John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

Brenda settles into our spacious living room

She smiled like this for 3 straight days

The hustle and Bustle of Times Square

Our first view of the Empire State Building (Susann, they have H&M!)

View of the Flat Iron Building from the observation deck of the...


June 15

I rose in the morning and went to the free continental breakfast just as the last student got aboard their tour bus...yahoo! After packing up we drove over the Walt Whitman Bridge and along the Delaware River of Philadelphia's waterfront. Wending our way around the convoluted North Philly freeways, we finally got on the New Jersey Turnpike toward New York.

Our entry into Manhattan was through the Lincoln Tunnel under the Hudson River, which we found with no difficulty. The Tunnel delivered us straight on to 40th Street where we would find the Bedford Hotel at 118 East 40th at Lexington. It was a slow crawl along 40th as I tried to adapt to rapid lane changes and the various different types of honking (e.g. "Hey, wake up!" or "Please hold your position as I merge." or "Hi, John! What are you doing in New York?").

We pulled up in front of the Bedford Hotel and before we knew it, we were checked in and our luggage unloaded. I hopped back into Big Blue and drove the 3 blocks to the lot associated with the Bedford. There are two lots and the first one couldn't take us because of the over height carrier but the manager at the second one said for $9 extra per day, they would fit Blue beside their entrance and move her around if necessary. He gave me soft assurances of security (i.e. "Shouldn't be a problem") and I walked back to the hotel brimming with non-confidence.

Brenda was already settled in our comfortable one bedroom suite on the 7th floor when I arrived back at the hotel around 2:00 pm. Out of our window we had a view onto adjacent brownstone buildings with a partial view of the very top of the Empire State Building. The hotel claims previous tenants like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Theodore Roosevelt and I'm fairly confident they have had at least one renovation or upgrade since then. Our suite was large in the living room, a little tight in the efficiency kitchen; a bright and clean bathroom and the bedroom had a double bed, which would turn out to be mildly uncomfortable/inconvenient.

The good news was location, location, location as we are 6 blocks from the Empire State Building, 1 block from Grand Central Station, and 3 blocks from Bryant Park. Times Square turned out to be an easy 10-minute walk. Central Park would be a 2-station subway ride away.

We chose to have a deli lunch just 2 doors away at the corner of 40th and Lexington where Brenda had her first gigantic New York deli pickle...and I mean LARGE. We had decided to walk to the theater district via Times Square and were absolutely revelling in that New York atmosphere. We got to the Shubert Theater where Spamalot was playing, one of the few popular plays that had same day, Friday night tickets. We left, having parted with $240 for 2 pretty good mezzanine seats. By now it was almost 4:00 pm and we decided to go up the Empire State Building to check things out. It was fairly busy and cost $18 each to go up (but, hey...it's New York!) and after about 30 minutes we were on the 86th floor looking down on a slightly hazy city with its famous rivers and bridges.

By the time we had looked at everything possible that we could identify, we were cutting into our safety margin for making the 8:00 pm show. We hustled back to the hotel and, as Brenda pressed our theatre clothes, I hurried around the corner to pick up a sushi snack to stave off starvation. With a sharp finger whistle, we hailed our first New York cab ride, where we found that if you don't have the actual address, they don't know where to go (i.e. you say, "Grand Central Station" and they say "what's the address?")...how do these guys qualify?

Spamalot was hilarious! It really took us back to the Monty Python heyday with some of the best bits culled from TV and their movies. Like any long-running Broadway play, a couple of the lead parts were performed by understudies but they didn't miss a beat. The time went by too quickly as the high quality production value combined with great writing and performances had us completely enthralled. We noted that New York theatregoers are much more polite than those we encountered in our one experience in London.

Forget catching a taxi when your theatre empties out along with 40 other shows at the same time, almost to the minute. We joined approximately 100,000 other fans in the vicinity of Broadway and Times Square and Brenda suggested a snack and nightcap. She had seen a sign for O'Lunney's Irish Pub on 45th Street and we were able to get a good table right away. We kind of just sat through our calamari and beer, revelling in our location and jazzed by our evening.

We decided to walk home because it was so pleasant and we were now comfortable in our street safety. Back at the hotel, we caught up on some phone calls and e-mail and got to bed quite late.



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