Arrival: December 2, 1999 Departure:
December 6, 1999
For Sandra's mother, Kristine's, 50th birthday, we wanted to do something
special. We thought of meeting Kristine and Sandra's sister, Anna,
somewhere exotic, like Aruba or Jamaica, but she was not interested in
that. "I want to go to a big city, like New York", she said.
So, we decided on New
York City. It was about halfway between
Washington state and
Sweden, so it worked out pretty
well. We planned to be in
New York for the
Christmas, since Kicki's birthday is December 3, and we were told
by the New York City
Visitor's Center that the
tree lighting was on December 2. We made our reservations with
Northwest Airlines without
a hitch and we set off to find a place to stay.
Our first thought was to find an
RCI resort in the city.
It turns out that the only one is the
Club, and that was booked solid. We looked at
RCI resorts in Connecticut,
Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. These all required at least a 1 1/2
hour drive into the city. We just couldn't see driving that far,
and none were near a train station, but rather in remote vacation and
ski areas, further extending travel difficulties. Disappointed,
we decided to just pay for a regular hotel. We were astonished at
the price of lodging in New York City. We knew we couldn't (and
wouldn't) pay for a place like the
Four Seasons or Ritz
a low-middle class hotel, was around $300 per night!
Best Western was about the same. There were a few hotels in
the city with rooms under $200 per night, but these all were old, shared
bathroom hotels. We finally found an
Econolodge in Carlstadt,
New Jersey for $54
per night. Our motel was across the street from a
with non-stop access to the
terminal in New York City. This worked out really well, and
although our motel was just a Motel-6 type room, it had clear water, no
cockroaches (we heard you can't get a room in New York City without them),
a private bathroom, and was only a 20-minute
or so into the city every day.
came every five or ten minutes, so transportation was really easy.
Our next hurdle was that a few days before the plane left, we found out
that the Visitor's Center had told us wrong, and that the
was on the 1st of December, not the 2nd. We were pretty disappointed
about that. We arrived at Newark International
Airport around 3:30 in the afternoon, and around 5:30 Kicki and Anna's
plane finally arrived, after being delayed for an hour. We couldn't
fit all of our luggage into a regular cab, so we opted to call for a shuttle
van. The information desk called
and told us it would be like 15 minutes, so we thought that was OK, since
the line for taxis was about 75 people long. An hour and 15 minutes
and several phone calls later, our cabbie showed up. He was a 300
lb. black guy with a stocking hat who didn't even look at us as he walked
in, signed the paperwork and walked back out. The information desk
pointed to him, and we grabbed our bags and hurried after him. He
never looked back, and opened the back of his minivan. After loading
in, he turned on the cab and hip-hop music blasted us out of the cab.
He didn't turn it down, but rather opened the windows so everyone else
could hear. Our ears were hurting, the air rushing into the cab
from the open windows and
broken sliding door was under 20°F (-7°C), and we were freezing.
He peeled wildly, in and out, practically tipping us over, honking the
whole way. We stopped and picked up an old guy, who was in shock.
Then we finally made it to our motel in Carlstadt, near the
Giants Stadium. No Tip There!
Our initial impression of
New York City was
not good, as I'm sure you can tell. Our motel, of course, was run
by guys from the Middle East, who barely spoke English. As it was
freezing and late, and the neighborhood didn't have any sidewalks along
the New Jersey Turnpike, just industrial area, we opted to stay in that
night and order pizza and unpack. The pizza, of course, was great.
The next day, we headed into New York. The buses were on
time, and we made it into town early. During our stay, we took two
days to go on
Gray Line's hop-on, hop-off double decker sightseeing tours, which
was better than we had anticipated. We could see a lot more of the
city this way, and we didn't have to pay for transportation, except for
a few times late at night when we took a cab. We spent a lot of
time walking the city, looking at all the famous buildings and stores.
We attempted to go shopping, but Kicki and Anna couldn't find a single
thing at Macy's, the
world's largest store, or at
If you can't find anything at the world's largest store, you just don't
know how to shop. That's my personal opinion. We took the
Staten Island Ferry at twilight, because we missed the last
Statue of Liberty
ferry. We wanted to see
but the lines to the Statue were like three hours long, so we hadn't planned
to do that. On the sightseeing tour, we saw nearly all of Manhattan,
Union Square, Harlem,
Upper West Side,
Upper East Side,
Times Square and the
Center, and saw the
Radio City Music HallChristmas Spectacular
with the Rockettes,
which was fun. On the 3rd, Kicki's birthday, we saw
of the Opera at the
Majestic Theater on Broadway, where we sat near
for the performance. That was interesting. He had a young
girl with him, of course, and had a really big limo. We had dinner
at Sardi's which was
excellent, but with pretty poor service (typical New York). After
the show, we took a midnight carriage ride in
That turned out to be good timing, because the next day, there were hundreds
of people in line for the carriages! Anna nixed any museums, so
we didn't do that. We had drinks at the
Plaza hotel, where you had to pay $20 just to sit down, and drinks
were $10 apiece. We tried to get into the Rainbow Room in
but it was too full. I guess it was the weekend after
Garth Brooks played
there on television, so it was popular. Then we went dancing at
the China Club.
Downstairs was top-40, with a small dance floor, and upstairs was techno
with a big dance floor and lots of people. The cover charge was
$25! We danced and drank until early morning, and caught a cab back
to our motel. However, our cabbie didn't know how to get to our
motel, and either did we! We went on a goose chase, and ended up
paying $80 for our cab ride! Sandra, drunk in the backseat, was
screaming the whole time about
Giants Stadium, and giving bad directions. We tried to ignore
her, but the cabbie kept listening to her and getting lost!
All in all, we had a really good time in the Big Apple. The city
was far cleaner than we expected, and was
really nice. There were no homeless people sleeping in the streets,
no muggings, prostitutes, or drug dealers on every corner. There
were practically no porno shops or strip joints, and even Harlem was nice.
The projects were clean, with no graffiti, and a lot of renovation was
taking place. We felt safe everywhere we went, which we didn't expect
to. We never took the subway, however, so we can't comment on that.
The people were generally rude, as you would expect, and taxis were everywhere,
which was convenient. The weather was warm, at near 50°F (10°C),
and no rain. Best of all, we got to spend Mamma Kicki's 50th birthday
with her and Anna. That was a lot of fun.