Day 2:  I got up at the crack so I could walk to catch the 8:30 AM Gray Line bus tour riding on top of the double-decker loving having my face in the brisk morning air as it toured Uptown through Harlem, around Central Park and other Uptown notables. It was the closest I’ll ever come to a roller coaster ride!

from the top of the Uptown double-decker Gray Line
Uptown architecture
Uptown architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright
Diversity defines Uptown’s architecture

I then switched to the Downtown double-decker tour bus staying on the top in the cold New York wind until I got close to my stop near the hotel.

Downtown architecture – a study in contrast
Downtown – Empire State Building
9/11 site – new tower under construction
Downtown tour – Times Square where the New Year’s Ball drops – see 2011?
Wall Street
Wall Street BULL!

The Gray Line double-decker tour bus was the best way for me to orient myself in this daunting unfamiliar city.  They give you a map of the key areas they pass by and the stops where you can get on and off the bus. I highly recommend the 48-hour pass so you can fit it all in. It was fun catching it to just get around revisiting sites from the day before. Their drivers are experts at manipulating these huge buses through the bumper car, rage infested, Bi-Polar traffic known to be in New York. Their guides are very knowledgeable of the “right” stores to plug but forget to announce the stop numbers shown on their maps. Tipping is a must as they will tell you.

The Beekman Tower Place is where I was staying. It’s centrally located at 49th Street and 1st Avenue near the United Nations (42nd). It’s a registered historic site of Art Deco style. But their greatest asset was their most wonderful front desk employees I’ve ever experienced outside of the south. A big shout out and “thanks” to Jan, Adriana, Liam and Lori for all their help in getting me around their city. I couldn’t have gotten it all done or broken all the codes in such a short period of time without their help. I made it a habit to bring them current as to my plans for the day and, upon my return, I’d let them know what I’d seen so they’d know I’d actually come back! Traveling alone, it’s important to do that.

They pointed me in the direction of a grocery store so I wouldn’t spend all my money in the “rip-off deli” across the street. It was no deli, believe me. Their prepared food they sold looked like food poisoning waiting for the next victim. Their prices were outrageous. Note to self: next time find the grocery store right away!

Pat and I chose this particular hotel because it was more affordable than the others for a small suite and from the posted reviews. It had a fold out sofa, a kitchen, an adequate (but small) bathroom and a comfortable queen sized bed. For my bucks, I’d prefer it to be just a little cleaner (bleach and caulk shower and vacuum under bed tables) but all-in-all, comfortable. The heater clanked and clanged terribly the first night but I couldn’t sleep that night anyway as I was just too excited to be in New York. Going there is like putting my finger in a 210 volt light socket. I get plugged in to that energy!

After I thawed out from my days’ tours, I jumped back on the tour bus to meet a friend of mine for the night lights portion of the tour. It was the least interesting as we blazed past everything as if there was the devil after the bus. The tour guide didn’t even warn us of the upcoming Rockefeller Christmas Tree. This was supposed to be a tour of the seasonal lights, right? It was fun, however, riding on top at night seeing the places I’d seen during the day all dressed up for the holidays.