I had a chance to revisit the “BIG APPLE”, attending a world congress for travel agents beginning November 4th. It coincided with the famous New York Marathon with over 30,000 runners starting from Staten Island, crossing the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and ending up at Central Park. Driving into Manhattan, we saw runners everywhere happily celebrating the completion of their 26 mile run through the city –athletically speaking, the biggest event of the year. It raised the spirits of New Yorkers, bringing back some of the energy and enthusiasm to the people suffering and saddened by the tragic events of September 11th. It seems almost unthinkable that the sun should continue to shine; but it does, and New Yorkers go about their business in an almost soldierly way.
For us to walk the streets and watch the people was a wonderful experience. What a diverse culture! Asian, Hispanic, Muslim, Jewish, African American, German, etc., etc. This city is truly uniquely different and, above all, very exciting, vibrant and alive – 24/7 as they say. We stayed at the HOTEL ROOSEVELT on 45th and Madison Ave just minutes away from Times Square and Broadway theatres, and just a few blocks from Rockefeller Center and Fifth Avenue. Dwight showed me Grand Central Station, now used for commuter trains only. We walked through the marbled majestic halls with crystal chandeliers and grabbed a late lunch at the PERSHING SQUARE CAFÉ - very chic, and the bagel and lox were delicious.
The JACOB JAVITS CONVENTION CENTER, built in 1986, is right near 34th and the Hudson River piers and is an immense glass structure containing over 800,000 square feet of exhibit space. What a great place to attend a convention and see the Travel Trade Show, which exhibited lots of new ideas, creative displays and interesting people to talk to, especially in technical fields with innovative software and new computers.
Our first night we had a chance to go for a romantic nightcap at the EMPIRE STATE BUILDING observatory to watch the lights come on in the greatest city in the world. Whether you are” sleepless in Seattle” or having “an affair to remember”, it is a marvelous way to start your New York visit. We missed the “SKYRIDE” on the 2nd floor because it was closed, but I would suggest including this in your visit. It is an aerial tour of New York that sends you on a ride around, above, and even below, all that city has to offer. I would also suggest to buy a CITY PASS, which allows you to visit up to 7 great museums.
Next day, after attending on opening speech by Mrs. Barbara Bush and participating in some of the workshops, we had had a chance to sneak away to have lunch at the famous ‘TAVERN ON THE GREEN’. (We had made reservations almost 2 weeks earlier so we could be assured a table.) It was truly worth the cost to sit in this glass enclosed gazebo, a glittering jewel, spectacularly set within Central Park, with its chandeliers in green and purple colors, straight from the famous glass blowers of Venice. It truly is an oasis in the middle of otherwise hectic midtown Manhattan. Afterwards we enjoyed a visit to the METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART on 82nd street with its many world famous European masterpieces. I lived in New York back in the 60s and that was my very favorite place to go, although the Frick collection on 68th Street runs a close second.
Entertainment is virtually limitless, as you may know – LES MISERABLES, THE LION KING, MAMMA MIA, THE MUSIC MAN, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and yes the PRODUCERS, expensive but exciting Broadway Shows. Then there is off-Broadway (100 –499 seats) and OFF-OFF BROADWAY seating less then 100 –experimental, hip, young and so on the cutting edge. This is not to forget the JAZZ, RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, THE MET, and all the Comedy Clubs. There is world class shopping and strolling along Fifth Avenue with TIFFANY’S and SAKS across from Rockefeller Center, not to mention MACY’S on Herald Square.
I was very lucky to have a quiet hour in the PLAZA HOTEL, enjoying high tea with a harp playing soft beautiful music in the ‘GREEN ROOM” - what a place, what ambience and outstanding service!
Our stay ended with a NEW YORK HARBOR CRUISE for 90 minutes, enjoying the spectacular views of the STATUE OF LIBERTY, ELLIS ISLAND, EMPIRE STATE AND CHRYSLER BUILDINGS, and yes GROUND ZERO which made me cry because everything called THE WORLD TRADE CENTER is a mess of steel, the site of giant destruction and gaping holes. I used to work at 65 Broadway near Battery Park and commuted to work on the STATEN ISLAND FERRY. The World Trade Center had not been built at that time, but the same streets are there - BATTERY PLACE, CANAL STREET, WHITEHALL, WALL STREET, and TRINITY CHURCH. I did not want to get any closer, as there is a great sadness all over but the grandeur of NEW YORK will never diminish. New Yorkers are all heroes in my eyes.
I urge you to visit New York on the just published RED WHITE AND BLUE PACKAGE TOURS. Stay in a beautiful hotel, include a show and a visit to a museum as well as a sightseeing tour of the City, and a special restaurant for a very DISCOUNTED PRICE. It will help New York and it is a wonderful experience.
I leave you with a prayer
IN PRAYER WE FIND STRENGTH
IN STRENGTH WE FIND FORGIVNESS
IN FORGIVENESS WE FIND LOVE
IN LOVE WE FIND PEACE
PRAY FOR AMERICA
PRAY FOR THE WORLD
Farvel og tak Elfi