Sunday, January 10, 2016

George Discovers New York City…Part Two

In my last post, chronicling the beginning of the action-packed day when I toured Manhattan with George, a young visitor from Greece, we encountered the Museum of Natural History, Columbus Circle, a series of three-star restaurants, and various street people on our way to Times Square.
When we got to Times Square, they were already setting up barriers and cameras in preparation for the next day’s New Year’s Eve dropping of the ball at midnight, which would be witnessed by an estimated one million people packed into the area (plus 6,000 cops hoping to keep them safe.)  One professional cameraman, setting up his tripod, said the ball would fall from just above the Toshiba sign above.
George took photos in all directions, and so did I.  The crowd frantically waved at the huge Revlon billboard, which kept zooming in on the people in the street below, including us.  It’s a kick to see yourself on a lighted billboard above Times Square!
Next George led me into the nearby Hard Rock Café, where he bought a tee-shirt, saying “We don’t have a single Hard Rock Café in Greece.”   Then it was on one block to Madame  Tussauds where the line of people waiting to get in stretched for what seemed like miles.

When we finally got in, after paying $40 each, we were herded into a large elevator to the 9th floor, called “Opening Night”, filled with film stars dressed in red carpet garb.  We would walk down to the other floors, each with a different theme.  The first statue to welcome us was Kim Kardashian and then Kanye West, seen here with George.

On the next floor I enjoyed seeing John Wayne with this elderly fan, and then Jennifer Lawrence with a much younger admirer.

Jimmy Fallon was interviewing this young lady.  And Don Draper was already celebrating Happy Hour.
I made George pose with Lucille Ball and Ernest Hemingway, even though he had no idea who they were.  There were floors with scientists and writers and inventors and a theater where we watched a six-minute 4-D Marvel Heroes film.  Evidently 4-D means that, when you see splashing water or a bullet whizzing by or a punch in the back or an explosion, you experienced it yourself, sitting right there in your chair, with water in the face, air whizzing by, and a poke in the back.
We passed through the floor featuring presidents past and present with their first ladies.  Obama and Michelle didn’t seem to mind two teenagers taking over the presidential desk.  And finally George reached the floor he had been waiting for, where he got to spar with Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali.
When we left Madame Tussauds, we walked across to Fifth Avenue, looked at the Library lions, then set out to walk up Fifth Avenue to see the  famous Christmas tree.  The sidewalks were so crowded that I kept thinking about how, in India on religious holidays, people who fall down are trampled to death by the crowds.  Luckily I didn’t fall down before we got to see the tree, with the skating rink in front of it and all the beautiful  lighted angels lining the way.  George was determined to be photographed with a New York police officer (don’t know why) and this gentleman obliged.
Finally, because George wasn’t able to mount the Freedom Tower or the Empire State Building the day before due to fog, we bought tickets to go to the Top of the Rock --the observation tower atop what we oldsters call the RCA building, right behind the tree. (In 1988 it became the GE Building and last year the Comcast Building.)  Halfway to the 67th floor, everybody got out and filed through a security checkpoint just like at the airport.

It was worth it, and the $32 tickets, because from the top we got amazing views of Manhattan at night, including the Empire State building that was decked in red and green lights for the holidays.
Once we were back on the ground we sprinted over to Loi Estiatorio on 132 West 58th Street where Nick was waiting for us.  There the owner and chef, Maria Loi, the official “Ambassador of Greek Gastronomy”, shared some of her cooking secrets with George.

After we caught our breath, George declared that he had seen a week’s worth of New York City in two days. I had to agree.

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