Sunday, September 10, 2006

Back from the Big Apple

I’m back in Toronto after a work trip to New York, my first time in the Big Apple. What a great city, I can’t wait to go back.

The vendor that brought us down took us to the U.S. Open Quarter Finals tennis matches on Wednesday, and we got to see two great matches. I’m not a big tennis fan, but it was still fun. In the Women’s game Maria Sharapova got a good challenge from Tatiana Golovin. While Maria won in straight sets she needed a tiebreaker in each, and a lot of very loud grunting, winning 7-6, 7-6. The men’s game was Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt. We couldn’t stay for all of the men’s match but Roddick had things well in hand, going on to win 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

After a day of business I arranged my flight home the next evening so I had the day to be a tourist. The Ed Sullivan Theater, home of the Late Show with David Letterman, was a block from my hotel so I stopped there for a look. And at the Hello Deli, even saw Rupert Jee working the counter.

Then I walked down to Rockefeller Center to do the NBC Studio Tour. It was pretty neat. We saw the studio for some syndicated Dr. Phil knockoff starting soon and the NBC Nightly News. And, more interestingly, the studio for Saturday Night Live. That was cool. Unfortunately no photos were allowed on the tour, but I was surprised at how tiny it is. Interesting story from the tour: the balcony seats in Studio 8H are yellow stadium seats from Yankee Stadium. When SNL producer Lorne Michaels started the show he was on a tight budget and needed cheap seats, so he asked his buddy, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, for some seats from Yankee Stadium, which was being renovated. George said sure, but I want the seats back once your little show is cancelled. Needless to say, he’s still waiting.

After NBC I walked downtown, and after stopping for lunch along the way I joined the long like to go to the top of the Empire State Building. It’s a long wait, and while you wait they really push you to spend the extra $6 for the audio tour. If it’s your first time in NY though it’s totally worth it. There’s a lot of interesting facts and sights the tour points out. (For example, in the photo here there’s a green fenced in area visible on the water. Today it’s a driving range, but that’s where the Titanic was to have docked.) And the view is just amazing. It’s amazing how densely populated the city is. Next time, I’d like to go up to the observation deck at night.

Descending back down to the street I walked down to Madison Square Garden, and got on a subway to go downtown to ground zero. First I came by a memorial with the names of the fallen emergency workers, and with the 5th anniversary of the 911 attacks there was quite a few media around. Including a crew from CBC Newsworld, I recognized the reporter but couldn’t remember her name.

Coming from the south end of the site, I came up to the ground zero site, a fenced off hole in the ground with lots of construction activity happening around it. It’s hard to believe that after five years so little has happened, but I understand that’s quite a political quagmire. Never having been to NY I had never seen the twin towers so I can’t picture them standing on the site, but imaging them was sobering. As was imaging them coming down, and the people fleeing for their lives from the falling debris down the very same streets I walked.

After walking up the east side of the site I got back on the subway. My goal was to make it to the 72nd Street station at Central Park, to see The Dakota and Strawberry Fields, site of the memorial to John Lennon. I kept getting on the wrong train though, and my time growing short I headed back to my hotel for a drink before heading off to the airport.

There’s so much more I’d like to do in NY, hopefully I’ll get the chance to go back soon. The week after next I’m off to Orlando for a conference. Not quite as exciting, but maybe a brief trip to Disney World will be possible. In the meantime, back to politics.

P.S. I’ve created a Flickr account where I’ll be posting photos of my travels. I’ve uploaded my NY pics, if interested you can access them on the sidebar.

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Lolly said...

No museum's, no art galleries, no library for a free Library of New York card/souvenir. I am disappointed. I do like the monuments and the views though, but mostly I'm happy you are back with the wry sense of humour, and the photo's are great also.

BW said...

Nice trip, Jeff. I always wonder why the Studio Tours never let you take pictures. I had the same thing happen at Warner Bros. in LA earlier this summer. It's as if they're afraid of some state secret being exposed.

Jeff said...

That little speck is Maria. I was too far up to get a decent pic of her, I took one on extreme digital zoom but it was blurry and pixalated. Don't blame me, blame the unnamed vendor for for the high seats! :)