New York in 4 Days…that’s what just happened and I’m still recovering! It was my first time to visit and it was AWESOME! My oldest and her high school choir/drama department took a crowd of 67 of us to New York. No small feat. But this was a GREAT group of young people, all very interested in the arts and all very excited to experience what Thomas Tours had planned for us. We flew in Thursday night, and hit the ground running. With such a big group, we divided up into smaller chaperoned groups and off we went! I’ll highlight each day, one day at a time. We did that much!! So here goes Day 1 of 4 (with Thursday night thrown in too).
Thursday night we flew in at 7:30 pm, arrived at our hotel and needed a dinner plan. Our first NYC stop was at John’s Pizza, right around the corner from our hotel. We were lucky enough to be in the Times Square area..so we had lots of options. Again, luckily one of the mom’s in our group is familiar with the area (score!). And, I LOVE pizza!! We ordered 2 pies, one bruschetta and John’s Garlic Rolls. All was delicious and we were off to a great start!
Friday we woke to rain and an anticipated high of 60 degrees. Our schedule was packed with outdoor adventures. We were out the door at 8 am….
- The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island– our first excursion started on a ferry headed to see Lady Liberty! It was foggy…like London Fog foggy… we couldn’t see anything really, only about 30 feet out. I’ll definitely go back to see her again, but I will say that even through the fog she was majestic and I was impressed. Ellis Island, also another ‘must do again’..with more time to really soak it all in. Very humbling and grateful for the preservation. The original tile work and door knobs made me love it even more!
- Joe- our Walk-On Tour Guide grabbed us off the ferry and took us to one of his fave diners. All-out authentic. Joe, the diner, the tour. All of it. He was born and raised in NYC and he has a story for every corner. Money well spent.
- The Oculus was Joe’s next destination… a quick history lesson from Joe, and a walk through on our way to the 9/11 Memorial.. we realize how very devastated this area was from the events on 9/11 and how the city decided to rebuild with intention. Bright, bold, beautiful…. the Oculus is loaded with white marble, under beautiful white architecture, and humming with energy.
- From the Oculus we walked into the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. The air just changes as you enter. No way to describe it… but you feel it. We opted to invest $7 for the headset tour (Robert DeNiro was the voice guiding us) and we spent 1 1 /2 hours hearing the stories of survivors and family members of those who did not, descriptions of the towers and all of the pieces found and recovered from this horrific event. It was heavy, I won’t lie. We wrapped up our indoor tour and walked outside to visit the fountains (built on top of the fallen the towers)… a beautiful tribute to remember those we lost. Grateful for the teams that came together to collaborate and create this memorial. Heart Squeeze.
- From the 9/11 Memorial we took a long bus ride to Little Italy . On the way our guides (Joe had a friend join us) shared stories about Little Italy (apparently the Italian Mafia is alive and well!), the money folks spend to park their cars in NYC (cars stacked 4 tall can run $40 to $80 a day!! Who does that??) and how to arm ourselves against the eagerness of the vendors in Chinatown. Funny story… one of the chaperones made her way into Chinatown in search of a purse. The vendor couldn’t find the one she wanted, so she came back to join us for dinner. When we walked out of dinner (2 hours later)…the vendor was there waiting for her with another bag. EAGER. Yikes! Speaking of dinner, we dined at LaNonna’s in Little Italy. All 67 of us! Wanda (our Thomas Tours Rep EXTRAORDINAIRE) had already ordered for us with some pre-planning and the meal came out shortly after being seated. I loved that we all got to eat together in the back room. If I had been able to order from the menu I might have tried something else, but with my choices I went with the good ol’ Spaghetti and Meatballs. Started with a minimalist salad, lettuce with an olive oil dressing, then the pasta, and topped off with a slice of chocolate cake. It was good. And because of Joe’s reminder… I’m gonna leave it at that. #mafiaismyfriend
- On our itinerary we are scheduled to leave LaNonna’s and head to the World Trade Center. But with zero..ZERO.. visibility for viewing the city from the tower, we opted to ditch that plan and head back to the hotel. Many groups headed into Times Square for some shopping…but my girl and I decided to use this time to shed the rain gear, shower and take advantage of some extra down time.
Day 1 was a wrap!