NYC: The Big Apple ‘Speed Date’ Bit (Part 1)

I’ve arrived! Grand Central Terminal!

It happened!  As teased in a previous post, I got to visit New York City for the first time ever!  It was an all too brief encounter of just two days in Manhattan – barely enough time to get a few first impressions.

So I guess it was kind of like a speed date!

I’d had the chance years ago to introduce myself to the Big Apple when I timidly stood at my first professional crossroads.  Fresh out of college, I was thrilled to accept a job at an advertising agency in San Francisco!  Then two days later, I received a letter (yes, a letter – it was a while ago…) accepting me into a “literary internship” program at New York’s Manhattan Theatre Club.  But, reasoning that I’d made a safe and sound commitment just 48 hours before, I turned it down in favor of keeping my new day job.  

It haunts me.  Would my life be different today if I’d heard about that internship first, or if I’d altered my newly laid plans anyway to accept it?  Realistically, was I even ready at that stage for a serious, long distance relationship?  I’ll never know.  And despite my good fortune in traveling lots of the world, I’d never gotten to know New York either.

Then recently, dear friend Dee invited me for a visit back east to watch my Los Angeles Kings play her New York Rangers – and I figured at long last I’d go and meet at least part of that famous collection of boroughs out there!

But as February approached, I started to wonder if our getting together still wouldn’t be in the cards… 

Disruptions from the government shutdown had made La Guardia Airport the unflattering punchline of a “Weekend Update” joke on SNL.  And brutally frigid temps in Chicago threatened to ground me before I could even get there.

Flying over Chicagoland!

But then fortune smiled!

The government opened back up, and a break in the weather allowed my traveling companion Dedrie and me to breeze through the Windy City (after picking up a Blackhawk shirt for Mum!) and change to a plane that would end up gliding with ease over the New York skyline just as magic hour sunlight cast a beguiling glow on the buildings and water beneath.

Talk about your first impressions!  I mean, I don’t want to seem superficial but they’re a very important aspect of dating – and in this case, other than the countless depictions of New York I’d come across in film, television, music, theatre and literature, I was going into this relationship totally blind!

But I wasn’t worried.  Dee had studied at Parsons School of Design and knew her way around – so I decided not to set my heart on seeing anything in particular but put my visit in her capable hands and enjoy things as they came.

Dee and Dedrie at the train station in Stamford!

Day One began with a train ride back into town from Stamford, Connecticut where we’d been graciously hosted for the night.  I hadn’t traveled by rail in a while – and though I didn’t expect that retina scans had replaced tickets, I was kind of surprised to have to surrender my first paper souvenir to a friendly gentleman dressed in a uniform right out of Polar Express.

But that image was perfectly in keeping with an arrival at glorious Grand Central Terminal – the ornate and imposing building that’s been many people’s first view of New York City since 1913.  And with the constant jostle and flow of humanity through a wide array of shops and restaurants housed there, it’s also a proper acclimation to the thrilling pulse of the city just outside!

Grand Central Terminal!

Tour Guide Dee had warned Dedrie and me to pack lightly because, according to her agenda, my introduction to NYC would be a meandering journey on foot from the station to our hotel at Times Square.

Which reminds me – I’ve been lucky to make quite a few trips to London where I love to get reacquainted by taking what I’ve come to call “The Walk”.  I begin at Leicester Square, taking in one iconic London landmark after another until I reach Westminster Bridge over the Thames.

Dee just may have kicked off a new tradition for me as I can’t think of a more exciting way to enter the New York blood stream than by hitting its streets!

After passing through Grand Central’s main entryway (dedicated to Jackie Kennedy Onassis for her role in ensuring the preservation of this Beaux Art gem), we emerged onto 42nd Street at Park Avenue on a marvelously crisp and clear day! 

Dee and Dedrie very kindly offered to pause in our walking whenever I felt moved to stop and photograph an NYC landmark – which turned out to be every few feet! 

For starters, still making its presence known amid newer structures near the station was the Art Deco-style Chrysler Building!

The Chrysler Building!

Along our way, we took a quick peek inside the majestic New York Public Library – after first saying hello to its regal guardians, Patience and Fortitude, of course!

New York Public Library!

Patience (or Fortitude – they’re both important, really)!

The Christmas tree was no longer on display among the buildings that make up Rockefeller Center – but Prometheus still presided over the ice rink!

Photo op at Rockefeller Center!

We got a look at stately St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral!

Here’s NBC Studios where one of my all-time favorite shows Saturday Night Live is produced – ah, the comedy legends that have walked through those doors!

NBC Studios!

And then there’s Radio City Music Hall, home of the Rockettes and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular which, according to Dee, is very aptly named!

Radio City Music Hall!

Eventually (after a great deal of pausing), we arrived at our hotel which offered a dizzying view of Times Square and the surrounding Midtown skyline!

Bird’s eye view of Times Square!

I let my NYC-savvy friends choose where we’d eat on our one night out (what with my being culinarily challenged, that’s actually wise in any city).  Right near Times Square, we ventured a few steps below street level to dine at Da Marino – a charming restaurant specializing in sumptuous Northern Italian fare (I had a wonderful grilled salmon!) served amid delightfully festive decor!

I love that their hospitality would have extended to saving our leftovers until after we’d taken in a nearby play!   However, since seeing a Broadway show (ever the stuff of my dreams!) would have to wait for another occasion, I opted to eat my entire meal – you know, just so that leftovers wouldn’t be an issue.

Ah, the theatre – probably my first true love!  Even so, it was another love that finally brought me to the Great White Way – hockey!

Madison Square Garden – home to the Rangers!

Yes, Day One culminated with an NHL hockey game in storied Madison Square Garden!  Our keen trio (we were recreation hockey teammates back in the day) was among the first wave of fans to enter the building, and I got the chance for a nearly private moment with that lovely sheet of ice – still pristine before the night’s sporting story would be written on it and added to the history and legend already created right there!

And the icing (no pun intended – seriously) on an already ridiculously rich cake?  Well, that would be the late rally by my somewhat beleaguered but no less beloved Kings, and their subsequent overtime victory!  First the weather change, then the end to the shutdown, and now this – how lucky could one girl get?!

Center ice – and center stage for history!

So what impressions of New York did I take away from the mere ten hours we’d been together so far?  Well, pretty clearly my date was intelligent, sophisticated, artistic, energetic – and add to those qualities an all-important sense of humor and interest in sports!

In a speed dating scenario, this should have been where I stammered something about what a nice time I’d had (whether true or not) and moved on to the next prospect.  But thankfully, I had another day to spend with New York – because I sure wasn’t ready to let this one get away!

Cheers!  And check back next time for the second half of my date with the Big Apple, short as it was – but oh so very sweet!  

Until we meet again!

24 comments

  1. mvobsession · · Reply

    Can’t wait for your second installment. What a great first visit to the Big Apple 🙂

    1. Thank you! It was a brief but very inspiring trip!

  2. Love this. And love the way you write!

    1. Aw, thank you sooooo much, Manny!

  3. Thanks for the tour. You can’t beat NYC. It’s great. You’d have a lot of fun in other boroughs too. Brooklyn especially.

    Neil Scheinin

    1. Yes, I’m really looking forward to exploring more! Thanks for reading!

  4. Jack Niemi · · Reply

    Hi Amy,

    This is one of your best. You have to go back, because there is so much more of New York City to experience. I love being able to see it through your eyes!

    Love you,

    Jack

    1. Oh, thank you so much! And yes – now that the ice is broken, I can’t wait to see more!

  5. Glad you finally got there, Amy. Nothing quite like Gotham!

    1. Indeed! And I’m ready to go again!

  6. Oh I was so happy to see all you girls! Looks like a great time. I miss you all.

    1. Ms. Cocktailslllll! Yes, it was quite the adventure! Thanks for reading, and miss you too, lady!

  7. Very nice photos and beautiful written

    1. Thank you very much!

  8. Glad you finally got to visit New York! Based on my limited experience with the city (one long weekend and two quick visits to Manhattan during really long layovers at JFK), I prefer London, but I still need to explore New York further one of these days! Looking forward to part 2!

    1. I agree with you about London and have long thought of it as my favorite city. But I think we should keep exploring both cities – you know, just to be fair! Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  9. This is a wonderful story for the eyes and the spirit – and the ears if read out loud! I just may use it also as ideas and info to build a visit on. I spent a few days there at a technical conference (nose to the grindstone) with time at night mostly, which, itself, is nothing to complain about! I did get to that famous toy store, whatsisname. Yes, it was THAT long ago. One memory; a visit to Dangerfield’s… Others I just might save for a later post. My wife has never been and this just may be the year that we go. We’ve talked about it for years. A Broadway show for sure. Maybe the Met Op… Thanks for this 🙂

    1. Thank you very much! Hope you and your wife make the trip when you can just enjoy yourself – and you have some terrific ideas on what to do which I hope we’ll get to read about! Thanks again for reading!

  10. I love New York. Isn’t that a song or a movie or a T-Shirt icon? Your post reminds me of my last visit, almost exactly one year ago. I didn’t see as much as you but you capture my feelings exactly.

    1. Ha! It’s very hard to write about the city without slipping in a song lyric or movie line – but I was determined! Thanks for reading and hope I brought back some good memories of your trip!

  11. […] covered in the last post, Day One of my whirlwind New York visit included a landmark-filled walk around Midtown (led by my […]

  12. Oh, it’s so nice to see New York through your eyes! The first (and only) time I visited was also a short stay… And Grand Central was my first bite of the Big Apple too! Now I’m off to enjoy part 2 😁

    1. Thanks so much for reading – and glad you’ve gotten to hit NYC too!

      1. You’re welcome! It’s been a while, so this was a nice trip down memory lane 😁

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