Archive for the ‘New York’ Category

48 types of cheesecake!

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Well here we are. We woke up to find there had been a slight sprinkling of snow overnight and the temperature outside was  -3degC. Pretty chilly, glad I brought my hat.

Checked the weather forecast, set to be cold all day. Mind you the forecast for tomorrow suggested it is going to get warmer, with a high of 32degC!!! Yes we did check it was Centigrade not Farenheit. What sort of crazy place is this?

Since John didn’t have to report in for his conference until 5pm we thought we’d all have a little walk together. We are at the Grand Hyat between 17th and 18th Street  (the Americans do seem to have this fixation with grid patterns and road numbering) and that’s just one block away from the 16th Street Mall, 2 1/2 miles of road that has been pedestrianised, lined on both sides with bars, restaurants, shops and shopping centres. We walked to one end, to the Capitol building, there was a super view from the top of the steps, all the way to the Rockies.


I had been getting rather breathless, and no wonder, the air is rather thin ‘cos Denver is the Mile High City. The 18th step of the Capitol Building is 1 mile above sea level, that’s me sitting just above the bronze disc marking the spot.

A Mile High

There is a frequent free bus service that runs along the 16th Street Mall, with stops at every block, so we thought we’d take it to the far end and then meander our way back.

At the far end of the mall is the most wonderful bookshop. Borders has been relegated to second place in my and Marias’ estimation by The Tattered  Cover Bookstore. Not only does it have four floors of books it’s also full of nooks and crannies with tables, chairs, sofas… where you can browze to your hearts content while sipping a coffee (or in Marias case a hot chocolate) and tucking into a blueberry muffin.

 Tattered Cover Bookstore

We spent a happy half hour or so, but then John got restless, we will certainly be coming back without him. We then popped into the visitor centre to find out what Maria and I can do while John is working. They were VERY helpful and we came away with stacks of leaflets, we’d need 4 weeks not 4 days to get through it all. John is still having problems with his ankle so we took the bus back to where we started from and went back to the hotel to regroup and take stock.

Maria and I have booked a coach tour to the foothills of the Rockies and a visit to Buffalo Bills grave and Museum at Lookout Point . We’re also going to try for the theatre. John had rested a bit by now and we also fancied something to eat. Maria had spotted The Cheesecake Factory on the 16th Street Mall, we had heard about their fantastic selection of cheesecakes so we felt this would be an excellent place to eat. I don’t think John was so keen but when they offered him blackened salmon as the lunchtime special he seemed very happy. Denver is supposed to be the thinnest city in the US but I don’t know how. We had the SMALL lunchtime portion of meatloaf and we still couldn’t finish it. We shared a slice of Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake between the three of us and bought a slice of Kahlua Mocha Cheesecake to take out. It’ll be lovely this evening after a Ceasar salad from room service. John’s off to a Hawaiian Luau (I think that’s how it’s spelt) you should have seen his Hawaiian shirt!

Godiva Cheesecake

John had to rush back for a staff briefing and Maria and I strolled back (tryin to walk off the cheescake). Denver is a lovely city from what we’ve seen, wide open spaces, very clean and very friendly people. All in all a nice day, we shall have to go back to the Tattered Cover and of course The Cheesecake Factory, they do 48 different cheesecakes and we’ve only tried 2 so far.

First Class

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

Well that’s it, last day in New York. We got up and packed this morning. I must admit I didn’t think it would all fit. We ended up with a suitcase full of just fur and ultrasuede. Then we checked out, leaving the bags in the luggage room and went off to do some ….. shopping. There are some truly good bargains to be had in Chinatown.

We stopped at Dim Sum Go Go for some dim sum. Last time we did this we just had their selection and we never did work out what some of them contained, so this time we made our own selection. Very nice. It’s a shame we weren’t staying a bit longer ‘cos this afternoon it’s A Taste of Chinatown. All (or a lot) of the restaurants set out stalls and you can get tasters for just $1. A great way to try new things, we were lucky to be there for one of these last year, had a great time.

However we had a flight to catch, so we got our cases back, repacked them, adding all the additional stuff we’d bought and waited for the limo.

John travels so much these days he has Platinum Elite status with Continental Airlines and he was offered an upgrade. He very kindly gave it to Maria and me (he had a colleague from work who was sitting next to him anyway (small world isn’t it)).

So Maria and I travelled First Class!!! The legroom!! The space!! The service!! It’s the only way to travel!!

When we arrived in Denver John was rather grumpy, I don’t think he’d had a very good flight, so we very kindly didn’t go on about our flight. Wonder if they will upgrade him again on the way back, (and if they do will he give it to us again).


Walking over old ground

Friday, October 20th, 2006

Didn’t manage to post yesterday. I have to wait until John comes back from work, yesterday we were going out to the theatre, so there was no time.

We went to the TKTS offices in the morning to see what we could get tickets for. John really fancied Chicago and we were lucky enough to get half price tickets for it. TKTS is brill, we met some people at the show in the evening who had bought tickets that morning through their hotel, and not only had they paid full price but also a markup for the hotel. They ended up paying 3 times what we paid, for seats that were no better. Boy were they cross. Still at least they knew where to get tickets for today.

Anyway back to yesterday, after getting the tickets Maria decided she fancied going over some old ground, so we went to the World Financial Center, the Winter Gardens. Ciao Bella ice cream and Godiva chocolates, what more could you ask for? Well we got a free dance performance, at least we think it was a dance performance. There was music (sort of) and movement. To be honest neither of us appreciated it too much,

The Otani Garden Sophisticated Ladies If the shoe fits

We then walked down to Samantha’s and had a chicken parmigiana hero for lunch, we ate it in Battery Gardens. A real walk down memory lane.

Maria wanted to go to Mood, a fabric warehouse in the garment district. She always likes to visit for bargains. You never know what they’ll have but it’s always a bargain. It’s a bit of a sureal experience, Mood is on floor 3 of what looks like an ordinary skyscraper, looks just like an office block. Once you’re inside it’s an enourmous warehouse with rolls and rolls of fabric, on 3 floors! So you go upstairs for fur fabrics and downstairs for ultrasuede, all inside the middle of a building, so what feels like the basement is in fact the 2nd floor. Strange. Anyway we got some great bargains , including ultrasuede at $25 a yard, (measured by eye so it’s more like 1 1/2 yards).

Maria had talked about going to Penn Station for some Krispy Kreme doughnuts, but she was so tired from all the walking and it was 4.15 so she decided she didn’t want doughnuts that much and we went back to the hotel. By the time we got back John was just arriving and by the time we’d talked to Rob and Claire it was time to go to Broadway to see the show. It was great, the costumes seemed rather scanty to me but Maria and John seemed to appreciate it.

When we checked Marias’ purchases from Mood we found she had left some of her ultrasuede behind so today we had to go back. Luckily they had realised and put it to one side for her. Of course while we were there she had to buy some more, how she thinks she’s going to take it all back to the UK I don’t know.

While up in midtown of course we had to go to Penn Station and buy those doughnuts we missed yesterday.

After all that, all we were fit for was to go back to the hotel, buy a movie (The Prarie Home Companion), eat doughnuts and veg out. Tomorrow it’s on to Denver, we’ve heard it’s cold and they’ve had snow!!  


Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Well the day started much as yesterday, up and off for a walk to get bialys. Maria tries to kid herself she walks off the calories before she gets there, I’m not convinced.

Yesterday we happened to mention we might go up to Katzs for our lunch, so of course John got all upset ‘cos he fancied their pastrami on rye but he couldn’t get out of work to go. So Maria (always a soft touch) promised to pick some up for him and meet him for lunch. So after we’d passed through Chinatown and Little Italy (and got the bialys) we continued uptown into Lower East Side. It’s amazing how the neighbourhoods change so rapidly as you move from one block to the next. Lower East Side used to be predominantly Jewish but it seems to be in the process of becoming Mexican (with just a dash of Indian) so the Kosher shops are being replaced by Taco shops.

We got the sanwiches (pastrami on rye and chopped liver on rye with pickles) and caught the bus downtown to South Ferry so that we could have our ride on the Statton Island Ferry (the best free ride in NY).

Guess who else was also riding the ferry!! HAGRID!!!! Hagrid!

Well Robby Coltrane, he was taking his children accross. Brill! He REALLY is a GIANT.

It’s a wonderfull ride and the views are amazing. There was a rather sureal experience when we saw an old fashioned sailing ship with the skyscrapers in the background.

Downtown skyline

We had heard that Bishop Desmond Tutu was being interviewed at Trinity Church tonight. Entry into the audience was available to anyone, and free, but numbers were limited and you had to apply for tickets. When we met John for lunch he had some good news. He had heard we had got passes. So we had to hurry back  to the hotel so as to be able to get back for 5pm for the reception before the interview. Maria was shattered, so we thought we’d take the subway, however we had to get out at City Hall and walk the rest of the way ‘cos someone had slipped at 14th street. They’d had to stop the trains and they were backing up. From the way Maria was moaning you’d think nobody had ever walked before.

Anyway, to cut a long story short we got back to the hotel, freshened up and got back to Trinity in time. It was well worth the effort, he is a tremendeously inspirational person and so self deprecating. It was a priviledge to see him.

Bishop Desmond Tutu

We then went back to Chinatown and (to the accompaniment of Maria moaning about being tired) found a nice restaurant to eat at. All in all a very exciting day (and the weather was lovely too) 

Wet, wet, wet

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

You might not get much in the way of jet lag on the trip from UK to NY but you certainly wake up early in the morning. John set off for work and Maria and I lazed around for a while but we were still passing the shops in Chinatown as they were setting up for the day. Way too early for my taste. Still the bialy shop was open when we got there so we started the day with some garlic bialys, lovely.

We didn’t have anything in particular we needed to do, rain was forcast for the afternoon, so we decided to just set off and see where we ended up. In Chinatown of course. Being without John we weren’t for ever going up and down stairs but that’s only ‘cos we walked everywhere instead of taking the subway.

Chinatown is fascinating, everything sort of crammed in together.Chinatown

I think Maria must have some Chinese in her somehow, she loves red and so do the Chinese. She’s talking about doing a Chinese New Year display in her window at Patchings next year. I bet she ends up buying enough stuff to fill 2 or 3 windows.

We eventually ended up at South Street Seaport. A great place to view Brooklyn Bridge.Brooklyn Bridge We had a potter around the shops, very disappointed by Purple-icious, not very purple and way too tasteful. I hoped I’d be able to get something from the Haloween shop but it was just fancy dress costumes for humans, not much use to a bear. Still the Footsie Sock shop was fun and of course the Godiva shop is always worth a visit.

The rain had started at this point so we decided Borders was a good place to hang out. We took the Downtown Shuttle (still free I’m glad to say) to the bottom of Broadway and walked up to meet John for lunch at the coffee bar in Borders. After lunch John had to go back to work (well someone has to earn the money for us to spend) while Maria and I got an ENORMOUS armfull of books and settled down in a corner to decide which we could not do without. A couple of hours, several books and magazines later we decided we had better leave before we spent more than John earned.

By now it was pretty well chucking it down so we decided to take the subway, mind you it seemed to be raining almost as hard below ground as above (leaky roof (I hope)).

When we got back Maria had to change, thank goodness her bag is reasonably waterproof so I was OK. We then just vegged out for an hour or so, finishing off the Italian cakes from las night, and it was time for John to come back, Where did the day go?

I was still full from earlier, and it was still pouring, so I refused their invite to go out for tea. I was glad I had, they came back looking like drowned rats. Apparently the food was lovely (Italian) and the rain should stop by morning. 

I’m Back!

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Well it’s been a long time. Maria and John (especially John) have been swanning off all over the place. Sweden, Budapest (several times), India, Ireland and of course New York (lots of times). But have they been taking me? Have they heck as like, always some excuse.

Mind you when they came back from their last trip to Budapest and boasted about the bear sanctuary they had been to and the real bears they had seen, I had to put my foot down. After all what’s the point of being called Wilbeary if you don’t travel? So here we are back in New York!!!

I’d forgotten how tedious the flight is (I’m dreading the return trip, we’ll be going back from Denver so that adds an extra 4 hours or so), but at least we’re here now. We’re staying at a hotel right next to Chinatown. Maria keeps whinging about the fact that it’s a Holiday Inn, muttering something about biscuits under beds, lack of lifts and slippery floors. I think she must have had some bad experiences in the past, but as far as I can see, it’s fine, not the best place I’ve stayed at but OK. The big advantage is how close it is to Chinatown and Little Italy.

We all went for a walk earlier, I’d forgotten how colourfull the place is.

Chinese dragon    Chinese lanterns

Of course we’ve already had to buy Maria some shoes (I think she needs some help with this addiction), and we stopped for a few snacks and some green tea for John. John is having some problems with his ankle (apparently he broke it some years ago and has a metal plate in it etc.) so we went back to the hotel and left hime there while we went for a forray into Little Italy. Well… we needed some cakes for later and while we were there we had to try some gelato didn’t we.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow, we’re having bialis for breakfast (assuming we can find the bakery that does them.


The Cloisters

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

Saturday was a lovely day, so we decided to use our membership of the Met and go up to the Cloisters. The Cloisters is the branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to Medieval Europe.
The Cloisters 1
It is about as far Uptown as you can get, set in some lovely grounds. It is based upon a European cloister, built from bits and pieces of churches and monasteries from all over Europe.
The Cloisters 2
A little strange when we are used to complete building in England but they have done a very good job of creating the right atmosphere.
The Cloisters 3
It shows what a young country this is when the tour guide is thrilled to be able to touch a pillar made in the 1200s and John went to a school built in the 900s.
The Cloisters 4
Our favourite parts were the recreated medieval gardens.
The Cloisters 5
The Cloisters 6
We then went a bit downtown to the Hungarian Pastry Shop to indulge in some cake and coffee, it’s a lovely pokey little cafe with a great atmosphere and frequented by students. Maria was thrilled when one of the waitresses spoke to her in Hungarian.
It is opposite the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and a wonderful sculpture garden. There is a large peace sculpture in the center and then a lot of small sculptures.
Peace 1
There is an annual competition for children from kindergarten to high school and the 12 best entries are cast in bronze and added to the garden.
Peace 2
Peace 3
Some were really lovely.
Maria then expressed a wish to go to Bloomingdales and shop for shoes, apparently she did not have anything to wear for walking about in the hot weather (?? what on earth are her other shoes for then?). Personally I was tired and voted for going straight back home, but you know what John is like. So we were off to Bloomingdales.
She liked the third pair of shoes she tried on but that didn’t stop her her trying on another 3 pairs, and the her favourite ones in a different colour, then one of each colour on each foot, then the other way round, then the first colour on both feet, then the other colour……..Eventually she did manage to choose and John went to pay for them. (He’d already bought her a cross at the Cloisters, is he made of money?) We couldn’t find a handbag to match, except a Fendi one, which was somewhat too much for even John (if you have to ask the price you can’t afford it).
So AT LAST we went back to the appartment and a bit of rest. Just as we got back a superb thunderstorm started, making the light on the buildings look very strange.

Music and beads

Friday, May 20th, 2005

It was bad enough when I had to share the computer with Maria, but these days I’m having to share with Claire as well. Makes it very difficult to get any time to keep up my blog.
On Thursday we went to the Seaport again to try and get some tickets for Broadway. The queue was much longer than Monday but the choice was much better too. We ended up with some good seats for Fiddler on the Roof. We then went to Trinity Church for the lunchtime concert, via Borders of course. I was impressed, we were only in there for 20 mins and Claire only managed to get one book but Maria got 4 books and 3 magazines. She’s obviously more experienced.
The concert was excellent, it was by Solid Rock Ensemble a Gospel group. It really made Maria want to go to a Gospel service.
Solid Rock Ensemble
We then went uptown with the intention of going up the Empire State Building, John had bought us tickets. By the time we got there we decided there was not enough time, so we went to some of the local accessories and bead shops, where Claire spent yet more money. I don’t see how she’ll carry it all back.
We then headed back home to quickly change and go out again to Broadway.
The show was at the Mishkoff Theatre which is on Times Square. It was a modern theatre with superb views.
Times Square view 1

Times Square view 2
The show was also excellent, Fiddler is one of John’s favourite films.
It was past 1.00 am before we got to bed and so we didn’t find it too easy to get up on Friday. Poor John had to go to work. Claire, Maria and I were intending to go up the Empire State Building but it was raining so we decided to put it off. Instead we pottered around for a bit and then went uptown to shop for fabrics and beads. Maria and Claire found (and bought) lots, the prices here are so good. Maria also managed to buy yet another (!!!) pair of shoes. They’re covered in beads and totally impractical, but she doesn’t seem to consider that.
There was a superb sunset in the evening.
John finished work today, he’s taking Monday as a holiday. Perhaps he’ll be able to curb the girls shopping?

Food and art

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

After all the clothes shopping yesterday, Claire decided she still needed something suitable for the warm weather to wear on her bottom half. She felt she couldn’t afford to spend a lot more money on clothes so we went to Century 21, great if you’re prepared to rummage. Wish we could work out these American sizes though.
We then met John for lunch. 50 of the restaurants in downtown Manhattan were doing tastings, so we sampled everything from oysters, chowder, catfish, tikka masala, smoked salmon, cheesecake and ice cream to fresh lemonade.
John then went back to work , Claire, Maria and I rolled down the hill to South Ferry and took the best free ride in NY.
Claire on Staton Island Ferry
The views were excellent, we were lucky and caught one of the new ferries.
The view of downtown as you come back into harbour are great.
Downtown skyline
Wednesday was our art day. Both Claire and I got stuck in. My work was very much admired.
Artistic Wilbeary

Claire painting
In the afternoon Maria took some of the other bears along , totally unnecessary I felt but they were very much admired.
The wild life around here is very pushy.

Winnie the Pooh!!!

Monday, May 16th, 2005

Wow!! What a fantastic day. We went to Chinatown this morning. Maria loves the place, Claire wanted to experience it and do some shopping. I think she experienced a bit more than she expected. For a start there was the shop that sold dried everything, plums, figs, cherries, cuttlefish, sea cucumber (a sort of sea slug?!), sesame covered mini crab (complete with shell). We did do some shopping but stuck mainly to the fruit, although John did buy some fish.
Chinese tasting
We then went on to the place Maria has been buying her slippers and she got another pair (they are very pretty but does anyone really need three pairs?) and Claire got a pair too. Between the pair of them they could open a shoe shop. Then Claire bought some bowls and chopsticks, John put his foot down and said that since she already had 3 sets Maria didn’t need any more. We also had to get some fresh prawns (they are very good) and some BBQ pork and a duck. Guess what we’re having for tea.
We went to a Dim Sum restaurant for lunch, we were lucky and got there just as the queues were starting. By the time we left people were having to wait out on the street. We had a Dim Sum platter and most of it was very nice, there was one thing we could not identify, looked rather like a sponge and had a strange texture. John and I ate it but Maria and Claire just tasted it and wouldn’t have any more.
After popping back to the appartment, we left John there and the rest of us went up to 53rd St West to the Museum of Art and Design, otherwise known as MAD. There was an exhibition of beadwork Claire wanted to see and we were also quite interested in their Kimono exhibition and their Fringe exhibition. The fringes were rather disappointing but the rest was great. We could have spent loads of money in the shop but mostly resisted. Since we were close by we decided to visit St. Patricks Cathedral. As we were walking accross 53rd St towards 5th Ave WE PASSED THE LIBRARY EDWARD BEAR (aka WINNIE THE POOH) AND HIS FRIEND LIVE IN. We of course went in to visit, it was a great privilege to meet a bear of his stature. He was very gracious to such an insignificant bear as I and kindly allowed me to take his picture.
Winnie and friends
After that of course the rest of the day was insignificant. We went to the Cathedral and then back home via a chocolate shop.
Tomorrow Claire and Maria are intending to go to Bloomingdales and Macys shoe shopping. More shoes!!!?