Today, we walked over for breakfast at Ellen's Stardust Diner, a 1950’s themed eatery with singing wait staff. The food was very ordinary but I loved the atmosphere even with minimal patrons! The waiters and waitresses started off the morning with one of my favorite Judy Garland number, Get Happy, followed by a combination of popular jukebox tunes and Christmas carols. It certainly put us in a great frame of mind for our private 6.5 hour "Royal Tour" of New York with Steve, who picked us up at our hotel with a 14 passenger van.
The view that greeted us as we walked round the corner from our hotel
Our breakfast boothSteve was simply awesome. His enthusiasm, passion, great knowledge and love for New York simply made it that much more interesting! I was completely engrossed as he delved into facts and history whilst showing us the sights. Who would have thought that a spiel on districts and neighbourhoods could be so fascinating! I saw and learnt a lot! He taught us how to pronounce “Houston” St properly so as to be credible when talking to a New Yorker. (It should rhyme with mouseton if there was such a word). I found out that Soho was short for SOuth of HOuston and that Tribeca was short for TRIangle BElow CAnal. We also saw Little Italy, Chinatown and the Flat iron building.
We made a quick snack and toilet stop at a deli before continuing onto Greenwich Village. We drove past Washington’s Arch at Washington Square Park, at which point Steve showed us the house where Will Smith’s character lived in movie "I am Legend". Shame I haven't seen the movie!
Our royal mobile
We stopped for some time at St Paul's Chapel, one of the oldest public buildings in New York. It contained several monuments, one of which was George Washington's original pew. The rear of the Chapel faces Church St, opposite the east side of the former World Trade Centre site. When the twin towers collapsed, St. Paul's Chapel survived without a broken window. It served as a place of rest and refuge for recovery workers at the WTC site. It was still quite chilling to walk out to the view of ground zero.
Chandelier inside St Paul's
"Healing hearts and minds", a policeman's uniform covered with police and firemen's badges from all over the US
We had the obligatory bridges run down and headed for lunch at Katz's Deli, where Sally had her infamous orgasm in front of Harry. The adults were handed out a blank ticket on entry. As you ordered food, the price got added on at the counter. Hang on tight to those tickets though as they will charge you $50 if you lose the ticket! We had the famous pastrami sandwich which was very tasty!
After lunch, we marveled at Grand Central Station and then headed for Central Park. As we drove up the expensive Central Park West, who should we see but Kelsey Grammar, walking out from 15 Central Park West with his family. Steve shouted out "Merry Christmas" and dear Mr Grammar waved back at us. We continued on our tour of
Central Park satisfied with our celebrity spot. I loved Central Park. Even though it was cold and the trees were bare, the expanse and beauty was amazing. The children were happy to be allowed to run around and were fascinated by the birds hopping on the frozen lake.
It was then sadly time for the tour to end. Steve kindly dropped me off at the Whole foods markets at the Time Warner Center en route to taking the others back to the hotel. I really needed some fresh fruit supply and also wanted to stock up on other goods. Being a few days before Christmas, the shop was FULL. I was actually impressed at the number of cash registers opened. The lines for payment moved quickly enough. Upon my return, it was Mal's turn to dash off towards Toys r us to buy the children's Christmas gifts.
He made it back just in time for us to walk to Wu Liang Ye for dinner, reputed to be one of New York's best Sze Chuan restaurant. We were celebrating Daniel's Birthday. As usual, it was comforting to eat Asian food, made even better when shared with family and friends. We had a divine Tiramisu cake for dessert, bought from a french patisserie recommended by our french concierge from the hotel. It was a great way to end what was a another busy but wonderful day.
The birthday boy