So after arriving at JFK from our long overnight flight, we made our way out to curb pickup. D wanted to make sure we had a good plan for getting to the city and back to the airport at the end of our trip so she had booked a car service. Since we didn’t check any bags, we were picked up within about 10 minutes of walking off the plane. The last time I visited the city, the taxi broke down about 10 minutes from the airport and we had to wait for another car to pick us up. Luckily that didn’t happen this time, however with our arrival time in the morning (8-9 am), there was some terrible traffic. The ride into the city probably took about 2 hours. Our driver was what I would characterize as a typica NYC-aggressive driver. I appreciated his sense of urgency to get us to the city. He started on the freeway, then decided to take a more local route. We passed LaGuardia airport, then drove through what I think were Woodside and Astoria and made our way across the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. The funny part was that we were sitting in traffic and some guy knocked on our driver’s window. We had stopped in front of another car service’s garage. The guy handed our driver his business card and said his number was on the back and our driver should call him (presumably for a job). I guess that’s one way to recruit drivers – wait for them to stop in front of your business.
We knew that it would be too early to check in (most likely) so the plan was the drop our bags off and then go find breakfast and then maybe explore. We had booked a good package deal for flight and hotel and stayed at the Lotte New York Palace. D and I were fans of the show Gossip Girl and this was actually one of the main locations where some of the characters lived. We were dropped off at the north entrance to the hotel (which is kind of the back entrance so had to find/guide ourselves to the lobby/registration area). We checked with the front desk and they said a room may be ready early (normal check-in is 3 pm) so we left our bags with the bellman and set off in search of some grub.
D was pretty hungry so we needed to find something close and quick. I suggested Ess-a-Bagel since I had heard good things about their bagels. We walked the 3 blocks to the location near us and were a bit shocked to see a line extending to the door (it was by now around 11 am?). After an approximately 20 minute wait we were at the counter and ordering. I had an everything bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, tomatoes. D had similar on a plain bagel. They make their bagels in-house and you can definitely tell. We also had some iced coffees (and D ordered a large thinking it was going to be a normal large but it was a monster cup of iced coffee). The crowded seating area provided a small place for us to sit and eat. The bagel sandwich was delicious and definitely filling. While we were eating I received a call from the hotel informing us that our room was ready. Great! So after finishing our food we walked back to the hotel to check in and get our luggage squared away. They had us on the 37th floor, which is nice because you don’t get the city street sounds when you’re that high.
We were quite tired once we got to the room but I knew that we had to press on otherwise our internal clocks would be messed up and we would not be able to sleep properly or be up at the right times to see/do things in the city. After getting the clothes squared away we headed out. Our first stop was the New York Public Library (Stephen A. Schwarzman Building). This is the famous library that you see on TV and in some movies. It has some great architecture. We walked around the library and explored the various rooms and such. It was decently crowded with tourists (as would most places we went for this trip).
After the library we stopped in a store called Muji. It’s a Japanese store that has pretty much everything (from pens to clothes to kitchen and bed supplies). D knew about the store already so we went to check out their wares. I learned from D that there are a lot of stores that are only located in NYC and no where else in the US.
Our next stop was the Morgan Library (of JP Morgan fame). What I learned from the visit is that Pierpont Morgan was a super rich guy who liked fine things. He has an incredible collection of books. We were impressed with seeing the Gutenberg Bible at the NY Library only to learn that Morgan has 3 copies of the Gutenberg Bibles.
By the time we were done with the Morgan Library, we were getting a bit tired. We walked back to the hotel. On the way we passed by the Empire State Building and the Rock (Rockefeller Center). D wasn’t interested in doing the super touristy stuff like going to see the building or going up to the observation decks (she has a fear of heights, plus it is super expensive just to go up and look around).
On reaching the hotel we decided to grab a drink (it was late afternoon at this time). The hotel has a bar called Trouble’s Trust but no one was there. They also have a lounge area that seemed like a nice place to sit and have a drink. We sat, ordered some drinks (which were actually made in Trouble’s Trust) and they provided some bar snacks to gnosh on while we drank. I had two drinks: The “Queen of the Mean” (Breucklelen NY Wheat Whiskey, Ginger Beer NY, Red Jacket NY Apple Juice, Averell “Damson Gin” NY, elderflower syrup, fresh lemon, baked apple chip garnish) and a Manhattan (your classic NY cocktail). Both were delicious.
After a nap, we made the short trek to Hide Chan for dinner. Hide Chan, a ramen place, is upstairs from Totto, another ramen place. Totto has great reviews and is always busy while Hide Chan is also known to be delicious per my cousin and our friends that live in NY. We elected to go with Hide Chan since it was less busy and less expensive as well. I was feeling the effects of the 2 cocktails and not having eaten since our late breakfast. Nevertheless I ordered the Deluxe Ramen (Sliced pork, half egg, kikurage mushroom, scallion, onion, bean sprouts, and cod roe) that came with a very rich, almost thick, pork broth. You also order the hardness of your noodle, which I hadn’t known about. I tried the firm noodles and it was good. We also shared the fried chicken. Overall it was all delicious except since I wasn’t feeling great, I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked.
Nevertheless, after dinner we walked over to Insomnia Cookies. This brought back memories of my time in Michigan as they had that dessert place while I was there. Along the way to the cookie place we saw a man urinating on the street, about par for the course for NY. We returned to the hotel, enjoyed our cookies, watched some TV and turned in for the night.