By Marie Mitchell
Ahhhhhhh. It feels soooooo good to soak my feet. I put a lot of miles on them, walking around New York City during fall break. I’m amazed there’s any tread left on my shoes. I’m bringing a pedometer next time, to see how many miles I actually cover.
Ruby talked me into spending three days in the Big Apple, her favorite city. It wasn’t hard to convince me to make a third trip with my 14-year-old daughter. Especially since the first two were so much fun.
Our secret is no planning. Once we book the plane and a place to stay, we just wait until we hit town, then start walking. In no particular direction. With no set agenda.
This trip we ventured into Tiffanys on 5th Avenue for the first time. We carefully wandered past the fine China upstairs under the watchful eyes of snooty clerks. Downstairs, we marveled at the diamonds and pearls in their delicate settings. We tactfully asked to see the most economical piece of jewelry in the store. Small silver charms sell for less than $100. The least expensive necklace, in sterling silver, was $125. Its gold twin is four times that amount. The tiny round pendant was barely big enough to write Tiffany & Co. on it. Ruby tried it on, admired herself in the mirror, then returned it to the hovering clerk.
During our extensive self-guided walking tour of NYC we popped into the impressive Public Library, stepped inside elegant Carnegie Hall, rode up and down the escalator at Trump Tower and discovered Bryant Park with two outside ping pong tables and bocce ball courts.
Although we look for new adventures, we do repeat ourselves occasionally. We took our annual stroll through Central Park, pausing periodically to enjoy the street performers: hula hoopers, puppeteers and musicians. And to rest our feet while watching people row, row, row their boats.
Times Square also keeps drawing us back. The pulsating neon signs, bountiful Broadway billboards and nighttime skyline are mesmerizing. You can take your picture with any number of celebrities: from Cookie Monster to a singing cowboy wearing only his tighty whiteys, boots and guitar. If the Jumbotron is on, you can watch yourself on a giant screen, doing something silly.
No one can resist Toys R Us in Times Square so we checked out the amazing Lego designs and phenomenal Barbie collection, then squeezed every stuffed animal in our path. We asked if you had to be accompanied by a small child to ride the enormous Ferris Wheel in the store. You don’t. So we paid our $10 and waited briefly in line. Each seat has a different theme: like Scooby Doo, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and Woody from “Toy Story.” We hoped for My Little Pony. We got Mega Blocks. Still, the view was great and we could almost touch Superman, a giant statue hanging from the high ceiling, as he struggled to stop a runaway truck.
As usual, we enjoyed eating our way across the city: hearty calzones in Little Italy, sticky buns with sweet red bean paste in Chinatown, a single slice of New York cheesecake the size of the entire state and cranberry-apple rice pudding near the Bowery. I’ll admit we did take the subway to some locations instead of hoofing it all that way.
We’d debated whether to go to Hoboken to sample the yummy pastries at Carlo’s Bakery. We’re big fans of owner Buddy Valastro’s “Cake Boss” TV show. But we decided no pastry was worth a possible two hour wait to get into the popular shop. Plus the travel time to get to New Jersey. We did stumble upon a Cake Boss Café in the basement of a Discovery Museum near Times Square. But it was very small, offering a limited selection of food and sweets. Of course you could watch a “Cake Boss” episode while you ate.
We were pretty thrifty in buying souvenirs, but sometimes we got carried away and forgot about how bulky the bargain items would be to tote around town. The best thing we bought for ourselves were NYC hoodies. Late one night. When we were shivering from the cold. The best $30 I’ve ever spent.
We splurged on our last night with a memorable trip to Oz via the musical “Wicked.” It was late when we left the Emerald City so we hailed a cab. There are times when it’s better to ride than walk. But every step leading up to that ride was well worth it.