Well, today we are leaving our swanky hotel on Madison Ave. and going to the upper West side. Everyone and their dog was leaving the Carlton Hotel this morning after New Year's Eve, so we had to wait half an hour for the valet to bring our car. Nice service for $40 a day, huh? *eyeroll*
Anyway, I had a little time to check and see when I was meeting Teresa and Mike. I had briefly assumed it was Jan. 1, but I found out that no, I had indeed scheduled it for tomorrow. Sitting in the lobby, I tried to get my laptop to work, but only Skype was going. Luckily, Darcy was online, so I asked him to Facebook Teresa and get her phone number for me. That worked well. I quickly called her, and we set up a time for breakfast tomorrow at 10 a.m. Good.
By the time I did that, our car was ready. Mom and Dad were going home today, but they offered to drive us over to our hotel first. That worked out fine, we said goodbye and then checked into our hotel.
It's in the upper west side, just off Broadway, so we wandered around exploring the area. Keith was looking for some North Face clothes, because everyone seemed to own a jacket from the expensive (Canadian) outdoors company. We stopped at Loehmann's, kind of like a Winner's, I tried on a cute pink bathingsuit, but decided it was too ruffly, so I left it behind. Keith eventually found the North Face store, but we didn't buy anything there, none of the touques fit his ginormous head!
Anyway, we kept walking down the street and found ourselves in a dirty looking pub for lunch/dinner, but they informed us that they don't serve food, we'd have to order in if we wanted to eat there. Really? Weird. They told us to keep going down the street and there are more places to eat. OK. We're getting pretty hungry and nothing looks very appetizing, when suddenly I see it. A great big sign saying: "Gray's Papaya"
Did I actually find the infamous hot dog eatery of the Big Apple? I am ecstatic. I am under the impression that there is only one of them in the whole city, but later Teresa tells me that this is not true. That doesn't matter, for the moment, I am excited to find myself face to face with the legendary papaya drink and sauerkraut/onion covered delicacies. Wow.
Right now, there is a recession special. Something like $4 for two hot dogs and a papaya drink. Sweet! We are shuffled through the line, and somewhere through all the confusion, I hand over a fiver and get back the sweet, sugary, delicious drink and the salty, sloppy ridiculous mess that is the Gray's Papaya combo. Yum. One real New York hot dog, just for me.
We go back to the little pub, and say thanks for the directions, but we went to Gray's Papaya instead. The girl at the cash is REALLY excited for me. "Oh did you get the recession special?" "Yeah." "Yyyyyyyeeeeeeaaaaaahhhhh!!!!" "....O....K...."
So we pay too much for two pints of beer and we go back to our room to buy tickets for Avenue Q.
I had picked up a discount flyer thingy in the lobby, and sadly find out that it is expired. We look around the internet and try and find some deals, but there are none. We have to pay regular price for our tickets. Oh well.
That took a while, and before we know it, it's time for dinner in Chinatown. We take the subway there and wander around looking at little souvenir shops, I buy a big furry red hat and Keith buys a woolen "New York" knit hat.
Then we go down to Mulberry St. and find a really out of the way place that was listed in the guidebook. After the bad food day that was NYE, there is no way that I am trusting any more meals to chance! Luckily, yes, this place is delicious. Honestly, I hate reading menus. I just tell Keith to order a bunch of stuff, because whatever, I wish all restaurants were just random, deciding what to serve that day and giving it to you no matter what you wanted. I briefly contemplate how well business would go if I started up a restaurant like that. It would probably suck and die right away. But anyway, it would be an interesting experiment.
We eat way too much food, and then lumber around Little Italy and the rest of Chinatown looking for more cheap stuff to buy. We find nothing exciting. Keith sees a really busy ice cream shop. A lady coming out tells us to definitely buy the sesame seed ice cream, she loves it. So we get a little cup of it.
There are lots of karaoke bars in Chinatown but somehow, I didn't see any of them. I look in the guidebook and there is one listed in there. We go to it, but it's packed full of white people. Heyyyyyyyy what kind of Chinatown karaoke is this? There are no spots for us, and besides, there aren't even any Asians singing off-key like William Hung. Call me a racist, but when I'm in a Chinatown karaoke bar, I want to see Asians singing Neil Young, not some cowboy crooning Garth Brooks.
So, we just decide to go back to our hotel and sleep. The end of a leisurely day (finally) in New York.