it was april break for most of the east coast and the city had its fair share of tourists but it couldn't even come close to the mass of humanity during the winter holidays. we arrived at the hotel around noon but couldn't get into our room until 4:00p so we left our bags and walked out the door with only one plan - the M&M store.
when abby and I hit NYC in december she was desperate to go in the M&M store but the line was literally around the block with a bouncer letting people in only as customers were leaving. I immediately said NO because unless they were passing out 14K gold M&M's, I wasn't interested in getting up-close-and-personal with 'the great unwashed' (as my grandmother used to say). especially after standing outside for an indefinite amount of time freezing my butt off. we moved on but promised if and when we returned we could go and I am a woman of my word.
meh. it was pretty underwhelming. thankfully it wasn't crowded so we were able to walk around all three floors without a problem. kids were posing with a couple of the M&M characters and you could buy any kind of trademarked merchandise imaginable - big whoop. I did agree to buying actual M&M's but while I was taking the photo abby held the dispenser lever down THE ENTIRE TIME. we left there with a 3lb bag of regular M&M's. THREE POUNDS! which we then had to carry around the city for another 4 hours.
from there we headed up to rockefeller center and were really surprised to see the skating rink still open - especially after hitting almost 90* just three days earlier. I recently read about 'top of the rock' - the 70th floor of 30 rockefeller center - to view the entire city. we figured if the wait wasn't too long we'd give it a shot. when we asked the woman behind the counter 'how long?' she said 'less than 15 minutes'. I questioned her again - 'only 15 minutes?' and she said 'actually, it's probably less - you just have to wait for the elevator to come back down.' WHAT? no line? to see the ENTIRE city on a beautifully clear day? SOLD!
we waited all of 4 minutes for the elevator and 43 seconds later we were on the 68th floor in the indoor viewing area with a surrounding balcony. from there we took the escalator up to the 69th floor and then stairs (or elevator) up to the 70th floor. it was STUNNING. I could've spent all day up there and it wasn't the least bit crowded - there was a smallish school/tour group that came through as we were headed down but for the most part it was wide open. I'm guessing the empire state building is a zoo all day every day. this observation deck was re-opened about 10 years ago and not too many people know about it but if you follow Jaime Beck's blog From Me To You at all (or use the flipboard app) you'll recognize the setup.
from there we headed out to st. patrick's cathedral for a glimpse inside then up fifth avenue towards some requisite shopping. we skipped over zara because we can get that back in boston and opted instead for the uniqlo 'experience'. it's a japanese concept store with a million kilowatts of lighting and a maze-like layout but overall some well priced clothing. we each left with a little something.
from there we headed over to madison avenue and south towards the old conde nast building (ie: my old job at GQ) and then further south towards the public library to check out patience and fortitude (the lions). our idea was to kill the remaining 45 minutes resting our feet and enjoying a beverage in bryant park while people watching. no such luck - they were closing things up and kicking people out for a private event so we walked ever-so-slowly back to times square. fortunately our room was ready and we regrouped before meeting my cousin and aunt in the upper east side for dinner ...
PS - I'm not sure why in some photos the sky is a beautiful azure blue and in others it looks hazy and overcast. trust me when I say it was perfect weather