Our first vacation where we stayed in an apartment in the Big Apple. Two full weeks where we went everywhere and enjoyed the lights and atmosphere of the city, decorated for the end of the millenium.
Two whole weeks spent in Manhattan, with a few trips outside. We stayed in a cozy studio apartment in the quiet 73rd street, near Madison and Park ave, in the Upper East Side.
From there you can see the report of each day of the vacation, and you also have the option to see All pages together.
Also, you can find all the photos from this vacation in the My Photos section.
|07 Dec 1999 (Tue)||Milan - New York City |
|08 Dec 1999 (Wed)||On top of the highest buildings |
|09 Dec 1999 (Thu)||Brooklyn and bridges |
|10 Dec 1999 (Fri)||Metropolitan Museum of Art |
|11 Dec 1999 (Sat)||Central Park and Harlem |
|12 Dec 1999 (Sun)||Function at the church in Harlem |
|13 Dec 1999 (Mon)||Chinatown and Little Italy |
|14 Dec 1999 (Tue)||Wall street and Financial District |
|15 Dec 1999 (Wed)||Shopping in the stores |
|16 Dec 1999 (Thu)||Liberty/Ellis Island - Radio City Music Hall |
|17 Dec 1999 (Fri)||Roosvelt Island - Ellis Island |
|18 Dec 1999 (Sat)||Little Italy - Chinatown |
|19 Dec 1999 (Sun)||Coney Island |
|20 Dec 1999 (Mon)||Greenwich Village |
|21 Dec 1999 (Tue)||Battery Park, Chinatown, Times Square |
|22 Dec 1999 (Wed)||New York City - Milan |
|Milan Malpensa MPX -> New York City JFK||AZ?||?|
|59, 73rd St.|
(73rd St and Madison Ave)
|about 225$ per day||prepaid|
|Metro Card||17$ x 2||34.00$|
(S.Agostino supermarket - Lexington ave)
Flight OK. Bobby was waiting for us with the limousine, not a very fancy one though, and it was quite embarrassing to cross the Queensborough bridge in the traffic with that car.
To the apartment with the limousine
Unpacked the suitcases
Out for a walk and took the subway 6 to 5th ave (bought 2 metrocards, 34$)
To the Rockefeller Center
Back "home" after food shopping at a supermarket on the Lexington : S.Agostino
|ESB observation deck tickets||2 x 7$||14.00$|
|WTC observation deck tickets||12.50$ x 2||25.00$|
|Gershwin compilation CD|
A day on the top of the city's highest buildings. Unforgettable.
To the Empire State Building and on top of it to the observation deck, but not on the tip
Walk near Washington Square
To the World Trade Center and on top of it to the observation deck, including the roof
The day of the discovery of how beautiful is the other side of the East River. My first time at the Empire Fulton Ferry State Park, and even if it was before the renewal, I fell in love with the place.
With the subway, to Brooklyn, for a walk along the Brooklyn Promenade.
Then walking the Brooklyn Bridge, back to Manhattan in the City Hall area.
Back to Brooklyn again, but it's not clear whether it was on foot or with the subway.
To the Empire Fulton Ferry State Park, we watched the sunset there.
Back to Manhattan, we went to Macy's.
(S.Agostino supermarket, Lexignton ave)
|Metropolitan Museum of Art||20$? x 2||40.00$?|
(in the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
|Bloomingdale's (?) Christmas star|
A day dedicated to the big musem. We went to the Guggenheim too before going to the Metropolitan, but we didn't get past the glass of the entrance door : it was too hard and my attempt to break it with my nose failed miserably.
We went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and we visited basically all the sections.
After the Metropolitan we went to the apartment for a short rest and then went to the Winter Garden.
This was my very first time at the Winter Garden : absolutely beauitiful, magnificiently decorated for Christmas.
From there to Bloomingdale's, where we bought a decoration for the Christmas tree : a big golden star.
|Hot dogs||1$ x 3||3.00$|
The whole (sunny) day walking in Central Park. We walked through it, up to Harlem; we had a walk in Harlem too, looking for a church where to go to a function tomorrow. We went to a very popular church on the 125th st, but the fact that you had to pay a fee to get in was a real turn off.
After Harlem we went back to Central Park and all the way down along Columbus av to the Plaza. WARNING : veeeeery long walk. Then another walk along the 5th av, to Times Square, which we probably reached using public transportation.
In Times Square we found one of the most popular webcams : in a corner of the windows of the Friday's restaurant.
|Money offer to the church||20.00$|
We went to Harlem, looking for a nice church where to attend their function, possibly with a gospel choir; while going north on Malcom X Blvd, on the bus, we met an old lady who invited us to the church where she was going. We accepted and... it was interesting. The church was a room with a dozen benches and a stage in front of them; the people at the function where all locals, we were the only tourists and the only caucasians. The minister were a huge black bald guy and his (huge black) wife. They talked without interruptions for a couple of hours and when they finished we were exhausted. After this experience I avoided sitting on a wooden bench for some time.
It's a real shame we don't know the exact address of this church, and after all these years, I doubt I'd be able to find it again.
The function started at about 10.30 and ended at 13.30. After it we went to the apartment, to get something to eat. We had a nice long chat with the owner of the apartment, Guglielmo T., who is 100% italian but lives and works in NYC. Talking about real estate, he mentioned about some of his properties (he's obviously millionaire) and it seemed like the prices of properties were quite high.
Then we went to Times Square, again stiopping in front of the popular webcam at the Friday's restaurant. Then we went to the Winter Garden.
|Metrocard||17$ x 2||34.00$|
|Photo film roll||7.00$|
Our visit to the area around Canal st showed that Chinatown's growth is rapidly taking over what remains of Little Italy. Excluding the main streets of the Italian part, like Mulberry st, all the rest is becoming part of the Chinese territory. Little Italy is anyway definately not what an Italian would expect it to be : apart of the names, not much is Italian anymore in the restaurants over there, starting from the waiters and ending with the quality of the food.
We can say the opposite about Chinatown, where everything really looks Chinese : the messy little shops along Canal st, the people on the streets, the language they speak. I've never been in China but I'm pretty sure the smells too recalls the traditional Chinese food habits.
After the visit to the area, we went to Time Square, where we called a friend in Italy to say hello to him on webcam, at the Friday's restaurant.
(S.Agostino supermarket, Lexignton ave)
|Pizza + drink||3.00$|
In a rainy day, we decided that a visit to Wall st was the best choice. The Stock Exchange is interesting inside, but it's a shame that it's not possible to take photos. It was impressive to see the brokers in action... A show that today is not there anymore.
The Federal Reserve Bank was another place we wanted to visit, but once there we found out that the visit must be planned and reserved at least 1 month before.
Sak's is prbably the store with the classiest items... and more expensive ones too. They had the most beautiful snow globes I've ever seen. I was about to buy the biggest one, which had the most important buildings of NYC, the subway, yellow cabs, etc, in a 7-8' diameter bowl on a beautiful wooden base, but I was not sure it would fit in the suitcase, considering that I had other items to put in there, therefore I decided to postpone the purchase to the next vacation.
The day ended with a walk in Times Square.
A day that started with a visit to some of the big stores along the 5th Ave. We didn't buy anything, but it was nice to see what they offer. The prices were... prices. Nice stuff at Tiffany's, but not in our target of expense.
The Trump Tower is very beautiful, lots of nice Christmas decorations inside, with the lights reflecting in the brass that coats all the inside of the building.
After the shopping tour, we went to Central Park, to the frozen lake (not clear if we went to the one at the Gapstow Bridge or the one at the Bow Bridge... I'll check the photos).
Then with the bus down to the 20th st, where I found the photo film rolls I was looking for (the mighty Fujifilm).
Quick walk to the Flatiron Building, then to the Rockefeller Plaza, and from there we went home.
|Liberty/Ellis Island ferry||14.00$|
A trip that is a must for every visit to the city.
Going to Liberty Island and Ellis Island gives you the chance to enjoy a beautiful view of Manhattan from the Hudson, it's really worth it.
Liberty Island is really a touristic destination. We went inside the Statue of Liberty and climbed the narrow stairs up to the top, in the crown of the Lady. It's not worth the wait... Once up there you don't have much time to look around and take pictures, becasue you must leave room for the people behind you, who are waiting in line and hanging from the steep staircases that bring you there.
Ellis Island was a big surprise! Very interesting place to visit. Lots to see (and to listen to) in the musem : old stuff left by the people in transit, old documents, clothes, etc. It's a recent chapter of the American history, therefore quite well documented. We didn't have much time to visit, because we went up to the top of the Statue of Liberty which took a long time, therefore we planned to come back another day appositely to visit Ellis Island a bit better.
The Radio City Music Hall was offering a Christmas show : Christmas Spectacular. I can't remember how much in advance we had to reserve the tickets, but I remember they were quite expensive. The show was absolutely beautiful! So beautiful that I didn't even fall asleep.
|Ferry to Ellis Island||14.00$|
(D'Agostino, Lexignton ave)
The "tram" (as they call it) to Roosvelt Island is one of those services like the Staten Island Ferry : it doesn't cost (basically) anything and it has the same effect of a guided tour. Roosvelt Island has nothing to offer : it's 200m "wide", you have to be careful not to run too fast from one side to the other or you might fall in the water; but the walk along the East River is relaxing and the view of Manhattan is, like always, gorgeous.
The we went to Ellis Island again. We remained so impressed after the first visit that we had to go there again and visit the museum better. Among the old documents that are exposed, many of them are Italian : personal documents, boat tickets, etc. There is also a section with voice recordings of people who experenced the transit on the island, and here too we listened to Italian immigrants telling about their stay in the building.
On the ferry back to Manhattan, a guy asked me if I could take a picture of him with his camera. I did, but I was pretty sure that it couldn't be a great shot, due to the darkness, and so I explained to him. We socialised: his name was Sonny, around 25-30 years old, from England. When he first told me his name I didn't hear it well therefore he quickly added a detail that I couldn't miss : "Sonny.. like Sonny Corleone, the guy played by James Caan in the Godfather".
We went together to the Winter Garden, and then we took the subway to Times Square. He is the one who told me the exact words of the announcement that we could hear each day in the subway trains at every stop, which I hadn't figured out yet : "Stand clear of the closing doors please!". He was staying at a friend's at Staten Island, and was there for a business interview or something....
We exchainged email adresses and arranged to meet the day after at Little Italy, but he said he was not sure he could make it, and in the end he didn't. We lost contact with him, a shame.
|59, 73rd St.|
(73rd St and Madison Ave)
|Reservation for additional 2 days, 180$ x 2||360.00$|
|Bag for Claudio's mum|
We spent the morning at Little Italy, where they had parade along Mulberry St. I can't remember what was the parade for, but it was pictoresque; many of the people in the parade and along the streets were obviously Italian-Americans, very distinctive in their speech, look and manners.
Despite the atmosphere was festive, happy, it was one of those moments where you realise that nowadays Italian-Americans haven't got much to do with their country of origin, rather more with a part of its history that for sure left a deep mark in the local culture and that now, together with the characterization of the suburbs they populate, is slowly but steadily declining.
After the parade, we went to Chinatown, and had a walk all along Canal St again. Like for all the best Chinese traditions, also the habit of copying famous fashion brands has been exported to other countries in the world. We found a nice bag for my mum, and bought it for 10$.
We ended the tiring day with a stop at Times Square.
During the day we also reserved the apartment for 2 additional days : our original booking was to the 20th. We didn't reserve it from Itlay to the 22nd because the price for the last two days was 380$ per night (!).
We made a research, calling many hotels and found several vacancies everywhere, for prices that were definately good, like 120$ per night. We also called Usabound (which is the company that manages the rental of the apartment in the USA, and which numbers we found on a note near the telephone) : they asked us 180$ per night, and we decided to accept that price, which saved us the hassle of packing and moving to another place for just two days.
The subway ride from Manhattan to Coney Island is long but it's worth going there.
As you arrive, it's clear that the area is now rather dismissed. The boardwalk is new and well done, apparently built for a place crowded with visitors, but the view in december is quite desolated.
Most of the people speak a language that could be polish, or russian. I'd be curious to see this place in july... It would probably look completely different.
(S.Agostino supermarket, Lexignton ave ?)
|Restaurant -Bar B Q-|
We picked the worst day to go for a walk in the Village : it basically rained the whole day, which really stressed the cheap umbrella we bought in Chinatown for a few bucks. In such a situation, we didn't see much and what we saw, we didn't enjoy. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant called Bar B Q, where the food was good although not good enough to imprint wonderful memories.
After luch, sick of the rain, we went back to the apartment. In the evening we visited the Village again, without rain and umbrella but without finding anything nice to see or do.
It's one of the areas that has to be seen again, because this visit was a bit disappointing.
|Bracelet and Necklace for Samantha||7.00$|
|Perfumes : 3 bottles of MKone|
|6 Postcards (1$) + 6 stamps (0.60$ each)||4.60$|
(Lindy's, in Times Square)
With a better weather, we had a long walk in Battery Park, arriving to the pier of the ferry for Liberty Island.
In the afternoon we went to Canal St and then to Times Square. We had dinner at Lindy's, food just acceptable and poor service of the waiters, who seemed to worry more about the tip (they specifically told us that it was not included in the bill, and made sure we understood that) than about the quality of the service.
|New York City JFK -> Milan Malpensa MPX||AZ ?||?|
(in the Trump Tower)
|Tips to Carlos (5$) and Billy (5$)||10.00$|
After packing our suitcases, we went for a walk to Central Park, then from there to the Trumo Tower, where we had a sandwich for lunch.
Then we went to Bloomingdale's for a last look at their nice stuff with expensive prices.
At 2pm Billy picked us up with his limo and took us to the JFK airport, where our vacation ended. The flight back was ok, and in time.