Day 29 – More Manhattan

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I woke just before 7:00 am but I could hear Majella snoring so I rolled over and closed my eyes. It was 8:00 am before I woke again. Majella was still snoring and seemed strangely wrapped in the bed clothes. It seems she found the bed too firm and had put a blanket under her for extra padding. I got out and showered. That may have woken her because when I exited from the shower she was up.

We went down to the lobby around 9:00 am, used the WiFi and then had breakfast in the hotel restaurant – juice, eggs, home fries, toast and coffee.

Around 10:00 am we were out and headed for the subway and Manhattan. Our plan was to ride to Times Square, walk 42nd Street to 5th Avenue, and then up the avenue toward Central Park.

We exited the subway at Times Square by a different path than last night and were pleased we were so lucky with finding our theatre. Once we had walked around the corner to 42nd Street we wandered west for a block, stopping first at the Skechers store where Majella found a pair of shoes to her liking. Prices were half or less than what we might pay for the same thing in Australia so she got a bargain.

At the end of the block we crossed and the headed east along 42nd Street. We paused for a while to sit in Bryant Park and were surprised to notice first that it offered free power outlets for recharging phones and other devices and then that it had free WiFi – a very modern park. Majella noticed a man sitting nearby with a sign announcing “Meet the author”. She went across, sat down with him, and finished up buying a copy of his novel for $10 after a personal reading of his poetry and a description of his novel. I found other ways to amuse myself in the park for that time.

Our walk along 42nd Street brought us to our first target, Grand Central Station, just beyond 5th Avenue. It truly is a grand building in size and style. It is well worth seeing for its own sake but I was on a quest to see the Apple Store that occupies a large section of open balcony above the main concourse. There was no obvious way to secure all the stock that was on display in the typical Apple Store format encouraging hands on play. Perhaps they have hidden cages or simply open around the clock. If the crowd there today was at all typical they might get enough at all hours to make that worthwhile. That was my first chance to get my hands on one of the many iPhone 5s that were on display. It felt comfortable in the hand and fast. Unfortunately sales have been fast enough that they do not yet have stock of unlocked phones so Romina’s plan was nixed even if she had found out which version was needed for the Telstra 4G network.

Our walk up 5th Avenue included pauses for a giant soft pretzel from a street vendor, a check for elves at Barnes and Noble (seasonal Christmas item to be available in a month or 2), and occasional visits to other stores that took Majella’s fancy. We avoided, in no particular order, Armani, Gucci, Trump, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, and others of that ilk. At the point where 5th Avenue meets Central Park we found the iconic sunken Apple Store under the huge glass cube with the glass spiral staircase winding down.

Down we went on the staircase that was crowded with people going in both directions. This store appeared to be even more crowded than the one at Grand Central. People were browsing, buying, taking lessons, and getting issues sorted. We watched for a bit, I checked another iPhone 5, using the maligned new Maps app to search for Starbucks (we had found none along 5th Avenue, presumably because of the high rents, and needed coffee). The Maps app managed that OK so we headed up and out to 6th Avenue.

Despite the weather appearing finer this morning it had rained while were in the Apple Store and we had a bit of a shower as we crossed the street. Starbucks was crowded with other escapees from the rain but we got our cappuccino and americano and eventually found seats.

From there we walked back up to Central Park for a quick stroll in the southern section where we had walked in 2001. Then we walked down 6th Avenue to Macy’s at 34th and Broadway where Majella led me around shopping for an hour or so.

We had decided to eat early in Little Italy before heading back to our hotel so we took the subway to Canal Street. Majella managed some more shopping there in the interface between Chinatown and Little Italy. That street and others nearby are lined with small stores offering bargain priced goods of various kinds. We soon accumulated as much as we cared to carry.

After walking both ways on a street full of Italian restaurants we decided on the ‘special’ at Novella – pizza, pasta, or panini, with a glass of wine. Majella ordered pasta with Alfredo sauce and I had pizza bianco – cheese and prosciutto on pizza base. We both ordered a glass of red wine. The waiter was quick to bring water, followed by bread and olive oil for dipping, just as Majella was beginning to wish she had ordered something to nibble on while waiting for dinner. The meals arrived fairly soon after we had eaten the bread but the wines did not appear. Almost uniquely in my experience of US restaurants nobody had appeared to ask if everything was OK with our meal. Eventually we caught an eye and asked about the missing wine. We did that twice more before the wine finally appeared, not quickly but with an apology. Despite the missing wine the food was enjoyable.

As we walked back to the Canal Street and Broadway station after dinner Majella managed a bit more shopping. We found the station, caught our train, and were back at the hotel by 7:30 pm for a well deserved rest.

Tracked distance today was 44 km but GPS does not work in the subway so the software is estimating with straight lines. My pedometer registered 18000 steps. That’s far from my biggest daily count, around 40000, but still a lot of walking. I expect I’ll sleep well. Majella might if she can find something softer than the bed.