Visiting Manhattan – What a Town!
Uncle Mikie DeTulio on the streets of Manhattan!
To a young girl growing up in Georgia… Manhattan seemed as far away as Mars to me, but after graduation my spaceship finally landed a little closer. I married a “yankee” and moved to CT. Years later, I finally arrived in Manhattan via Grand Central Station – which truly mesmerized me – making me dizzy in staring up at the ceiling – trying to not bump into anyone. As I walked out on 42nd St., I was immediately drawn into the sights and sounds which make up NYC! Does anyone in Manhattan “not” beep their horn?
My daughter was my guide and quickly gave me the spiel – don’t make eye contact… don’t take pamphlets from anyone. Did I listen – No! I quickly discovered I needed to find a trashcan to discard all the cards I had accepted when handed to me. I learned! As I followed her blindly, I thought… “I’ll never find my way around this town called Manhattan.” But I did, and soon felt comfortable coming into the city and knowing where I was… and where I wanted to go… and knowing how to get there; although the subway sometimes turned me around. It also boggled my mind how they even dug and built this underground maze of tunnels to take you all over the city. Quite Ingenious! It’s a little daunting late at night, and I’d rather take my chances in the late hours above ground vs below ground. My husband soon began coming with me and was amazed at how well I had learned my way around.
The city that I had only seen on TV, was now surrounding me. What’s better than walking around Rockefeller Center at Christmas time… watching the skaters… gazing up at the Christmas Tree that had been trucked in just for the holidays. Another must see site is St. Patrick’s Cathedral – no matter your religion – it’s awesome inside! And who can go to Manhattan at Christmas and not go to Radio City Music Hall… where it’s hard to keep your eyes onstage as there is so much to look it. The Rockettes are spectacular and the Christmas Show with Santa – well I can’t say enough about how awesome the show is. The Living Nativity will amaze you and leave you wondering just how do they keep all those animals in getting along with each other… and perform flawlessly. It’s a show not to be missed. And if you never go see a Broadway show, then you’ve truly missed out on an awesome experience. My first show was Phantom of the Opera – and no sooner it was over, I wanted to turn right back around… to experience again. I still believe it has the best scenery productions of any show I’ve seen and I’ve seen a few from… Fosse (front row seats), Wicked, The Graduate (with nudity!), Phantom of the Opera (3 times), Chicago (2 times), Grease (front row seats – produced with the winners from the TV Reality show), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Slava Snow Show (off-Broadway), I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (off-Broadway), Hairspray, Mamma Mia, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, and 42nd Street… and I’ve probably forgotten one or two. It’s been several years since we’ve been back into the city… and I miss it.
In walking up 42nd st. one day, I turned to find a lamb on a leash behind us. I had been hearing a “baw” sound and was shocked… when I finally turned to look. Darn… I didn’t even take a picture to prove that I had seen a little lamb walking in Manhattan… on a leash!
Before our first theater experience, I cringed at the thought of standing in those long lines in Times Square for “cheaper” tickets. I soon learned other ways to buy those same very tickets… and bought all our Broadway tickets there… getting great deals – and even able to choose where we wanted to sit. Everyone has their own preference of where they enjoy sitting, but sometimes you have to attend a few performances to learn where those seats are… as each theater is different. I personally don’t enjoy the balcony seats, I like to be on the main floor, preferably orchestra middle seats… and often as close as I can get to the stage. Once you’ve been in several of the theaters, you have a better idea of where you can see – some side-aisle seats are OK, and some have you often missing some of the performance as the performers are out of eyesight.
There’s something to be said for “Yes” to front row seats and then… “No” I’ll sit a few seats back. I remember being all excited the first time we had front row seats… only to soon feel a little awkward as the dancers are standing extremely close to you at the front of the stage. Were they watching me as I watched them… doing the reverse of critiquing their audience? It’s something no one thinks about or knows, unless you’ve sat in those front row of a dance show – They Sweat! And unfortunately… they sometimes gets a little too close for comfort, making you push back in your seat…. with no place to escape… and quickly wishing you were a few seats back!
What have we seen in Manhattan…. Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center (no ice skating for us though), St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Times Square, FAO Schwarz (sadly closed now – it was fun and very crowded toy store to browse through), Toys R Us featuring the huge Ferris Wheel enclosed inside the building (now closed), Little Italy and the famous Ferrara Bakery with display cases full of every Italian pastry and dessert imaginable, Chinatown browsing (just don’t get lost in alley-ways), Soho shopping, Martha Stewart show, Emeril Christmas Show (Elmo as guest), Food Network studio in the old Nabisco Factory, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor (love, love, love the Christmas windows), Ellen’s Stardust Diner (50’s theme diner with singing wait-staff (great food and awesome entertainment), Jekyll and Hyde Club restaurant (haunted theme restaurant), Becco Restaurant on 355 W 46th St. with really awesome food and service (owned by Lidia Bastianich), Eataly (largest Italian marketplace in the world, a variety of restaurants, foods and beverages, Italian bakeries, retail items, and a cooking school), Hard Rock Cafe (The decor is impressive), Tiffany & Co… who wouldn’t love shopping in Tiffany’s – impressed with the elevators as they still have actual “elevator operators“, Christmas shopping, Central Park Zoo, stayed at the Hotel Roosevelt on Madison Ave. (great hotel right in the main hub and near the train station), enjoyed perusing the shelves at the famous Strand Bookstore, the Museum of Natural History, and rode the Big Red Bus that circles around Manhattan. I never thought I’d enjoy seeing Manhattan like that, but we really enjoyed it… saw so much more… saving our feet and knees.
I planned a bus trip for the family to see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in 2000. That was our first trip there… and definitely peeked our interest into coming back to Manhattan to see more. Melissa took me a few times, and I quickly learned my way around from her… although I never liked riding the subway. It’s just something about being underground and confined that I don’t like… or trust!
Family visits Ellis Island!
Things we haven’t done yet and probably won’t by now… Horse ride through Central Park, Top of the Empire State Building (lines were always too long when we went; my son proposed to his wife on the top of the Empire State Building), Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, New Years Eve ball drop, Stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge, Concert at Bryant Park, Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, Bronx Zoo, New York Public Library (I did walk by it every time we went into the city), Staten Island Ferry, and the NBC studios.
Oh, I bet there’s still lots more I’d like to see… but who can remember it all!
© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved