Dinner, Empire State Building and Beers

New York Travel Blog

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We had one of the waiters to take a photo of us in the restaurant ("Guantanamera")

A few weeks ago Lucian (lucian_32y) sent me a message saying he would be in NYC from February 14 - 15 on his way to Central America and wanted to know if I could spend some time with him while here. I told him I would love to. However, since it was during the work week, and my employer is a slave-driver :-), I told him I would meet him after work the night of the 15th, which also happened be a Friday night, and I wouldn't have to worry about getting up too early the next morning.

Friday came, and of course, it was one of those days at work ughhhh. I had spoken to Lucian earlier when he called me as he was touring the city. We agreed to meet in the lobby of his hotel at 6:00 pm, which meant I needed to leave work no later than 5:15 pm, as I work all the way downtown in the financial area and his hotel was located in the heart of Times Square.

View of NYC from the observation deck of the Empire State Building
As I said, it was one of those busy days at work, where everyone wanted everything at the same time, and of course, immediately and you barely have enough time to even take a breath. Well 5:00 came, and of course (Murphy's law), my boss needed something done that evening before I left, ughhh, sigh. Needless to say, I did not get out of there until 5:30 pm. My saving grace was that the subway station is just a block up from where I work. I practically ran up the block, down the two long flights of stairs and made it in time to catch the R train as it was coming into the station. By the time I got to my stop at 49 Street and Seventh avenue, it was about 5 past 6:00. So I rushed down the block to 48th street and then past Broadway and finally made it the his hotel about 10 past 6:00.
Lucian at the obersavation deck of the Empire State Building
Not too bad considering. I walked in and immediately saw Lucian sitting on the couch in the lobby. After greeting each other we left the hotel lobby and just started walking and chatting away. The temperature outside that evening was perfect for walking around (we have had a pretty mild winter this year so far). We decided on going to a cuban restaurant, "Guantanamera", for dinner. It is located on eighth avenue between 55 and 56 Streets in the area known as Hell's Kitchen.

"Hell's Kitchen, also known as Clinton and Midtown West, is a neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City that includes roughly the area between 34th Street and 57th Street, from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River.

The Chrysler buidling (facing north ~ the observation deck of Empire State Buidling)
Throughout its history, Hell's Kitchen has figured prominently in the New York City underworld, especially in Irish-American organized crime circles. Gangsters like Owney Madden, bootleggers like Bil Dwyer, and Westies leaders Jimmy Coonan and Mickey Featherstone were Hell's Kitchen natives. The rough and tumble days on the West Side figure prominently in Damon Runyon stories. Various Manhattan ethnic conflicts formed the basis of the musical and film West Side Story.

Once a bastion of poor and working-class Irish-Americans , over the last three decades of the 20th century and into the new century, Hell's Kitchen has undergone tremendous gentrification as a result of its proximity to Midtown. However, this has been a long and steady process since the 1960s.

The Chrysler buidling (facing north ~ the observation deck of Empire State Buidling)
Today, a great number of actors have resided in the neighborhood thanks to its proximity to the Broadway theaters and  The Actors Studio training school."

So there we were just walking and chatting away that, me, the native New Yorker, walked too far west past eight avenue to ninth. When we stopped on the corner, I looked up and saw the street sign, and was I like, oops, we went a block too far. Lucian just laughed. So we went up to 56th street, turned right and back to eighth avenue and to the restaurant. When we walked in, it was pretty crowded (which is the norm in NYC). However, before leaving work that day, I had made several reservations at various restaurants just in case. We were a little early, but no problem, we were seated immediately. The seating was a little cramped, but nothing I wasn't accustomed to.

Lucian at the obersavation deck of the Empire State Building
We ordered some glasses of sangria, while were waited for our appetizers and dinner to be served. We stayed at the restaurant for a while.  We just chatted away about everything. It was really cool. Lucian is such an easy person to talk to and I was very impressed with how much he saw in NYC in just that one day before we met up at 6:00. His travels included, Greenwich Village, Chinatown, Little Italy, the financial district, taking a one-hour boat cruise around the lower-end of Manhattan, with views of the Statue of Liberty, etc.. He then made his back up to the west side by Lincoln Center, the museums and central park. I was most impressed that he even made it up to Harlem and walked around a bit up there. He has such a passion for traveling and for immersing himself in the local cultures.
View from the obersavation deck of the Empire State Building
  It's wonderful.

After dinner, I asked him where he wanted to go next. He looked at me, gave me a big smile and said to the top of the Empire State Building. So the Empire State Bulding it was. As it was getting a little chilly, we decided to take the subway down to 34th Street and Sixth Avenue. Now, it's been many, many years since I have been to the top of the Empire State building, so for me, it was such a treat. So too often, we take for granted all the things we have in our own backyard. The line (que) was not long at all, since it was already after 9:00 pm. After going through the metal dectectors (just like in the airport, we even had to take off our belts), we finally made it to the ticket booth so that I could purchase my ticket.

View from the obersavation deck of the Empire State Building
Lucian already had one as part of one of his bus tours earlier that day. We took two elevators up and finally made it to the observation deck. Some people were just looking out  from the inside portion because they said it was windy outside. There was no way I was going to let Lucian leave the city without getting getting a proper view of NYC, so we went to the outside portion of the viewing deck. It wasn't too bad outside. I looked out at my home and was so amazed. I had forgotten how beautiful the city looked, especially at night. Below are some photos I took while up there, though, they're not great, since I kept moving too much (maybe it was the sangria). We were up there a while looking at the city from all angles. A few of the tourist stopped to ask which buildings were which, were we looking south, north, etc., which bridges. I had fun. It was such a blast, and as I was standing up there, sharing my home, and looking at everything through their eyes, I felt such love and appreciation for my hometown. It's hard to put it into words. After a while, we started to feel the wind and the cold and decided to leave. Before we left, though, I ended up buying the photos they took before we went up in the elevators. I gave half to Lucian and promised to mail him the photo cd of the Empire State Building and views which was included. He didn't want to take it with him to Central America as he did not want it to get ruined in his travel pack.

After we left the Empire State building we decided to walk back up to the Times Square area and find a bar to just hang out in for a while. We ended up at O'Lunney's Times Square Pub located on west 45th Street. It was a nice big bar, not too crowded (as the after-work crowd had already left). We found two stools by the bar as soon as we got in and just hung out for a bit, chatting some more and have some beers. It was close to midnight and Lucian's flight left early the next morning out of Newark, so we decided to call it a night. I walked him back to his hotel, we said our farewells, and then I hopped into a cab and went home.

I hope to see Lucian again next time he is in my neck of the woods or maybe we'll cross paths somewhere along our travels.

raghu1981 says:
Great story..hope I get to travel to my Fav city in the world soon to meet u!
Posted on: Apr 09, 2008
sheba124 says:
Yes it definitely is, I agree!!
Posted on: Apr 08, 2008
rm61 says:
Thats what life is about ....meeting wonderful people
Posted on: Apr 07, 2008
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We had one of the waiters to take …
We had one of the waiters to take…
View of NYC from the observation d…
View of NYC from the observation …
Lucian at the obersavation deck of…
Lucian at the obersavation deck o…
The Chrysler buidling (facing nort…
The Chrysler buidling (facing nor…
The Chrysler buidling (facing nort…
The Chrysler buidling (facing nor…
Lucian at the obersavation deck of…
Lucian at the obersavation deck o…
View from the obersavation deck of…
View from the obersavation deck o…
View from the obersavation deck of…
View from the obersavation deck o…
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