New York City: Day One – From the Bird’s Nest
When someone says "Do you want to go to New York?" it shouldn't take long to respond.
And it didn't.
Now, gratefully I had time to plan. And, plan I did.
I had not been to New York City since I moved to Louisiana. And, that was a long time ago. And, I was thrilled that Chris and Mamie Russo invited me to accompany them.
I invited my friend David Fontenot to make the trip with me. There was lots to do in advance. Finding a hotel that was affordable was a challenge, but I found a pretty good rate (for New York City) at the Millenium Hilton in the Financial District across from the 9/11 memorial. Then there was the matter of what to do once we got there. I knew we'd be making a trip to Yankee Stadium on Saturday but there was nothing else planned.
That I knew of, anyway. As I would find out later, there was plenty planned. A few days after the invitation I attended a birthday party for Chris. At the party I found out we were going to end our weekend at the Baseball Hall of Fame...on induction weekend.
Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, Torre, Cox and LaRussa.
Then I got an email from Chris a few days before we left: It said "dinner reservations 8pm Thursday at Maloney and Porcelli. Party of eleven, reservation in the name of Ron Guidry. Wear shorts, because they consider it too damn hot to wear anything else."
Yankee Stadium...the Hall of Fame...dinner with Ron Guidry....This was going to turn out to be one heckuva trip.
On Thursday we met at the airport for a 9:30am departure. There were nine of us on the plane, which could seat as many as thirteen. I met Ron's daughter Jamie and her husband Mike Robin, Donnie and Jo Williams and Mike Pharr. Private planes cannot fly into NYC so we flew into Teterboro, NJ. We were going to be scattered about, so I made plans to have a car pick us up to take us to the hotel. All in all, a more comfortable ride and actually a little cheaper than a cab. The flight was great, just a bit over four hours.
We checked into the hotel and were pretty pleased with the room...and the view. It was a corner room so we got two different views of the city including both the East and Hudson Rivers.
We immediately left to see the 9/11 memorial. Such a thing of beauty and, at the same
time, such a somber place. They've turned it into something peaceful; not an easy thing to do when you imagine all the devastation that was present back in 2001. Because of our dinner plans, we did not have time to take the museum tour, which would have taken more than three hours. But it was a time of reflection for us and something I'll never forget.
We then walked to Battery Park and then down toward the ferry so we could see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Again, time constraints kept us from actually going out there. But just seeing Lady Liberty and the island where so many thousands of immigrants landed when coming to America was, once again, very thought provoking.
We walked around the district a little more and had time to go into a pub for a cocktail. They had Yuengling on tap. I was a happy guy.
By the time we finished our beverage it was about time to head to the restaurant. We had time to head upstairs to freshen up and then it was time to head to the subway.
Now, if you've never been to NYC, or even if you have, the subway system can be kind of daunting. You can get anywhere you need to get within the boroughs, but, even with a map, it can be confusing.
Fortunately, there's an app for that.
I had downloaded "EmbarkNYC" before leaving and I'm glad I did. It's a very user friendly app where you enter your beginning address and the address of your destination. It will tell you how to get to the subway station you need, which line you need, when trains leave and whether or not you need to change trains. It will also give you the total distance you'll need to walk to get to your station and from your arriving station to your destination. It's an excellent app and it made navigation around the city very easy.
Maloney and Porcelli is on E. 50th St., and that was a pretty good distance from our hotel.
With stops it was about a 20 minute ride. The restaurant was within two blocks of our arriving station. We were early and David and I just stood around and people watched near the corner. We heard someone shout, "OH MY GOD, IT'S LOUISIANA LIGHTNING!!!" We looked in that direction and, sure enough, there was Ron standing in front of the restaurant. The man went up to Ron and said hello and Ron, as you might expect, was very gracious.
Now, over the years I've met Ron Guidry probably a dozen or so times, but almost always in a professional capacity. This would be our first meeting in a social setting. We walked up and I reintroduced myself (it had been about six years since I had seen him) and David met him for the first time. About two minutes later Jamie and husband Mike arrived. We all went inside the restaurant to the bar for a beverage while waiting for the others.
Once everyone was there we were seated at our table. We learned that this restaurant was Ron's favorite and he had been a regular patron for many years. He was great about making food suggestions. I asked him if he had tried everything on the menu and he laughed and said, "yeah, just about." Drinks were served and wine bottles were opened. Ron ordered two seafood appetizers for the table and they were pretty impressive. Dinner was superb. They are known for their steaks and seafood and everyone agreed what was ordered was terrific, as was the service of the two women on the wait staff. It was just a fun evening.
Afterward we decided to take a cab back to the hotel. You know everything you've heard about cab drivers in New York. Well, for the most part, it's accurate. It's really easy to get a cab in New York (maybe unless it's raining) and this driver did a good job. But it was eleven at night and traffic wasn't terrible, and therefore, the ride wasn't what you'd call hair raising (good thing, since I don't have hair.)
Back at the hotel we walked a bit and then saw the spectacular night time view from the 42nd floor at our hotel. That was a great way to end our first half day in New York City.
We had a lot planned for Friday. Sleeping in wouldn't be an option.
Tomorrow: The wild goose chase for a hoodie, singing waiters and a night on Broadway.