in the VIP Seating & Lounge. This included:
- The best seats in the tent! First row, center ringside
- Private Concierge
- Complimentary Circus Meal – includes hot dog, soda and choice of popcorn or cotton candy
- Cheese, vegetable and fruit crudite
- Juice, water, wine, and beer
- Souvenir Book (We didn’t get this!)
- Private restrooms (They called this the Golden Restroom)
- Coat rack
- Photo opps as you try on our circus costumes and hats
- Close-up magician who did card tricks with us
THE GRAND TOUR is a circus extravaganza set in the 1920s and featuring acts from the four corners of the globe. Ships, trains, automobiles, and airplanes will serve as the backdrop for breathtaking acts of wonder, accompanied by the seven-piece Big Apple Circus Band playing live at each of more than 100 performances. Acts will include clowns, jugglers, acrobats, and aerialists, from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America, as well as domestic and rescue animals, all creating performances that will leave audiences smiling and cheering. The show runs 1 hour and 50 minutes including a 20-minute intermission.
I was glad to see the ringmaster, John Kennedy Kane, was back. The last time we went here at home, there had been a female ringmaster.
There were so many neat acts and we were right there, front and center, to see them. Some of the acts seemed like they would land in our laps.
This is one of the clown acts:
A sample of some of the other acts. I loved the Wheel of Wonder, about 1:20:
And, a short TV interview:
This video is so cool – “Our performers give a bird’s eye view of what it’s like to perform under the Big Top! Get your tickets today and see the joy and wonder of this season’s show for yourself!”
After the show, we went out to eat. Our first choice wasn’t available so we ended up at a French restaurant, La Boite en Bois
We took an Uber back to the airb. Tom talked with Paul for a while and I fell asleep immediately. I couldn’t find my contact case so I used the case for a SD card. Worked ok as a temporary fix.
Overnight, I could smell the fabric softener they’d used on the sheets or comforter but I was too tired to take any meds for that.
The Trip Starts ~ Friday, June 5, 2015
I woke up at 8 and still have to pack. We’re leaving for the train at 11…
So, naturally, I did some online stuff and at 9:08, I posted “We’re getting on a train at 1:02 (love how precise Amtrak is!) today so I guess I should start packing…”
Tom called for a cab to arrive at 11:15. The cab arrived about 11 and started honking his horn. Mimi started barking. I took the first bag out at 11:15. Good thing – the driver was getting ready to leave. I told him that we’d said 11:15 – he’d missed that part
We got the 3 finally packed bags to the cab and settled in, fairly early to get to Union Station.
About 15 minutes out, I asked Tom if he had his passport. He’d been thinking New York, not the cruise to Bermuda so we went back home and started again.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, if expensive. The driver was fairly talkative and carried on an interesting conversation with Tom about Sikhs and other religions. Also, immigration to the states as opposed to the UK, education here, life in India…
Finally – Union Station. Hooray!
We only had to wait in line for about 10 minutes before our train was called. Since the train originated in DC, we were able to get seats together. Hooray!
View of the next train to our left…
The ride to New York was fine. No derailments, which was really good. The train that derailed in May was Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188. We were on Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 186. I assume that they retired #188. It seemed ridership was down a little but we were on an earlier train than usual so maybe not.
We arrived at Penn Station, NY on time and started getting in the cab line. I hate to say it, but the line was long and we fell for a gypsy cab trip. The driver didn’t take us out of our way – I was following the trip on my Waze. The driver got us to our hotel – and wanted an exorbitant amount of money (plus tip), cash only. Tom convinced him to take a lot less (and NO tip!) and we checked into the hotel.
Four Points by Sheraton SoHo is apparently built on a small lot – it’s very compact, but tall. Our room is on the small side and I think that there are only a few rooms on each floor.
We’re on the second floor and the view is a next door roof. I’ll try to get a picture of that tomorrow.
Michael arrived – hooray! After some discussion – nap or food – we decided to go out to eat. We walked through Father Fagan Park. Mimi wouldn’t consider this to be a “real park” but then, she’s not a city dog.
Father Fagan Park is gem of a vest-pocket park on the western edge of Soho. This park commemorates four local heroes who perished in the face of fire.
The first restaurant we tried could have taken us without a reservation but we’d have to eat quickly so we could be out when those who had reservations arrived. We left, allowing plenty of time for those who planned ahead.
Walking along, we read other menus until we arrived at Spice. Yummy Thai food! I had Pad Thai with tofu and Tom had the same but with chicken. Michael had rice with mixed seafood – some of the mix was squid. EEEWW.
As an afterthought, I asked for Thai tea. I was surprised, and very happy, when it came as a bubble tea. As far as I know, there are only 2 places near me with bubble tea so this was a real treat.
At the bottom are yummy boba tapioca pearls. Here’s why I don’t make bubble tea at home:
How to Make Boba and Bubble Tea
What You Need
1/4 cup dried boba tapioca pearls per serving (NOT quick-cooking boba)
1-2 tea bags per serving, any kind
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Milk, almond milk, or sweetened condensed milk
Fruit juice or nectar (optional)
Bowl for holding the cooked boba
1. Cook the Boba: Measure 2 cups of water for every 1/4 cup of boba being prepared into a saucepan. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the boba and stir gently until they begin floating to the top of the water.
Turn the heat to medium and cook the boba for 12-15 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, cover, and let the pearls sit for another 12-15 minutes.
2. Prepare Sugar Syrup for the Boba: While the boba are cooking, make a simple sugar syrup to sweeten and preserve them once cooked. Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil over high heat on the stove or in the microwave. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup sugar until dissolved. Set aside to cool.
3. Prepare a Strong Cup of Tea: This can be done either while the boba are cooking or ahead of time. Allow enough time for the tea to cool completely before making the boba. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the tea bag. Use one tea bag for regular-strength bubble tea or two for a stronger tea flavor. Remove the tea bag after 15 minutes and chill the tea.
4. Finish the Boba: Once the boba have finished cooking, drain them from the water and transfer them to a small bowl or container. Pour the sugar syrup over top until the boba are submerged. Let sit until the boba are room temperature, at least 15 minutes, or refrigerate until ready to use. Boba are best if used within a few hours of cooking, but will keep refrigerated for several days. The boba will gradually harden and become crunchy as they sit.
5. Make the Bubble Tea: Pour the prepared tea into a tall glass and add the boba. Add milk for a creamy bubble tea, juice for a fruity tea, or leave plain and add a little extra water. Sweeten to taste with the simple syrup from soaking the boba.
• Very Chilled Bubble Tea: For an extra-chilly bubble tea, combine all the tea, milk, and/or juice, but not the boba in a cocktail shaker. Add a few ice cubes and shake for 20 seconds. Pour into a tall glass and add the boba.
• Shortcut Boba: If you want immediate gratification, just cook your boba until they are tender, 5 to 10 minutes, and use them as soon as they’re cool. This kind of boba don’t [sic] keep for very long (turning rock hard in a few hours), but are delicious if eaten right away.
• Saving Leftover Boba and Making Boba for Later: Boba are best if used within a few hours of cooking, but will keep refrigerated with simple syrup for several days. The boba will gradually harden and become crunchy as they sit.
During dinner, we discussed where to go next but that was fairly indecisive. We thought about going to Tribeca park where one of the Sing For Hope pianos is located. That was going to be about a mile walk and it was about 7:00 so we went back to the hotel to use the free WiFi and find another activity. We ended up doing nothing except coming up with ideas for tomorrow.
So far: breakfast, Michael has a training session at 12:30, Barge Music, Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York to hear an all-Mozart program, possibly a talk before that. Somewhere in there we need to practice some…
We’ll see how that all works out! Meanwhile, It’s 5:30 and I’m going back to sleep!