Saturday, July 23, 2022

Last day in NYC - July 22nd, 2022

We had no plans for our last day in NYC, except walk around and try to see a few of the iconic buildings, like the Radio City...

... and the Rockefeller Center.

It was still a super hot day in the mid 30s temperature.


Rockefeller Center is a large complex consisting of 19 commercial buildings covering 22 acres (89,000 m2) between 48th Street and 51st Street in Midtown ManhattanNew York City. The 14 original Art Deco buildings, commissioned by the Rockefeller family, span the area between Fifth Avenueand Sixth Avenue, split by a large sunken square and a private street called Rockefeller Plaza. Later additions include 75 Rockefeller Plaza across 51st Street at the north end of Rockefeller Plaza, and four International Style buildings on the west side of Sixth Avenue.

In 1928, the site's then-owner, Columbia University, leased the land to John D. Rockefeller Jr., who was the main person behind the complex's construction. Originally envisioned as the site for a new Metropolitan Opera building, the current Rockefeller Center came about after the Met could not afford to move to the proposed new building. Various plans were discussed before the current one was approved in 1932. Construction of Rockefeller Center started in 1931, and the first buildings opened in 1933. The core of the complex was completed by 1939. Described as one of the greatest projects of the Great Depression era, Rockefeller Center was declared a New York City landmark in 1985 and a National Historic Landmark in 1987. 

The original center has several sections. Radio City, along Sixth Avenue and centered on 30 Rockefeller Plaza, includes Radio City Music Hall and was built for RCA's radio-related enterprises such as NBC. The International Complex along Fifth Avenue was built to house foreign-based tenants. The remainder of the original complex originally hosted printed media as well as Eastern Air Lines. While 600 Fifth Avenue is at the southeast corner of the complex, it was built by private interests in the 1950s and was only acquired by the center in 1963. The complex is noted for the large quantities of art present in almost all of its buildings, its expansive underground concourse, and its ice-skating rink. The complex is also famous for its annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.


St. Patrick's Cathedral is a Catholic cathedral in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood of New York City. It is the seat of the  Archbishop of New Yorkas well as a parish church. The cathedral occupies a city block bounded by Fifth AvenueMadison Avenue50th Street, and 51st Street, directly across from Rockefeller Center. Designed by James Renwick Jr., it is the largest Gothic Revival Catholic cathedral in North America.

The cathedral was constructed starting in 1858 to accommodate the growing Archdiocese of New York and to replace St. Patrick's Old Cathedral. Work was halted in the early 1860s during the American Civil War; the cathedral was completed in 1878 and dedicated on May 25, 1879. The archbishop's house and rectory were added in the early 1880s, both by James Renwick Jr., and the spires were added in 1888. A Lady chapeldesigned by Charles T. Mathews was constructed from 1901 to 1906. The cathedral was consecrated on October 5, 1910, after all its debt had been paid off. Extensive restorations of the cathedral were conducted several times, including in the 1940s, 1970s, and 2010s.

St. Patrick's Cathedral is clad in marble and has several dozen stained glass windows. It measures 332 feet (101 m) long, with a maximum width of 174 feet (53 m) at the transepts. The bronze doors that form the cathedral's main entrance on Fifth Avenue are flanked by towers with spires rising 329.5 feet (100 m). The northern tower contains nineteen bells, and the interior has two pipe organs. Inside is a nave flanked by several chapels; two transepts; a chancel and apse; and a crypt. East of the apse are the rectory, Lady chapel, and archbishop's residence facing Madison Avenue. The cathedral is a New York City designated landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

5th Avenue is always a fun street to walk on with all the beautiful shops.

We headed back to Chelsea Market for lunch and to meet up with a lovely friend from Toronto who has just arrived in the Big Apple for the weekend. 
It was great to hand out with her and visit the market inside.

Team Swatch NYC

The market is super cool looking inside, with pies of art, good restaurants and cafes and adorable cute little shops. 
Things are not that cheap in there, but you are paying for the experience as well. 

Chelsea Market is a food hall, shopping mall, office building and television production facility located in the Chelsea neighborhood of the borough of Manhattan, in New York City. The Chelsea Market complex occupies an entire city block with a connecting bridge over Tenth Avenue to the adjacent 85 Tenth Avenue building. The High Line passes through the 10th Avenue side of the building.

Chelsea Market was constructed in the 1890s and was originally the site of the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) factory complex where the Oreo cookie was invented and produced. The complex was redeveloped in the 1990s and features a retail concourse at ground level with office space above. Chelsea Market is currently owned by Alphabet Inc., parent company of Google. Chelsea Market lies within the "Gansevoort Market Historic District", which is recognized by New York State and National Register of Historic Places.

Our friend Annette suggested the restaurant Miznon for lunch, a kind of Mediterranean street food. 
Great choice!

High Line seen from down low.

We had to register this meeting of Toronto friends in NYC. 

This frame summarizes New York for me: old, new, dirty, smelly, busy, colourful, grey, a with lots happening!

The photo was taken on the way to Penn Station to catch the train to Newark airport... feeling super hot, banging into people and carrying our luggages through about 40 blocks.

Our Porter flight was delayed about 5 hours because of a storm between New York and Toronto. 
Good thing Sofia had her M&Ms green slippers to keep her cozy. :)

Our trip ended on a bit of an annoying way, with us having to fly into Hamilton instead, because the Island airport in Toronto, which is in a residential area, shuts down at 11pm. Our whole journey from door to door - hotel to home - took 12 hours and we didn't get home until 3am. 

Still, it was an amazing trip! 
Having had this opportunity to hang out with one of my favourite human beings and explore this fantastic city again, was awesome!

Te amo, Sofia. 
Happy birthday, meu amor!


Thursday, July 21, 2022

Museum & Park combo

You can't visit New York City and miss Central Park. This amazing piece of paradise in the middle of the Concert Jungle attracts about 42 million visitors every year. 



Central Park is an urban park in New York City, between the Upper West and Upper East Sides of Manhattan. It is the fifth largest park in the city, covering 843 acres (341 ha). It is the most visited urban park in the United States, with an estimated 42 million visitors annually as of 2016, and is the most filmed location in the world.

After proposals for a large park in Manhattan during the 1840s, it was approved in 1853 to cover 778 acres (315 ha). In 1857, landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won a design competition for the park with their "Greensward Plan". Construction began the same year; existing structures, including a majority-Black settlement named Seneca Village, were seized through eminent domain and razed. The park's first areas were opened to the public in late 1858. Additional land at the northern end of Central Park was purchased in 1859, and the park was completed in 1876. After a period of decline in the early 20th century, New York City parks commissioner Robert Moses started a program to clean up Central Park in the 1930s. The Central Park Conservancy, created in 1980 to combat further deterioration in the late 20th century, refurbished many parts of the park starting in the 1980s.

Since Sofia is so into science and nature, I thought it would be nice to visit the American Museum of Natural History. The line ups were discouraging, but they moved fast and we were inside - with air conditioning! - within one hour.  Totally worthy it!

The American Museum of Natural History (abbreviated as AMNH) is a natural history museum on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. In Theodore Roosevelt Park, across the street from Central Park, the museum complex comprises 26 interconnected buildings housing 45 permanent exhibition halls, in addition to a planetarium and a library. The museum collections contain over 34 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, human remains, and human cultural artifacts, as well as specialized collections for frozen tissue and genomic and astrophysical data, of which only a small fraction can be displayed at any given time. The museum occupies more than 2 million square feet (190,000 m2). AMNH has a full-time scientific staff of 225, sponsors over 120 special field expeditions each year, and averages about five million visits annually.

We museum is huge, with four floors, but we focused on dinosaurs...

...African mammals,

... minerals, gems, planet Earth and indigenous history.

The Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals tell the fascinating story of how the vast diversity of mineral species arose on our planet, how scientists classify and study them, and how we use them for personal adornment, tools, and technology. The galleries feature more than 5,000 specimens from 98 countries.

Back at Central Park, the skyscrapers sometimes remind us that we are in a big city, after all. 

But the turtles bring us back to paradise.

Is this New York City?????

A male Northern Cardinal, one of the bird species in Central Park. 

It was absolutely cute... and super red!

The carousel - $3.50 a ride - was another Central Park attraction on our list. 

There are 21 different playgrounds in Central Park. We choose the Heckscher playground to cool down from the super hot day. It felt so good to get completely soaked and not care about it.


Heckscher Playground is not only the oldest playground in Central Park, it is also the largest at nearly three acres. In addition to the typical park attractions, such as a variety of slides, swings, and seesaws, Heckscher Playground features both a water fixture and giant rocks for climbing. It is also famed for its kickball games, which are popular during the summertime. Located at 7th Avenue and Central Park South, Heckscher Playground runs from 61st to 63rd streets and is open from 7:30am until dusk. The Playground opened in 1926, when it was named for August Heckscher Sr., the grandfather of Parks Commissioner August Heckscher III. Complete with its own restrooms and snack carts, the Playground is best suited for children ages 6 to 12. Heckscher Playground is most populated during the spring and summer months. Time Out Kids Magazine, May 2015, named this playground #12 on their top 25 playground list.

Instead of taking the subway back to the hotel after being on our feet for the whole day, we picked a different but fun ride in one of the many bicycle taxis around Manhattan. 
We got dropped off at Times Square with style! :)

We were too hungry and tired to look for a nice place to have dinner and said we were going to stop at the first sushi place we could see outside the hotel. Yuri Sushi is a tiny little take out cabin in the corner of 46 street and 9th Avenue.  I know it was a little brave of me to do it, but the place looked busy and legit. 
Lets hope for the best. 

Today's sunset from the 17th floor of the hotel.


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Broadway Experience

What a day!
We headed to Times Square right after breakfast to try getting the best Broadway ticket.
After more than one hour on line, Sofia scored tickets for her first option: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

We got matinee tickets, so we better get ready and come back in one hour.

Wait... but before, we have time for one picture with the famous Times Square Naked Cowboy.

Robert John Burck (born December 23, 1970), better known as the Naked Cowboy, is an American actor, singer, songwriter, writer, and street performer, best known for singing regularly in New York City's Times Square. Burck is also a regular in the streets of the French Quarter during the New Orleans Mardi Gras season. He wears only cowboy boots, a hat, and white briefs, with a guitar strategically placed to give the illusion of nudity.

On October 6, 2010, Burck formally announced that he was running for President of the United States in the 2012 U.S. election as a candidate representing the U.S. Tea Party movement.


Waiting for the show to starts. 

Photos and videos are strictly forbidden during the performance. 

You have to just see us for now.

It's show time! 
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a 3 hour show with one intermission, lots of magic, but no songs. 
We both loved it, but Sofia being a super fan - she's read all the books and has watched the movies - could not blink during the performance. 
The story is sad, funny and entertaining. A great show for everyone.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a 2016 British two-part play written by Jack Thorne based on an original story by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Thorne. Previews of the play began at the Palace Theatre, London, on 7 June 2016, and it premiered on 30 July 2016. The play opened on Broadway on 21 April 2018 at the Lyric Theatre, with previews starting on 16 March 2018. 

The story begins nineteen years after the events of the 2007 novel Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and follows Harry Potter, now Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement at the Ministry of Magic, and his younger son, Albus Severus Potter, who is about to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The play is marketed as the eighth story in the Harry Potter series.

Sofia had a very special moment after the show, with one of the actors. Edward James Hyland plays Dumbledore on Broadway and was kind enough to come outside to greet fans. Apparently other actors don't do it anymore because of COVID restrictions. As we were chatting with Mr. Hyland about reading the books to his daughter, he casually mentions that she is also an actor and has been one since she was four. Then he pulls his phone and shows us a photo of him and his daughter and Sofia goes "WHAAAAAATTT????" His daughter is Sarah Hyland, who plays Haley Dunphy on Modern Family! We told him we love Haley and that we have watched the show as a family. It was really cute to hear Mr. Hyland talking so proudly about his daughter. "She is going to be on Jimmy Fallon tonight... tape it!" :)

And she is proud of daddy too. Here is a twitter by Sarah Hyland about her dad getting the part on Broadway, 5 years ago.

The celebrations continued through dinner. Sofia requested an New York Style Italian pizza. We randomly chose Nizza, a restaurant very close to our hotel, on 9th Ave and 44 St. It was too hot to shop around for a restaurant, so we picked the closest one. But we were lucky... the food and atmosphere were great.

I had a Caprese salad and grilled octopus and Sofia had her all time favourite: Margueritta Pizza.

In the end she scored ANOTHER dessert for her birthday. It doesn't matter that her actual birthday was two weeks ago. She is still telling everyone she is celebration it. Smart kid!

Another sunset from the 17th floor of our hotel.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Touring on a bus through Manhattan

Sunny, 35 degrees Celsius.

That's how most of the day was, but that didn't stop us from touring Manhattan on top of a double decker bus. There are many companies and different packages, but we did the basic: Top View's downtown tour. It worked fine for most of the day, except one stop we waited for more than an hour to get a seat on the bus.

First and best stop of the day for Sofia was the Empire State Building. 

She's first heard of it reading Percy Jackson books and has since asked us to bring her here. I heard her, but didn't realize how much of a deal it was for this child reader. It's incredible how something with no pictures, just letters, can stick in her head and with some imagination, create an enormous desire to be there.  

She felt like on top of the world.

It's not cheap to get up there, but still she wanted me to upgrade our tickets to get to the very top. Most of people would visit the 80th floor. We went to the 102nd floor. You only live once, right?

This is probably the best view we'll have from the Statue of Liberty on this trip. 


The Empire State Building is a 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in Midtown ManhattanNew York City. The building was designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon and built from 1930 to 1931. Its name is derived from "Empire State", the nickname of the state of New York. The building has a roof height of 1,250 feet (380 m) and stands a total of 1,454 feet (443.2 m) tall, including its antenna. The Empire State Building stood as the world's tallest building until the construction of the World Trade Center in 1970; following the latter's collapse in 2001, the Empire State Building reverted to being the city's tallest skyscraper until that title was surpassed in 2012. As of 2022, the building is the seventh-tallest building in New York City, the ninth-tallest completed skyscraper in the United States, the 54th-tallest in the world, and the sixth-tallest freestanding structure in the Americas.

She just loved the height.

This is what the 102nd floor looks like.

Back on the tour, our second stop was to see the Brooklyn Bridge. It was hard to walk on the bridge with Julia few years ago because of the rain, and today we gave up because of the heat.

We took any opportunity to cool down a bit.

"Mom, I want to build a house like that for me," says Sofia at the Oculus. 

This trip has been great for her to appreciate different types of architecture. 
Although she downplays her interest in different constructions, denying my observations that she might become an engineer or an architect, Sofia constantly points out different styles: Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Bauhaus... How does she know that? Books again. "I learned reading Iggy Peck, Architect"

The $4 billion Oculus station house, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, consists of white ribs that interlock high above the ground. The interior of the station house contains two underground floors, which house part of the Westfield World Trade Center mall. The transportation hub connects the various modes of transportation in Lower Manhattan, from the Fulton Center in the east to the Battery Park City Ferry Terminal in the west, and includes connections to various New York City Subway stations. It is the fifth-busiest transportation hub in the New York metropolitan area. The new station has received mixed reviews: although the hub has been praised for its design, it has also been criticized for its high costs and extended delays.

World Trade Centre Memorial.

Second highlight of Sofia's day was shopping - for the first time - at Target. She got a super cute and inexpensive dress. Unfortunately her excitement to walk around with a Target bag was so much, that she didn't want to save it inside my backpack. The target bag never made it to the hotel. It was forgotten in one of the tour buses, causing some tears, of course!

I just love all the modern, old, nice, strange, beautiful, exotic, fascinating visual diversity of NYC.


The financial district was also a point of interest for Sofia... and disappointment. She wanted to see the Fearless Girl Statue across from the Charging Bull-  her sister took a picture with her here four years ago - but only the Charging Bull was there, making her mad.  

"They should make a new Fearless Girl punching the bull on the butt!"

PS: A funny piece of information... She refused to walk to the Stock Exchange Building because she was so mad that the Fearless Girl has been removed from the original spot, but I just found out that the cute statue has been moved exactly there: to the Stock Exchange Building. Should I tell her???


Next stop: Chelsea area. 

We got up to the High Line.  What a beautiful piece of successful urban design.


The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long (2.33 km) elevated linear parkgreenway and rail trail created on a former New York Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan in New York City. The High Line's design is a collaboration between James Corner Field OperationsDiller Scofidio + Renfro, and Piet Oudolf. The abandoned spur has been redesigned as a "living system" drawing from multiple disciplines which include landscape architecture, urban design, and ecology. The High Line was inspired by the 4.7 km (2.9 mi) long Promenade plantée (tree-lined walkway), a similar project in Paris completed in 1993.  

Between the buildings: the art of Brazilian graffiti artist Kobra.

More art.

Sofia has a comment about every piece architecture. 

The Vessel was her favourite. 


Vessel (TKA) is a structure and visitor attraction built as part of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project in ManhattanNew York CityNew York. Built to plans by the British designer Thomas Heatherwick, the elaborate honeycomb-like structure rises 16 stories and consists of 154 flights of stairs, 2,500 steps, and 80 landings for visitors to climb. Vessel is the main feature of the 5-acre (2.0 ha) Hudson Yards Public Square. Funded by Hudson Yards developer Related Companies, its final cost is estimated at $200 million.

The concept of Vessel was unveiled to the public on September 14, 2016. Construction began in April 2017, with the pieces being manufactured in Italy and shipped to the United States. Vessel topped out in December 2017 with the installation of its highest piece, and it opened to the public on March 15, 2019. In January 2021, following three suicides at the Vessel, it was indefinitely closed to the public. The Vessel reopened in May 2021, then indefinitely closed again after another suicide two months later.

The TKA abbreviation in the structure's name stands for "Temporarily Known As". Upon its opening, Vessel received mixed reviews, with some critics praising its prominent placement within Hudson Yards, and others deriding the structure as extravagant. Vessel was also initially criticized for its restrictive copyright policy regarding photographs of the structure, as well as its lack of accessibility for disabled visitors, although both issues were subsequently addressed.

The long but fun day ended with a delicious dinner at Brazilian Churrascaria Plataforma.

You can learn with Sofia: it doesn't matter if you birthday was two weeks ago, you can still get free cake and the staff to sing you happy birthday. Smart girl!

Sunset back in the hotel to frame our awesome day!