Thursday, August 16,2012 I drove to Di’s, leaving our house at 6:15 a.m, arriving at her house about 7 a.m. She gave me a tour of the house and a cup of coffee, then her husband drove us to the Duty Free store in Fort Erie where we had a bit to eat in McDonald’s and then were picked up by the Brad Walt. bus about 8:45. We stopped for lunch at another McDonald’s at noon and arrived at the Hilton in Scranton, Penn. about 4 pm.
We waited for our bags and went down for cocktails at 6. We talked to Bruce who had been on our Hawaii trip and had lost 61 pounds! He looked really good.
We were then given a delicious plated dinner in the ballroom, all 150 of us, (3 bus loads). Brad told us about the trip. After dinner Di and I went for a walk around the town, past the old lit-up courthouse and a large lighted sign of Scranton, the first Electric Car, and a memorial garden to vets. We went back to the hotel and bed.
Friday, August 17th – We had a buffet breakfast and then walked around Scranton. We found the old railway station that has been renovated and turned into a large hotel. It was beautiful inside, with large chandeliers, a dining room and a room with old railway seats made into funky furniture. We walked around the block, ending up at the veteran’s memorial again. A man asked us where we were from and told us the town square revitalization had cost $48 million. He said he was a judge!
We boarded the bus at 9, arriving at South Sea Port, NYC at noon just in time for lunch. There were good views of the Brooklyn bridge, and sailing ships in the harbour. Di and I bought a Philly Cheese Steak for our lunch and it wasn’t long before it was time to board the buses again.
We were given a 4 hour bus tour with a step-on local guide, taking us around lower Manhatten, through Greenwich village, Soho, Chelsea and then we stopped at Ground Zero and the 911 memorial. This had changed considerably since the last time I was here in 2003. Two new towers are almost completed and two huge square waterfalls have been made in the holes of the destroyed twin towers. A metal railing around the perimeter of each waterfall has the 3000 names of the victims carved into it. The security to enter was very intense, checking all bags etc. We had to be there by 3 pm for out appointment. We each purchased a pin in the gift shop.
Back on the bus we headed for The Westin hotel in mid-town Manhatten, a block from Times Square. Our bags were finally delivered about 5:45 pm, just in time for a quick change and then it was back on the bus to head out for supper. Some people didn’t get their luggage in time, so we were lucky.
Supper was at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. A very crowded, loud diner where the waiters and waitresses sang and danced on a bar amid the diners. I had pre-ordered a steak medium rare, but got meatloaf! They switched it though and it was very good, done perfectly!
After dinner we boarded the bus and drove to the Broadway Theatre to see “Ghost”. It was very good and the special effects were really interesting. After the show, we were all pointed in the right direction to walk back to the hotel. It was a beautiful warm night so we walked around Times Square and eventually found a bar that wasn’t crowded. We sat outside and had a drink (a Long Island Ice Tea for Di, and a Corona for me). We walked back to the hotel and on the way, a young girl who was probably drunk called us “Sexy Mamas”! LOL
Saturday, Aug 18th – The alarm went off at 6 am and we felt we’d just gone to bed! We had a shower and went across the street to Dave & Buster’s Restaurant. It was open only for our group for breakfast. Then we boarded the bus which took us to the theatre where “Wicked” was playing. They showed us how the show is made, we got a close up look at some costumes. Each one is custom fitted to the actor and costs anywhere between $2000 to $30,000. They showed us how they make masks for the monkeys and goat etc. The show has been on Broadway for 9 years.
Next the bus took us to John’s Pizza which used to be an old church. We were served salad and pizzas at the table and then could help ourselves to more pizza and fettucini. We were stuffed!! Some got almond cookies for dessert. Then the bus took us to “Sister Act” starring Raven-Symone who used to play Olivia on The Cosby Show on TV. It was really good and we had excellent seats!! We were in the second row from the front, right in the middle. We were so close we could see their little microphones on their foreheads! The conductor of the orchestra was right in fron of us and he became the Pope at the end of the show!
Next the bus took us to the Hard Rock Cafe for supper. I had grilled, melt in your mouth Salmon, just excellent! After dinner we walked back to the hotel and ditched our extra bags and then walked to 6th Ave and East 44th St, where a tent shopping city but it was gone. We walked to the Rockefeller Centre, then down 5th Ave and back to the hotel about 10 pm. Our feet were aching!!!
Sunday, August 19th – We had a buffet breakfast at Dave & Buster’s again. We boarded the bus for a tour of NCB studios. We waited in the gift shop for our turn but for a company that is based on art, design, and creation, the T shirts and souvenirs were pathetic.
We were shown a 10 minute film about the history and past shows of NBC. Then we on the Doctor OZ studio set which when we went in 2003 was Conan O’Brien’s studio. Then we saw Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night studio which was previously Johnny Carson’s. We saw some pipes in a closet with painted muppets on them done by the creators of the Muppets when they were bored one time years ago. We were shown the News and the green board where the Weather is done. And lastly we saw the Saturday Night Live studio.
Next the bus drove us to the Chelsea Piers where we boarded a “yacht” called the Antarica for a Hudson River luncheon cruise. We were served Lobster Bisque, Salmon and Couscous, Cheesecake and Chocolate Mousse for dessert. We were also served champagne. We viewed the NYC skyline while we dined. When we got to the Statue of Liberty, we went outside/ upstairs to take pictures. Appropriate music was playing in the background like “America” by Lee Greenwood, “New York New York” etc. After about 3 hours we returned to the pier and boarded the bus, returning to the hotel for a couple of hours of free time.
We went shopping for T shirts, then got changed and met the group to walk to the restaurant for dinner at Pigalle’s. I had chicken, Di had the duck which was overcooked and dry. During dinner, a Marilyn Monroe and a George Clooney look alike sauntered around the room, stopping at each table. I had my picture taken with them.
We sat next to an older English man name Chris who is travelling on his own. I told him we were planning to go up the Empire State Building after supper and he asked if he could join us. We headed out about 8:15 pm and walked the 10 blocks to the popular tourist attraction which is open everyday until 2 am. Scalpers tried to sell us tickets outside for $10.00 more that inside but we didn’t bite. We lined up and went through security, then Di had to go to the bathroom so Chris and I waited while a thousand people got ahead of us in line!! She was taking so long, I went to find her but didn’t, but I figured I mgiht as well go while I was there. When I got back, she had already returned.
We purchased our tickets, they got the senior rate of $22.00, mine was $25.00 and then stood in a very long queue that snaked around but moved fairly quickly. We finally got on an elevator to the 80th floor, stood in another line to get on another elevator to the top. Out on the observation deck, the night was warm and the deck was crowded, unlike in November 2003 when we were there. That time it was freezing cold, so people didn’t stay out there long, so it was fairly empty. We made our way to the edge and took pictures as we pushed our way around the perimeter.
About 10:30, we started making our way back down, more line-ups for elevators but not as long. We arrived back on the ground about 11 pm and Di whose feet were killing her announced “We’re not walking back to the hotel!!” So we hailed a taxi cab and split the cost 3 ways which came to $3.00 each. Tired and aching, we went to bed.
Monday, August 20th – We were up at 6 to have our suitcases out by 7 and went for breakfast. Our bus left at 9:20 for a Noshing Tour. A guide basically took around Manhatten again and repeated a lot of the tour we had had on our first day, but we stopped a several places for bagels and smoked salmon and cream cheese, a bun with fresh mozzarella, and a large chocolate chip cookie. We went into Brooklyn, down into DUMBO which is a revitalized part where Yuppies live, to a Merry Go Round by old warehouses down by the waterfront.
Then it was goodbye NYC to sleep overnight at the Turning Stone resort which is a big casino on a reserve. There was a huge buffet for supper. We were each given a free $40.00 card to play at the casino. Di and I went shopping first and then tried some slot machines. At first my card wouldn’t work but a server got it going and once it went up over $40.00 to $78.00, I quit. They subtract the $40.00 so you only get $38.00 when you cash out. Di lost all hers.
Tuesday, August 21st – The bus took us home and they let us off at the Fort Erie Tourist Information place where Di’s husband picked us up.