April 20, 2011

Nearing the end

We were happy to welcome Monday, it meant express trains and getting around a little easier. Plus, our trip was winding down; home was on the horizon. We were burnt out, but we kept on since we had sights left to see, and eats to seek out.

We took one last recommendation from a New Yorker and tried Vezzo pizza in Midtown. We ordered cheesy garlic bread to start. It was thick and much different than I expected.

Our Margherita pizza followed, it was exceptionally thin. The crust was crisp, but almost non-existent. Ingredients were fresh. It should have been a winner, but it reminded me of pizzas I make at home with Flat Out flatbread. This was flat bread, not pizza. This was only the second place we were served fountain soda (the first was at Spumoni Gardens) it came as a surprise that we were charged for a refill. We should’ve stuck with the delicious free NYC tap water, but whatever…

Moving on, our next stop was the Top of the Rock, which is the observation deck at Rockefeller Center. The halls to get there from the subway made me nauseous. It reeked of greasy fast food and Subway bread. We couldn’t get to the ticket outlet fast enough. Admission was included in our City Pass. Getting our tickets was quick and painless. However, it was never mentioned that we had to wait until 1:30 to enter. We had 45-minutes to kill. Waiting around is not something either of us wanted to do, but we sucked it up and waited. Outside. I couldn’t stand the food court smells in those halls.

I enjoyed the fresh air, but it didn’t take long for my feet to grow weary. I took a seat on the planter, careful not to disturb the freshly planted flowers. Relief lasted about 5 minutes, and then the doorman scolded me. As we waited, he scolded another dozen people who also grew tired waiting to enter. Finally, time passed and we entered the doors only to be scolded by the doorman again. He insisted it wasn’t time, yet. We pointed to the clock. He had no choice but to waive us on.

We were herded like cattle to wait for the elevators to take us near the top. Then, we were forced to watch a short film about the building before being herded again to be taken up to the observation floors. The first two floors are obnoxious with the big glass panels obstructing the views. The top deck is where it’s at. It is open. Had I realized, I wouldn’t have wasted time on the first two trying to snap photos between each glass panel. Visibility wasn’t great, it was incredibly hazy, but we hung around about an hour taking photos and trying to make out the different buildings.

Leaving was no easy task. Once again, we hurried just wait while we were herded into elevators. I’ve been up on many observation decks and none were as much of a clusterfuck as this one.

Afterwards, we went back to Katz’s Deli. This time we had corned beef and pastrami.

The pastrami is so good. It was the best thing I ate in NYC. We left a little room for dessert so we sought out Sugar Sweet Sunshine bakery, which came highly recommended for cupcakes. We ordered two: Sexy red velvet and pistachio. Both had ” the moose” aka satin buttercream, which seemed to be their signature icing.

They weren’t the most attractive cupcakes, but I don’t mind as long as they taste yummy. We each dug in and gave each other the same look. “Ick.” These were among the worst cupcakes we ever tried; I can only recall those we had in Vancouver being worse. The cake was dry. The icing was bland only leaving a strange artificial taste. It was very odd, I’ve never considered myself a great baker, but I can make a better cupcake. I swear this place is highly rated because it’s fairly cheap, only $1.75 per cupcake.

Next we went to the Metropolitan Museum; again, admission was part of our City Pass. We walked around admiring the artifacts, but I grew tired of it early on. Still, we pressed on absorbing all that could. But in all honesty, I liked the building itself better than the items that make up the museum.

The arched-windows, the columns, the arcs of the ceiling and wood floors were really lovely. I appreciated the experience for a much different reason than most, I suspect.

Wall Street was our next destination. We enjoyed seeing this area of the financial district. It’s the heart of America, if not the world.

We went to Fraunces Tavern, which claims to be Manhattan’s oldest standing building built in 1719. George Washington bid farewell to his officers of the Continental Army there after the revolution. We had a sampler of beers: Strubbe Pils, Victory Prima Pils and Erdinger. The Strubbe was a favorite. It was a great bar; we soaked up its history and wished the walls could talk. I’m really happy we made this stop. It was a highlight.

We walked over to the Staten Island ferry, it was already boarding so we had perfect timing. The views were nice as we pulled away from Manhattan and it was nice to catch another look at the Statue of Liberty.

We hopped on the train when we docked and rode it to the end of the line. From there we walked and took a bus to see the Atlantic Ocean. We saw it, but that’s about it, it was a residential neighborhood and the gardens that butted up to the ocean were closed under lock and key. We rode back to Manhattan admiring the city lights at night.

We made it to all five boroughs; we can honestly say we experienced NYC. Brooklyn was our favorite, if you were curious.

Our last adventure was to find that ultimate pizza slice. I had two more popular pizza places on my list; both were in the West Village. It was one neighborhood we had not yet visited. It was young and happening. It was bustling, I liked the feel. Our first stop was Bleecker St Pizza. We tried a few slices.

Their Nonna Maria, like Margherita, was my favorite. Excellent! It was my favorite slice I had in NYC. It was crisp and topped with flavorful sauce and gooey cheese. The white pie was really good, too. Even the Sicilian was a winner. Ahh! Bleecker Street why did I not find you sooner? It was priced right, too. Slices were $3. Second, we were off to find Joe’s Pizza. They only had cheese and Sicilian slices when we arrived, we tried one of each.

This was bad pizza. It was flavorless and dry. We didn’t even finish either slice. It was that bad.

We were in desperate need to recharge our batteries so we headed back to the UWS. Frank stopped at New Pizza Town and ordered a calzone to go. I wasn’t the least bit hungry so I didn’t order a thing. Back at the hotel Frank ate his Calzone which was very good, while I packed our stuff. Then, I fell into bed and promptly crashed.

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