So we finally land in NYC around 12:20am (only missed that by 7 hours United Airlines!) and it is still raining but not very hard. We get in a car to be driven to our hotel. It isn’t a taxi, its not marked and there is no meter inside. I immediately point this out to my husband and he asks the driver how much since there’s no meter and the guy says it’s a flat fee (which I don’t remember the amount now) but I’m skeptical and am pretty sure this guy is going to stick it to us. We even had to pay the $7 to go over the toll bridge. But its been a long day of travel - that shouldn’t have been - and we just want to get to the hotel.
We checked in to the Casablanca Hotel around 2:00am. Its just a half a block off of Times Square so the location is going to be perfect. As we enter our room, they have left this sweet note and a bottle of wine for us as an anniversary gift. Nice touch! The room is tiny but it has all that we need. I can’t imagine that this is the size of some apartments that people live in here and have to pay an outlandish amount for rent! I quickly take some pictures of the room, we unpack a little and then immediately climb into bed.
We actually woke up early (only 4 hours of sleep) and headed down to breakfast by 7:30am. The “eating” area is called Rick’s Café (everything is Casablanca themed) and there is a nice assortment of breakfast pastries, cereals, fresh fruit, etc. It is included in the daily rate. And it remains open all day so that you can get drinks and snacks.
Back upstairs and I get in the shower and my husband decides to walk around and take a quick peek at what’s happening on Times Square. He comes back, showers and then its off for the day. We buy a double decker bus pass that several people recommended as a way to get around the city. As we stood in line and waited, we noticed that the upper deck was full on the bus that was there so we decided to make the Empire State Building our first stop and walk since it was close. My husband had purchased the Express Pass and when we first entered we thought maybe we wouldn’t really need it because the first set of stanchioned areas were empty but as we got further into the building….SCORE! You would have thought we were super famous rock stars. We would show that pass and they would whisk us down hallways past all the people waiting. When the elevator would open and unload, we were the first to get on. WOW! I could live like this everyday. My husband kept saying, “I don’t know how much extra we paid for this but it is worth it.” Indeed!
The view from the top was incredible. We purchased the “narrative” headphones to share so that we could identify some of the building better but it had too much story telling (in my opinion) as well and my husband got bored with it. It did help some though and was only $10. It was crowded up there and you had to wait your turn to get to the edge but it wasn’t too bad. I imagine that later in the day, it is crazy packed and we would have been all sorts of annoyed with people. I don’t remember exactly how long we stayed up there but I felt like it was plenty of time. We exited the building again using the Express Pass…no waiting for us.
WARNING! Photo overload below
When you first enter the Empire State Building there is an green screen area to have your picture taken. We’ve experienced this type of thing before and yes, I’m usually a sucker and always buy the picture if it turned out. However, we were pretty sure that there was NO WAY this one would be any good. They hustle you up there so fast, you barely have time to put your stuff down, the photographer says “Cheese” (which would be a running joke the rest of the vacation because we literally heard him say it every 30 seconds – that’s how fast they get people in and out of the photo area.) Surprisingly, aside from the fact that my husband had on a green shirt & the picture had to be fixed so that it wasn’t all pixilated, it turned out to be a good shot of both of us. Yes, I bought it!
And then went across the street and grabbed a quick bite of lunch at McDonald's. Glamorous New York meal, huh? But it was fine with me; it was quick and I knew we’d be dropping some big G’s later at our evening meal. It was then time to find the boarding area for the Gray Line double decker bus and see the city.
To be continued…..